Is comparative advertising useful for your business?

The marketing industry is a very vast and colorful world filled with different ideas and tactics. As top digital marketing agencies in New York, it’s important for us to explore as many ideas as possible to be able to tailor the best strategies for our clients. But it is also in the interest of business owners to learn about the gains and risks of taking certain approaches in advertising their business. Along the way, the idea of using comparative marketing as a promotional strategy might come up. In our article today, we look into what comparative advertising is and whether or not it is useful for your business.

What is Comparative Advertising?

  • Simply put, comparative marketing/advertising is a strategy that relies on showcasing your product/service as superior to that of your competitors.

However, there is still plenty of room for flexibility when it comes to comparative ads. You can choose whether or not you want to call out a specific competitor or to leave it to your target audiences to make their own deductions. No matter how you decide to approach it, your focus should always remain the same – a clear cross-comparison where you are the winner.

Comparison between product A and product B
Comparative advertising creates a visual representation of the differences between two products/services.

Depending on the product/service that you are offering and the mindset of your customers, it’s important to plan out your approach.

  • On the one hand, you can go with transparent comparative advertising. These would be the campaigns where you go out of your way to blatantly point out your dominance over the competitor in question. Although an aggressive approach, it can do the trick with customers looking for someone to make the decision easy for them.
  • On the other hand, we have intuitive comparative marketing. And this would be meant for those businesses looking to maintain professionalism while putting themselves in the spotlight. You make subtle comparisons between you and a competitor, leaving just enough indications of your higher quality for the customers to draw their own conclusions.

Are there any limitations when it comes to comparative ads?

Of course there are. While some might be reluctant to uphold these principles, most marketers know better than to cross that threshold. While a business is going to create ads that will sway in their favor, they aren’t allowed to make false claims about competitors. It’s important to choose your comparison battles wisely and to use actual facts in terms of features and benefits.

When it comes to the format of your comparative advertising, it comes in a variety of marketing channels. Whether you are going to go digital or traditional, use articles or infographics, a humorous or serious tone – it can all do the trick. Again, it all comes down to understanding your target audiences and what they will respond to best. For example, you will find that a lot of businesses follow social media marketing trends to give strength to their comparative ads.

Comparative Advertising Law in the US

Person filling out a survey for comparative advertising.
There are always laws that one needs to uphold when it comes to advertising.

It is the obligation of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to protect US consumers from fraud, deception, and manipulation by businesses. And that protection also extends to the unfair practices and activities of competitors. On the topic of comparative advertising, the ruling of the FTC is very clear:

  • “Commission policy in the area of comparative advertising encourages the naming of, or reference to competitors, but requires clarity, and, if necessary, disclosure to avoid deception of the consumer. Additionally, the use of truthful comparative advertising should not be restrained by broadcasters or self-regulation entities.”

To summarize the standpoint of the FTC – it supports the use of comparative marketing for the purpose of providing customers with a holistic image of the offering of products/services out there. However, it discourages businesses from using false information to manipulate the market and point customers away from competitors. Therefore, companies have the right to file claims against competitors that damage their reputation through comparative ads.

The advantages of comparative advertising

Benefits
What are the benefits for your business here?

You get a stronger product-oriented marketing

The entire basis of comparative marketing relies on promoting a specific product or service and comparing it. And this is really a win-win scenario in terms of your product getting more attention. Whether it manages to sway the audience in your favor or not, you will still raise awareness with your target audiences through its features and benefits.

It boosts your brand awareness

Going to the notion of using product promotion to raise awareness, this is a factor that directly influences your brand as well. By using comparative advertising, you can target and satisfy the specific needs of customers through your brand. Modern consumers are looking for underdogs that can stand up to competitors and new businesses with innovative ideas that will impress them. By standing up to known brands, you give your business the exposure it needs to gain a foothold in the market and to attract new audiences.

You can increase your customer base

As with all types of marketing strategies, one of the goals is to use as many different advertising channels to get your message across. And this is no different when it comes to comparative marketing. The more widely you distribute the ads and target wider audiences, the more likely that parts of those audiences are to respond. This, in turn, boosts your customer base and leads to more traffic on your website.

Strengthen your credibility through education

By creating comparisons with other products/services, you are also informing customers about the feature that they should focus on. And in doing so, you help them better understand what to search for in a product or service similar to the one you are offering as well as others. By using comparative ads, businesses are able to influence the overall buying process. As a result, you are adding to your own credibility by shifting the focus from boasting your brand and showing customers that you care about them getting the best deal.

The downsides of comparative advertising

Risk with domino effect example
What are the risks for your brand here?

You risk losing your integrity as a business

We’ve already mentioned that the US (like other countries) abide by certain rules when it comes to comparative advertising. Choosing to neglect those rules carries not only legal risks but also ones that can lead you to alienate your target audiences. By showing flat-out disregard for your competitors, consumers can see this as an aggressive effort to gain favor. That is why understanding your target audience and the rulebooks of digital marketing play such a vital role.

It can create confusion

This is the other side of the advantage of boosting brand awareness through comparative ads. It can create confusion to mention different competitors in the same campaign as your brand. If you don’t take the time to invest in the visual layout of the ad itself, customers can lose track of which brand they want to give favor to. And so, to avoid this from happening, you might want to get the professional support of a web design New York team.

Your business can be held legally accountable

With the advertising laws and regulations set in place by different countries, there are lines that you can’t cross. And if you choose to cross those lines for the sake of getting the upper hand over the competition, your business can face legal action from competitors. This is an especially big risk for well-known and established brands where competitors are always waiting for a slip-up to occur. So, it’s important to thread carefully when creating comparative marketing campaigns.

Start working on your advertising efforts with experience on your side

As we’ve explained here, the very notion of comparative advertising for your business can be fruitful and unique. However, it can also be very risky if not done right. And so, why not take the known path by consulting with marketers that understand the ins and outs of the digital marketing world. Contact Digital Dot today and let us start working on growing your business through competitive ads together!

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