The Department of Defense put up a website called “For The Record” that is aimed at correcting media inaccuracies as they see them. Interesting. This is exactly the kind of effort I wanted to put up at SAP to combat those Oracle advertisements that were coming out about once every 6 weeks.
In SAP’s case it wasn’t a media organization putting out biased or inaccurate information but rather a company using media and research analyst data in a misleading and inaccurate fashion. Oracle’s abuses with the truth were rampant and obvious so I wanted to run a website detailing how and why, and do it under the SAP banner so that there could be full transparency, but alas the lawyers said I couldn’t. Honestly, SAP’s internal legal group, like many others I am sure, is so risk averse and increasingly in a position of defining strategy that it really hampers the organization and irritates a great many people. They say they are doing their job, I say when your default position become “no” to anything new or on the edge without considering of the merits then you are actually doing a disservice to your client, in this case your employer.
The DoD site is a good start but it needs two improvements, the first being RSS capability and the second is that it needs a better URL that facilitates a viral capability. I do like the edgy and combative style of the writing, if for no other reason it reminds people that someone is ready to fight back aggressively.
If your business involves information warfare then expect to see much more aggressive examples of companies and organizations launching in-your-face and combative websites and information tactics to help them competitively. The days of running some advertisements in trade publications, sponsoring a few conferences, and printing up some fancy customer case studies for your sales people to give to prospects are long gone.
The old rules like never talk about your competitor, as a primary strategy, are also out. While it is prudent, IMO, to not run the kind of full page ads that Oracle has been using against SAP (indeed, SAP did a pretty extensive survey of CIOs and IT decision makers and found overwhelming support for the argument that these ads were actually hurting Oracle by reinforcing biases against the company), I do think companies in mature markets need to run more aggressive anti-competitor campaigns. These will involve everything from websites to blogs to YouTube videos. The point is that you have to position against your competitor aggressively, protect your flanks from them doing the same, and fight to remove all the competitive oxygen from the room before you get there.
In one measure the Oracle advertisements are actually very good. They realize, indeed according to sources inside the company they plan on this, that it will take SAP several weeks to object and obtain relief from advertisements that are misleading and inaccurate but until that happens those ads are running overtime and taking on the air of truth that so happens in advertising through repetition. This is a great example of knowing your competitor as you know yourself and forming strategy based on that knowledge.
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