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How To Stop a Bad-Mouth Competitor
The longer you’re in business, the more likely it is that you’ll encounter a competitor that tries to boost their business by employing below-the-belt attacks on the competition. How you respond to those attacks is often more important than what they’re saying.
If you sling mud in return, you’ll appear just as negative, and your customers may assume that what your competitor is saying is true. On the other hand, if you keep your cool, stay professional, and counter the false claims with the truth without getting combative, it’s your competitor that will take the hit. Their lies and negativity will come back to haunt them when the trust they’ve destroyed causes their customers to flock to you.
Taking the high road is the best way to handle a bad-mouth competitor. Not only does it leave you looking good, but when you rise to the challenge, your competitor gets left far behind. So what should you do specifically? Below you’ll find a five-step process for effectively dealing with this sort of underhanded business.
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When you discover that a competitor is trash-talking you to consumers, two things are important — act quickly and stay positive. You don’t want to let this sort of abuse go unanswered for long, but you also can’t stoop to the level of your competitor.
When answering their insults, look for ways to spin the confrontation to make yourself look like the better person. Turn their insults into praise. You could say, “It’s a shame they’ve chosen to go down this dark path. They’re a good company. They treat their customers well, and they do good work. I’m not sure why they’re being unnecessarily aggressive.” Then answer each of their charges with positivity. Remember, if you want to win back customers you don't want to stoop to your competitor's level.
Never make a direct attack on your competitor. They may be liars, but you don’t need to point that out. It’s enough to refute their claims. It will be evident they’re lying when you demonstrate that everything they’re saying is false. Calling them out directly, regardless of whether you’re right, can be perceived as unfavorable by your consumers. Correct what they say, don’t attack them for saying it.
For example, if your competitor claims that you provide poor customer support, answer them with testimonials from your customers praising you for the quality customer care you offer. If they say that you cut corners, respond with a detailed breakdown of your quality control processes, showing how you guarantee things are done properly.
If you do feel the need to answer your competitor directly, use a tongue-in-cheek approach. Make your comment a lighthearted joke so that it doesn’t feel like an attack. You might answer them with something like, “I can understand why they’re angry with us. They lose customers to us all the time. I’d be sore, too.” Just make sure that what you’re saying is true. If it isn’t, then you’re engaging in defamation along with your competitor.
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Your goal is to avoid court, but you should prepare in case your competitor leaves you no choice — document everything. Talk to their customers to find out what they’re saying about you. Take screenshots of any negative comments they leave on your social media feeds. Jot down every lie, every insult, and every negative customer interaction that’s shared with you.
Make sure to note where each piece of evidence came from and when the comment was made. The more detail you can capture, the better. If you do wind up taking legal action, you’ll need these notes to substantiate your case.
Extend an Olive Branch
It can be worth trying to get to know your competitor. It could be that they don’t realize that the negative things they’re saying about you reflect poorly on them. Explain that when they call you out as a cheater, a price gouger, or incompetent, they’re doing a disservice to their own industry. They’re giving the customer the impression that poor players are common, and if the industry is full of cheaters, they may be perceived as a cheater as well.
If legal action is on the table, extending an olive branch takes on additional significance. It gives your competitor the chance to avoid an extended court battle. If you’ve been keeping notes, you’ll have proof of their wrongdoing in hand. Explain to them how a loss in court will cost them a considerable amount of money since they’ll likely have to cover your court costs. Let them know that if they knock it off, you’ll be happy to go your separate ways and compete like honest businesspeople. If they agree, problem solved. If not, you’ll be forced to move on to step five
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TAKE LEGAL ACTION
Not all negative claims are actionable. Nonspecific claims like, “Those guys are a bunch of chuckleheads” or “They couldn’t find a carburetor if it came up and bit them” don’t follow under the body of law that guides these sorts of cases. However, lies that fall into the category of libel (damaging lies in print) or slander (spoken words) are grounds for a lawsuit. These are both types of defamation. Something like, “A customer of theirs once told me they found a dead mouse inside their cheesesteak” would be slanderous if you can prove that it’s a lie.
Defamation is spurious speech that harms someone’s reputation or livelihood. If your competitor refuses your olive branch and continues to disparage you to their customers, you may have no choice but to take them to court.
Of course, before you take this step, consult with a lawyer. Show them your notes so that they can determine the strength of your case. If they’re certain defamation has occurred, legal action is warranted. Now buckle up, because your life is about to get interesting.
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JUST PLAY FAIR
At Simply Noted, we would never disparage our competitors, and we don’t need to. Our customers already appreciate our commitment to quality products and service. They know that we make good on our promises. If you want some of the finest, automated handwritten notes and cards available, take a look at our offerings.
That’s the way to play fair. Don’t attack your competitors. Just offer the best service you possibly can and let that speak for itself.