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E-Marketing Performance Blog

How to Lead with your Online Marketing Campaign

We decided to optimize our website only for keywords that bring up our competitors when searched. So, what I have to do is to take every keyword that is in your research and to run a search on Google to see if our competitors are there. You’ll hear back from me early next week.

The above is part of an email I received from a client as we began the keyword research process for their optimization campaign. I can’t help but think of something my (and probably everybody else’s) mother used to say, “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?”

There is nothing wrong with a desire to be everywhere your competitors are, but don’t let this form the only basis for your optimization campaign. Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s Restaurant, said that he wanted to place a Wendy’s across the street from every McDonald’s in America. I subscribe to this philosophy wholeheartedly, and not just because I love a good Wendy’s hamburger! One thing Dave new about this “locate-near-McDonald’s” strategy is that McDonald’s did significant research before entering a given region. He realized that McDonald’s only entered areas where they knew their restaurants would thrive. As Dave saw it, what was lucrative for Ronald would also be profitable for Wendy!

But, do you receive the same benefit from your competitors as Wendy’s has from McDonald’s? Does your competition perform the same level of market research before targeting any particular keyword phrase? Do they absolutely know that their keywords are searched by their target audience? Do they understand that the audience might actually search for a product differently from the common industry lingo? Are they following the advice of a professional SEO or someone that might not care so much about their business success as much as they care about achieving top rankings to make themselves look like a success. Before following your competitors into this territory you need to know the answer to this question.

From a competitive standpoint, it’s always good to know what your competitors are doing, who they are targeting, and what areas they are venturing into. A failure to know this is poor business strategy and planning. While Dave wanted to be everywhere his competitor was, he also never stopped identifying fresh locations to put a Wendy’s that McDonald’s hadn’t yet exploited.

Often–especially online, where marketing is still a fairly new practice–I see that my client’s competition do not often have a full grasp on what keywords they should be targeting. Part of this is ignorance; another is the lack of insight on the part of those running their SEO campaigns. Those that employ the “follow-me” marketing strategy will undoubtedly find themselves following competitors through the same mistakes, costing themselves valuable time and money. Think about what can be accomplished (and sooner) if marketing dollars are placed into a more forward thinking marketing campaign; one that doesn’t solely focus on competitors but more rightly reaches the target audience. After all, it’s not your competitors who’ll be buying from you, it’s your targeted consumer.

Doing what your competitors do, without ever really understanding why, is a bad strategy all the way around. Even if your competitor is doing things right, it may be for reasons that are inappropriate for your business. Pay attention to what your competitors are doing, but also know why, and make sure those same goals and objectives match up with your own.

Leading with your marketing campaign may ultimately mean that you find yourself in the same places and ranking for the same keywords, as your competitor. But leading also means that you will find places where your competitor should be but isn’t. By simply reacting, you’ve allowed competitors to get there first, leaving you to catch up. Leading gets you established where your competitors are not so you bring in the targeted traffic they are missing. Following leaves you one or two steps behind. Leading with your marketing campaign will put you ahead of your competition, and being out in front makesyou the authority, not your competitor.

Stoney G deGeyter

Stoney deGeyter is the author of The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!. He is the founder and CEO of Pole Position Marketing, a web presence optimization firm whose pit crew has been velocitizing websites since 1998. In his free time Stoney gets involved in community services and ministries with his “bride enjoy” and his children. Read Stoney’s full bio.

2 Responses to How to Lead with your Online Marketing Campaign

  1. Stoney G deGeyter
    Stoney deGeyter says:

    Love the dog barking example!!!

    With this client we were able to push them in our direction a bit and ultimately came up with a solution that works for all. Rarely do we ever get our way 100% of the time, but that’s really what marketing is about, converging multiple opinions and ideas into a workable solution. Same thing happens with move scripts, copywriters, TV and radio commercials, and just about anything else where more than one person is involved.

    I’m very happy with the solution we came up with because ultimately we were able to convince them that our way was the right way while also letting them feel that they got what they wanted/needed. Win-Win.

  2. Igor M. says:

    I agree … plus.

    It’s funny how clients hire you and then they want to run things. Every time I get into such situation I give an example of …. “Why would you buy a big dog to bark at intruders and then do the barking for it” ?

    Marketing attracts opinions. Oh and we all love to push our own opinions. They say …. marketing is “common sense” and who has the most common sense? Surely the CEO. 🙂

    That is why it’s tough for marketers to get their point across. You can be a brilliant marketer, but if you can’t convince others to see and trust your ideas, you might as well leave the industry.

    It’s interesting that there is a reason to keep marketers in the company …… you’ll always have someone to blame or to get you out of the hot watter if you get your self in trouble. I think the reason for a well paid marketing profession is the extra aggravation that comes with it. ………… hey, that’s a good interview point. Pay me more just because I have to deal with you.

    Anyway … if you follow, you won’t lead. Be where your competitors are if it’s profitable for you, BUT don’t forget to explore new places, opportunities and ideas. Stoney … the best way to convince is just to offer to test. SIR …. LETS TEST THESE KEYWORDS FOR 1 WEEK on PPC and then we’ll see. If he says … No, I know what the outcome will be …….. Stoney, either deal with it or drop him.

    Igor M.