It’s no secret that every business has competition, be it one competitor or many. Although it may be frustrating learning about a new competitor, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, for many businesses, having competitors is what drives them and motivates them to push harder. It’s an opponent to chase down, a rival to stay ahead of, and perhaps most importantly, competition pushes organizations to benchmark themselves and constantly improve.
Read on to learn about the basics of a thorough competitive analysis, as well as the steps needed for you to get started with your own.
What is a competitive analysis?
Conducting a competitive analysis, also referred to as competitor analysis or competitor intelligence, is all about learning. It’s a structured way of asking questions regarding competitors and identifying who they are. A good competitive analysis will also point out what your competitors’ strategies consist of, and where their strengths and weaknesses lie. It helps you to see what’s working and most importantly, what’s not. The goals of a good competitive analysis are twofold - discovering and analyzing your competitor’s strategies and determining your offering’s edge.
A thorough competitive analysis is important in all business aspects, but especially across digital media. It’s a smart way of assessing your competitors’ activities and strategies.
How Organizations Use A Competitive Analysis
Organizations need to understand the competitive landscape in order to claim their share of the market. They need to know who else is out there, what others are doing, and how to position themselves in relation to what’s out there.
Competitive analysis, therefore, is used by organizations to understand their landscape. For many, the competitive analysis is used across the entire organization – from the company leadership to the marketing department, in product development and even in sales.
Key elements that competitive analysis addresses:
- Listing various competitors
- Mapping their positions within the market
- Assessing their Unique Selling Propositions (USPs)
- Estimating market share
- Comparing strategies
- Assessing strengths and weaknesses
- Identifying where your organization can outperform its competitors
Knowing where to start with your competitive analysis can be daunting. So we’ve gone ahead and laid it out for you.
What follows are six easy steps you can follow for a top-notch and goal-driven competitive analysis.
Getting Started – Structuring Your Competitive Analysis
The process of completing a competitive analysis is time-consuming, but this practice may be one of the most important activities you perform for the success of your organization. Put in the time and energy, because it’s well worth it!
1. List Your Competitors
Kick-off your competitor analysis by simply listing your competitors. To help you get started, try rounding out the list below and ensuring you have included competitors for each bullet point. As the first step of your analysis, this one is crucial, so take your time and really think about it:
- Direct: this is a competitor that sells similar products to you and in similar markets.
- Indirect: these competitors may not have the same product as you, but are going after the same market or industry (there are usually more than one).
- Complementary: these are competitors that offer products or services that when coupled with your own, offer more value to your clients. There is synergy and overlap here, but you are both going for the same market, and your complimentary competitor/s might ally with some of your direct competitors.
- Aspirational: these are leading companies that you admire or aspire to be like.
If you’re struggling at this stage, check out the many online resources that can help you more easily pinpoint your competitors. Companies like Gartner and G2 Crowd, for example, are great places to start.
2. Collect Information
This where the competitive analysis starts to get interesting. As the next step, you’ll want to build upon your competitor list and bulk up the information you have on each of them.
There are three main ways of doing this:
- SWOT analysis: this business staple is still the go-to method for assessing your competitors’. For each competitor, list its strengths and weaknesses, the opportunities that the competitor’s offering provides, as well as the threats your business faces from them. This deep-dive helps frame your competitive analysis from this point on.
- Content audit: You’ve heard it before, but content really is king. In today’s hyper-competitive economy, it’s very often great content that sets apart the winners from the losers. Content is what helps businesses get discovered, it’s what differentiates them for their customers by adding value, and what positions them as leaders in the market.
A content audit of your competitors helps you understand what content they’re putting out, including their messaging, tone, and what medium they’re working with. Key elements of a content audit include what your competitors are doing in terms of:
- Social media presence
- Blog topics
- White papers
- Case studies
- Website content
- Video content
- Live events
- Press releases
Digital media analysis (paid + organic):
A digital media analysis gives you a high-level and more in-depth picture of what your competitors are doing across their digital media assets. This key part of your competitive analysis can involve manually going through competitors’ digital media channels. Thankfully there are some incredible tools out there that provide a comprehensive look at competitors’ digital footprints.
Moat measures real-time attention analytics and can show you what your competitors are doing across their digital campaigns. See ad creatives like banners, along with devices their ads are shown on, dimensions and active dates.
Nielsen / Kantar
Nielsen and Kantar are more traditional data companies providing insights and consulting across a number of industries. With access to huge amounts of data from different panels and surveys, these companies are primarily used by large brands to generate marketing insights.
BrandTotal gives a full competitive analysis across your competitors’ digital footprint, in real-time. This includes competition across channels, as well as seeing share of voice and spend engagement for your company and its competitors for any time frame. When it comes to a competitive analysis for digital media, BrandTotal is the optimal way of getting the results you’re looking for quickly. Interested in learning more?
Check out a demo here.
It was legendary military strategist Sun Tzu that said, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.''
To really understand how your competitors work, and to create a meaningful competitive analysis, you need to experience their user flow firsthand. Start by organizing your competitors’ offerings.
Build Out User Flows/Customer Journeys For Each Brand
Go through the process yourself and take notes on each step. Try to gather as much information on these interactions as possible. No doubt you’ll start getting all kinds of ideas of your own as you complete this process, but try to stay focused on the information-gathering and organization aspects at this point.
Now that you have all of this rich competitive analysis information at your fingertips, the next step is to analyze it in order to make strategic data-backed decisions.
Be the consumer. Grade each one of your competitors and rank them. Start with the top of their funnel – how do they appeal to new users? What campaigns are they running, and what is their customer journey like? Take note of everything from creative assets to landing pages, the onboarding process to their solutions or products themselves. Approach your competitive analysis with a fresh perspective, forgetting for a moment that you’re a competitor.
5. Make decisions
You can now use your competitive analysis to start making key business decisions. Integrating your competitive analysis data into your decision-making process provides incredible value. Along with other data you have available – such as customer and market data or previous campaign information – your competitive analysis results give you a 360-degree view of where your brand needs to be.
Incorporate Your Learning Into Pre-campaign Planning Sessions
This is where your competitive analysis comes alive and shines. For every campaign, you now have a wealth of information that can be used in planning sessions. This includes having a more clear idea of how and where you can take advantage of weak areas in your competitors’ offering to fast-track your brand to success.
You can't manage what you can't measure. In order to achieve success, we suggest constantly measuring yourself against the benchmarks, standards, and goals within your competitive analysis.
Run a post-mortem campaign analysis and measure your results against industry benchmarks and previous campaign results. Once you’ve done that, you are in a position to go from “Good” to “Great”. Use the results as well as findings from your competitive analysis to optimize your digital campaigns and leave your competition in the dust.
Using Your Competitive Analysis to Achieve Success
As you’ve read, a well-researched competitive analysis can provide priceless information about your competitors, your market, and the best path towards achieving your business goals. It is your launchpad for business success.
Now that you have successfully completed your competitive analysis, it’s time for BrandTotal to give you the edge over your competitors, and partner with you to reach new heights.
BrandTotal offers the most comprehensive competitive analysis out there. You’ll get real-time competitive intelligence, gain an in-depth understanding of your competitors’ marketing strategies, and actionable AI-derived insights to leapfrog the competition.
Feel free to get in touch!