Negative Reviews: An Unlikely Customer Inspiration

You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t feel a little joy when your competitor failed; especially when that failure happens in the public eye as the result of a negative review. After all, market share is important, and your business needs its piece of the pie. But beyond enjoying someone else’s misery, a one-star rating can be an opportunity. A chance to connect with new customers hungry for better service and to reinforce your winning marketing strategy.

You probably already spend time developing customer avatars; profiles that help identify who is buying your product and reading your content. Using information reported by people buying a product similar to yours could be a game changer when identifying your market or refining your brand. Think about it. What better source is there? That is why stalking your competition is a good idea. It gives you an advantage when developing leads and converting new customers.


The first step is to find negative reviews about your primary competitors. To do this, you are going to have to get busy. Just like you undoubtedly have a diverse network of social media accounts and online resources, so does the other guy. Here are a few methods to put you in touch with what is posted about your competitors by actual consumers.

Blog Comments

Read your competitor’s comments to find out how customers feel about their experience and if they are being heard or ignored. Do not respond to the comments, no matter how much you are tempted. Instead, try to make contact through another channel to offer your superior goods and services just as you would any other promising lead.

Google Alerts

This is a powerful tool for discovering everything being said online about you or anyone else. Set up alerts for all your major competitors and start learning about whom you are battling in the marketing trenches. You might even pick up some key channels for outreach and engagement that you had yet to discover.

Social Media Monitors

Tools such as Hootsuite allow you to listen for mentions about your competitor and see what people are saying about their service.

Monitor Review Sites

You should constantly be reviewing any reviews in your industry, especially if they are negative reviews about local competitors. Every entry is a treasure chest of information about what customers expect, what they appreciate, and what they will not tolerate.


Research shows that 70% of social media users expect a response to their complaints online and more than half want an answer within the hour. If your main competitor drops the ball on a negative review, you need to be there to scoop up a new customer.

Subtlety is still the best approach. Don’t invade the timeline with negative and hostile comments. Take note of the customer and find them on another channel. Develop a dialogue before making an offer. Treat them like a qualified lead. After all, you already know they are in the market for what you have to offer; you just have to make the sale.

Use everything you learn about other’s failures in your niche to strengthen your own copywriting and content. The customers are identifying their pain points for you. Include these in your web pages and marketing material. Use what you have learned to build a smart, well-informed campaign.

Negative reviews happen every day. To most, they are a nuisance at best. But, if you are ready to pounce on the opportunity, criticism of a competitor’s service can be a ticket to a new customer and increased market share. All it takes is an investment of time and some readily available tools. These are small prices to pay on the way to success.

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