People are competitive in nature. In business, it’s normal to have an idea of the key players in the industry and different solutions that compare. It’s also natural from a buyer perspective to see what other options are out there.
Disruption isn’t just one of the top buzzwords these days. Companies of all shapes and sizes are being challenged by newcomers and markets are continuously shifting as buyer demands change. But how do you stay on top of it?
As a product marketer or sales leader, to remain competitive, you need to have a lens into whats happening in the industry. Hiring a marketing research or analyst firm can be costly. We wanted to share the top ways your team can make the most of the tools you already have access too. Although most competitor information can be found online, there are some insights that can’t be gained from traditional market research and customer calls.
Direct competitors: Offer the same product in the same category, for example, McDonald’s and Burger King are direct competitors.
Indirect competitor: Share similar products or features, but in a different category; indirect competitors are sometimes known as substitutes.
Replacement (emerging) competitors: which offer a different product in a different category. This is a competitor that can replace your products or services by offering a different solution altogether.
Once you confirm your competitors, make sure your team has a brief description of the company in your own words. You can pull this data from online resources like CrunchBase or AngelList. These will also enable you to complete the rest of a corporate competitive analysis.
As marketers, you already do this. You track and monitor keyword success, pay to place ads against keywords, or create beautiful and valuable content to rank for them, but they’re often an overlooked asset for detecting competitor activity.
The competitors that are working to make a move are going to slowly start showing up in keyword searches. Like Airbnb or Uber, they create content that users found valuable. Ranking for keywords organically can be time-intensive but is the gift that keeps on giving when done right. Next time you look at the keywords, start looking at the organic results. What companies or publications are ranking. If it’s a publication, take a look at whether the content is promoted or sponsored, and by whom.
Additionally, tracking the activity not only can give you insight into what competitors might be coming into your space but what the market is asking for – which can shape your products and product roadmaps.
Questions to ask:
Are they a new company or an established company?
How are they promoting the keyword?
Did they launch a new product?
Whether you’re a social media wiz or not, social media is more than a posting platform to push a message out too. It’s a channel meant to build relationships through engagement and communication. Accenture’s State of the B2B Procurement Study found “that 94% of B2B buyers conduct some degree of research online before making a business purchase, with 55% conducting online research for at least half of their purchases.”
Paying attention to the conversations and sentiment will not only improve brand awareness or social media presence but impact the bottom line. Much like tracking keywords, listening or participating in the conversation can give you a glimpse into other companies trying to get a piece of the pie.
Questions to ask:
Which social platforms are they using?
What type of activities are they participating in and how often?
What content types or formats that have a higher engagement?
Gathering feedback from battle cards
Sales teams are in the trenches so to speak. What better way to know what’s happening than to ask buyers what they’re seeing, who they’re talking too, and what companies are reaching out to them. The more experienced sellers will use this intel to improve their competitive win rates. However, the insights from calls with customers and prospects are a goldmine for keeping a pulse on your direct and indirect competitors. Additionally, these conversations will allow your teams to see what emerging competitors might be lurking in the shadows. Knowing what is out there will enable your teams to compete and reduce risks associated with new competitors.
You’re better able to identify gaps, eliminate risks, and predict the outcomes of initiatives more clearly. Messaging and positioning need this type of data to
Questions to ask:
Does your sales team use your battle cards?
Is there a recurring competitor in the majority of sales deals?
How do sales share insights among themselves?
What do salespeople do with competitive intel in their deals?
While competition is not new, tracking competitors and gaining insights into competitors is becoming more accessible. It not only helps you keep a pulse on what they’re doing, but helps you understand the customer’s expectations and market trends.
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