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thin ice

I’m working on a success story right now where the featured customer switched from a competing product to my client’s software. This began a discussion within the company whether to name the competitor or not in the success story.

It’s a tough call. You want to use that information to show prospects why customers moved to or chose your solution over a SPECIFIC other solution – actually making a stronger case for your product or service. However, your competitors will likely notice. And once you throw the first punch, they’ll probably punch back.

I usually recommend that clients refrain from using competitor names in the written story. Of course, sales reps are free to tell prospects in conversationÔø?which competitors the story refers to, if they choose. But publishing that information is very different.

What did my client decide? The sales reps discussed it and decided against naming the competitor.

I’m curious, what’s your opinion on this? To name or not to name?


4 Responses to Naming Competitors – Dirty Practice or Strategic Move?

  1. Definitely 100% against.
    First of all, I think in certain industries you can hint at your competitor well enough that you don’t need to name them (i.e. large media company in Mountainview, CA).
    Second, the general rule with case studies is that you get permission from the company before you name names. (Yes, this is generally when you are discussing the success of the story, but why would that not hold true for competitors too?)
    Third, and perhaps most importantly: today’s “competitors” may be tomorrow’s “clients”.

  2. Graham,
    All really good points! Don’t burn any bridges, huh? I agree, but it’s tough to convince companies sometimes when they want to take that little stab at competitors.

  3. Ah, well, that’s a different story! If your client is insistent on adding the competitor’s name, there is not much you can do about that. But in my role as “marketing consultant” to my client, I would recommend staying away from this practice, unless you are competing directly head-to-head (such as, say, Pepsi and Coke).
    Besides, I can’t recall a single instance that a company won by tearing down the competition. It is sort of like negative ad campaigns in politics — it makes people uncomfortable. And the last thing you want to do with a potential customer is make them uncomfortable…

  4. Really good point Graham. I was reminded of politics too. Political attack ads are currently being attacked for their tackiness!