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Friday, November 13, 2009

Silence is golden, sometimes

In the last couple of weeks, I've seen a couple of examples of why we should never break the rule: "Never speak ill about your competitors."

In one case, a web designer and Internet marketing expert of undeniable credentials and capacity stepped over the line and had less-than-wonderful words to say about another website design/management service.

In the second, I offered candid, first-hand observations of a publishing competitor.

We were both communicating in the forums; and we both (independently of each other) have earned our place of trust and respect within the forums.

In the context, we are experts within our respective fields and we "should" know what we are talking about.

But did our words of wisdom about our competitors carry any weight? Not unless you consider it a weight against us.

I observed this rather disillusioning result not from my own frame of reference, but when the web publisher spoke his mind. My immediate reaction: "This guy has lost points, who is he to say these things, and isn't that competitor really not so bad, in fact, maybe quite good."

So what are the forum readers thinking when I took a shot at MY competitor?

I'm pretty sure that both the web designer/marketer and I know the rule "Never speak ill about your competitors" by heart, but we felt comfortable (and trusted) enough in the closed forum environment to speak our minds with some candor.

It didn't work. It is too painful to draw attention to the specific responses, but you can read through the relevant forums and will see we didn't win any brownie points for ourselves, or really do any harm to our competition.

This leads to another question, then. You know you have a bad competitor, and you know someone is considering using their services. How do you get them to see the light you know from hard first-hand experience?

Maybe you have a better answer than silence or even sincere praise (rather hard to do, eh). Right now, I don't.

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