When Your Competitor is a Big Spender

We’re working right now on a website for a new realty firm. When we met to discuss strategy, the owner acknowledged that he had a lot of competition. “There are about 117 realtors in town,” he said. “I don’t know how we can stand out.”

It’s a reasonable concern. In fact, the number of websites has grown so much in recent years that everyone now is facing a higher level of competition online, even if they don’t have lots of local competitors.

Our client is facing one competitor in particular who has deep pockets and puts plenty of investment into ads, online and off. What can you do if you’re the David in a David and Goliath scenario?

  • Stick with online marketing. When you put thousands of dollars into a traditional broadcast campaign on TV or radio, you’re sending your message out to anyone who happens to be listening — and plenty of consumers are opting out of listening. You are almost certainly paying by the minute to send your message into empty rooms, and to people who have no interest in your product. Paid search is only paid for when someone clicks on your ad, and investments in your website and social media build in value — and continue to do their jobs 24/7 once they’ve been built. Since the ROI of online marketing is higher than that of traditional ads, you have a better chance if you put your finds online instead of trying to compete on TV with a much smaller budget.
  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Paid search can get you in front of potential customers even if your competitor owns the front page. But the synergy of social media, content marketing, a strong website, and PPC can produce results that are more than the sum of the parts. Especially if the competition is heavily invested in online marketing, too, give yourself the advantage of integrated online strategy.
  • Differentiate yourself. Your competitor might have a commanding presence in the broadest market, but you might offer something special. Our realtor client has a keen appreciation of heritage homes, and is in a strong position to do well with a younger crowd that values coolness over the size of a company. With an online presence that helps make that clear, he can pick up points in a market that is not served well by his Goliath competitor. Often, the David in a David and Goliath story can use creative, unusual approaches that aren’t practical for a larger, less agile firm.

The size of your marketing investment makes a difference; there’s no point in pretending that it doesn’t. But creative, strategic use of the resources you have can help level the playing field.

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