You are preparing to launch a new product or program. Your mind is racing. You have the green light to start your marketing plan. There are a thousand options: social campaign, paid ads, a video series, PR campaign, ad spend, and more.
Before creating a marketing plan, conduct a competitive analysis – a research initiative that will give you insights into how you market similar products and help you identify the best opportunities to get you to market.
You can also do a competitive analysis in marketing if you need to start a new business, present to an investor, or update your marketing strategy.
Here’s how to write a competitive market analysis and how you can use these competitive analysis methods to educate and improve your marketing.
Identify your competitors
Most marketers and sellers often talk about competitors. If you want to find out who else is in your area, you can compare similar companies based on product offerings, size, sales or number of customers. These types of product competitors are extremely useful in marketing program development because you want to know how to position your product in comparison to your closest similar offering.
Similar products are not your only competitor, however. In fact, they may not even be your main competitor. Sometimes your main competitor is simply “doing nothing”.
Additionally, when it comes to marketing, your business can play in someone else’s yard. Let’s say your project management tool is great for a sales force. Now you are not only competing for share of voice with other project management tools, but also with every other sales tool.
When identifying your competitors, the first thing you should do is make a list of similar products. Then expand. Who is each competitor competing with? And who else is playing in this room? What is each possible alternative to someone buying your product? This is your real starting point with a competitive analysis framework.
Understand your competitors’ marketing strengths and weaknesses
Once you know who your competitors are, it’s time to give them a little credit. They wouldn’t be your competitors if they weren’t good, would they?
Analyze your competitors’ strongest marketing programs
We tend to see our competition as competition. Instead, start by looking at them as learning opportunities. What are you doing that works? You can find out by:
- Analysis of your social media presence
- Notice how they talk and write about their product
- Analyze your paid media on Google Adwords
- Use SEO tools to see how they rank on different keywords
- Talk to your current or former clients about their experiences
Once done, check to see if you can do some of these programs in your company. If your competitors had a celebrity cameo at their multi-million dollar conference, you may not be able to win the same marketing juice. However, if they compete for low-cost keywords and duplicate a content or social media strategy, your team can incorporate those insights into your own strategy.
Identify your competition’s weaknesses and your opportunities
You can learn just as much from what your competitors don’t. Are there any channels that you have ignored or given up entirely? This could mean that your target audience is not on these channels. or it could mean they are an untapped resource.
B2B companies are often the last to follow trending channels and stick to what they’re used to. For this reason, the first actors in these networks benefit from many advantages. You’ll be able to quickly build more engaged followers and see if there is any potential to turn social media channels into lead sources. They also get to know the specifics faster. Not every channel is a winner, but those who follow them will find it quicker.
Your competition’s weaknesses are your chances to capitalize on or learn from them. When you have your competitive analysis framework in place, you can analyze the opportunities for your team to pursue these opportunities.
Examine how your competitors are approaching digital marketing
In digital marketing, we all play in the same sandbox. There’s only one Google, one Twitter, and one LinkedIn, so we have quite a bit of insight into each other’s strategies.
By browsing around, you can start mapping your competitors’ digital marketing approach.
Here are some questions to get started, as well as some tips and tools for finding that information:
Which networks do you use?
They can run their name through Namechk for a list of the social media accounts they have created under their brand name.
Do you have an SEO strategy?
Use the ‘Site Explorer’ tool in Ahrefs to check your domain authority, which of your pages are ranked and whether they have seen any changes over time.
Do you use Google Adwords?
Tools like iSpionage can help you see what ads your competitors are running and how much they are spending. This is an important indicator of whether you can financially compete on your marketing spend.
Digital is the easiest place to replicate, test, and measure. You can experiment with your competitors’ strategies to see if these elements also improve your marketing metrics.
Analyze prices and packaging
Marketing is a collective term for so many different programs. However, pricing and packaging are one of the most important marketing elements that normally don’t come under our umbrella. The price of your product and what is associated with it are usually the most important deciding factor in attracting customers to your product.
When you work on your competitive market analysis, you can estimate which products cost the most and which cost the least. When evaluating the price, it is also important to consider what features are included in this price range. Special discounts? Lifetime customer support? Unlimited user spaces?
These items are all part of your value proposition that you can use to communicate your product to your target market.
Packaging and pricing are not a perfect science. As you analyze the value of each offering, work closely with your product and sales teams to determine what is actually being offered and at what price. You will get additional insights from these teams about how your product fits into this mix and whether you are competitive. Adjusting your pricing and packaging offers can influence your marketing strategy.
Assess the lead flow and customer acquisition of your competitors
Marketing doesn’t stop after visitors land on your website. Alignment between marketing and sales is critical to turning your leads into customers. Examining your competitors’ lead flow can give you insight into how the marketing and sales teams are working together.
When preparing your competitive market analysis, check whether your competitors:
- Collecting leads through web forms
- Hiring a sales team (you can learn this from LinkedIn)
- Offering demos, free trials, or limited access to the product
By examining these points, you will understand how your competitors are not only attracting leads but also customers. You can use this information to gauge your customer journey, which you can integrate into your overall strategy.
How to conduct a competitive analysis [TEMPLATE]
One of the many reasons to do a new competitive marketing analysis is to educate yourself on your own marketing strategy. Often times, these analyzes are important to investors and executives and can remind them that you are on the right track. The research phase of these analyzes can take time. However, you will pay off many times over when you can learn from the successes and failures of your competitors.