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Up and down: which way are you competing?

competingNo matter who  your audience is or what sector you serve, you are competing with other businesses and services. Even behemoths like Apple compete with other behemoths like Samsung or Google. It’s just a fact of life.

But how you compete – well, that’s another story. Why? Competition is all about making choices. Which specific features or services do you offer (or not offer)? How do you price yourself in the market? Who is your target market? For each question, you must provide an answer – and when you’re finished, you’ve also (consciously or unconsciously) decided whether you are going to compete up or down.

What the heck am I talking about? Let’s look at it this way: you can offer more – and charge more; or you can offer less – and charge less. In our industry, think about two of the bigger job board brands out there: Indeed and LinkedIn.

Indeed strips recruitment advertising to its core – plain ads, a simple user interface, and PPC pricing. It combines these to pitch itself as the low-cost alternative to the ‘traditional’ market. It is competing on simplicity and low cost. It is competing down.

LinkedIn moves the opposite way. It has a recruiter interface, fancy search tools, branding for employers, and so on. It pitches itself as the full-featured, sophisticated alternative to the ‘traditional’ market. It is competing up.

Neither method of competing is better than the other, in my opinion – they are simply two ways to approach the market. As you might guess, competing down will appeal more to those companies looking for low prices and minimal features, whereas competing up tends to attract those companies seeking more features (and who are willing to pay more as well).

What is critical for you to understand, however, is how you are competing. Are you competing up or down? And why? If you have products and services that are ideal for the ‘down market’, but you are instead pitching them to the ‘up market’ – well, it’s going to be a challenge.

What if you want to throw a wrench into the works by providing a low cost service with high cost features? More power to you – but you will have to deal with the inherent dissonance in what you are offering. We are trained from an early age to be suspicious of things that are ‘too good to be true’. HR pros and recruiting directors are just as skeptical as the rest of us – so you’ll have to overcome this skepticism, along with the usual barriers.

So remember – understand your products and your target market. Then compete accordingly!

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for the great article.

    Our job board is a global job board for new graduate and junior positions. We compete down. We offer 10 job posting for free and just $25/month for unlimited number of job postings but some recruiters are skeptical. Is it too good to be true? Or 10 job postings for free is not enough for a newer job board? Please advise.


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