Two men and woman discussing document
Researching complaints on your competitors' platforms can give you guidance on what your business can do to attract those unhappy customers. — Getty Images

Maintaining relationships with current clients is important for any business. Yet, some companies take their loyal customers for granted and even neglect them in their pursuit of new sales leads.

If you notice that your competitors’ customers are unsatisfied, perhaps through social media complaints or negative reviews, this is your opportunity to swoop in and convince them to work with you.

In a crowded market where many companies offer similar products and services, capitalizing on your competitors’ shortcomings can help you find customers who are eager for a better experience. Once you're sure a customer is ready to switch, use these six strategies to earn their business.

1. Interview your competitors’ customers.

Before you can woo your competitor’s customers, you have to know

  • who they are,
  • what they want and need, and
  • what they aren’t getting from your competitor.

You can get these details simply from speaking with them and asking questions. “We don’t know unless they tell us,” Business Journals stated, citing this point.

Before you reach out, do some baseline research on these customers. Scour your competitor’s social media accounts for potential complaints and concerns pertaining to their services. Once you’ve identified a few unhappy customers, you can reach out to chat with them, asking them why they are dissatisfied with their current provider. From there, you can offer your products and services as a better alternative.

2. Offer better customer service.

For many businesses, poor customer service is the root of many issues. Much like romantic relationships, if your competitor isn’t giving its clients the attention and help they need, they’ll be more willing to look elsewhere.

This is your chance to “romance” them by offering a level of service your competitors aren’t. For instance, if a competitor’s customer complains that it takes too long for a response to a service inquiry, let them know you have a high response rate on Facebook Messenger and can handle all customer issues quickly and efficiently.

3. Create YouTube video ads.

If you don’t pay for a YouTube Premium subscription, you’re probably familiar with the many ads that run both before and during the YouTube video you’re watching. As inconvenient as these ads may seem, they often catch your attention. You can do the same for your competitor’s customers.

By creating a compelling video ad and targeting users who search your competitor, you can disrupt their YouTube videos with your marketing efforts. That way, when a potential customer clicks your competitor’s video, they’ll see your ad before it even starts playing.

If your competitor isn’t giving its clients the attention and help they need, they’ll be more willing to look elsewhere.

4. Run native Gmail ads.

Gmail users see native ads displayed above the messages in their inbox. You don’t even need a customer’s email address to reach their inbox this way. You can target them based on keywords, topics and demographics, or you can send your ads to those who receive mail from particular domains (i.e., your competitor’s).

Digital marketing expert Deepak Kanakaraju explained how to do this: First, add ‘’ as a managed placement in your display ad network. Then, add your competitor’s domain name or brand name as a keyword. Your ads will now be sent directly to your competition’s customers.

5. Use Facebook to gain insight.

If a company is difficult to compete with, it’s doing something right. On Facebook, you can find out exactly what that is.

When you see a competitor’s ad on Facebook, you have the option to click the “Why am I seeing this?” link. According to Hootsuite, exploring this option can offer key insights on how your competitor is targeting people, whether it’s based on geography, demographics or interests. Armed with this information, you can use it to your own advantage in targeting their customers.

You can also take advantage of Facebook’s interest-based ad targeting feature, said Kanakaraju, which lets you specifically advertise to users who have expressed interest in your competitor’s Facebook page.

6. Create Twitter ads.

On Twitter, you can download your competitor’s followers using programs like Twitonomy, Audiense and Followerwonk, and upload them in the “tailored audience” section of your campaign, Kanakaraju said.

In other words, you can ensure your competitor’s customers are seeing your Twitter ads, which will potentially lure them to your business.

Is it right to poach your competitors’ customers?

To some, it may seem a little “sneaky” to target your competitors’ customers and convince them start working with you instead. You might feel like you’re stealing someone else’s profits or livelihood.

However, it’s important to remember that if a company was truly meeting its customers’ needs, it wouldn’t have to worry about a competitor stealing its client base. With these six strategies, you’re simply offering unsatisfied buyers a better alternative: your business.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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