So the other day I was talking to an old acquaintance who happens to be the CMO of a well-known business (but we protect our witnesses here, so I won’t “spill the tea” for you) and was having big competitor trouble. Basically, their industry was having really big trouble in obtaining an input that was essential to them, and all of a sudden her competitor got pretty much a lifetime supply of it, so how did that happen? Well, according to some information that got to my friend’s ear, her competitor was receiving some favors from a blackmailed third party. Shady, huh? However, she could not just go and spread this rumor without having her brand’s image big time jeopardized, and her conclusion was: “I wish someone would just go and spread it for me”.
So we have already discussed many pros and cons of creating a Microsite for Marketing purposes, but we never got to talk about this: You don’t necessarily have to link a Microsite you create to your main site. Microsites really are just small sites that can be created quickly and easily, no clause says that any user needs to know who is the person behind it. So… could we actually use them to spread things we don’t want the world to know we did? Well, I don’t see any big sign that says that we are forbidden to do it, do you? However, it may not always be the greatest choice, so let’s review a few key points on whether we should create a Microsite to talk about our competitors or not, shall we?
So, the obvious big pro: You can say anything you want and not be representing your company while doing it. Let’s say you go on a date with this guy who won’t shut up about how crazy his ex-girlfriend was, how annoying and unreliable would that sound? But let’s say someone else comes and tells you about how crazy the ex-girlfriend of this guy you are dating was, different, right? So this is the same. Even if what you want to say about your competitors it’s true, it’s gonna be really bad for your image to just go ahead and have a conference talking about all this dirty information you have on your competitors. However, if customers got that same information from somewhere else, let’s say, a very reliable Microsite that just talks about random companies, things will probably look different.
So if your main idea is to just give away some real information you have and that it’d be fair that everybody else knew, then a Microsite made specifically for this would be a really good idea. That way, you can make sure users make their choices having all the information they need and, in a way, isn’t that actually like providing them a service? How nice of you!
However, there are also some things that you’ll need to consider before throwing yourself into this new Microsite strategy idea. If you are intending to spread fake information about your competitors, leaving aside how morally wrong that would be, then Microsite Marketing may not be such a great choice. When you were in high school, you could spread any rumors and people would have a really hard time trying to track down the person that started it. But the Internet is not high school, and finding you would be as easy as tracking your IP address, so be careful because charges for spreading fake news are anything but easy to get away with. If you want to create and give away fake rumors, then call your local gossip magazine and give it to them.
Another point to take into account is if creating the website will actually be worth it. Even if Microsites are much cheaper to create than regular sites, this doesn’t mean they are free and that they don’t require any effort at all. If you are planning on running a website to just upload one piece of information and never touching it again, then I wouldn’t recommend this strategy to you. How sketchy would it be that a random site, with absolutely no content nor reputation, uploaded some rumor about a company and then never said anything else ever again? Sketchy enough so no one takes it seriously for sure.
Not just that, but you should also figure out if this strategy will end up being actually profitable. Does your audience really care about this thing going on behind the company’s closed doors? Or they just care about getting their product no matter where it comes from? Because, if you create a whole site and upload a bunch of articles about how all these companies are messing up and get absolutely no attention, I can guarantee that you’ll be, at least, a little upset for the time wasted.
So basically, to conclude, I believe Microsites are usually a great strategy. They are small, sophisticated, and goal-oriented. So if your answers to most of this article’s concerns were “yes it suits me”, then you should definitely go for it, you won’t regret it. However, if you still have your doubts about trying to go viral (or if you even care enough to manage to get viral), maybe you should hang in there, sleep on it and then figure out if this is the best strategy, or if you should just let go. Whatever’s your case, hopefully, this article helped to get your thoughts a little more clear.