Does your Product Marketing Team Need a Competitive Analyst?
7 Questions to Decide if It’s Time to Hire a Product Marketing Competitive Analyst
You can’t effectively market a product without understanding the larger market it’s a part of. At most organizations, product marketing teams are on the frontlines of pushing the importance of competitive intelligence (CI) in an organization. Gaining competitive intelligence and knowing how to put it to use can be big jobs. But it’s work that has an important role to play in effective product marketing.
Nonetheless, even many companies that understand the value of competitive intelligence haven’t hired a committed competitive analyst to join the product marketing team. It’s understandable. A whole new role means a whole new salary that must come out of your budget. Before you invest in adding a new position to your company, you need to determine if it’s something you actually need. And in some companies, a devoted competitive analyst isn’t required.
So how do you determine if your product marketing team needs a competitive analyst? The answers to these seven questions will help you make an informed decision.
1. How satisfied are you with your current level of competitive analysis?
Evaluate your current process for gaining competitive intelligence. Do you feel confident that you’ve identified all of your competitors? Does your current process keep you up-to-date on all the important changes they make, as well as any shifts in their level of success? Are you able to identify competitive threats in advance, rather than them taking you by surprise?
If you’re concerned about your ability to perform a thorough competitive analysis with the resources you currently have, then hiring a competitive analyst is one compelling option to fix that. If your team is able to manage competitive research and analysis right now without a problem, then there’s no need to pay the salary of someone new.
2. Do you have goals you aren’t currently meeting?
Feeling satisfied or not matters, but feelings aren’t the same as tangible data. If your team has set clear goals and you haven’t managed to meet them, you need to figure out something new to try. Bringing in a professional that adds new expertise to your team and can tackle tasks you weren’t getting to may be the solution to finally meeting those goals this year or quarter.
Whether a competitive analyst is a good answer to your problems will depend on which goals you’re struggling with. If you’re failing to meet your internal goals of keeping your competitive intelligence accurate, or if you haven’t made the headway in market share you had hoped to, those are definitely issues a competitive analyst can help with. If what you’re struggling with is more about meeting sales quotas and improving marketing metrics, a competitive analyst could provide important insights that help with that. But it’s not as straightforward in those cases if that’s your best option. It’s worth doing an analysis of your situation first to consider all the possible issues that could be involved.
3. If not a competitive analyst, who’s in charge of competitive research?
A product marketing team can have great intentions about staying on top of competitive research—being thorough, keeping it current, and putting it to use. But if the work of competitive intelligence falls to people whose primary responsibilities lie elsewhere, those good intentions may never turn into actions. And if performing competitive analysis isn’t in their job description or general wheelhouse, they won’t do it as well as a trained professional would anyways.
4. Do they have time to do the job well?
If you have a clear answer to that last question and have assigned someone on the team CI responsibilities, then consider this question. What are their other responsibilities? Can they manage everything without something slipping?
If the job of competitive intelligence is put on the shoulders of someone who has other primary responsibilities, they’ll have a hard time staying on top of it. Competitive intelligence isn’t a one-time job. It requires continually monitoring what your competitors are doing. If you don’t have team members with enough time to treat it as an ongoing priority, then bringing someone else in to help may be your best option.
5. Do they already have the skills needed to perform high-level analysis?
Do the team members who would be tasked with the job have the skills and capacity to do a good job performing competitive research? If not, can you reasonably provide them with the type of training they need to get to that point?
You may have someone on your team that would love the opportunity to learn a new skill, and has a knack for research and data analysis. So even if those skills don’t exist on your team already, you may not need to hire someone new. But saddling someone uninterested in CI with doing the work on top of their main job responsibilities is very different than providing an opportunity to someone that’s expressed interest in it.
If you don’t have someone with the right skills now, or someone willing to learn, hiring a competitive intelligence specialist is a better idea than handing it to someone who’s neither interested or prepared.
6. Could better tools fill the gaps in knowledge and ability?
Adding a whole new salary plus benefits to your budget isn’t cheap. So before you take such a big step, consider if you can more affordably address these concerns with the right tools and process. Competitive intelligence products can now employ AI technology to automate many of the tasks that would otherwise have to be performed by people.
If your current team is struggling to keep up with competitive research because you’re doing everything manually, a competitive intelligence software that monitors your competitors across different channels and delivers the information to you in an easy-to-understand format could be what you really need.
A good software product costs less than a full salary, so think about what your needs really are and research what product options you have. If the right tool solves your problems, it may save you from needing to make a full hire. If you’ll still struggle to get the work done even with a product that simplifies things, hiring a person may still be worth it.
7. Can you afford to hire a skilled candidate?
Whether you need a competitive analyst is a big part of the question of whether to hire one. But knowing if it’s even possible with the budget you have is just as important.
Someone that’s skilled, competent, and hard working deserves to be paid well. For your investment in hiring a competitive analyst to matter, you have to find the right candidate and be willing to offer them a competitive salary.
Take some time to research typical salaries in your area, and figure out if you can make room in the budget. If not, revisit other strategies you can try to fill in those gaps for now, such as investing in new products, developing more efficient processes, or looking into consultants.
But keep an eye on things when working on the upcoming budget. If the need is still there and other strategies haven’t worked, you’ll want to try to find room for a full-time hire as soon as you can.
Competitive Intelligence Merits an Investment
Having someone on staff devoted to competitive intelligence will undoubtedly bring value. They’ll be able to bring insights to the table that your team will miss without being able to do the same level of research and analysis. But not all teams can afford to hire a competitive analyst. If you’re in that boat, give careful thought to what options you do have.
Who can you put in charge of CI? And how can you ensure they have all they need to do a good job? Can you figure out more efficient ways of performing competitive research and analysis to make it a more accessible job with the resources you have?
Don’t let the inability to hire someone full time deter you from investing in CI, and making sure you include it in your overall product marketing process. You’ll be more successful when you know how to position your product against your top competitors.
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