Local Competitors Clients

There is a designer/developer in my local area that is pushing out templated garbage to all the local businesses. Poorly coded, invalid markup…stuff that visually looks like it was made back in '97.

Anyways, is there anything that prevents me to marketing myself to the clients on said competitors portfolio? Im not slandering anyone…in fact no other business would be mentioned except my own. No badmouthing anyone, no slandering. More of me just introducing my services…they can make up their own mind on whos better.

I was told by someone that i can be sued for this. Not sure on what grounds…i didnt realize than anyone ‘owned’ clients. Im not saying that designer A sucks and im tons better than them.

This isnt something i usually do as most work finds me, but i would like it to be an option.

You don’t need to be overly concerned about libel/slander/etc unless you’re spreading incorrect information about the competitor, although I’d be very careful with this issue.

Keep in mind, though, that there is a reason that competitors like that steal clients from vendors on a regular basis. The reason is that the problems that you described, “Poorly coded, invalid markup…” are problems that most clients don’t care about as much as you may think.

When you offer a value proposition to a client, be sure that you are making a value proposition that brings value TO THE CLIENT in a direct and understandable way.

A poorly coded site has some theoretical issues in that it may be harder to maintain, there could be browser errors, poor seo, etc. That said, there are plenty of clients who may not care about ‘that stuff’ if a much lower up-front price is offered. And truth be told, it may be the right thing for the client to do if they are cash poor or don’t want to make a larger investment into their site.

You can tell a potential client what is ‘wrong’ with their site, but if you expect them to write you a check for a rebuild of a website you need to offer something of concrete value to them.

Our sales staff markets to folks with poorly made websites all the time. As SageWing points out, there is usually a reason why the sites look the way they do (usually a lack of funds), but it is a reasonable way to generate leads.

About the only time that you can get in trouble for marketing to another group/person’s clients is you have worked for them and have signed a non-compete contract that explicitly says you won’t pursue their clients.

Thanks and thanks to Sage as well for the responses. I didnt think it would be a problem, i have no NCAs in effect. Game on.

I know exactly what you mean, and it’s made worse by knowing that the designer is actually a friend of mine, or a friend of a friend. It’s a tiny place. There’s one website for a business near here where the guy actually suggested to them that I re-design the site he made, as he knows he’s not really a web guy (and it sucks). After a huge wait they suddenly said they want him to redesign it as he’s the “person everyone knows”.

Over a year later it’s still sitting there, not updated at all. My friend has obviously been too busy or just gave up at “mastering that web design stuff” (which annoyed me anyway as essentially he was making himself my competitor whereas he gets plenty of programming work anyway). He never did get his head around things like why a flash-based website is not a good idea for a site whose customers are often using mobile phones to browse the web …

Anyway I’ve got the same dilemma. He’s probably the person who would mind least - I could just ask him if he minds first. But there are other designers around here whose sites are pretty sucky but they have the reputation. It’s a small pond and I’ve been aware of not wanting to step on toes, but perhaps it’s time I did. At one point someone tipped me off about a site that needed updating and suggested I undercut his bid, but that seemed nasty.

I can’t afford the bad-mouthing socially if I slip up here. Only 900 people live in the whole place!

I think perhaps nice polite emails or letters asking people if they want their site redesigned, or letters to businesses with no website at all, would be better … but it’s a minefield of social politics.

Sagewing said it all there. There’s nothing at all to prevent you from going after this designers clients, but unless you can show them how a prettier or better coded site can make them more money, you’re most likely in for a really tough sale.


That would be the most appropriate way to tackle it. Then you don’t even need to mention the prior marketing by your competitor - the clients will be able to draw their own conclusions.

I agree with Felgall that the above statement is the core objective. But, there is a difference between telling them that a pretty website will make money, and actually showing them that in a factual, evidence-based manner.

There was a period of about 2 years where my company was having some pretty major growing pains and we decided not to pursue any new business at all. Instead, we struggled just to handle the increasing revenue and workload from our core group of around 12 clients. This was around 2009 and at that time, there were tons of people talking about web standards, css-only sites, etc.

Our website, which had been a content-rich Joomla site, was turned off and a somewhat sloppy hold page was put in it’s place.

Over that period, I think I got about 100 solicitations from web designers who felt the need to explain to me why our website was losing us money. They explained why it was an SEO disaster, and why the lack of code that will validate was hurting us in the end. They explained why we were losing sales, etc. It went on and on.

I thought the same thing every time: the person is telling me what they want to believe is true about my business and my website, not what is actually true. The reality was that we were trying to get the business streamlined and tidy so that we could sell it, which we did. Most assets of the company were sold but the name, domain, and website remained ours to repurpose in the future. Thus, it was a good idea to put a hold page on the site.

There are plenty of ‘ugly’ pages that sell very well. And plenty of pages that don’t validate that work just fine. There are plenty of pages with no-so-great navigation but it doesn’t matter in their particular circumstances.

The bottom line is, if you are going to tell a business how a website is going to make them more money then you’d better have a very clear idea of how their business works, what their priorities are, and what they want out of their website.