Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Many people often worry that their competitors are out-spending them with their online advertising campaigns and leaving them in the dust as a result. Instead of worrying about how much your competitors are actually spending, the technique below will get your competitors’ budgets working for you instead. The entire premise of this technique has to do with this one single concept.
While your competitors are spending large ad budgets to bring awareness to their companies, these competitors are also bringing far more general awareness of the category of products/services you sell as well. Since the people that click on your competitors’ ads now won’t typically from them buy the same day they come to their sites, you can actually follow up with these competitor prospects directly after they leave their sites and pick up a ton of easy sales from them once you do.
Here’s how to do it.
1. Steal away your competitor’s repeat customers
The first key thing you want to figure out is how much you can pay to acquire one of your competitors’ customers at your company as a whole. The more you can offer to get one of your competitors’ customers, the higher percentage of your competitors’ customers you will be able to acquire for your company overall.
Here is an example of how this worked for a luxury day spa with whom I worked. We knew we had over $1,500 in customer lifetime value from spa-goers in that market, and we knew we could offer our competitors’ customers an entirely free initial stay at our spa in order to get them as a customer there.
Once we understood that we could offer our competitors’ customers a free stay to get them as clients, we advertised this free voucher offer everywhere we could think for them to take advantage of it. This included on Google itself, on banner ads that show up for them across the web and on Facebook (if they followed one of our major spa competitors there as well).
To cement this strategy, we told our new customers that we would give them an extra 50% off their second and third visits with us to form a buying habit. This made sure the customers who redeemed our free offer would stick around long term (more than 65% of the time) after they used the free voucher. To prevent the same people from reusing the offer over and over again, we forced customers to show us their past spa receipts to redeem the offer, as well as show their photo IDs. This makes sure people wouldn’t abuse our offer, as well as make sure that the promotion is being offered to the right customers to begin with.
Coupons in general are a great marketing tool. According to recent data from the National Consumer Panel, 67% of consumers have made an unplanned purchase because they had a coupon, even higher-end consumers like we had with our luxury day spa above.
Now that you know how to steal your competition’s best repeat customers away from them, here’s how to steal your away your competitors’ new prospects from them as well.
2. Stealing your competitors’ new first and one-time customers
The below method shows you how to steal new prospects away from your competitors, who are still mulling over their potential purchases with them. Generating customers this way will come at a far cheaper cost than going after cold prospects in your market by yourself that you know nothing about.
More than 80% of the buyers that buy from your competitors won’t actually buy from them during the first visit to their sites. In fact, a new study showed that 92% of consumers visit a website for the first time without making a purchase. This itself gives you a tremendous opportunity to sell to your competitors’ prospects just after leaving their sites for the first time.
You can easily have your ads show up for your competitor prospects immediately after leaving your competitors’ sites and stay with them up until the day they buy (or do not buy) by using your Google and Facebook advertising accounts by themselves.
The complete list of places you can advertise on these platforms to stay with your competitor prospects up until the day they decide to purchase is as follows:
- On Google (targeting competitor-related searches)
- On Google Display Network (using “custom intent audiences” — this gets you in front of people who leave your competitor’s site as they browse the web, news sites, gaming sites, etc.)
- On Facebook (by targeting users who follow your competitors there)
- On YouTube (also with “custom intent audiences” — this also gets you in front of people who leave your competitors’ sites while they are on YouTube)
Using these four above advertising sources will ensure you get in front of 99% of the competitors’ prospects in your market as soon as they leave their sites — and as a result, have the capability to get many to switch over to your company.
Now that you know you have a surefire way to get in front of all of your market’s best prospects (your competitors’ prospects), you are ready to craft your message to woo these prospects over to your site to get them to purchase from you next.
What do you say to your competitor’s prospects who are currently debating their purchase decision with them?
Simply put, the best way you convince your competitors’ prospects to buy from you instead of them is to state how much better you are than your competitor’s product/service in your ads.
Example: Users start out interested solely in competitor product A. Your ad shows up explaining why your company’s product B is better than your competitor’s product A. The user clicks your ad and you take them to a dedicated page explaining why exactly your product B is better than your competitors’ product A, as well as offer a direct way to buy your product.
Example ad messaging: “Product B offers 3X the power for half the price as Competitor Product A!” or “Before you buy Product A, check out its independent review first!”
I cannot stress enough that you do not want to use the same message for all the different items/services that your competitors sell. Your competitors’ prospects will only be engaged enough to buy if you are sharing info about the exact item or service they were originally looking at inside of your ads here.
Done correctly, the prospect will be thrilled that they found your ad and therefore purchase from you afterward as a result.
In general, customers that you can acquire through your competitors’ prospects will generally be cheaper than other online advertising methods you use to acquire new customers right now, by a factor of two or more.
With the cost to acquire a customer here being so cheap, it would be a crime not to use this method for your business. If you haven’t been advertising online recently as it hasn’t been profitable for you in the past, then this is the one thing that should finally make it work for your business. These competitor prospecting methods I just shared have routinely been producing a 500%+ ROI for the dozens of businesses I currently manage.