You might’ve seen Patrick’s latest blog posts, in which he explained how primary research is the starting point for differentiating your brand. He’s right, of course: research is the only way to truly know your own company because it gives you a perspective you can’t develop on your own, and then it contextualizes that perspective within your industry.
When we undertake a research project at SCG, one of our first steps – even before launching the surveys Patrick described – is often competitive research. Getting acquainted with competitors’ products and claims helps us ask the right questions in our primary research and build a roadmap of how to deploy the competitive insights we discover.
If you’re sizing up your own competition, here are a few tips we’ve learned over the years:
Know your scope
Competitive analysis, like any proper research undertaking, can easily get out of hand. More data is rarely a bad thing, but it can mean missing important details in the larger picture or, conversely, failing to see the brand improvement forest for the competitive research trees.
That’s why it’s important to apply proper filters for the competitors themselves (size, scale, market share), relevant aspects of their business and marketing (branding, messaging, media presence, longevity), and general perception (from within the company and from consumers) – all before digging in. For example, if you’re an upstart soda company, you could spend months exhaustively examining everything Coca-Cola has done, but you’ll likely gain more from focusing on other companies your size.
Ask the right questions in the right places
You and your competitors might have similar product or service offerings, but your real point of commonality – and the one you’ll spend most of your time fighting for – is the customer. Knowing a consumer’s opinion of your competitors is as important as knowing how that competitor positions themselves. After all, the effectiveness of any marketing is measured in how audiences respond to it.
Because everyone on the internet is forced to have an opinion about everything, there should be no shortage of public opinion on your competitors on social media, Google Reviews, Glassdoor and more. Make sure you’re doing some digging to find out what’s working and what’s not for the consumers whose attention you’re competing for.
Put the pieces together in a way everyone can understand
Once we’ve collected all that relevant information – internal findings, competitor branding and messaging, competitor size, etc. – we like to create a simple document that makes it easy to scan. This competitive grid usually has columns for different elements (like primary product offerings, claims about the brand, positioning statements, and relevant media traction) with rows for each competitor, each arranged by their relevance and perceived strength in the industry.
An example of the information we might put into a competitor landscape grid. I used a few leaders in the video game industry as an example because that’s really all I know anymore.
We find that these easy-to-read grids not only help make the information more accessible, but they make it more effective for communicating goals and opportunities. If you’re a corporate marketer who needs to quickly paint a picture for the C-level, this is where your analysis can shine. Logan will have some thoughts on how we share the results of competitive research with clients in an upcoming B2B Simplified blog, so keep an eye out for that.
While it’s possible to handle competitive research on your own, an outside perspective can add a lot of value. A helping hand also creates a new partnership to strengthen your brand, reach your audiences, and grow your business. If any of those sound good to you, drop Patrick a line today to find out how SCG can help.
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