What can you do if your competitor does something groundbreaking?


It’s a tough one. Sometimes, your competitor comes up with a piece of marketing that is truly brilliant, and leaves you wishing you’d thought of it first.


But there’s no time to complain – senior leaders are banging on your door, asking what you’re going to do in response, and it needs to be done quickly.


In this blog we’re going to look at a prime example from earlier this year and explore how you can react effectively, plus share some tips on what not to do.


Case in point: The Wolf campaign, launched in February 2017 by HP.


This is the best piece of B2B marketing I’ve seen in 2017. It was put together with a perfectly cast Hollywood A-lister in the starring role, an Oscar-winning editor, and a BAFTA- and Emmy-nominated director. It’s fantastically well-written, emotionally engaging, cinematic, and highly entertaining.


Most importantly though, it nails its objectives. The advert is based on a great business insight: that despite companies’ cybersecurity efforts, they are missing a potentially catastrophic weak spot by not securing their printers. It dramatises this to great effect – the message plays on existing fears, highlights a clear business impact, and is time-critical.


It elevates the conversation above product specifications, and shows audiences the risk of their current behaviour, signalling HP as the best provider to solve that problem. And it does all this without using abstract jargon or straying too far from HP’s products. It’s a fine ‘challenger marketing’ campaign.


Imagine for a second that you are one of the poor marketers working at an HP competitor. Or even at another enterprise technology vendor. How do you follow that?



You might assume that The Wolf is just the sum of its parts. Perhaps if you produced a big-budget, cinematic advert featuring a renowned actor, you’d see the same kind of results as HP.


And you’d end up with something like this from SAP…



… or this one from Dell Technologies…


Unfortunately, neither of these adverts has the same impact as The Wolf.




The Wolf isn’t a home run just because it stars Christian Slater. It’s a home run because it finds a way to engage viewers on an emotional level with HP business printers.


Unfortunately, you can’t replicate that by just splashing out on a Hollywood star.


The SAP and Dell videos are not necessarily bad marketing. But they are less clear on the value offered. They don’t really tell me how the respective companies are going to help me win in my market and achieve my commercial ambitions.


On a purely practical level, The Wolf franchise (there are 17 videos in the series to date) will have cost HP millions of dollars to produce, and very few B2B marketers have that kind of budget. But that’s exactly why you need to spend your budget wisely, not in imitation.


The right response to The Wolf isn’t to spend just as much money on a similar tactic; the right response is to look at your budget, market and competitors, and work on how you position yourself to your audience. Without a clear, concise proposition that is relevant and engaging for the audience, it won’t matter how flashy your creative is. It’s the platform of good marketing strategy that gives weight to the emotional message.


If your marketing delivers an engaging message to a relevant audience, you’re on the right track. Getting these factors right will make your marketing more effective, measuring up against even the most high-profile competitors.



Do you agree with these suggestions? Have you had to react quickly to fierce competition in your market? Have you seen any brilliant examples of reactive marketing? We’d love to hear your thoughts and examples at @TMPtweets!


By Dan Squire | November 3, 2017

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