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5 Ways To Avoid The Online Competition Trap
Never ceases to amaze me. Team +Curagami sees the Hatfields and McCoys squared off and fighting tooth and nail...over nothing again and again. TIME and MONEY are being spent to beat competitors instead of connecting with real customer needs.

"We HAVE to win this keyword," I remember client saying when I was Marketing Director for the #webdev agency Atlantic BT in Raleigh. "Actually, no you don't," I remember saying. I explained that the keyword they felt they "must" win, a keyword with two competitors already squared off and fighting tooth and nail, had little to NO value for customers.

"You mean they are fighting over nothing," I remember seeing that light bulb go off and quickly explaining, "believe me this kind of misread is easy and being accelerated by our ability to compare what our competitors do almost as they do it".

When we create +Curagami scores for customers such as +MoondashAudiodotcom, +Vestique and +Isaac Porter, MD we see these "artificial red oceans" all the time. These are oceans where competitors are squared off and killing each other over nothing at all (i.e. no real search volume to speak of).

Granted Google's keyword tool is a pain to use, but you would THINK more people would plug something into the DEMAND side of the equation if only to understand how real customers "talk" (via search).

Since this "online trap" is so common here are 5 ways to avoid falling into a hole that saps time, energy, money and the will to fight on without winning customer hearts and minds:

* Use Google Adwords to discover REAL DEMAND for keywords (use exact an broad match too and if you really want to get depressed use "exact match" to see how few people are actually searching for that new widget you just created).
* Create something like our Curagami Keyword Efficiency Index (cKEI) to calculate where #blueoceans live (keywords or phrases with less competition but healthy search volume and YES these are getting harder and harder to find). Use "long tail" analysis to find these.
* Understand your "poker table stakes" keywords - words you have to have content for but won't win in this lifetime.
* Know what they are spending (use +SpyFu) and then SPEND DRAMATICALLY LESS because you've out thought them. One way to do that is look for a #contentmarketing "fighter pilot" in your space and toss them into your ecosystem (I did this with +Red Bull during my keynote to a group of #smbs at +FedEx conference and they found it eye opening to say the least). 
* Think about using new tools such as Curagami, tools that help create #community so you do LESS but win MORE hearts and minds. Would classify +Paper.li +Scoop.it and +Optimizely in this category of tools.

Follow those 5 tips and you won't square off over stupid stuff only you and your competitors are fighting over. Be a LOVER not a fighter (lol). Let THEM get stupid over stuff that matters. Keep your compass pointed to TRUE NORTH wherever that is in your business, listen more than you talk and ASK for help and your marketing will WIN despite spending LESS than them.
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Mark Traphagen's profile photoKristine Allcroft's profile photoSadeg Tohidi's profile photoJason Hodge's profile photo
5 comments
 
Great tips +Martin W. Smith - I would just clarify that the Google Adwords keyword tool only shows volume for keywords that show ads. So a zero reading doesn't necessarily mean the keyword has no searches.
 
Good clarification +Mark Traphagen. Since Google is unlikely to leave valuable keywords without ads for  very long a "we won't sell you an ad" means IMers are too EARLY, LATE or arcane.

Early is worth investing in as long as ROI can take its time. Late is probably not worth investment and being too arcane can work if a tribe is forming and so popularity is ticking up and that point will be confirmed once Google starts charging for the keyword.

When I created "scenttrail marketing" it was arcane. NO results came up in 1987 and that is what I wanted. Now there are almost a million documents returned on "scenttrail marketing" with my blog sitting on top of the heap.

Problem is the arcane hasn't trended to the point where there are enough searches for Google to sell an ad. So, agree no ad doesn't mean no searches, but seeing "-" under "monthly average searches" is s pretty good indicator that making money from the term will be a challenge and facing off over it is an "inside baseball" fight only a few will understand or appreciate. 

If I were to write the Scenttrail Marketing book I keep meaning to write assistance from friends like you might move the term from arcane to trending and we would know that best when Google decided to sell an ad there (lol). Thanks for the good clarification, but the post's main points holds - don't fight over stuff that doesn't matter, look for blue oceans and leave the arcane "inside baseball" fights for others :). M
 
Good points, +Martin W. Smith. But the way AdWords works, it's not up to Google to "sell" an ad for a keyword; it depends on whether anyone is willing to bid on it.
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