Ever since the first salespeople walked the earth, companies have been trying to one-up their competition. Plenty of ancillary businesses exist to help marketers in that respect, too. For example, a magazine publisher makes its subscriber list available for sale, with list marketers acquiring and in turn selling the names to a variety of other businesses. Several years ago, I worked for a publishing company that often bought lists to cross-reference its own excellent database against the competition’s subscribers, to see what percentage of overlap there was as well as to prospect new readers.
This practice of list acquisition has proven successful time and time again, and to be clear, I have no problem with it. What I do have a problem with, though, is a company that builds a business plan solely around trolling the competition.
A good example is Robly. Robly is an email marketing company that makes no bones about targeting customers of Constant Contact, one of the leading email marketing providers. More specifically, Robly is focused on stealing what it believes are dissatisfied customers of Constant Contact. The targeting is prominent on the homepage of Robly’s website and a variety of graphics, including the one above. I learned of Robly because I’m a Constant Contact user who, in the past six months, has received five (yes, five) phone calls from telemarketers representing it. Each has opened a (terribly scripted) speech with a statement along the lines of, “We can get you 50 percent more opens than Constant Contact for less money, so can we start you on a free 14-day trial?” To make matters worse, four of those five phone calls have come within the last week, from different phone numbers that are each associated with scammers according to Google search results.
Never mind that my phone number is on the Do Not Call list.
Never mind that I told the first telemarketer six months ago to take me off the list.
Never mind that pitching your business as a cheaper version of the competition makes you sound like you have no independent merit.
And never mind that assuming all of your competitor’s customers are dissatisfied is ridiculous.
Here’s an interview with the co-founder and CEO of Robly, recorded in 2014. The first 30 seconds say it all:
If Robly feels it has built the proverbial better mousetrap, then more power to the team. But building the mousetrap solely to steal customers, and to hire telemarketers to barrage those customers over and over again–well, that’s just bad business.