Please Don’t Market By Eviscerating Your Competitors–It’s Unseemly

Last November I covered the launch of Filelocker – a company looking to build a cloud backup and collaboration service that meets the needs of enterprise IT. In their launch blurb they came out with guns blaing, with a very thinly veiled comment about Box:

Front and center they’ve taken the fight to Box – the first line of their release suggests that “A Box is Not a Secure Place for Your Files”

That wasn’t all, they carried on getting the competition’s backs up by saying that both DropBox and Box have been “substantially misrepresenting their capabilities when it comes to security and won’t be adopted by enterprise or Government” because of it.

It seems this aggressive approach is the regular modus operandi for the company – the other day I received a press release informing me of a new campaign by the company. The “Ditch Dropbox” conversion program offers organizations a year’s free use of file locker. Again from the release:

Many IT managers have wanted to “wish away” Dropbox™ from their businesses, but have not had an alternative that meets their security requirements. FileLocker™ offers a secure collaboration alternative to businesses, with a simple method of transition through the “Ditch Dropbox” Conversion Program. Starting March 12th, this program will be available to IT managers who wish to eliminate Dropbox folders and convert them to secure FileLocker collaboration accounts.

Basically Filelocker is offering a year’s free access to companies that have between 250 and 500 employees. Thereafter the pricing reverts to Filelocker’s “regular highly competitive prices”.

MyPOV

This is tacky. Pure and simple. I’ve been critical of Dropbox for some perceived issues with what they do. Box CEO Aaron Levie has spent time articulating where he believes the differentiation lies between Box and other players. But to bad mouth a competitor and hang of some catchy but essentially meaningless slogan like “ditch Dropbox” is just tacky. Sure it happens every day in this industry but it doesn’t mean we should put up with it.

Even if the campaign didn’t make Filelocker look both defensive and cocky, it’s pretty much meaningless – individuals within organizations adopt Dropbox on their own, and use it because it meets their needs. The reason that IT is running so scared about this is because they can’t find viable ways to control that usage – in the face of a lack of control, how are they going to magically move their users off Dropbox?

Add to that the fact that Filelocker is a complete unknown in the industry, has come from nowhere and in the six months or so since launch has been almost completely invisible, doesn’t exactly inspire me with confidence about their product or their business. And if I’m not inspired, IT managers are even less likely to be so.

So bad form Filelocker – this isn’t going to do anything for you, either in customers acquisition terms or in industry credibility terms.

3 Comments
  • Back in the early 1980s when IBM decided to let authorized resellers sell the IBM PC, every “medallion” holder had to have IBM sales training. During the sales training the IBM presenter made it clear that you should never disrespect your competition. I think it was fundamentally good advice, but in this day of say anything and do anything to get some attention, I’m not surprised that Filelocker is taking the low road to market by bashing their competition. Get a clue Filelocker, it won’t work and it makes you look mean and unworthy.

  • Collaboration with your competitors is the name of the game today. Try making the pie bigger for everyone, rather than tossing all the toys out of that sandpit.

  • Yes and no, but style is not the driver.

    Yes, I agree that usually it’s a bad idea to dump on your competitors. Thsi is NOT because it’s “rude” or “bad form” – that’s sentimental nonesense, frankly. It’s because, in most cases, it’s counter productive. Interestingly, the reason you often get a negative response to -ve selling is because it’s “bad form”, but just as often, it’s because the person simply doesn’t agree with your view point.

    Negative selling does work extremely well where you have a dominant incumbent with very specific deficiencies and vulnerabilities. Stylisitically we probably don’t like it, but actually, excellent selling is often based on askign questions that highlight the deficiencies in your competitors (and the value you can deliver)… which is another way of negative selling.

    So, yes and no.

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