By Mike Devaney
A comparison chart that includes competitor brands can be a tremendously effective addition to your product’s sales page.
Naturally, introducing readers to other brands carries risk, especially when the features of their product closely align with yours. However, the solution is simple. Create the chart so that your product has the most check marks, x’s, and punched holes. Despite its bias, readers will often still perceive it as the best value.
In addition to subjective markings, there are specific copy techniques that, when applied, can establish your product as both different and better.
Why use a comparison chart?
Prior to the internet, comparison charts were largely the domain of third-party brokers like Consumer Reports. They showed the reader through independent testing, the strengths and weaknesses of multiple products within a category. Savvy shoppers would delay major purchases until reading a review from these unbiased sources.
That’s no longer true. Now, readers look for and expect to see comparison charts on sales pages. It’s strange. The reader knows the chart is biased, like branded content is, but still uses the information to make a decision. In fact, they’re one of the most viewed components of a sales page regardless of the reader’s buying intent.
Comparison charts summarize your sales message. They provide proof for the claims you’re making in the copy. They attract readers invested in your message and scanners. The longer readers stay on site, the more opportunity you have to influence them. A comparison chart is your opportunity to show off the product in splendid detail. Your product will simply not receive the same favorability in a chart that you don’t control.
Readers look at comparison charts to verify or challenge their assumptions.
Comparison charts list features (e.g., compatibility, dimensions) which are, essentially, answers to questions (“Will it work with…?”, “Will it fit in a….?”). Providing accurate information about competing products shows diligence and confidence. The legality of using a competitor as a prop appears to be settled law.
A side benefit of creating a comparison chart is pricing protection. Comparisons help marketers remember the original purpose of the product and the effort that went into its creation. The recall process can justify the current pricing strategy, especially during a slump when the temptation is to cut prices.
Comparison charts may also reduce the burden on customer service by providing ready answers to frequently asked questions.
Why don’t more products use comparison charts?
Comparison charts aren’t appropriate for all products. Three exceptions are:
- Cheap, disposable products. Explaining the advantages of a .43 cent Bic pen over a .22 Acme pen is not necessary.
- Truly unique products. There are some products that have no direct competitors; they are unlike anything else. A standard comparison chart would be a poor fit because the metadata would be wildly different.
- Category leading products. Some products dominate their category. Using a comparison chart would elevate their competitors, implying peer-hood. Naming them gives them …read more
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