Just read Jason’s post. He is unhappy about software vendor mudslinging, and I agree with him. I’ve suggested that the software industry should remember-learn some manners. My marketing guru mate John would probably agree too.
Here is a quote from Jason’s post.
I recently heard a story where one of the larger vendors in the talent management space sent a prospective client a complete slide deck regarding the weaknesses of one of their top competitors including a statement saying the vendor was due to get acquired any day. FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) in its greatest sense. With the increased pace of M&A in the space, some may consider this a brilliant move. I think it downright stinks!
It is a valid issue to raise the long term viablity of a competitor. Ask any customer of a recently acquired vendor whether this is important or not. However I don’t think is cool to suggest something that isn’t. That is I believe, called lying.
Understanding competitor strengths and weaknesses and positioning against them is good business, but mailing a slidedeck of FUD isn’t. That is dumb. I’ve got lots of slides from customers saying this is what the other guys say you can’t do. This makes the next deal so much easier.
If you are going to unethical and lie then don’t compound it by leaving any evidence….
Jeff Nolan posted a thoughtful post a few weeks ago about the Oracle-SAP tiffs.
The old rules like never talk about your competitor, as a primary strategy, are also out. While it is prudent, IMO, to not run the kind of full page ads that Oracle has been using against SAP (indeed, SAP did a pretty extensive survey of CIOs and IT decision makers and found overwhelming support for the argument that these ads were actually hurting Oracle by reinforcing biases against the company), I do think companies in mature markets need to run more aggressive anti-competitor campaigns. These will involve everything from websites to blogs to YouTube videos. The point is that you have to position against your competitor aggressively, protect your flanks from them doing the same, and fight to remove all the competitive oxygen from the room before you get there.
Yet undermining competitors by whatever means possible is not a new thing, so Jason’s call for a return to the good old days of true and fair competition is wistful at best.
The term mudslinging seems to have from US Politics, and it is not a recent invention. The election of 1864 was particularly vicious, and it is from there that the term became widespread.
Sadly, it seems that negative advertising actually works.
Iacoboni’s brain imaging research from the 2004 presidential campaign revealed that viewers lost empathy for their own candidate once he was attacked.