Trash Your Competition Bad Idea

angry womanI tend to follow marketing people on Facebook, and for the most part they do a great job promoting themselves as experts in their field. Every once in a while however, someone uploads a post that does more harm to their reputation than good. Let me give you an example.

Talk Trash

Recently, one of the marketing people I follow uploaded a post trashing a competitor. She didn’t name the competitor, but she made a big deal as to how unqualified this individual was with respect to teaching a certain subject. It was clear that her intent was to promote her credibility as the expert while trashing the expertise of her competition. Bad idea. In doing so, she lowered herself in the eyes of many of her followers.

This Was My Intent … Really

I’m certain that if you asked her what her intent was with the post, she would tell you that she wanted to warn people not to fall pray to unqualified service providers. Problem was, that’s not how the post came across to me or to most of her readers. It read as though she had an axe to grind with this individual and this was her way of trashing them while promoting herself as the guru.

Now, if you were to read the comments her followers made concerning her post, you would think that she is a goddess who can do no wrong. Unfortunately, the only people who commented on her post where her acolytes who gave here a false sense that what she did was OK. It wasn’t, and here’s why.

Reason 1:

Water fightWhen you’re the recognized expert in your field, people hold you to a higher standard. They don’t expect you to verbally hammer the little guy, even if you don’t call them by name. They will see you as a bully with a big stick. It’s the equivalent of the President of the United States getting on national television and telling the American people that the union or the management of a specific company is evil and greedy. Name calling at that level is just not done.

And they believe that if you’re capable of bullying someone else, you’re certainly capable of bullying them. There’s a reason people cheer for the underdog when the person in power is abusing it.

Reason 2:

When you talk about or write about how bad someone is, you’re associating yourself with that story. I, for example, will always associate this marketing person with this specific Facebook post. If her intent was to tear apart her competitor and built her reputation at the same time, she could have asked one of her acolytes to post the message for her. Had she done that, she would have successfully stabbed her competition in the back while looking totally innocent. P.S. I don’t suggest you do this.

Reason 3:

No one likes a complainer. Complaining about someone else is a sign of weakness and vulnerability. It is not what you expect from someone who is at the top of their game. It does not instill confidence in your capabilities. People will always wonder why you are more concerned about your competition than you are with your own capabilities.

What’s The Solution?

If my marketing friend was really concerned about her customers getting screwed, she could have conveyed that message while building her reputation as a likable problem solver at the same time. Rather than slam her competitor, she could have posted a warning in the form of a tip. For example.

To my Facebook friends.

Here are a few tips to help insure that you’re getting the very best value for your money when you hire someone to (fill in the blank.)

  1. Check their credentials
  2. Check their references
  3. Check their reputation
  4. Check bla bla bla

In doing these four things, you will not only protect yourself against fraud, but you will find a service provider that you can trust. If a service provider is reluctant to provide this information, run!


Now, that’s a much better way to provide a warning without complaining and without bullying the underdog. Just as importantly, you shouldn’t be talking trash about your competition even if you are the new guy on the block. It doesn’t wear well on anyone.

We like people who we associate with good feelings and we don’t like people who we associate with bad feelings. Make sure that every conversation you have and every post you upload to the Internet encourages people to associate you with good feelings. It will not only improve your likeability, but it will build your reputation as the expert in your field.

1 Comment

  • By likestothink, July 9, 2010 @ 10:30 am

    Hi Bob,

    I read your article with some interest. I totally agree that badmouthing competition in this way only makes the person doing the complaining look bad but to my mind there are a few situations where this doesn’t hold.

    e.g. when the person complaining is held in high esteem (or liked) by the person to whom the complaint is being made.

    How would you propose to tackle the following without complaining.

    Two senior level managers (A and B) are responsible for different departments. A is responsible for manufacturing and delivering a product to B, B is responsible for packaging the product.

    However A is not competent and always delivers the product unfinished, which means B has to spend additional time correcting defects before packaging. The item cannot be sent back to A because A signs off the product as passing quality tests (dishonestly). Department B would lose more money if the product was sent back, because those charges would be made against department B as it is assumed the deterioration of the product occurred on department B premises.

    This set up means department B is always seen to be underperfoming whilst department A overperforms. The other issue is that manager A curries favor with the boss, in other words the boss likes him.

    How does manager B call out manager A, without sounding like an unlikeable complainer?

    Your thoughts would be most appreciated.

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