Talk about your competitors honestly

Estimated completion: 90 minutes


We've all seen competitor comparison pages like this...

Example competitor comparison chart

If you're going to talk about your competitors, tell the whole truth.

Do your research

Reasonable elements to discuss in a competitor comparison blog post or landing page include:

  • Feature parity

  • Pricing

  • Customer service levels

  • Other (resources, training, uptime, performance, etc)

Let's take a look at how to do each with integrity.

Feature parity, the honest way

So your product does X and the "other guys" do Y. You believe X is more valuable, the other guys disagree.

Let your prospects decide for themselves.

Instead of a simple "checkbox" matrix, showcase how many (% or raw #) of your customers use each of your core features.

You won't be able to do a side by side comparison without your competitor's data, but this at least adds social proof to the value of your offering, without using hyperbole to say so.

If you do choose to compare features toe to toe, you must consistently update your matrix as competitors launch new features.

Since startups are known to "ship quickly and often," this task might introduce an unsustainable work load for your team. It's highly unlikely you will capture and publish new pricing, discounts, changes to free trial length, and feature releases in real-time.

Honest pricing comparisons

Most competitor comparisons don't describe pricing unless the one owning the comparison is less expensive.

The mere act of not mentioning price (if you're more expensive) is another topic altogether, a sort of lie by omission.

But even more fallacious is what statisticians call the broken graph fallacy.

When data like this...

honest pricing comparison chart

Is illustrated like this...

dishonest pricing comparison chart

Note the broken vertical (Y) axis.

This exaggerates the actual difference in price ($4 per month, or ~25%) to a visual representation of nearly 100% difference.

Don't break your graphs, proportions matter.

Making claims about customer support

Let's be honest: the only people aware of a business' level of customer support are its customers.

You're welcome to mention factual details, such as:

  • Our support: Available 7 days per week, 9 - 5p

  • Their support: Available 5 days per week, 8-6p

But going the extra step and claiming "we respond in < 1 hour, they take up to 2 days!" is risky business.

It's likely you too have responded 2 days late, and it's likely they have responded in as little as 1 hour.

Ambitious marketers could verify this incognito with a secret shopper scheme, wherein you demonstrably prove their speed or quality of support by impersonating an interested prospect.

But, this again is a grey area and you'll only have 1 data point. If your results are positive (in their favor), you won't include it in your analysis either.

Miscellaneous competitor comparison etiquette

If you've read other Honest Marketer guides you know we prefer data -- facts -- over clever copywriting.

The open startup movement towards transparency makes this easier than ever, which means it may be possible to compare your degree of "uptime" with a competitor.

For instance, if you both have a status page, you could crunch the numbers for the last 3 months' uptime metrics and share this in your competitor analysis, honestly.

Add integrity to your competitor analysis

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