Like scouts who observe their opponents, marketers who successfully conduct and interpret competitive analyses will not only succeed in keeping up with their competitors but also beat them. A well-done analysis not only identifies internal areas where a brand can improve upon and bolster. It also points out critical weak spots which can be strengthened to move them ahead of the competition. Here’s a step-by-step approach.
The first thing to do is break the competition down into categories starting with those who directly complete with the brand. This direct competition should then be broken into half with the well-established leaders in one section and the emerging ones in another. Two or three in each would suffice. If there are any indirect competitors, like companies who work on the periphery, the same categories and subsections should also be set up. A couple in each would be fine.
One way to determine the above and where to start is by drawing up a spreadsheet showing the target market, total funding, number of customers, and annual revenue. Funding data is usually available on publicly-traded companies. It can often be found on sites like Crunchbase if it’s an emerging or start-up company. If customer numbers aren’t available on a competitor’s website or annual reports, they may be discovered in industry report searches and other public data.
With the available data gathered, compare competitor revenue as well as funding with the brand. Also, determine if the brand appears more or less efficient with its money. Were any noticeable trends found that signal signs of growth or a slow-down?
If the competitor is growing faster than the brand, what is the reason, and can that same strategy be applied to the brand to also accelerate its growth? Would achieving it mean an improved or even new product? What other key action items might be gleaned from these takeaways?
Use the analysis to look deeper internally. Go to sites like Glassdoor and compare how the brand stacks up to competitors in employee satisfaction. Also draw up a comparative worksheet of senior executives showing years in their present roles, years with the company, and the business units they managed.
Use the data to determine if certain expertise is lacking on the brand’s executive team and determine if employee communication and satisfaction need work. Pay attention as some of the employee reviews not only signal issues within an organization but also with its products,
Conduct yet another comparison looking at traffic trends and distribution of competitors. There are tools like SEMrush, Alexa, and SimilarWeb that can do that. Track it monthly to monitor growth rates and help determine if and where more investments need to be made for social reach.
Consider other help as well. Tools like SEMrush, BuzzSumo, or SimilarWeb track competitor organic keywords and inbound links to give the brand an opportunity to highlight other keyword and link-building opportunities in searches.
Finally, draw up another worksheet comparing price points for products or services. If the competition isn’t readily available on their website, check third-party reviews from prospects and customers. How does the brand match up in price? What about strengths or weaknesses? Which products or services are most and least popular? These third-party reviews are also invaluable in discovering other strengths and weaknesses that may also apply to the brand.
The latest findings can lead to key action items causing the brand to look deeper into its own product strength, fill a gap, or expand a feature. It could even lead to developing or testing a new product or feature. How exciting is that, thanks to a competitor?