Of all the times I decided to watch an actual, live, World Cup match it had to be the one between France and Germany. Given my habitual penchant for seeing stereotypes, I had to really hold myself back. And no, I’m not sure it helped it was also the same day FIFA was celebrating non-discrimination.
But when you think about it, old rivalries have been making good marketing material for years. And to an easy extent, that’s obviously good for your lead generation campaigns.
Now thankfully, I’m not the first person with the tendency to see events like the World Cup playing on old national rivalries (if this chart shared by DeadState is any indicator). Some people might take offense but it just goes to show how classic rivalries like that between France versus Germany are so embedded in history (both in and out of world-class soccer).
These days it’s still conventional wisdom to presume that competition only benefits in one rival’s direction. But according to development firms like MaRS, certain forms like those in advertising can have mutual benefits like the increased demand and enhanced brand differentiation.
This could be the key to getting the most out of a highly publicized rivalry. Whether you side with France or Germany on any subject (soccer, economics, or even WW2), you can’t appreciate one country without ever learning about how heavily involved the other one was. And if you want a more corporate example, look no further than Microsoft and Apple.
Of course, the key to keeping this kind of rivalry mutual is to keep it balanced and organic. And unlike a World Cup match, it might take a much longer time before one of you is declared the real winner. So, what are some ways to maintain a competitive but beneficiary relationship?
- Keep trying to outdo each other – Yes, this is a responsibility that carries beyond the marketing department. However, it’s usually a marketing responsibility to learn first about the competition and report back to sales, R&D, and the C-suite. This knowledge helps you keep up the pace and if your competition is just as good, they won’t cut you too much slack. Remember, to maintain this sort of relationship is to maintain the rivalry.
- Avoid foul play – This is obvious but it’s better to be safe with this in mind. (Microsoft and Apple haven’t kept it clean either and look how ugly that always turns out.) Not all publicity is good publicity so avoid dodgy tactics like rigged product comparisons or inflammatory satires. Try not to go beyond just filling out software problems your competitor may have overlooked.
- Don’t give everything away – Naturally, you need defense as much as offense. Trying to learn about the competition is the offense part. Defense comes in making sure your marketers don’t share everything that could give away your position. Avoid sharing confidential product information and trade secrets unless you can afford to.
In sense, you could say the concepts of good sportsmanship helps turn rivalries into mutually beneficial relationships. Why? It’s because good sportsmanship isn’t just limited to sports. It’s a code of ethics that guides any competition, including ones among businesses. Win or lose, a good game is a good game for both sides because they benefit it from one way or another.