Why You Need a Content Marketing Rival

A little competition never hurt anyone

Anyone whose been through business school knows that you aren’t supposed to seek out competition. Blue Oceans are better than red ones, discovering new markets is better than disrupting old ones, etc.

But then why are we so captivated and drawn to a good rivalry? We all grew up around them, whether it was your local sports team or a parent vs. their respective in-laws. We threw our support behind our chosen side and waited anxiously for the sparks to fly, the emotions to surge, and tensions to come to a tipping point.

There’s something undeniably great about rivalries, something that flies in the face of traditional business school logic. Competition can have tremendously positive effects and can inspire innovation, hasten progress, and yield perfection.

The Twitter vs. Facebook Example

Just look at Facebook and Twitter. Although the companies have very different business goals, their rivalry is inspiring new features, fresh new initiatives, and thoughtful analysis of their respective strategies.

To counter Facebook’s strong mobile presence, Twitter is building a network of mobile developers of their own in an effort to win more advertising dollars. It’s also considering reimagining users’ feeds to be similar to Facebook’s news feed in an attempt to be relevant to its users around the clock. Twitter also announced earlier this week that it had revamped its Direct Message feature, presumably to compete with Facebook’s 500 million users on Messenger and 600 million on Whats­App,

Meanwhile, Facebook is making efforts to loosen Twitter’s hold on Hollywood. They want celebrities and studios alike to put their content on Facebook first, which could significantly boost the social network’s burgeoning video advertising business.

While the Twitter/Facebook rivalry is infamous in the technology community, it is inflicting very little harm on the companies themselves.

While the Twitter/Facebook rivalry is infamous in the technology community, it is inflicting very little harm on the companies themselves. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Their rivalry is driving massive innovation in both companies.

Content Marketing Rivalries

The benefits of a good rivalry don’t have to be at the company level either. A healthy rivalry can extend to content marketing as well, and I’d argue it should.

Content marketing is an amazing profession, but like an creative career, it is certainly not without it’s challenges. Keeping yourself inspired and motivated, finding fresh new ideas each day, and staying focused on your business goals are all very real challenges, but they are also all very real externalities of having a content marketing rival.

When I was at Pardot, I was all about taking down Marketo. Despite a number of issues I have with their product and overall business strategy, there is no denying that their content was on point. They’ve produced some incredible pieces, from their Social Universe infographic to their Dreamforce Where’s Waldo.

It’s these amazing pieces that kept me inspired, motivated, and focused enough to create some of Pardot’s most successful pieces including the Modern Marketer infographic and our Original Game of Thrones SlideShare. If I wasn’t trying to put us on Marketo’s radar, who knows if either of those would have ever been made.

So if I’ve sold you on the benefits of starting a good rivalry of your own, here are three tips to picking a content marketing rival that will push you to be better.

1. Pick the Biggest & Baddest

If you’re looking to be big an bad yourself, basic prison rules apply: you have to pick a fight with the biggest and baddest (disclaimer: having never been to prison I’m more just using a prison movie cliche here). This doesn’t necessarily have to be the largest company in your space, but it should be the company that is executing their content marketing the best. It’s no fun to have a rival you can just steamroll over with ease. You need a company that is going to fight back and push you to be better. You’re going for mutual escalation, not total annihilation.

2. Steal Smart

I’ve written before about stealing in content marketing and why it’s something every good content marketer should be doing. I’m not talking about directly ripping off somebody’s work when I say stealing. That’s never ok. I’m talking about appreciating someone’s good idea and iterating on it to make it better. This is something you should focus on doing with your rival as often as possible. Not only will it keep you on their radar, it will give you an endless flow of ideas and keep you producing better and better content.

3. Communicate Where You Can

In my short time producing content, I’ve had rivals that are real jerks (cough, Hubspot, cough) and rivals that are excited about about having somebody else in their space producing content that they can talk to. I can tell you that the latter is far more common. Content marketers have a very unique job and meeting somebody who understands and appreciates what we go through on a daily basis is incredibly rare. Make a point to seek out the individuals behind your rivals content and congratulate them on jobs well done, ask for opinions, or give them a playful nudge. The odds are high they’ll appreciate seeing the human face behind your content.

What do you think about creating a content marketing rivalry? Let me know!

About the author: Matt Wesson is the content marketing manager at Salesforce. Follow him on Twitter or see more articles on his LinkedIn page.

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