What How You Market Says About You. (Whether you meant it to or not!)
Marketing is both a passive and an active science. It is this way because marketing, by definition, involves influencing emotions. All of marketing is designed to give people reasons to feel one way or another about a company, product or service. A company may develop an advertisement. That’s active. The specific reason for the advertisement is to influence either a purchase decision or good will. Market leaders do a lot of passive marketing. You will never hear a McDonald’s ad where Burger King is mentioned or a BMW ad where Hyundai is mentioned. The act of not mentioning the competitor is the art of passive marketing. “We don’t mention them because they are unimportant to us.” (Hint: In the board room and in the analysis these competitors come up all the time, they just never mention them in public...) Most passive marketing is accidental. Companies that develop bad advertising or who use irritating customer attraction methods such as telemarketing or spam are also practicing passive marketing, thought they may not completely mean to be!
I hear a lot from photographers who are frustrated because they feel (or know) that another photographer ‘stole,’ clients, price lists, branding, images (2nd shooters), and lots of other stuff. In a market as competitive as this these behaviors, whether real or imagined, are not surprising. In these situations my response is always the same and it’s simple. Move forward. Don’t let this wrong or this “supposed wrong” distract you from your goal. This is why I hate lawsuits. They’re a major distraction and the lawyers (yours and theirs) won’t let them go away.
It is easy to feel wronged when a competitor takes the low road. To make it worse, sometimes they win. In the long run though, it’s important to understand that the root of the competitor’s behavior, whether insecurity or incompetence, will lead to their failure. It’s simply a matter of time. At some point they will have to come up with an original idea. At some point they will have to shoot on their own. At some point they will have to deliver product to customers. If their whole business is rooted in “borrowing” your good ideas, at some point these behaviors will cease to be effective and that, as they say, will have been that. So move on.
What’s funny is that the photographers who call us tell us that this company basically tries to get them to switch by trying to convince them that Pictage is underhanded in its dealings with our customers. I think one photographer said it best when he said, “this, from a company that is essentially stealing contact information from a directory specifically offered as a benefit to photographers, was pretty ironic!”
The fact is this. Over time these passive messages say more about a company than any active marketing activity. Toyota's apparent inaction in its recent troubles has done tremendous damage to its previously stellar quality reputation - a reputation on which billions has been spent...
When asked about these things my response is pretty simple. My job is to make Pictage so great for our customers that they would never think of leaving. We’re much better than we were, but we have a long way to go to be that good. That’s what I’m focused on. That’s where your focus should be too. Any time you spend thinking or worrying about a competitor is time they’ve successfully stolen from you. Move forward. Build your business. Be aware of the competition but never let it distract you, no matter how smarmy or underhanded their tactics may be. Ultimately, you’ll win and you’ll sleep much better along the way!