They Ask, You Answer - Review

Posted February 26, 2021 in

Kendra Ellis

Humble Leader, Marketing Geek

Good morning everyone,

I was hoping you could provide some insight on a blog we recently wrote. We caught backlash from the competitor featured in the article, which made my shareholders nervous about the entire strategy. HELP!

Can you provide your honest feedback about how well the comparison is written and whether the concern is warranted? Thank you in advance!

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Connor DeLaney
Jolie Higazi I recall you writing a pretty feisty comparison article for IMPACT a little ways back! Would love to hear your thoughts here on Kendra's article and the response she got!

Kevin Phillips Brian Casey Jennifer Barrell any clients that have written really strong but controversial Comparison articles and had to manage a response like this who you could tag in this thread?

My two cents on the matter - Comparison articles are supposed to spark a little controversy. If the feedback from your competitors was "that's not true!" then you are empowered to say "then prove me wrong!" For the shareholders, have they read They Ask You Answer and are they bought in? It definitely challenges the norms and if they have read it, it's a great time for you to remind them that we are doing something that breaks the traditional norms and some pushback will happen, and with that buyers will now be more informed. 

I recall a story from Yale Appliance that had the vendors they were selling calling them outraged about them writing the article to which Yale said "Then make your products better!" and they did! 

After reading the article, I didn't see any glaring issues. Would be curious what the key points they were upset over were? 
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Kendra Ellis
It was regarding the screenshot of their product (that beats us on that feature). Which we took from his personal, but public YouTube page and gave him credit.

The problem came when he posted pictures of a prototype product we're working on (and don't have the patent for yet) and used our blog as the reason for posting the photos. He stated we infringed on his copyrights and that we deserve to have our product leaked before we could finish protecting it. Now our shareholders are concerned we broke copyright protocol and what he may do next if we continue our strategy. 
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Blake Cormier
That does sound a bit more serious than just sparking some controversy.

Not a lawyer, but this gets into issues of copyright and fair use -- not to mention the patent and trade secret issue. These are three different areas of intellectual property law, and are just as messy as you think they are.

The long story short long is that you may have violated their copyright by posting a screenshot of their product, as both the screen output of the software program [ref] and the YouTube video would be copyrighted works. But... under the doctrine of fair use, your use of the screenshot might be OK, since the law specifically allows "purposes such as criticism, comment..." and so on. BUT it could be argued that since your use was commercial (marketing material), it's not fair use.

That being said, merely writing about their product and even using their trademarks does not generally constitute any kind of IP violation -- no matter how much they huff and puff about it. Which can and will happen, especially for critical reviews.

Hey, I said it was messy... and that's before we even got any real lawyers involved.

The potentially bigger problem is the way they responded. Just like Mom taught us, two wrongs don't make a right.

The remedy for a potential copyright violation is usually to get a lawyer to send a strongly worded letter, at which point your company (or their lawyers) would decide whether the claim has merit (aka, not worth fighting) and tell you to take down the picture. Or your company could send a strongly worded reply explaining that you believe it to be fair use and you're not taking it down. At which point the other company, if they wanted to keep pursuing it, would at some point have to take it to court. Now we're really getting messy!

What they shouldn't have done is commit their own IP infringement by leaking your unreleased product photos. Whether your company has any recourse for that will depend on lots more lawyer-y things -- for example, how did they get the photos in the first place? Were they covered by an NDA or other binding contract?

So, to wrap this up before it gets any longer: How to handle the situation is ultimately a business decision for company leadership. As you can see, it gets messy fast and they'll have to decide what's worth fighting or not, and how they'll handle future upset competitors. But I don't think it's your fault or a reason to not pursue TAYA as a strategy.

(Again, I'm not a lawyer. I just read too many Slashdot articles and Cory Doctorow essays during my formative years.)
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Connor DeLaney
I'll also note that your timing is impeccable  Kendra Ellis because  Marcus Sheridan actually posted about his first comparison article THIS MORNING on Linkedin! Check out the post :) I think you'll relate to it a lot. 
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Kevin Phillips
hey  Kendra Ellis ,
I've got a few insights for you, and I could share more or go in-depth if you'd like to chat 1-1.

Great topic (as you're probably aware, this is one of the MOST IMPORTANT blog topics any business can address. So kudos for stepping up to the plate and answering it)

First impressions:

Not a fan of the CSS styling of the page. It's been awhile since I've seen a black background for a page.

I can clearly tell HOW we're going to compare the two. You're using the categorical breakdown style.
However, without reading the sections, I can't easily tell which might win in each category.
In each section you could add a "Winner: Puck [with short explanation]" or even "Winner: Tie [because it depends on your situation]."

If you plug the article into, you'll see it scores at a 12th grade reading level. Play with the copy a bit to get this score between 7-9.

The intro:
While you use first-person POV, it's not clear to me that you're talking about your own products.
You're not saying things like, "Here at Bazooka, we stand behind our products and services, but we realize we're not always a perfect fit for everyone. Many of our customers ask us about our top competitor, Puck Enterprise...."
It's written more like you're doing an independent third-party review of these two.
A bit of trust gets lost when you're not upfront with WHY you're writing the comparison. If it feels like you're hiding anything, I'm going to have my guard up any time you take points away from Puck Enterprise.

You also say in your disclaimer that there's a lot more to this conversation than what's in here. Where do we link to any of these other relevant, helpful conversations?

The body:
I mentioned it would be great to have a winner of each section.

Sections aren't marked with headers. You use bold, capitalized text wrapped in yellow highlight.
Make these legit headers. Search engines give more weight to headers than bolded text. It tells them how you organize your article. If your article is a book, headers are the chapters and subchapters of the book.

You do a good job of neither talking the competitor up, nor talking bad about them. We're simply acknowledging whether they have these capabilities or not.

Some of your images have large file sizes. Try and keep in-text images under 100KB. Your map is 884 KB and the image below it is 1.12 MB These images will hurt your load speed.

The outro:
Give your outro a header to separate from the previous point. Make the text actionable in a way that feels like there's a clear next step after this. 
Don't use copy like "Conclusion" or "Final Thoughts" as that feels like a wrap up and then I'm free to leave.
Make it clear the journey is not over.

You end the article with "stay tuned", but then say, "this isn't quite the end..."

is using the QR code the BEST next step someone should take?
Or is the speaking with a rep?

Do you feel people would rather view a pre-recorded demo of your product in action before they speak with a rep?
If so, do you have a pre-recorded demo?

Or would they rather check out your prices? If so, do you have a pricing page?

Whatever next action is best, I'd use a CTA pointing to a landing page rather than a form directly on this page.

Overall, I hope you don't feel like I'm tearing all of your hard work apart. It's a really good article. I'd give it a 7.5; I just want to help you take it to a solid 10.

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Sydney Greiner
Kevin Phillips  - I am the author of this blog, and I truly APPRECIATE all of the feedback and insight you've provided. I am new to the blog scene/creating content to carry out this strategy and I need honest feedback like you've provided to be better...and most importantly, give our end-users the information they want in a way that makes sense. I've taken note and plan to implement and execute in my next piece. Thanks again!
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Kevin Phillips
One last thing Kendra Ellis ,
I just want to thank you for sharing your article and asking for feedback.
It can take a lot of guts to post your work into a public forum and ask for others to share their observations.
You deserve all the kudos for stepping up to the plate and sharing your work. 
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Kendra Ellis
Thank YOU for taking the time to give amazing feedback. I am sharing with the content creator who wrote this one AND our content manager as well. 
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Kendra Ellis
Sydney Greiner  see feedback
Kendra Ellis
Luke Maiers  see all of the below for your content now and in the future!
Kris Kemp
The text of the blog post lacks indents on the left side, making it a bit of a hassle to read.

The design of the blog is poor.

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