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Competitor Going Out of Business? Make These Marketing Moves

Based on the extraordinary circumstances of COVID-19 a number of companies might go out of business. So if you’re able to take advantage (aka have cash!) now could be a good time to double down in your space.

Proactively reach out to competitors with an offer, rather than waiting for them to announce they’re shutting down, because they might view it as incredibly helpful and you’ll likely get access to more assets. Though, if you find they’re not willing to play, wait until they file for bankruptcy and reach out to the administrator written about in the press release.

For our purposes today, competitors can mean:

  • Top domains you’ve been wishing for
  • Companies that sell goods similar to your top products
  • Companies that reach your audience but don’t sell any products similar to yours (think about shared interests!)
  • A media outlet that reaches a similar audience (podcasts, etc) – for real, podcast listens are down because no one is commuting!

Here’s a simple check list for how to make the most of the situation from a marketing perspective, as you try to strike a deal and after it:

1. Plan to execute all of these items quickly, within a three month period, because “customers acquired in the first two to four months after a store closing are three to five times more likely to return and to spend 30% more,” per Cardlytics. Set your team up by letting them know this is a three-month sprint.

2. Be kind! And negotiate wisely with these tips. Start low on your offers. It will hinge your counterpart lower, and you’ll ultimately get things for a lower price.

3. Approach the business with an offer for their:

Depending on circumstances you might also want to and be able to purchase their best performing products, and white-label them for your company.

4. Consider also buying their phone number if it’s a strong lead channel for your business or theirs, for example in small or local b2c companies. In an online poll at Linkedin.com, 75 HVAC contractors responded to: “When a local HVAC competitor closes down, what action are you most likely to take?” with:

  • Purchase/obtain old phone number – 39%
  • None – 28%
  • Purchase/obtain customer list – 19%
  • Other – 11%
  • Purchase physical assets – 4%

5. If you can’t get any of the above, see if you can purchase any content assets for cheap from them such as blog posts, ebooks, photographs, illustrations, stock customer support response templates, email templates, and so on. Curating a library of quality content that you can give away to your customers can be as valuable as creating original content. Or it could save your own employees’ bandwidth.

6. OK so if you can’t get their email database, try to build it on your own with these steps:

  • Look for testimonials on their websites and peer review sites, and reach out to those clients.
  • Run a backlink analysis and see who linked to them, and reach out to them as well.
  • See who’s @ them on social media or sent them messages there.
  • Make a last-ditch offer to buy access to their customer service tool or chat tool, and pull customers from there.
  • Or make an offer to pay for one email they’d send to their list.

7. Make a limited period discount or special offer for people to switch over to your product.

8. Create a migration guide to make the switch easy for their existing customers. Offer free webinars, direct mail, or a landing page to teach new customers how to use your product, or what your best products are, and introduce them to your company history and why you’re as trustworthy as your competitor – and even better!

9. Bid for the business’ brand’s keywords (exact and broad match) and any keyword combination that shows the searcher is looking for an alternative such as:

  • business name
  • brand + out of business
  • brand + closed
  • brand + bankruptcy
  • brand + alternative
  • brand + vs
  • service like competitor
  • similar to competitor
  • service similar to competitor
  • competitor vs your solution

10. Set up Gmail ads targeting anyone that was receiving emails from the competitor’s domain.

11. Consider forwarding their domain to your site, and moving their content over onto yours using 301 redirects. Or using the website as part of a network, and interlinking relevant pages between theirs and yours.

12. Put up a banner across their whole website (like Hellobar) about the news. And share information – such as an introductory offer to your product – on the top trafficked pages such as their homepage and login page.

13. Publish a press release about what has happened and pay if you can afford it (usually about $1,000) to have it placed with Newswire. Explain that it’s sad to see a closure of such a great company, and let everyone know that you are now here to meet their needs. Explain how your product’s features align what they’re used to, and how customers can benefit them even more.

14. Send your press release, slightly revised to be more welcoming to existing competitor customers, to any email list you acquired. And, send a similar email to your own email list, letting your customers know you’re stable enough to acquire another company, and invested in the industry and supporting them every way you can.

15. Reach out to anyone with a backlink to the competitor, and let them know linking to a dead site could be hurting them. Plus, give them the alternative – your site!

16. And if you can afford it right now, send a custom puzzle to the top 20% of their customers to welcome them into your family. You can design a custom image relevant to your brand and them, and upload it on Zazzle. Folks are turning to puzzles during this shelter-in-place period, so you’ll be showing an understanding for their circumstances right out of the gate building goodwill.

Jigsaw puzzle Google trends graph during COVID-19
See how search volume has spiked for jigsaw puzzles!?

17. Finally, don’t forget their marketing staff are people. If you can offer them work, do! At the least, consider offerings to pay them for their time to give you a big information dump of what’s worked, what’s not, company marketing history, and so on.

Now you’re ready to make marketing moves! Up next, see how to unearth your top performing web pages during these crazy times so you can drive more traffic.

Would it be too crazy to ask you to please send a $5 tip to my Venmo tip jar if you learned something new? @megsterr.

Or to my Paypal:

Thank you so much! Next up learn how to write product comparison posts about your competitors that rank well.

By Megan Mitzel

I'm the wearer of overalls behind the marketing advice website Marketing Overalls. I'm also a senior marketing director with more than ten years of experience leading acquisition and lifecycle marketing at successful startups. Before that, I got a business degree at UNC-Chapel Hill. Before that, I owned a seashell shop. And that's the tea on me.