Whether you’re a small startup or a global company, your job is usually to beat your competitors and grow your business. In order to do so, you’ll need a battle plan based on insights about your rivals and industry. That’s where a competitive landscape analysis comes in.

How To Conduct A Competitive Landscape Analysis

A competitive landscape analysis typically consists of two major steps: 1) identifying your competitors and 2) getting insights into their business and strategy. Some competitor analysis frameworks might also include gathering competitive intelligence about the external environment such as industry, politics, laws and more. However, in this article, we’ll focus on just the two traditional steps. Here’s how they work:

Identifying your competitors

The goal of this step is to find all the main direct and indirect competitors that you’re up against, both online and offline. To do this, you can start your research with search engines, websites, reports and news communications. Try to think of any products, services or organizations that might be used by your customers as a substitute for your solution. Next, take a look at relevant keywords to your business and figure out which websites are frequently featured on the first search engine ranking pages. During this process, you also might want to look at the top-performing competitors and which other keywords they’re using that you didn’t think of. Add them to your list to find even more rivals. Finally, summarize your findings into a long-list and narrow it down by excluding any players that are not really relevant. That’s your list of business competitors.

Analyzing your rivals

Merely knowing who you are up against isn’t enough. To really reap the value of your competitive landscape analysis, you’ll need to dig deeper and really understand your competition. The best way to do this is to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses and pinpoint their strategies.

Start by looking at and monitoring their website, blog, social media communication, search engine ads and any other online content. Pay attention to their marketing messages and how they communicate with potential customers. If you want to get an even better understanding, try mystery shopping, set up phone calls with their sales reps and do their trials. Finally, take advantage of online tools and reports to measure their success. By combining all these findings you can quickly get a good overview of their strengths and weaknesses.

Competitor insights via digital tools can also shed a lot of light on your competitors’ strategies. For example, they’ll help you identify whether a particular rival primarily uses offline or online channels to win more sales. You’ll also learn how a competitor generates leads online, whether it’s through organic traffic and content marketing, or via digital ads and search engine marketing. Competitor analysis tools will also highlight which social media channels competitors focus on, which keywords generate the most traffic to their websites and how their SEO performance evolves. Finally, employing tools allows you to monitor your competition over time in order to spot any changes in strategy since you’ll receive alerts when they add new features, launch new products, make pricing updates or change their brand message.

Crafting your strategy to beat the competition

You might think that a competitive landscape analysis would be complete once you’ve identified your competitors and analyzed their business characteristics. However, to truly get value out of it, most businesses use this information to go one step further and form a plan as to how to beat their competitors. They’d evaluate their own situation and ask themselves: what does this mean for my business? What are the opportunities and threats? What steps do we need to take to win the battle? This would lead to the creation of a clear strategy and the tactics required to execute it successfully.