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Should You Curate Content From Your Competition? by Scott Scanlon

Content Curation Commentary , , ,

I’ve often read that it’s a good idea to curate content from the competitors within your market. The advice given is that it’s a critical part of being a “good curator”.

Is it right? Here’s my up front position based on many years of marketing and a few years curating…

Most of the time curating content from your competition is the wrong answer. But I would add it’s a market-specific question with a market-specific answer. Let me explain a bit.

I can tell you that we don’t.

Blasphemy, you say. You’re committing a new media sin, it’s a free flow of ideas, content, etc.

What is Role of Your Content Marketing?

Ask yourself, what is the role of your content marketing, specifically curation? Is it to educate your market or convert leads? I hope it’s to convert leads. Sure, education gains trust and authority, but educating your market can be one of the most expensive and time-consuming activities in marketing.

The same funnel exists for your product, solution, or idea.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve visited a website for a product or service we were considering (one in which I didn’t know much about the market) only to find a comparison chart to others in their market.

Maybe this is effective and maybe I’m not the typical buyer, but more times than not I’ve discovered others in the market that I wasn’t aware of. Even worse, I actually chose an alternative because I found a feature or something more appealing.

Without that chart I would have dug deeper into their options, their features and how their product could be our solution.

I think this same path can and does exist with content curation.

Help Your Prospects (Visitors) See How Your Product Or Service Will Help Them

Sure, you say, buyers today are more informed, they search things out, they weigh their options. Look at it this way…

When you test drive a car does the salesperson say, “Hey, turn in here at this other dealership, let’s see what deals they have”? No, they want you to fall in love with their car and they want to keep you there as long as possible. Sure they know you’re shopping, but while they have you they don’t talk about other brands, unless it specifically comes up as a concern.

You might say that’s not fair, it’s not how the world works today. Except now more than ever, people are pressed for time and in most cases solutions can be pretty interchangeable. So why not help them see how your solution is exactly what they need.

Here’s an Example of How It Didn’t Help a CompanyFor instance, we use Zendesk for our support management. We knew of Zendesk but when we landed on a competitor’s website they compared their product to 3 others (including Zendesk). We added those others to the list and remembered to loop around to Zendesk. This took us on a path away from their solution. Actually, I don’t even remember the name of that other company (if I did I would have mentioned it above).

If we hadn’t seen that comparison chart we would have spent more time learning how we could have made their system work for us. Isn’t that what they really would have rather wanted? I think so.

So I go back to some of our curation efforts. Why would we curate content from competitors when we believe we have the single best curation platform for WordPress.

Why would we send people away to waste time and effort when they have the single best option right in front of them? Why do I want people to consider another option when I really want them to figure out how our product can fit into their marketing goals?

The Bigger Person Argument

competition curation pepsi vs cokeYou could say, curating ideas and content on your competitors makes you the bigger person/company (brand). I’m not saying we’ve never done it but that doesn’t pass the test either. Have you ever seen Coca-Cola praise Pepsi? What about Red Bull versus Monster? Is Monster going to start sharing and talking about the latest outrageous Red Bull stunt? Why would they? What would they gain?

Curated content can detract from your marketing goals when it gives an option to your market that sends them in another direction – especially one where they weren’t aware of it before. I’m under the assumption that you operate like we do, that is your product, service or idea is the single best option for your market.

You’ll see this in action at our curated site (Curating Content). Look at the curations deeply – you’ll notice few of them come from other curation tools or services. They are usually bloggers, writers and other sources who are sharing and giving tips on curation.

Sure they have something to sell, but it’s not a direct competition to our core offers on that site. Once again this is such a market-specific thing. For some markets there’s no risk or even second thoughts about this frictionless sharing among competitors.

But I think if we got real for most markets is something you have to consider if it redirects the attention and path to purchase.

Are we completely off base here?

Rowers image from flickr user crabchick.

Funnel image from cambodia4kidsorg

Pepsi vs Coke image from Sean Loyless


6 thoughts on “Should You Curate Content From Your Competition?

  1. Curation Traffic Team

    Love to hear your thoughts on this as it’s probably contrary to what we’ve seen out there on this subject.

  2. Ted

    At first my answer was yes, because as a curator you want to feed your audience the best info/news. However, after reading your example, I’d have to agree that you’d want to take a second to if that post you’re ready to curate is not a funnel to your competitor’s sales page.

    But lets say it is. [Ethical question coming] What if, in that curated snippet on my page, I link a related phrase to my internal page. Part of me says, no not a great idea and another part says, heck I found your article good enough to curate and link back … how about spreading the love a little cause I have great related info on my site also. I suppose if it was that great, it would get curated as well. Hmmm maybe I just answered the question and should quit thinking black. lol

    1. Curation Traffic Team

      That’s why I really think it’s a market specific question. But I still go with my main point. Why give people options when your job is to sell them what you consider the best product (and if you don’t then why are you selling it anyway). I appreciate when companies provide the other options in the market as it saves me time searching and looking for options, but more times than not I think it hurts them. I could be completely wrong here as well…

  3. Ted

    In my last response, I mentioned the unethical idea of adding a link (internal) to the curated snippet. Commenting before my brain completes the thought is not good. I should have said to add the internal link in your opening comments that leads to the curated content. That way you are not hijacking their content since its on your opening content. Better ethically?

    1. Curation Traffic Team

      I think it’s a traffic issue, which is the next post we are going to release here. I think this ultimately is the problem and why content producers have an issue. I had that originally in this post but it got too long on it’s own.

  4. Frank Strong

    Yes! For the bold organization one should and here’s why:

    1. It provides useful information for prospects.

    2. It builds trust with prospects and customers.

    3. News by definition defies expectations.

    4. Search traffic. Even the competition’s.

Comments are closed.