risk management

Using Competitive Analysis to Spot Potential Threats to Your Business

There are three main phases to developing a good process for proactive threat identification. Read how incorporating competitive analysis can help identify, strategize, and take action.

Subscribe

Subscribe

Anyone can start a new business, but if you’ve done it and found success, you know better than most how important it is to stay alert to what your competitors are doing and changes to what your customers are looking for.

At some point, most companies will face a threat they didn’t see coming. New businesses come onto the scene. Customer expectations and needs shift. Behavior-changing new technologies emerge. 

The good news is that you actually can see a lot of threats coming if you try.

Let’s get into the three steps to developing a good process for proactive threat identification. You’ll notice how incorporating competitive analysis makes each of them more effective.

Threaths-CI-Framework

Phase One: Identify all main threat areas

Try to think through all the different types of threats your company could face. What forces have an influence on your success? Some of the most common threat areas companies deal with are:

Increased Competition

One of the biggest potential threats to your business is having competitors come onto the scene that offer a similar product, possibly for less money, with added features, or simply with a more successful marketing schtick. 

This threat can come from new competitors, or an existing competitor may release a new product or update that upstages you in some way. Unless you react to that threat quickly, this can eat into your customer share, siphoning business away. Ideally, you’ve seen it coming and are ready to respond before the change goes public.

This makes performing a periodic competitive intelligence analysis and maintaining an ongoing program of competitive intelligence absolutely critical.

Industry Trends

The business graveyard is full of companies that failed to adapt to industry changes. Remember Blockbuster? 

Being generally aware of industry trends by reading trade publications, etc.  is good, but watching how your competitors address them can be priceless. When you monitor feature updates, pricing changes, departing executives and new job postings, you can get a sense for a changing focus. 

For example, if you notice your B2B SAAS competitor is suddenly talking about a new use case related to an emerging trend they don’t currently support and they’re hiring 10 new developers and a few marketers, it’s a safe bet that they’re about to lean in hard. Your next sign will be their new feature release!  Is that something you want to do as well?

See how you can do this with Kompyte. 

Economic conditions

When people have less to spend, we’re much more careful about where we spend. You may struggle with having to raise or lower prices, or offer a new flexible tier of service. Watching the decisions your competitors make in those areas can help you decide what to do as well.

Pricing Page update - HubSpot

See when your competitors change their pricing.

Politics and government

Whatever your personal politics may be, government regulations or a changing tide in political sentiment can have an effect on business. While this definitely comes into play more in some industries than others (anything involving healthcare, the environment, or consumer safety, for instance), it’s something every business can benefit from thinking about. You don’t want to be unpleasantly surprised by new regulations that completely upend your business model.

You may see your competitors address this in social updates. How are they messaging the changes they’re making based on the new laws?

Supply Issues

Whether your main business is in selling products or supplying services, you have to have the supply to meet customer demand. If something threatens your supply source—problems with your main vendor, weather conditions, labor or political conflict, a global pandemic, a limited workforce that has the skills you need—you want a heads-up so you can prepare for the disruption. 

In this case, there may be little you can do to prepare, but you can follow your competitor’s social and news announcements to see how they’re handling it and see if you have an edge you can capitalize on. For example, they’re sharing that their delivery timeframe has changed from 4 weeks to 12 weeks, and you’re still at 8 weeks. Without calling them out, you should be promoting your (relatively) short wait times.

Industry News Collect

Kompyte's dashboard shows up-to-date industry news at a glance.

Consumer Trends

Consumer needs and preferences don’t stay consistent. The types of products they seek out, how they make their decisions, and what they value most in a brand are all subject to change with the times. Maybe your audience prioritized price and product quality five years ago, but has increasingly started to give priority to brands that share their ethics or those that promise convenience. Such changes are important to track and recognize.

You may start to see your competitors addressing these concerns on their websites and social media properties.

Website Changes

Watch website changes and new press updates to see how your competitors are addressing consumer trends.

Technological Updates

Consumer needs and preferences don’t stay consistent. The types of products they seek out, how they make their decisions, and what they value most in a brand are all subject to change with the times. Maybe your audience prioritized price and product quality five years ago, but has increasingly started to give priority to brands that share their ethics or those that promise convenience. Such changes are important to track and recognize.

Every industry is influenced by changes in available technology. Whether that’s improvements in the products your company uses day in and day out to do the main part of your job, changes in how customers find and interact with you, or new technologies that come onto the scene cutting into your market. Across the board, you need to pay attention to technology trends relevant to your business, so you can stay up to date and spot potential threats before they hurt you.

Make a list of everything you can think of. The more the better, as being comprehensive decreases your odds of overlooking any significant threats.

Phase 2: Create a strategy for actively monitoring each threat area

Proactive threat identification requires you to know what’s happening in real time and what experts anticipate is coming soon. This means following and tracking a lot of information sources which is going to require organization and strategy. Here’s how to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.

Clarify who’s responsible.

This kind of ongoing information monitoring takes work and time. If it’s going to get done, someone’s gotta do it. And you need to be clear on who. Clearly assign individual threat monitoring responsibilities. And make sure there’s room in their schedule to add it into their workload, or it just won’t get done.

Make a list of information sources to track.

Go through your list of threat categories one-by-one and figure out who you should be following for each. For your competitor category, define your main competitors

  • For industry trends, figure out the top publications covering news in your industry. 
  • For economic, government, and political information, follow local and national news sources that cover each. 
  • For consumer and technology trends, lots of business publications regularly report on both categories.

Identify tools that help track and organize data.

Staying on top of the news and trends in all the categories on your list requires work, but you can make sure it’s a lot less work with the right tools. A news aggregator will help you follow all the online news sources, blogs, and business magazines you track to stay on top of trends in various categories. Kompyte can help you track most of this as you can see in the screenshots throughout.

Listening for Industry News

Stay up to date with listening tools.

A good SEO tool will help you stay on top of the common terms people are searching for (and who wins for them now), so you know what people in your audience care about. 

And a comprehensive competitive intelligence product will make it easy to track your competitors across their website, social feeds, and online ads, so you can catch it in real time if they release a new product or change their marketing approach.

Top social content

See which social updates your competitors' fans react to.

Software like Kompyte can now automate much of the process of tracking this kind of information, and make it easier for you to spot the stories that require further investigation. For the person in charge of monitoring your various threat categories, access to the right products will be a huge timesaver and help them do a better job of it at the same time.

Phase 3: Discuss and React

Information is great, but for the threat identification process to benefit your business, you have to use it, too.

Set up a line of communication to cover urgent threats (perhaps dedicate a Slack channel) as well as regular meetings to go over general trends. Work with your team to determine which threats require a response and how urgently they need to be addressed. 

The response may be something relatively simple like a shift in marketing direction or considering a new pricing structure. Other times it may require you to consider updating your product or branching into new product territories.

Learn and Evolve

For all your work proactively tracking threats to pay off and help you stay at the top of your industry, your business needs to be willing to adapt—sometimes fast. But if you commit to doing the work both to identify threats and respond as needed, your business will go further for longer, no matter what changes get thrown at you.

See how Kompyte can help. 

Similar posts

Get notified on new marketing insights

Be the first to know about new B2B SaaS Marketing insights to build or refine your marketing function with the tools and knowledge of today’s industry.