Playing the Competitive Field

By Nikki Battles, Paid Search Associate Director, Advertising Solutions

What is the one thing that any marketer cannot avoid? Competition! What is it that marketers want in order to succeed among their competitors? To be a leader in the industry, to have loyal customers who keep coming back for more, to figure out what’s working for competitors and then try to outdo it. While the current state of the Chicago Bears defense is a bit scary, they still want to be a leader in the NFL and continue to try and outperform their rival teams week after week with the goal of making it to another Super Bowl. Marketers understand SEM is a playing field and can get creative in their approach to outperforming their competition.

One drastic approach that marketers have used is a brand conquest strategy where marketers buy competitors trademark terms. You can potentially rank in a higher position, offer a promotional discount that would set you apart from your competitor and potentially acquire your competitor’s loyal customers. While all the search engines allow marketers to bid on any search terms, they do have specific guidelines in place that monitor trademark infringement within creative, landing pages, etc,. However, this approach can cause some legal issues and marketers shouldn’t be surprised if they receive a friendly cease and desist letter in their mailbox. It can also cause repercussions as your competitors may decide to flip-flop your strategy and start to bid on your search terms. A less invasive approach is to bid on variations of the trademark term to include a product/category (i.e., puma gym bag).

An alternative, safer approach is to target specific geographical locations for specific categories where the marketer wants to increase market share. There may be an opportunity to gain market share in the warmer states such as: Florida, Arizona and California where a core competitor tends to dominate the market. This would require effective use of tools and analytics to identify the target markets and specific categories where the marketer wants to increase exposure. In order to properly leverage the strategy, the initiative should be heavily promoted in a variety of different channels such as: TV, Radio, Display and of course Local Search.

There are options in becoming a MVP against your competition. Marketers just need to determine how they want to go up against their opponents as well as the advantages and disadvantages to their tactics.


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