No matter how competitive or tumultuous your niche, it’s never fun when a business calls it quits and closes down. It can cause you to think long and hard about your own business and practices, and help you to make some difficult decisions, whether it’s closing non-profitable stores, discontinuing some products and services, or laying off staff to reduce overheads.
Of course, there are a wide number of reasons why a business may not survive, whether it’s competition, cash flow or rising costs, and it’s also important to remember 90% of start-up businesses fail. With that in mind, it’s important that you see the closure of a competitor as an opportunity for your business to grow and thrive in the market. Here’s how…
Acquire their domain name
One of the best ways to capitalise on the closure of a business is to acquire their domain name. It may be that their domain name is up for renewal and you can register it right away, or you could reach out to the business owner directly and ask if they’ll sell the domain name to you. There are a few reasons why you’d want to get your hands on a competitor’s domain:
- To direct customers to your website using 301 redirects
- To redirect backlinks and “link juice” to your website
- To take advantage of their content marketing efforts (for example, you could buy the domain name and the content, and move the content to your blog, instead)
- To use the domain name as a blog network and use the domain’s authority and backlinks to link back to your own website (i.e. a florist could become a flower blog)
- To inform users of their closure and position your brand as an alternative
If you do get your hands on a competitors’ domain, try not to confuse clients and visitors – let them know that you took over their domain name and that they’re no longer trading.
Do this by creating a landing page to explain the closure of the business, or set up 301 redirects from the domain name so that when visitors click through, they’ll go to yours instead.
Buy their phone number
If your competitor had a bricks and mortar store, then their phone number could become a valuable asset that you can use to your advantage. Depending on how much time and effort your competitor put into their marketing (for example, they could have had a regular advert in the local newspaper or appeared in directories or business forums) you could expect to receive phone calls from potential leads on a regular basis. Paying for this could make sense.
From there, you could set up call forward to a special line so that callers are made aware of the closure of your competitor, and then directed to your sales team.
Of course, this could be an expensive investment, especially if your competitor asks for big money for the phone line, so make sure you weigh up the opportunity costs before you splash the cash.
Reach out to bloggers for backlinks
When a business closes, all of their backlinks will be pointing to a website that’s out of date or offline. Adopt the broken link building technique, where you reach out to bloggers who have linked to your competitor and recommend an alternative link (to your website).
This should be an easy way to quickly build links to your website and increase domain authority, thus increasing your website’s rank on search engines for competitive terms in your niche.
You could go one step further and buy the domain name and content from your competitor, as we have mentioned above. From there, you’ll have access to all of their blog posts and you’ll also be able to set up 301 redirects from their backlinks, which will pass link juice to your website without you having to reach out to bloggers to individually change links.
Start a pay-per-click campaign
Pay-per-click advertising is one of the most effective forms of marketing and could prove useful when it comes to news of closures and administration. Target their customers and stakeholders by launching Google AdWords and Facebook Ads campaigns to launch alongside the announcement of their closure, and follow it up for the months that follow.
On Facebook, you can segment and target audiences that “like” your competitor’s Facebook page, while on Google, you’ll appear on searches of your competitor when you use their name as a keyword. This can prove a cost-effective way to generate leads and capitalise on the closure of your competitor’s business.
Say farewell – and be a human about it
The closure of a competitor could be good news for your business, but it’s still sad to see a someone fall. As well as the competitive marketing tactics we’ve mentioned above, you should consider writing a blog post and updating your social media with a condolence-style message that bids farewell to your competitor before they close their doors.
You don’t need to be commercial here – this is not a time to say “X is closing, so come to us instead”.
The closure of any business can lead to heightened emotions, especially for the founders, employees, stakeholders and customers, so you should tread carefully.
Write a sincere blog post or social media update, where you acknowledge their closure. If you were a fan of the business, say that you admired their work and that they inspired you.
Not only will this put you in the good books of all involved parties (which could lead to new customers, new employees or new investors), but it will show that you have a vested interest in your niche, not just your own business.
Capitalising on the downfall of a competitor can be lucrative, but you should make sure that your marketing efforts are sensitive. Never celebrate the end of a business, and always remain respectful – after all, you want to protect the integrity of your business.