If you run a successful business for long, you're bound to run into a competitor you just can't stand.
This isn't necessarily another person or business that works in your geographic area, or one that is even a true "competitor" in the sense that you draw from the same customer base - we are just talking about that certain someone, or that organization, you just can't stand. You don't just dislike the fact that they occasionally take customer that should be yours... you can't understand why anyone would do business with them, or feel sure that they wouldn't if they really knew how the competitor operated behind-the-scenes.
By now, you probably have a mental picture of that someone (or company) in mind. Maybe you're even clenching your fist. Now, let's look at seven ways you can crush them over the Internet:
1. Be direct. Sometimes, the best thing to do is publicly air your grievances and concerns, especially if that other business has been attacking you head on. Just make sure you run anything that names your competitor through a lawyer first; the last thing you want is a lawsuit, or negative publicity.
2. Take the passive aggressive approach. Because of the legal/PR aspects, it's sometimes smarter to make your problems with "certain competitors" known publicly, but without naming names. Point out in your blog, social profiles, and business publications what you object to, and then let others connect the dots.
3. Use direct comparisons. If you can point to big differences in pricing, customer satisfaction scores, or online reviews, why not use that hard data to your advantage? Show on your website and elsewhere why buyers are better off working with you. You'll handicap their marketing and grow your sales at the same time.
4. Conduct case studies. For a more formal approach, you could produce a case study showing what happened when customers turned to you, or how you helped someone who used to work with one of your competitors. Again, you want to be careful about naming specifics, but few things add credibility to your marketing (and take away from your competitor's) like a verifiable track record.
5. Differentiate through your marketing. Sometimes, the way you approach your marketing and advertising says it all. If your competitor takes the low road, go high. If they emphasize low prices, push your superior service and dependability. The point is to make it as easy as possible for smart buyers to make a good and informed decision, rather than falling for tricks.
6. Issue a public challenge. You could always challenge your competitor to a public demonstration or competition, especially if you have retail outlets. For this tactic to be effective, you have to be positive that actual buyers (or third-party judge) will declare you the winner, but it's a good way to gain some publicity and expose a competitor at the same time.
7. Just ignore them. More often than not, the smartest thing you can do is just keep your head down and work to make your own business more successful. Then, the comparisons in price, service, and value will usually become apparent in the market all on their own, especially in this age of social media and online reviews.
It can be hard not to take things personally when you have a competitor that you can't stand doing things that aren't good for the industry or their customers. But rather than getting mad about it and raising your blood pressure, why not use that energy to improve your own online marketing and put them out of business all at the same time? It might take a bit of work, but it's a project worth completing.
On a more personal note, I have two things I truly hate: 1) snake oil salemen dressed as 'seo' consultants, or those who promise you "page 1 in Google'. (You know who you are!) Anyone worth their salt should be able to show you AMPLE proof of success AND the process that led to it. If not, run.. run like the wind!, and 2) Dandeliions. It's me against them over the summer. Now if they'd just stop sending their mosquito friends after me, I just might win this year.