After you finishing designing your brand, you have to guard your brand, stay with the times, and keep yourself ahead of your rivals. You have to stay modern, more modern than anyone else in your industry. You have to struggle with not only attracting customers, but retaining them against all the competition that springs up in an already-overflowing business market. You have to defend your territory. It's not an easy task, but once you break it down, you can start recognizing the patterns that emerge.
Advertising is a major battleground of territory disputes. For businesses in the same industry, marketing is everything. It isn't enough to simply draw customers - you need to hurt the competition, too. A suggestive ad or controversial commercial can be all it takes to start a scandal, and in this economy, every company is looking for an edge.
The biggest example of laser-aimed advertising would have to be political ads. They aren't required to be objective or even factual. They can ALMOST virtually lie, attack, mislead, and slam the competition to their heart's content. This is made possible by the tiny disclaimers at the end of the commercials saying they aren't endorsed by the actual candidates. If they're funded and released by a third party - say, an organization that supports the rival candidate - they aren't "officially" recognized as statements by the politicians themselves.
There's also the less direct approach - comparatively advertise the competition while casting yourself as the savior. You can quote a rival's rates and explain why your company is the better company to choose. Why, hire the competition, when you can hire our company offering the same services for 20% less...
Of course, such tactics can backfire. In 2009, Verizon Wireless released a commercial that claimed superiority over AT&T and even co-opted a rival slogan ("there's a map for that"). AT&T responded with a lawsuit. Never underestimate the power of public opinion. If the people lose trust in you, it's all over. Battles aren't only fought in the courtroom. Some entrepreneurs have taken the war to the rest of the world, using public opinion to sway favor and undercut the competition. Social networking and other forms of modern technology have made it easier than ever to reach out to one's consumer base while also staying on top of the competition. With the magic of technology, you can promote yourself on Youtube while stalking your rival's Facebook, and then you can immediately react to any backlash on Twitter.
Which brings us to... *Staying modern*
You can't fall behind your contemporaries. If they're offering something newer, cheaper, or more convenient than the old model, you don't need to. If you sell a higher QUALITY product than they sell, SMART people will pay more for it. Let's look at laptops made by Toshiba vs. laptops made by IBM. If they're utilizing social technology to expand their customer base, then suck up your old fashioned ideas and do the same. Follow your customers to whatever new networking site is the hottest. If you want to reach as many people as possible, you have to make yourself accessible.
Consider creating a website or starting a blog. This will allow your customers to stay in touch with the heart of your business, and they'll feel more at ease, knowing you're more than just a nameless, faceless brand. A well-maintained website will also allow you to make announcements directly to your public instead of relying on something like flyers or commercials, which not everyone will see.
*Dealing with the competition*
Competition is unavoidable, as you've hopefully recognized in this article. There are several ways you can choose to handle it, but the three most popular are polar opposites: harsh criticism, higher thinking, and ignoring the problem.
Going after them directly. No tricks, no marketing ploys, no ulterior moves beyond dragging them down. This is a risky move, but it can pay off with careful planning. The music industry, for example, has perfected it. Unlike an online war or a face-to-face confrontation - which can quickly turn ugly - music allows an artist to take a controlled, calculated swipe at the competition without needing to defend themselves immediately afterward. They have time to craft a response while the competition is left reeling. Freedom of Speech has made "diss tracks" a popular choice among singers and songwriters like Eminem, Jay-Z, 50-cent, and others in the online world. You can hardly listen to an Emenim song without hearing him take a dig at Kanye or Jay Z. Ja Rule and 50 Cent grew up in the same neighborhood and eventually took their rivalry from the streets to the studio. Taylor Swift has made a career out of singing about her ex-boyfriends - a great promotional tool that drums up interest and scandal while simultaneously casting her out of the same mold as other pretty country stars her age.
A bad customer is one makes a fool out of himself, in any number of ways. One example of a bad customer is Greg Carlisle, who filed a Better Business Bureau complaint, when he had NO grounds to do such. His contract STIPULATED that he agreed to " handle the dispute solely through binding arbitration." and (meaning Greg Carlisle) will be responsible for any and all of our arbitration costs and our lawyer fees." ANY OTHER MEANS includes "Filing a bogus BBB complaint." Further, we should let everyone know about what bad business practices and a scam the BBB or "Better Business Bureau" actually is. AND NO IM NOT PAYING YOU TO BECOME A MEMBER, NOR ARE ANY OF MY CLIENTS, OR ASSOCIATES. Now can I get back to doing something productive like finishing my Federal income taxes for 2010?
National Foundation for Cancer Research, Inc. (NFCR) v. Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc., 705 F.2d 98, 101 (4th Cir.) (Organization that “thrusts itself into the public eye” through “massive solicitation efforts” is a public figure), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 830 (1983). Moreover, the public undoubtedly has a strong public interest in the bad business practices of a national company, run by a bunch of fucking idiots. In England, you would be called a bunch of bloody fucking wankers! It could always be worse, I could have called you worse names.
In Response to the BBB's request for information on this matter. I personally drove the near 3 hours to Charlotte to build that wood fence, so I know exactly which fence you are talking about. I can't believe this guy has the nerve to try to lie about what really happened on that job, all these years later. You see, I have a two page signed contract by Mr. Greg Carlisle, which states that he took responsibility for the placement of the fence, for exactly this reason, so that someone can't blame us, after we're instructed to install it in that location.
I have TWO witnesses that all materials remained on the job, and in essence I am out the $3,250 for the entire job, along with the fact that I drove 5 hours round-trip and wasted countless dollars in gas and paying two people to work.
I also have a copy of the check that he stopped payment on, which I believe is grounds for a breach of contract fee. I also have a copy of the change-order addendum that he signed. I further would be happy to go to binding arbitration on the breach of contract, but I'm pretty sure Greg Carlisle isn't going to give you a REAL ADDRESS for him or his company Dove Cottages, LLC or whatever it was called. Maybe he gave his personal information to Outback Steakhouse. I guess I can ask Outlook if he fell for the FREE STEAK trick like I did. I hate "BAD CUSTOMERS" like Greg Carlisle. They are the one's whose greed give business owner's such a hard time just to screw someone out of a dollar. Since I have over seen the operations of $2 million dollars of fence sales in a 7 year period in North Carolina, I must have done something right.
I also could likely pursue a defamation claim on his behalf for lying to the BBB about the actual claims and merits of the situation, which his statements are easily proven false by the documents I have in my possession. However, defamation claims are hard to prove damages on, and his complaint hides behind a P.O. Box so that I cannot serve him with a lawsuit or arbitration, which is why we were never paid for this job, because he's such a SCUM BAG. I further TRIED TO explain to your LACKEY "Toby Barfield" (email@example.com) who told me to talk to your Charlotte office that Next Generation Fences, Inc. NO LONGER exists as well and to quit publishing that inaccurate information about that business which is closed.
The complaint is listed on VISION FENCE & DECK and lists www.CharlotteFenceCompany.com. Which is also a LIE, because Vision Fence & Deck is owned by Mike Newing in Charlotte, and Next Generation Fences, Inc., built Greg Carlisle's fence, which is no longer in business as of December 31, 2010.
These days, it's not enough to simply run a business and stay float. You also have to protect the foundation of your entire operation from bad customers always trying to screw you out of a dollar, and from the "Better Business Bureau" tarnishing your public reputation and image as a business. The Better Business Bureau already was caught up in embarrassment over the Wolf Gang Puck fiasco.
Speaking of bad business practices, you could always hire Trimark Solutions to do your marketing. You don't even have to worry about getting banned by Google. You could always read about what happened to the last people who cheated Google. J.C. Penney, who Pierce, "described the optimization as the most ambitious attempt to game Google’s search results that he has ever seen." Apparently Pierce did not see Trimark Solution's ambitious success in gaming Google’s search results.
Randy Goins manipulated his way to the top, with spam sites. Randy Goins spammed his way through Google's search results, to making INC's fastest growing 500 companies. Randy Goins and Trimark Solutions violated Google rules and guidelines and succeeded. This is why people don't play by the rules, because when cheaters are able to cheat and get ahead, and then not subsequently punished for their actions, why would anyone want to do things the right way? When a company and business like Trimark Solutions knowingly broke the Google rules for years and ended up with millions of dollars in his and his company's pockets, why would anyone want to play fair?
Our marketing company has followed the rules for seven years now, and our marketing agency has helped many businesses succeed and it has taken us quite a bit longer to get our clients the results they wanted and needed, but in the end, we didn't cheat. We didn't create hundreds of websites to be able to get to the top of the search engines, and we didn't break the rules to capitalize on greed. In fact we consolidated our clients' multiple websites because it was a violation of Google's guidelines and quality rules. Randy Goins and Trimark Solutions' marketing company is the epitome of the ends justifies the means, and rules don't apply. Trimark Solutions knowingly manipulated the system by creating literally countless numbers of websites and links to improve their rankings and clients rankings. I wish I could put a number on the value of sales and business that they were able to steal away from other rule-abiding companies who compete with some of their clients like Window World.
Bad ideas and bad business practices go hand in hand with bad leaders. Nine. Twenty Seven. Eight. Five. But 100% honest, white-hat, rule-abiding, square dealer.
Deceptive Advertising Bad Business Practices
I feel VIOLATED. What happened to ethics?
DON'T MAKE RUSHED DECISIONS. PERIOD!
Is your MOUTH WATERING yet? Mine was at first. They are not the only ones engaging in these social engineering tactics. They are BAITING people with steak to gather information and data. Who knows what I did or did not agree to while I was "TRYING to sign up to get my FREE steak, that taught me a valuable lesson. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. No one will fool me like that again. Sorry this is a matter of public interest, on top of whatever 1st Amendment rights I have.
Outback Steakhouse social engineers one million consumers. Outback Steakhouse launched a campaign for 1,000,000 free steaks that they were giving away to the first 1 million people who signed up. I immediately went to their 'special' website which Outback managed to DOS themselves, (through sheer stupidity and ignorance. DOS = Denial Of Service = layman terms: overloaded) with the volume of people trying to get a free steak at once. After a dozen times of submitting my information starting with my zip code and the multiple webpages freezing countless times. Now if someone steals Outlook's database, like Lulz Security store the U.S. Government's Senate/Congress Database and Information, and Lulz Security stole Sony's database and almost every other company in America's someone will have my name, address, phone number, city I live in and email address, which would be a free ticket to try some passwords, and hacks on passwords to my financial institutions. OOh MY GOSH, I am changing my email address and password, TODAY again. OUTBACK. STEAKHOUSE KEEP THE "FREE" STEAK!!! I have to reset all my passwords and change email address AGAIN. I don't want the FREE steak anymore.
It's already cost me $500 in my time having to reset everything again. So do you see the IRONY of me complaining to the BBB because the BBB is just as bad as Outback. Do you see the IRONY of the error message below having 'no real contact information' and me having to contact the BBB to record the fact that you socially engineered ME, and it didn't even occur to me until later how really tricked I was. After 30-60 minutes of delays I get through almost the entire process and hit the final button only to get an Internal Server Error and had to start over, at which point I quit trying. I should have taken a screen shot of your server error, but I found I wasn't the only one who notes the exact word for word verbatim message:
Internal Server Error
The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request. Please contact the server administrator, webmaster@localhost and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error. More information about this error may be available in the server error log.
Apache/2.2.16 (Debian) Server at outbackfreesteaks.com Port 80
I tried several more times and finally gave up. I wasted an hour or so of my life to get a free juicy steak. My wife is a witness to my aggravation, and there are countless other better restaurants out there who actually appreciate my business, like Ted's Montana Grill. So that was it. I filed a Better Business Complaint, so "Toby Barfield's" (firstname.lastname@example.org) worthless ass would actually have something to do (more BBB info KEEP READING BELOW). In the mean time, I am waiting for Outback to respond to the complaint, I get an email from Outback titled: No Worries. Victory is so close you can taste it.
G'Day - Just wanted to drop you a quick line to let you know that we have successfully received your request for a Free Steak Dinner voucher. So don't sweat it, after we verify your mailing address with the USPS, your voucher will be on it's way! Please allow 3 - 4 weeks for delivery. Thanks again for being a loyal fan of Outback. Best, Your friends at Outback To unsubscribe from the Outback Steakhouse email list, please http://my.outback.com/unsubscribe.aspx click here. What if I want my personal information removed from your database completely? Including my phone number, address, and whatever other information that I didn't even realize I was providing you?
I go to my BBB complaint and find, "We apologize for the inconvenience caused. We certainly maintain that our intention was to give a free steak to those that entered the contest by the rules and thereby qualifying. Unfortunately a technological error occurred which gave some customers the impression they did not qualify. We were able to confirm that this customer did in fact qualify correctly and is set to be sent their free steak on schedule when everyone else receives theirs."
Outback seems to admit that they were able to CONFIRM THAT THIS CUSTOMER DID IN FACT QUALIFY. Which I am not a lawyer, but I think it means they admitted to social engineering my personal information out of me? I can't believe this. I'm more mad at myself than Outback, I should have been more street smart than that. I will NEVER give another website my email address and personal information again, I don't care who it is.
Either way, I have to wait 3-4 weeks for delivery after you social engineered me into giving you things I wouldn't normally want to give out to a company, all because I was tempted by a FREE SKIMPY JUICY STEAK, I should have known better, instant success is NOT guaranteed? Keep your steak Outback. It's not worth the headache or hassle at this point. I am not a customer, therefore I do not qualify as a "BAD customer". I do not want to be a customer. Outback Steakhouse, I don't need your free steak, I'd rather just keep my FREE speech and personal information. PS, that email address is NO LONGER VALID. I also gave away my "FREE" steak to someone else.
What does the Free Steak Dinner voucher get me?
The Free Steak Dinner voucher is good for (1) 6oz. Outback Special® Sirloin and choice of (1) side. Voucher is redeemable one per table Monday- Thursday for dine in only. Voucher may not be combined with any other offer or discount. You social engineered a million people into providing you personal information and I can't even get my shitty ass 6 oz. steak on the weekend, after I wait 3-4 weeks to get the voucher. Plus by the time I wait 3-4 weeks to get the voucher, it expires on October 27, 2011. Once again, keep the voucher and "FREE" steak. I'll go to Charlotte, NC and give it to a crackhead.
Revel in the competition. Base your marketing, your prices, your business models all on doing what your rival does, ONLY BETTER. If they make a commercial, make a funnier one. If they can build a fence in 14 hours, find a faster way and do it in 8. If they have a sale, you have one on a different product. Use your competition in your favor. It sounds crazy, but it works - just look at the infamous "Mac vs. PC" ads. With funny, honest, direct commercials, Mac has made itself a household name by openly welcoming the competition and name-dropping their services for comparison. Thanks to the humor of the ads, most people walk away with a favorable impression of technology in general. These are the kinds of feelings you want in your target demographic.
Work hard, cover your bases, and remember - don't give up. No matter how you choose to defend your territory, remember that each plan comes with its own pros and cons. There's no "perfect" model. Each will depend on individual factors like finances, availability, industry, brand, and even your personal business ethics. I hope no one will ever go down the past.
I have watched this country fall apart way too long. I would have a patent invented AFFORDABLE solar power green houses free from pesticides and MIRACLE GROW PLANT HORMONES, like cows being fed corn now, but I was not born in 1960, and my dad was an editor and we wouldn't have McDonalds or Outback Fathouse. Everyone with a 100 IQ and higher would have been buying my ORGANIC PESTICIDE FREE PLANTS, not fat ass cows. But that's our country for you. But who turns down free food? People actually get welfare, that's probably why you are out of free steaks.