Healthy Competition v Deceptive Business Practices

In business, healthy competition is good for a variety of reasons. It inspires us to be the best we can be which builds customer satisfaction.  Keeping an eye on what our competitors are doing encourages us to lead or follow, as well has making our prices competitive. Mainly, our relationships with competitors are polite and civil. But some resort to deceptive business practices.

The first rule of marketing is never to slate the competition but rather to promote your company’s advantages.  Often competitors work together to give each other work when times are busy, thereby maintaining healthy relationships. It’s never a good idea to speak ill of them.

Content marketing

However, some competitors don’t apply the same morals and ethics as you do.  If they are new to the business, they may try to topple your position as industry leader.  They may undercut your prices by a huge margin and lie about your company and its personnel whenever the opportunity arises. Some competitors may have personal angst with someone who works for you giving them petty reasons to denigrate your services. Other competitors, perhaps jealous of your success, may stoop to rewriting your content and making it their own.

Our marketing is content driven and a fair chunk of our marketing budget is spent on it. Our industry news, case studies and web pages are all professionally written. With case studies we obtain each client’s permission to publish them, naturally with different names and locations to protect their identities.  Client confidentiality is of paramount importance in the polygraph industry. Prospective clients often read our blog and relate their own situations to case studies of people who have already chosen lie detector tests to resolve their problems.

Our polygraph examiners deal with an abundance of queries each month, offering free advice on our blog and via our free helpline.

Call questioning our integrity

On 28 May 2019 we published a study of a case we handled for a solicitor.  It related to an inheritance claim made by a mistress on the estate of a prominent public figure.  You can read this case study by clicking here

We were horrified by a call we received from this solicitor last week accusing us of sharing the details of the case with one of our competitors.  The mistress in the case, and his client, came across her own story on the competitor’s blog dated 17 May 2020 which can be accessed here

It is, of course, conceivable that someone in the same industry as us will handle similar cases. However, in this instance there is so much detail that it’s clearly the same case.

We actively encourage the sharing of our content but we do expect those who share it to acknowledge that it is ours and ask our permission to publish it. It transpires that our competitor rewrites our blog content.  On the upside imitation is the best form of flattery, but on the downside for our competitor it’s badly rewritten.  Its SEO value is zero thereby proving that cheaters seldom win.

Perhaps our competitor doesn’t have any case studies of his own to share, so maybe we should feel sorry for him.

The appalling standard of rewrites is something to behold too.  Anyone reading it might be forgiven for believing that the owner of the content is illiterate. If the company is so bad at communication, what else are they not good at?

How to deal with deceptive business practices

Maintaining the ethical and moral high ground can be difficult at times. But there are ways to deter a competitor’s deceptive business practices without stooping to their level.

In your RFP (request for proposal) responses you can include a section about your competitors (without naming them). In it you can make comparisons between your strengths and their weaknesses.  When your clients submit reviews, if they have used your service as well as your competitor’s, you can get them to write a comparison review.

If your content is being rewritten keep an eye on the competitor’s blog and website.  Plagiarism is not only about running the words through anti-plagiarism software, although you should always do that.  It is also about the origin of the content and theft of ideas.  Make sure the images with the blogs are licenced to your competitor and if not, report the copyright infringement.

Always ensure that your own content is copyrighted.

Rules of engagement

For those of us with content driven marketing, we pay highly for a professional job.  Reputable SMBs don’t engage in deceptive business practices because in the long run, they backfire sooner or later. Whilst it is irritating to see content that you’ve paid for desecrated and republished karma often intervenes. However, when a competitor sets the rules of engagement, sometimes the gloves have to come off albeit in a subtle way.

Associations and Accreditation

We work in an industry that is largely unregulated. The Industry standards are set by the American Polygraph Association (APA).  Our polygraph examiners are all accredited by the APA.  We are also associated with many other organisations, the logos of which can be found on our website.

One such logo is that of the British Polygraph Society which we set up.  Its existence is for polygraph examiners to meet up to discuss legislation and other news related to our industry.  It also delivers ongoing training which is mandatory to retain our APA accreditation.  Those with an interest in starting a career in forensic psychology or as a polygraph examiner also benefit from membership.

Unlike some of our competitors we do not pass ourselves off as heads of a society inferring that it is in some way a regulatory body.

Have you experienced deceptive business practices from a competitor?  We’d love to hear about it.