Never, Ever Bad Mouth Your Competition . . . Directly

Don Doman

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It’s never a good idea to speak evil of anyone, you end up sounding like a gossip, or what’s worse you sound like someone with an axe to grind, prejudiced and out to do harm, so that you gain greater stature. This is not a good policy. You should generally follow the golden rule, “If you have nothing good to say about someone, say nothing. ”

However, I’d like to tell you about an incident from several years back.

I was sitting in my office talking to three prospective clients. They were all members of the same lounge band. They were playing locally for a short time and they wanted to record a demo. There were to be about half a dozen songs video taped with each one lasting no longer than a minute or two.

We were talking about coming at closing time and shooting until dawn. I was explaining what techniques I would use and what scenes I would be looking for, when an associate came into my office. She smiled at my guests and then walked over to my desk and put down an article face down, turned around and walked away. At the door she looked back at me. I peaked at the article, nodded and smiled. I turned back to my clients and said, “It’s a news story about a competitor, they haven’t paid their taxes. ”

The discussion went on. It soon sounded like their decisions came down to two video production companies, of which we were one. They wanted to know what kind of clients we had and how secure their stock footage would be. I assured them we had long-standing, important clients and pointed to the shelves of client tapes on the wall.

I asked the name of their other choice and they mentioned “ABC Video Productions. ” I said, “Oh, yes. They do really good stuff. I used to work with them a couple of years ago. ”

The direction of the meeting took a short-cut with the following action, however. With two fingers I moved the article on my desk a few inches closer to them and said, “Would you like to read about them?”

The jaws of my clients nearly reached the floor in disbelief, and then they all laughed. They passed the article back and forth among them. The implication being the production company’s assets could be seized, and among those assets would be client stock footage. I never said a word.

We signed a contract and my clients had a wonderful demo. My competitor eventually went out of business.

I said nothing harmful about my competitor, but had only made certain information available to my clients. All I really did was flick my fingers. They made their decision and actually felt relieved. I’ve never felt bad about what I did. Would you?

Author Don Doman: Don is a published author of books for small business, corporate video producer, and owner of Ideas and Training ( ), which provides business training products. Don also owns Human Resources Radio ( ), which provides business training programs and previews 24-hours a day.


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