How Does Competitive Information Help Copywriters?

Competitive information is often closely guarded, but is very valuable for copywriters because it shows you what features and benefits to emphasize. In this post, I provide some examples and a short discussion of two sensitive areas: ease of use and pricing.

 Competitive Information in the Sales Guide

You will normally find the basic strengths and weaknesses of your product’s main rivals in the sales guide and the offsetting benefits of your product. Detail is often included, which you may or may not need, depending on what kind of piece you are writing.

Sales Guide vs. Fighting Guide

A sales guide usually contains enough high-level competitive information for marketing pieces, but more detailed “fighting guides” or similarly titled pieces can also be helpful. Fighting guides sometimes provide background information about rivals and almost always contain detailed sales tactics and competitive information that is highly confidential. Copywriters might find this information interesting but not necessarily useful since most of it is not meant for public documents.

Competitive Information Example

FastFlush

Strengths

  • (1) GUI interface with extensive graphical presentation (can be awkward to use)

Weaknesses

  • (2) Multiple interfaces for products
  • (3) Weak event correlation
  • (4) Automations done via scripts and PSL that need to be manually built

SecureFlush Benefits

  • (1) Customizable GUI interface to simplify training and deployment
  • (2) End-to-end solution with a complete enterprise view on a single screen
  • (3) Complete suite of products for events, alerts, and automated problem resolution
  • (4) Rule creation without coding or scripting
  • Attractive pricing

 WatchIt

Strengths

  • Good low-level system manipulation
  • Complex alert logic available

 Weaknesses

  • Weak correlation and integration of information
  • Lacks integrated monitoring

SecureFlush Benefits

  • Integrated view of events, alerts, and automated problem resolution
  • Customizable GUI interface to simplify training and deployment
  • End-to-end solution with a complete enterprise view on a single screen
  • Single point of contact for hardware, software, and problem resolution
  • Attractive pricing

 NOHOLD

Strengths

  • May have been acquired bundled with other products
  • Special pricing program promotes flexible aggressive pricing
  • Integrated support for OneCenter Service Desk

 Weaknesses

  • Multiple user interfaces for products
  • Not easy to see all resource information on a single screen

SecureFlush Benefits

  • Customizable GUI interface to simplify training and deployment
  • Integrated view of events, alerts, and automated problem resolution
  • End-to-end solution with a complete enterprise view on a single screen
  • Single point of contact for hardware, software, and problem resolution
  • Competitive pricing

Competitive Information Discussion

I have provided sample strengths and weaknesses for three competitors to our SecureFlush product (FastFlush, WatchIt, and NOHOLD). For the first product, I have added numbers in parentheses to show the correlation between FastFlush’s strengths and weaknesses and SecureFlush’s benefits.

You may notice that most SecureFlush benefits are repeated for each competitor, which is done to allow easy scanning by the salespeople. They are normally only selling against one competitive product at a time, so it is easier to repeat the benefits than send them to another product to view them, and it is well worth the extra space.

Ease of Use – A Common Weakness

Many products have “ease of use” issues (as do all the three competitive products in this example), and if you have a great graphical user interface (GUI), you need to flaunt it when writing copy and, if possible, provide sample screens. Please forgive the generalization, but engineers tend to “throw” information on a screen. I remember once standing next to a very competent engineer and looking at his GUI in despair as I realized that, although he had one ear on each side of his head, he had no sense of symmetry at all. The screen was not only ugly but impossible to decipher.

How to Get a Great GUI

Great GUI design is expensive. It requires special expertise, which usually means hiring outsiders to work with the engineers. It also means usability testing, which requires a lab, test subjects, and collecting and compiling data. If the company you are working for has gone the extra mile, make sure the world knows it.

Pricing – Another Common Issue

Although pricing is mentioned as a benefit against the first two competitors (FastFlush and WatchIt), it is a “sweetener” and not a major issue as it is for the third competitor (NOHOLD). As soon as salespeople see “flexible aggressive pricing” listed as a strength, their antennae will go way up and they will be sure to mention all the goodies their product provides – at a great price. Although writers normally leave pricing issues out of their copy, it is an issue that should be discussed with your marketing management and with sales. Slipping “competitive pricing” in at the right point can be very powerful.

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About Regina Domeraski

I am a writer and have been for as long as I can remember. I worked as a technical writer and now a marketing writer for high-tech companies, but my interests go far beyond technology and include writing as an art and a craft, creativity, film, classical music, and the mystery genre (after all, Hamlet is a murder mystery).
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