There will times when your competition makes serious mistakes when it comes to their reputation. The best way to take advantage of these mistakes is to position yourself as filling the gap left by their mistakes. These mistakes can be a one-time mistake that you have to move quickly on, or it can be a more long term mistake that you want to build a more serious position around.
Here’s how to take advantage of your competition’s mistakes.
Solve the Problem They Haven’t Solved
The first step, before you do anything else, is to make sure you’ve really solved the problem that they haven’t solved.
If your competition trips up, before you jump into the limelight you need to have an offer that’ll be extremely compelling to the people who were angered.
If you can come up with something that’ll really appease people who were angered by your competition’s mistakes, you have the chance to win them over for life.
Pick the Medium(s)
The next step is to choose where you want to stage your response. The best way to make this choice is to find where there was the biggest outcry.
For example, if your opponent’s competition mistakes came mostly from the press, then you might want to stage a press push to get the word out. Call journalists who wrote about your competition’s folly and contact other journalists in the industry who might want to write about the story.
On the other hand, if your competition’s misstep happened mostly on YouTube, then you’ll want to craft a series of videos outlining your new value proposition.
Identify the type(s) of media you want to use to reach your audience.
Finally, act quickly.
Your competitor could fix their mistake. Or their customers could just forget about the mistake. In either case, your window of opportunity is fairly limited.
Take Digg’s mistake of revamping the site and removing the “bury” button from the site for example. When they did this revamp, their user base cried out that they didn’t like the changes. Digg founder Kevin Rose chose to ignore the complaints and even publicly stated more or less that his audience will get over it.
They didn’t. Instead, posts advocating switching to Reddit, a Digg competitor quickly flooded Digg and Digg instantly began bleeding traffic. Though they fixed the issue and switched back several days later, Reddit had already gained a massive edge as a result.
In this case, as is often the case, the window of opportunity was tiny.
In some cases however, the window of opportunity is bigger. Take the case of Dropbox, an online backup system that automatically backs up one folder for you instantly, all the time. Other online backup systems were extremely complex and never really took off. Dropbox defeated this reputation blockade by making their value proposition super simple: One folder. Always backed up.
In this case, the backup industry as a whole had a really poor long term reputation. Dropbox came along and changed all of that.
These are two examples of companies who took advantage of their competitors’ reputation weaknesses and profited massively as a result. The keys to taking advantage of a mistake by your competitors are to come up with a clear and compelling message, to come up with a media plan and then to act quickly and decisively to capitalize on the moment.