You’re getting ready to launch a new product or program. Your mind is racing. You’ve got the green light to start your marketing plan. There’s a thousand options: social campaign, paid ads, a video series, PR campaign, ad spend, and more.
Before you draft a marketing plan, do a competitive marketing analysis—a research initiative that will give you insight into how similar products are being marketed and help you to identify the best opportunities for your launch.
You may also want to complete a competitive analysis in marketing if you’re starting a new business, presenting to an investor, or need to refresh your marketing strategy.
Here’s how to write a competitive market analysis, and how you can use these competitive analysis methods to inform and improve your marketing.
Identify your competitors
Most marketers and salespeople talk about competitors often. When figuring out who else is in your space, you might compare similar companies based on product offerings, size, revenue, or number of customers. These types of product competitors are extremely useful when developing marketing programs, because you want to know how to position your product against your closest similar offering.
However, similar products are not your only competitor. In fact, they may not even be your main competitor. Sometimes, your biggest competitor is simply ‘doing nothing.’
Further, your company may be playing in someone else’s yard when it comes to marketing. Let’s say your project management tool is great for salespeople. Now, you’re not just competing for share of voice with other project management tools—you’re competing with every other sales tool as well.
When you identify your competitors, start by making a list of similar products. Then, expand. Who is each competitor competing with? And who else is playing in that space? What is every feasible alternative to someone buying your product? That’s your true place to start with a competitive analysis framework.
Understand 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 any good, right?
Analyzing your competitors’ strongest marketing programs
We tend to think of our competition as, well, competition. Instead, start to think of them as learning opportunities. What are they doing that’s working? You can find this out by:
- Analyzing their social media presence
- Noting how they talk and write about their product
- Analyze their paid media on Google Adwords
- Use SEO tools to see how they are ranking on different keywords
- Talk with their current or former customers about their experiences
Once you complete, see if you can carry out some of these programs at your company. If your competitors had a celebrity cameo at their multi-million dollar conference, you may not be able to capture that same marketing juice. However, if they’re competing on low-cost keywords and doubling down on a content or social strategy, your team can integrate these learnings into your own strategy.
Determine the competition’s weaknesses and your opportunities
You can learn just as much from what your competitors are not doing. Are there channels that they’ve ignored, or abandoned completely? This could mean that your target audience isn’t in these channels; or it could mean they are an untapped resource.
Often, B2B companies are the last to pursue trendy channels and tend to stick to what they’re used to. Because of this, the first-actors in these networks get to reap many benefits. They are able to quickly build more dedicated following and figure out if there’s potential to turn social media channels into lead sources. They also get to learn the ins and outs more quickly. Not every channel is a winner, but those who pursue them are able to determine this more quickly.
Your competition’s weaknesses are your chances either to capitalize on, or learn from. When you’re completing your competitor analysis framework, you can analyze the possibilities for your team to pursue these opportunities.
Examine your competitors’ approach to digital marketing
With digital marketing, we’re all playing in the same sandbox. There’s only one Google, one Twitter and one LinkedIn, so we have quite a bit of visibility into each others’ strategies.
By poking around, you can start to map your competitors’ digital marketing approach.
Here are some questions to get started, and some tips and tools for finding this information:
What networks are they using?
You can run their name through Namechk to get a list of which social media accounts they’ve created under their brand name.
Do they have an SEO strategy?
Use the ‘Site Explorer’ tool in Ahrefs to check their domain authority, which of their pages are ranking, and if they’ve had changes over time.
Do they use Google Adwords?
Tools like iSpionage allow you to take a look at what ads your competitors are running and how much they’re spending. This is a huge indicator of whether you’ll be able to financially compete with their marketing spend.
Digital is the easiest place to replicate, test, and measure. Using your competitors’ strategies, you can experiment to see if these items also improve your marketing metrics as well.
Analyze pricing and packaging
Marketing is a catch-all term for so many different programs. Yet, pricing and packaging is one of the most crucial marketing elements that does not typically fall under our umbrella. The price of your product, and what comes with it, are usually the most critical decision factor for attracting customers to your product.
When working on your competitor market analysis, you can assess which products cost the most and the least. When assessing price, it’s also important to consider what features are included in that price point. Special discounts? Lifetime customer support? Unlimited user seats?
These items are all part of your value proposition, which you can use to communicate your product to your target market.
Packaging and pricing is not a perfect science. When analyzing the value of each offer, work closely with your product and sales teams to determine what is actually being offered, and for how much. You’ll be able to get additional insight from these teams about how your product fits into this mix and if you’re competitive. Adjusting your pricing and packaging offerings can inform your market strategy.
Evaluate your competitors’ lead flow and customer acquisition
Marketing doesn’t stop after visitors land on your site. The alignment between marketing and sales is crucial to making sure your leads become customers. Examining your competitors’ lead flow can give you some insight into how the marketing and sales teams work together.
When creating your competitive market analysis, see if your competitors are:
- Collecting leads through web forms
- Employing a sales team (you can learn this from LinkedIn)
- Offering demos, free trials, or limited access to the product
By investigating these items, you’ll start to understand how your competitors are not only getting leads, but also acquiring customers. You can use this information to approximate their customer journey, which you can integrate into your greater strategy.
How to do a competitor analysis [TEMPLATE]
One of the many reasons to do a new competitive marketing analysis is to inform your own marketing strategy. Often, these analyses are significant to investors and senior leaders, and can remind them that you’re on the right path. The research phase of these analyses can take time. But, they pay off many times over when you can learn from your competitors’ successes and failures.