Direct Response marketing comes in many forms, from media buys to infomercials.  The less consumers feel that someone is trying to sell them something, the higher the conversion rates.  People don’t like to be sold.

One of the craftiest direct response marketing techniques is selling through lawsuits.   Say what?  Lawsuits?

Negativity publicity travels 1,000x faster than positive publicity.  It’s just human nature to have a proclivity toward bad news.  Chaos merchants like our local news stations have utilized this tactic for years.  People love to hear about bad.

Microsoft, owner of Bing, is the master at positioning itself at the epicenter of nationally recognized lawsuits.   Just about every industry Microsoft enters they dominate.  Likewise, Microsoft seems to get “wrapped up” in a major lawsuit during the process.  Trust me, these lawsuits are not happenstance.   They’re actually inexpensive advertising.  Case in point:

“Google claims that Bing is stealing their search results and Microsoft isn’t denying the accusation.” – Shelly Palmer, Daily Report
“Google claims Bing copies its search results” – Stephen Shankland, Cnet
“Google: Sting proves Bing copied search results” – CNN Wire Staff

Whatttttttt?  No way!  I started hearing about this along with millions of others.  What was the first thing we did?  BING BADABADA BING!  Sure enough, Bing is pulling up some awesome, totally fresh results.  I compared the results to Google.  Ya know what?  Bing is actually pulling up better results for me.

Then it hit me.  This is a dream come true for Bing.  Everyone in the nation is starting to test Bing out now.

Microsoft is the master at creating eclectic versions of products – in laymens terms, stealing the best parts from the best products in an industry.  Then Microsoft puts it all together and has a superior product.

With a crack legal team in house, Microsoft writes litigation off as a cost of doing business.   Here’s how they do it:

1.  Identify the industry to enter.
2.  Identify the top players in that industry.
3.  Corporate espionage – discover exactly how they do what they do.
4.  List the best areas of the competitors business models.
5.  List the weak areas of the competitors business models.
6.  Rip the best and replace the weak.
7.  Run by legal to optimize and tie up loose ends to make it difficult for competitors to win lawsuits.
8.  Shred Shred Shred the evidence :)

Tada – Microsoft now has a superior product.

The moment competitors attempt to sue Microsoft, the game is over.  Microsoft has won.  Here’s how:

1.  Competitor files a lawsuit against Microsoft.
2.  Microsoft unleashes its crack legal team, compromised of the smartest legal minds in the world.
3.  Years and years of litigation ensues.
4.  During which time Microsoft improves its product.
5.  Competitor starts to run out of money.
6.  Competitor becomes distressed over lawsuit – they’re not seasoned like Microsoft is at litigation.
7.  Competitor attempts to settle lawsuit.
8.  Microsoft drags it out and beats them down.
9.  Competitor settles.
10.  Competitor is beaten down, product is now inferior, and Microsoft buys them out.

Is this going to happen to Google?

If I had to place my bets, the answer is yes, in part.

As Steve Ballmer astutely pointed out “Google is a one-trick pony.”  While Google has attempted to diversify, the overwhelming majority of their revenue still comes from the advertising on their search engine.

Bing has quickly started to chip away at that revenue, earning over 10%.  More negative publicity on how “Bing copied Google” continues to propogate as more and more people start testing Bing.

Will Bing beat Google at the search game?  What are your thoughts?