Sometimes it’s frustrating when you lose an account to another company, when you know that the winning competition is terrible at what they do.  I got a call today from a potential client with the bad news that they had gone with another agency for their website design and seo.

We felt like we never really stood a chance to win the job because the person in charge of making the final decision was close friends with the other competitors so our involvement was really just a formality.

Still, you wonder “what more could I have done?”

It’s hard to compete when the other agency already has a long term relationship with the prospect and that’s really what B2B marketing comes down to.  So is it wrong to tell the prospect why they shouldn’t go with the competition?   Is that seen as mud slinging?  Especially in a time when the polls show that negative political ads are generally harmful.

So where is that fine line between honesty and mud-slinging?  That’s for you to decide, but at this point I wonder what could it have hurt to tell the honest truth about the competition’s weaknesses?

That raises the issue of competitive analyses and the way that the Internet can be used to help you gain a competitive advantage over the other guy.  Here are a couple tools that you can use to spy on your competition and get a glimpse into their companies.

First, visit their website.  Duh.  You can gather a wealth of information about your competitors from their sites.  As you look at their sites, consider whether or not the information on your site is giving away your competitive advantage.

Visit alexa.com.  This website can help you to determine how much traffic your competitors are getting on their site.  The ranking is understood like this: a low score is good.  If you have a score of #1, then you’re the most popular site on the web.  Yahoo gets that prestigious designation.  Google has the #2 slot.  If their site has a ranking over 1,000,000 then you can assume that they’re not really getting a ton of traffic.  Most of the traffic on the web sticks to the top 1 million sites and the rest are lost in cyberspace.

More on this one tomorrow.

Until then…