I have an interesting situation and wanted to get some input. In a nutshell, here's the scenario.
I operate in a highly-competitive niche, where I am currently the #1 site in overall sales and profitability.
Lately my competitors have been trying everything they can think of to grab some of my market share. Bogus bonuses, ridiculous claims, outright lies, stealing my content, copying everything I do, you name it and they are doing it.
Priority #1 for me right now is figuring out how to keep plenty of distance between my site and theirs, so that their efforts don't ever make a significant dent in my overall profitability.
I really don't want to resort to most of the tactics they are using.
One thing they are doing, which is fine, is that they are trying to compete on price. Most of them are desperate for sales so they are trying to undercut my price and/or pay affiliates even more than I do in order to try to grab some of my affiliates.
Would I be better off just paying my affiliates the absolute most that I possibly can, more than any of my competitors? I can pay more than anyone due to my huge volume, and still make plenty of money.
This may effectively put several of my competitors out of business because no one in their right mind would continue to promote their sites. The only "problem" with this is that once I raise commissions I can't really ever lower them back down. It would be a permanent thing. Lowering commissions is probably the worst thing I could ever think of doing in terms of keeping my affiliates happy so that would never even be an option once it was implemented.
Another issue is the whole thing about a unique selling proposition. We all pretty much sell the same product, and it's hard to differentiate. My brand is starting to solidify, but most everything I do my competitors immediately copy. I guess the key is to somehow come up with something that they can't copy, right?
One thing that really irritates me is that some of them are resorting to outright lies and ridiculous claims in their salesletters, and offering outragious bonuses at order time. But human nature being what it is, many customers who sign-up don't ever get around to asking for a refund when they are disappointed and so overall my competitors benefit from increased sales.
I really don't want to stoop to their level, but how do I compete with this type of thing? Most of these other sites are fly by night type of sites that could care less about their reputation, etc. and are just trying to make a fast buck, whereas on the other hand I'm trying to build a brand and a long-term business.
I would love to hear your input. I know there are a lot of very sharp people here so let's hear what you think.