When the 800lb gorilla in your market brings out a product close to yours, it’s gonna hurt. Especially when theirs is free.

Which is why I admire Spanning Sync. They’re a funky software outfit who’ve been quietly sync’ing up Apple and Google Calendars for a small fee for some time. Suddenly, things have got a bit noisier with Google announcing a service that brushes ominously past their territory.

Spanning Sync could have been forgiven a few reflective days to chew over their response, but instead had their blog post up in a flash. They were “very excited about” the news and happily linked through to Google’s page.

This is a really smart move. How many traditional companies would ever even mention the name of competing products outside of closed boardrooms? To actively tell your closest customers about them is certainly contrary – and absolutely the right thing to do.

1. Control the agenda
Geek news travels reallllly fast. By competing to bring this information to their customers before they heard it elsewhere, Spanning Sync gained the chance to influence the positioning.

2. Champion the category
By welcoming Google’s product, Spanning Sync looked magnamimous, confident and like fellow fans of the sector.

3. Point out your edge
Spanning Sync were sure to convincingly point out the differences and benefits of their offering – without coming across as churlish.

4. Be prepared
The speed of Spanning Sync’s blog posting indicates that they were ready for this day. Having thought-through tactics for market eventualities is smart. At Guinness in the 90s we developed shadow brand plans to game what competitors might do.