Moving in When Your Competitor Suffers a Reputation Hit

You’ve probably spent a great deal of time trying Competitorto determine the problems that could befall your business and how to avoid them. But how much time have you spent determining how to respond to problems – particularly of the PR variety – that could hit your competitors?

Your competitors’ PR nightmares can be, at the least, opportunities to enhance your own reputation with the public and, at best, opportunities to attract disgruntled customers of your affected competitor. Here are three approaches.

Make an indirect comparison

If your competitor’s PR problem is well-known, you can draw a comparison between your company and your competitor without even mentioning the competitor’s name. That’s what the Booksellers Association did in the UK when Amazon came under public criticism for structuring its UK operations so as to reduce its UK tax liability. Bold red signs with slogans like “We Pay Our Taxes” posted in members’ shops made the association’s point quite devastatingly.

Learn from your competitor’s mistakes – and publicize what you’ve learned

You can also publicize how you are better prepared to handle a similar situation. Royal Caribbean cruise line actually turned what could have been a PR disaster into positive PR. When Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas suffered an onboard fire, it immediately provided full coverage of the fire – and how thoroughly they were carrying out the Passenger Bill of Rights that the Cruise Line Industry Association had formulated in response to Carnival Cruise Lines’ previous series of disasters.

Say nothing – just act

When high-end activewear retailer Lululemon fumbled in handling complaints about its yoga pants, several competitors remained silent – but quickly swooped in to compete for Lululemon customers. TJ Maxx and Nordstrom Rack promoted their more affordable designer line, and Gap expanded its own high-end Athleta line, opening new stores in key Lululemon markets.

During the time that your competitor is distracted with damage control is a prime time to challenge it not only in areas where it normally is vulnerable, but also in areas where you see it normally is secure. Ongoing competitor price monitoring with a price tracking tool like PriceManager will help keep you fully aware of those vulnerabilities and high-margin areas so you are always prepared to act.

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