Yes, You Should Talk About Your Competitors

Podia is no stranger to competition. In fact, many of the company’s best-performing pages—from both an organic search and a product sign-up perspective—are dedicated to Podia’s competitors.

Teachable gets its own dedicated page. So, too, does Gumroad, and Udemy, and Thinkific, and Patreon. Keep scrolling and you’ll discover that virtually every competing product merits a stand-alone, search-optimized page (34 at last count).

These competitor comparison pages are incredibly direct. You can see how Podia’s pricing stacks up next to their competitors’. You can compare the features of each tool, without any bluster or obfuscation. Everything a would-be customer needs to make an informed decision is right there, in a single table.

Podia’s Kajabi alternative page

Podia is a platform where you can sell online courses, memberships, webinars, and downloads. Their willingness to acknowledge their competitors is pretty rare. Their decision to encourage direct comparison is rarer still.

For many companies, “competitor” is a dirty word—they’d rather avoid the issue entirely. But as Len Markidan, Podia’s CMO, explains, he’s just acknowledging reality:

“It’s no secret that people shop around. It’s not uncommon for creators to look at 4+ platforms before choosing Podia. Pretending that this behavior doesn’t exist just makes it harder for people to come to a decision.”

Potential customers are weighing the pros and cons of Podia and its competitors day in, day out. Your product is subject to the same scrutiny.

Competitor comparison pages are a chance to preempt their questions and make the decision-making process a little easier. When a new company hits the scene, you can respond. While other companies keep quiet about their competitors, it’s a chance to begin the long, valuable process of building rapport.

“By giving them all of the information they’ll need up front, we become more than an option in a sea of choices—we become a trusted advisor guiding them through the selection process.”

“We Don’t Want to Lose Business”

One of the reasons that companies don’t talk about their competitors is the perceived risk of losing business to a rival. But this fear is overstated. Sites like G2 and Reddit mean that your competition is only ever a Google search away. Refusing to acknowledge their existence does little to insulate you from their influence.

Competitor comparison pages are an opportunity to participate in this buying process instead of plugging fingers firmly in ears and pretending it isn’t happening. For any customer who does makes the switch as a result of your page, for once the adage “It’s not you, it’s me” really does apply. Your product isn’t right for every customer:

“Most of the time, we feel we’re the right fit for people who come looking for us. But when we’re not, we’re honest about that, too.

"If a customer signs up for a month, realizes we’re not the right fit, and cancels their account, we’ve wasted their time and done more damage than we would have by pointing them in the right direction from the start.”

Instead of a close-customers-at-all-costs mentality, it’s better to focus on winning over the right customers and nudging the wrong ones toward a better alternative. If you aren’t able to provide the right solution for their needs, you can at least add value with a helpful recommendation and set the stage for the future.

“Even when a customer rightfully chooses a competitor for something, they’re likely to respect Podia, recommend us to their friends, and come back to us when their needs change.”

“We Don’t Have Feature Parity”

Another fear that dissuades comparison is the worry that your product will compare unfavorably to its rivals. But you don’t need a world-beating product to make competitor comparisons worthwhile.

If you lack a particular feature, there’s probably a good reason for it. You value simplicity over complexity. You’ve focused on refining a single best-in-class feature. Or, as in Podia’s case, you’ve set out to consolidate an entire ecosystem of uni-tasking tools in one place:

"The truth is that we don’t have feature parity with every single competitor. As an all-in-one platform, we see Podia’s job as doing everything a creator needs to turn their passion into income. That means that we’re often replacing 3-6+ tools for any one customer.

"There are cases where these point solutions offer fringe features (we call them ‘1% features’) that we don’t have, because their goal is to make the best possible tool a specific job, whereas our goal is to make a great tool for each job, and an amazing platform that ties everything together.

"In those cases, we acknowledge what our competitor has that we’re missing, and we focus on what we do offer. In many cases, we’re making a case that the simplicity and impact of having an all-in-one platform are more useful than having that 1% feature."

“We Want to Take the High Road”

One final criticism leveled at talking about competition: it isn’t classy. Brands want to be known for the strength of their product, not their penchant for criticizing rivals. But as Len explains, this approach is perfectly compatible with fair, feel-good marketing:

“We don’t see these pages as an outbound offensive against our competitors. We see them as a helpful guide for people who are about to make a decision and are already comparing Podia to another platform.”

A few guiding principles help:

  • Prioritize honesty above all else.
  • When it’s relevant, acknowledge the differences or limitations of your own product.
  • Don’t be aggressive and ramp up when a competitor is having a service outage or a PR crisis.

“Every company goes through public challenges, and taking advantage of those crises isn’t how we like to do business.”

“It’s Not a Priority”

Podia encourages direct comparison with its customers because, simply put, it works.

The company’s suite of comparison pages rank for hundreds of bottom-of-the-funnel keywords. They attract potential customers at a key moment of inflection, when they’re gearing up to purchase a tool like Podia. They help simplify the complicated, painful process of wading through dozens of competitors and mountains of marketing-speak.

Getting started doesn’t need to be complicated:

  • Spend 10 minutes talking to your sales or support team and you’ll come away with a laundry list of perceived competitors.
  • Prioritize the companies that keep cropping up in sales calls, migrations, surveys, or support communication, as well as those that have the greatest search volume (“clickfunnels alternative” gets a mighty 1,800 searches per month).
  • Create a dedicated page (or blog post, like Vyond’s alternatives to PowerPoint) where you compare pricing and features. Spell out the differences between the two products. Walk through the ethos behind your product decisions. Explain how your target audiences and use cases differ.

Your product is compared to a dozen competitors every day. Many companies let those conversations happen without their input—but you don’t need to. You can actively participate in the discussion. You can add value at the earliest part of the buying process, and you can attract customers as a result. As Len explains:

“They’re the highest-converting landing pages on our site, by a large margin. In many ways, they’re the most helpful bottom-of-the-funnel resource we have.”