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Demolish the competition (part 2 of 4)

Part 1 of this series discussed how to frame a white paper around a nasty industry problem.

This builds rapport with your reader, holds their attention, and creates urgency.

Next, you must destroy the credibility of everyone else’s way of dealing with that problem. Here’s how to do that.

demolition - Demolish the competition (part 2 of 4)

Step #1: List every alternative

Include anything a prospect could do, other than buy your offering. That includes doing nothing and buying nothing.

For IT vendors, other alternatives include working manually, using spreadsheets, rekeying data from one system into another, creating some sort of mashup or developing some homegrown system that the prospect believes is “good enough.”

Then sort them all into various buckets.

But don’t sort by company. Instead, sort by category, class, genre or type. That way you can toss numerous products or companies into the same bucket.

Step #2: Think why no alternative is good enough

Perhaps one option just doesn’t work very well or only works in certain cases. Maybe others are slow, costly or prone to failure. Perhaps another creates unwelcome tradeoffs, unintended consequences or a whole new set of problems.

Whatever the drawbacks, uncover them all.

This can involve searching for what the classic book “Marketing Warfare” calls “the weakness in the leader’s strength…” or the Achilles heel that can bring down a competitor.

For example, Mac OS is much less widespread than Windows, so malware authors seldom target the Mac. That means one weakness in Windows’ strength is the vast amount of malware that attacks it.

Step #3: Take your best shot at each one

I sometimes think of this as setting up a line of wooden ducks in a shooting gallery, and then blasting them to smithereens, one by one.

When your logic is clear, you only need a sentence or two per alternative.

To do this, you can start with phrases like:

  • “In the past, some have tried…”
  • “Existing products are not effective because…”
  • “Many vendors have tried to overcome this problem, but none have succeeded. For example…”

With all the other solutions discredited and demolished, that clears the way for you to introduce your new, improved, recommended solution.

Part 3 of this series shows you how to do that effectively.


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About Gordon Graham

Worked on 300+ white papers for clients from Silicon Valley to Switzerland, on everything from choosing enterprise software to designing virtual worlds for kids, for clients from tiny startups to 3M, Google, and Verizon. Wrote White Papers for Dummies which earned 50+ 5-star ratings on Amazon. Won 16 awards from the Society for Technical Communication. And named AWAI 2019 Copywriter of the Year.

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