So your competitor is going out of business….
You want to secure as many of their customers as possible, but are determined to do this in a civil and ethical manner. Anyone can run a smear campaign, but publishing negative content about the competition just isn’t your style. When it comes to your business, the moral high-road is the only direction that you wish to proceed (and what S2 highly recommends). What steps can be taken? Here it’s broken down in two scenarios: working directly with your competitor and working strictly through outreach through social media and the web.
Scenario 1: Communicate with your Competitor
First, try to establish a line of communication with your competitor. Reaching out to your rival business directly provides an opportunity to demonstrate respect, empathy, and a willingness to lend a helping hand in a difficult time. After all, the most effective way to convert your competitor’s customers is to first obtain their cooperation. A company that is going out of business doesn’t need their customers anymore, but that doesn’t mean that they will hand them over as a parting gift!
Obviously, there are several assets that your competitor no longer has use for that your business could potentially benefit from acquiring: existing accounts, email list, social media followers, phone numbers, and the list goes on and on. But what can your business provide in exchange to help your ailing adversary? In some cases, engaging in conversation with a rival business may reveal pain points, and identifying pain points may allow you to propose a solution that benefits both parties. For example:
- If your competitor has to close their doors immediately and lacks the manpower to cancel appointments or field incoming calls, perhaps you can offer to help out with customer service as they focus on shutting down.
- If your competitor has existing contracts but lacks the resources to produce the outlined deliverables, perhaps you can take over these contracts to help them avoid lawsuits.
- If your competitor cares whether or not their customers receive quality service after they close shop, perhaps you can appeal to them by demonstrating the quality of your company’s service.
- If your competitor wants to respond to irritated fans on social media channels but lacks the manpower to post replies, perhaps your company could take over these duties and refer traffic to a website or fan page dedicated to helping customers in transition.
- If your competitor simply needs financial support, perhaps you can purchase their assets for a reasonable fee OR offer a commission for customers that your rival refers directly to your sales department.
Scenario 2: Outreach to Customers on Social Media and the Web
If your competitor is unwilling or unable to cooperate, you will probably need to resort to more indirect tactics in order to attract their customers. These may include:
- Monitoring review sites and responding to negative reviews.
- Monitoring your competitor’s social media channels and responding to fans that may need your services.
- Creating or organizing conversation regarding the closing business using hashtags on Twitter.
- Setting up Google Alerts for keywords that relate to your rival company’s closing – responding to queries.
- Purchasing your competitors phone number, fielding incoming phone calls and converting as many customers as possible.
- Distributing your best content (videos, handouts, flyers, blog posts, articles, testimonials, etc.) through all marketing channels to ensure that those seeking a new provider in your specific field will be aware of your existence and the quality of your service.
If your company wishes to convert your closing competitor’s customers, it is very important that you tailor your messaging to meet the needs and preferences of those customers. It is easy to come off as self-serving when reaching out to lost sheep, so do your best to show that you are sympathetic to the fact that they lost their service provider, that you care about their needs, and that you are more than capable of providing the support they require. In general people are resistant to pushy sales pitches, so provide the potential client with the content that they need to make an informed decision in seeking a new provider.
Thank you for reading this post! We hope you found it to be helpful, and we welcome your comments and questions.
Post written by Tom Ritter aka @tomritter2. To learn more from Sociality Squared, become a fan!