Image Cover for Article No-Nonsense Market Leadership: Outmaneuver, Don’t Just Follow

I’m not a fan of just fast-following your competitors in their swim lane. 

I want you to lead. 

Stop following and start leading – know your rivals’ weak spots and do the oblique attack. 

You need to know the weaknesses of your competitors. What marketing channels do they love? Which ones are they ignoring?  By conducting a thorough analysis, you can identify potential opportunities, uncover weaknesses, and create a plan to use your superpower to win more by attacking your competition’s weak areas.

How to Run a Competitive Analysis

Who Are Your Main Direct Competitors?

What products or services directly compete with your offering?

Understanding your direct and indirect competitors’ strengths and weaknesses can help you differentiate your offerings and stay ahead in the market. Social media, paid media, and SEO analysis are other critical tools for evaluating your rivals’ marketing techniques and gauging their online presence. 

Main Competitors

 

💡For example: If you only sell in one state, you need to use location-specific data to refine your research further and ensure that you are not comparing yourself to a national competitor or other irrelevant marketing campaign. 

Key Takeaways for Competitive Marketing Research 🔑

 

    • Utilize competitive marketing research to create informed marketing strategies and stay ahead, by knowing their weaknesses and your strengths

    • Analyze your competitors’ products, services, Ads, SEO, and social media presence to determine their exact strengths and weaknesses

    • Use location-specific data to refine your research, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of market trends and consumer behavior

 

Why Should We Be Doing Competitive Marketing Research 🤔

Many of your direct and indirect competitors are running last year’s playbooks. They have not adapted to the new Google or META algorithm! This is a HUGE advantage for you… but you need to know where they are behind in their digital marketing. 

We do this analysis using a combination of both primary and secondary market research, combined with our own first-party data from AdWords, Google Analytics, and Facebook. 

Primary research involves gathering information firsthand from your target audience, while secondary research utilizes existing data from external sources like SEMRush, Google Trends, and other tools. Integrating both types of research will give you a comprehensive view of the digital market landscape.

Read some of our recommended marketing tools in our MarTech Blog here

What should I prioritize?

💥Our Top Tips:

    1. Timely: Make sure the data is relevant, in the last 12 months

    1. Significant: Data needs to be statistically significant. 100+ data points (searches, clicks, conversions, etc)

    1. Relevant: If your business is serving two states. DON’T use national data. California, New York, and Texas do not equal what you might be seeing in Maine and New Hampshire!

When conducting research for services and products in the digital space, it is essential to differentiate between the two. They require different marketing approaches and customer engagement tactics to be successful. Be mindful of this distinction and use data sources that are product-focused for e-commerce. 

Challenging Your Assumptions 👊

A significant aspect of digital market research is challenging your assumptions. Be open to spotting trends and patterns in the data that may contradict your initial beliefs. Embrace change and adapt your strategies accordingly to capitalize on emerging opportunities in the market.

If it takes two weeks to do this research, you are doing it wrong. Use a lean methodology. Start with where you are. Iterate to where you want to be, instead of repeating this process multiple times. 

Lean Methodology

PSA: You Can’t Do It All At Once

As an example, if your marketing superpower is Social Media, then start your competitive research with Social. Then as your confidence grows, expand to SEO, Ads, Website, Content, and other channels. 

The hardest part is getting started. Embrace the imperfect and start where you are even a few insights can radically change your marketing strategy.

Perfect or Progress

 

How Do You Find Your Competitive Set? 

The first step is identifying who your competitors are. This understanding will allow you to analyze both direct and indirect competitors, enabling your business to stand out in a saturated market.

Defining ‘Direct Competitors’ 📖

Direct competitors or competition are businesses that offer the same products or services as your company in your service area. Your target audience will usually evaluate both you and your direct competitors before making a purchase decision. Understanding the various strengths and weaknesses of these competitors will help you create marketing tactics that will differentiate you from your competitors.

How To Identify Direct Competitors/Competition

 

    1. Go to Google and search for your product or service. Who comes up?

Best dog collar analysis

 

    1. Solicit customer feedback via surveys or interviews. Who else are your customers considering? Why did they choose you?

    1. Check Reddit, Facebook groups, and other social media for your products. What are other buyers recommending?  

Defining ‘Indirect Competitors’ 📖

Indirect competitors or competition, on the other hand, do not necessarily sell the same products or services but still compete with your business on a digital level. They might create content similar to yours, targeting the same keywords and essentially vying for the attention of your potential customers.

How To Identify Indirect Competitors

 

    1. Perform keyword research to outline which other businesses rank higher than yours for the same keywords that your potential customers are searching for.

    1. Analyze Google’s search engine results page to see the websites that rank on the first page for the same keywords relevant to your business.

    1. Evaluate paid data in platforms like Google AdWords to identify websites purchasing ads for the keywords important to your business.

Once you have identified your competitors, both direct and indirect, put them into a worksheet or Notion Page so you can easily iterate and share your findings.

How to Conduct a Competitive Analysis

To conduct a practical analysis, follow these best practices:

 

    1. Identify your real competitors using the process above.

    1. Gather information about your competitors: Evaluate your competitors in terms of the “four Ps” of the marketing mix: product, pricing, place, and promotion. Compare their products and prices to your own, analyze their geographic reach or service area, and examine their marketing tactics. Also, assess their positioning, reputation, people, and partnerships.

    1. Analyze your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses: Create a table or grid to rank your competitors based on the criteria mentioned above. This process will help you to understand their strengths and weaknesses in relation to your own offerings. It’s important to know what factors influence customers to choose or reject certain competitors.

    1. Determine your Superpower / Competitive advantage: Identify what makes your business unique compared to your competitors. This advantage can be a distinctive strength that appeals to your target market or a weakness in a competitor’s offerings that you can exploit. Your competitive advantage should align with your marketing Superpower and not fight it or be what everyone else is doing. The marketplace rewards differentiation when focused and clearly explained.

    1. Iterate your competitive analysis: Start where you are. Iterate to where you want to be. You don’t need to do it all the goal is to gain a few key insights that you can use next week vs 40 pages you never look at again!

Who is your Target Audience?

How To Find Your Target Audience | Target Market Research

Understanding your target audience is crucial for the success of your marketing campaigns. To build a strong connection with them, you should create personas that represent your ideal customers. Based on real data and customer insights, personas help you determine their motivations, behaviors, and preferences.

When you define your target market, consider demographic factors such as age, gender, and income level. Also, pay attention to shared interests, challenges, and goals among your potential customers. By painting a clear picture of your target audience, you can craft marketing messages that resonate better and lead to higher conversion rates.

Analyzing customer reviews can provide valuable information about your audience’s preferences and pain points. Reviews can help you uncover what aspects of your products or services are working well, and where there may be room for improvement. This insight allows you to focus on areas where you can enhance the customer experience and improve satisfaction, resulting in higher retention rates.

User personas reveal your customers’ goals and motivations, guiding the development of tailored content and user experiences. This approach will lead to a more engaging user experience, better alignment with your audience’s desires, and, ultimately, higher conversion rates.

Analyzing 3 Products and/or Services

Competitive Analysis Framework | Understand the User | App Marketing | Udacity

Products or services

 

When conducting competitive marketing research, evaluating three key products and/or services from your competitors is crucial, and here is a checklist of products for you to use:

 

    1. Products via Google Shopping: Utilize Google Shopping to explore various products offered by your competitors. This platform allows you to compare product features, pricing, and customer reviews side by side. Keep note of any trends or patterns that may influence your business strategy.

    1. Sales and Discounts: Pay close attention to the sales and discounts offered by your competitors. How often do they offer promotions or special deals? Do these discounts have a significant impact on their sales volume? Do they use a pricing strategy like high to low?

    1. Pricing Strategy: Assess your competitors’ pricing strategies to understand their approach to capturing market share. Do they utilize penetration pricing, psychological pricing, or promotional pricing? 

    1. Product Line: Analyze the diversity of your competitors’ product lines. Are they specialized in one offering, or do they cater to a wide range of needs? 

    1. Product Features: List down the key features of each product offering and identify any gaps that your own product or service can potentially fill. This may include evaluating factors like design, utility, durability, and more.

For Services: 

 

    1. What are their top 3 services?

    1. What is the service area for each? Ie they sell to 6 states but only do pickup in a 20-mile radius.

    1. If your competitors offer additional services beyond the core three, make sure you include this in your analysis. Complementary services, such as customer support, installation, or repair services, can strengthen your competitive advantage.

    1. Check Google/Yelp reviews for these services and organize them to spot gaps in their offering. 

How Do You Conduct In-Depth Social Media Analysis? 

Social Media Analysis Checklist

Here’s a checklist to guide you through the process:

 

    1. Determine their social media platforms: Understand which social networks your competitors are active on. Keep a close eye on their content and engagement to fully understand their social media presence. Start with three platforms. Expand over time to others.

       

        1. Facebook

        1. Instagram

        1. YouTube

        1. Twitter

        1. LinkedIn

        1. TikTok

 

 

    1. Analyze their content and engagement: Look at the types of content your competitors are sharing and assess how successful they are in terms of engagement. Examine their posting frequency, likes, shares, and comments. This will give you an idea of what resonates with your target audience and can guide your own content strategy.

    1. Organic and paid strategy: Discover if your competitors are solely relying on organic reach or if they’re also investing in paid promotions. This information can help you gauge the effectiveness of your own organic and paid social media strategies.

    1. Benchmark your performance: Compare your social media engagement and overall performance against your competitors. Look at metrics such as follower growth, engagement rates, and share of voice. This will help you identify areas where you may be lacking and where you excel.

Location-Specific Analysis 🌍

When performing competitive marketing research, it is crucial to consider the location-specific aspects of your target market. This is critical for retail businesses and direct-to-consumer businesses whose primary competition might be incumbent retailers. 

Location-Specific Analysis

1. 🏬Retail Locations: Analyzing your competitors’ retail locations can provide important insights into their market reach and customer base. Look for patterns in the distribution of their stores and see if there are specific areas where they are more heavily concentrated. Pay attention to not only the number of locations but also their size, target audience, and services provided. 

Ask Yourself:

    1. What is the draw radius of each location?

    1. Do they only market certain stores? New Stores? Failing stores?

    1. Do they have reviews for each location? Or only corporate? 

2. 🗣️Languages: Understanding the languages spoken in your target market is essential for creating marketing materials that resonate with your audience. Review your competitors’ language offerings and assess the effectiveness of their multilingual marketing efforts. If they are lacking in this area or do not cover certain languages spoken by a large portion of the market, this could present an opportunity for your business.

3. 🧑‍🤝‍🧑Demographics: Examining the demographics of your target market will help you tailor your marketing strategies to meet the needs and preferences of your audience. Identify the age groups, income levels, education levels, and other key demographics of your target customers. Use these insights to compare your audience to that of your competitors and find areas where you can stand out or reach underserved segments.

4. 🧬Differentiators: Find unique aspects of your business and your competitors’ offerings that set you apart within a specific location. For example, you could emphasize your commitment to the local community by offering products sourced from local suppliers or organizing events that cater to the interests of your target market.

Iterating your Competitive Research

Review your research and ensure it’s realistic and accurate. Identify key metrics relevant to your market and establish benchmark values. This includes factors such as brand awareness, market share, reviews, and customer satisfaction.

Next, use market research tools to pinpoint market gaps and potential areas of growth. Look for pain points among your target audience where your competitors may be underperforming or missing entirely. Tools like surveys, focus groups, and interviews will help you get a clearer insight into your potential customers’ needs.

Stay aware of your competitors’ marketing and distribution strategies. Understand the channels they use – from social media to email campaigns to salespeople on the ground – and evaluate their effectiveness. With this insight, you can adapt and improve your approach, ensuring you’re reaching your target audience through the most effective means.

✔️ Take Action! > We’re for Action-Oriented Marketers

The goal is to use this research to take action. Here are six ideas on how to get started:

 

    1. Test a new marketing channel that your competition is not using

    1. Test using a social media channel where their content is poor or lacking

    1. Advertise on top of their content on social media or YouTube

    1. Identify their promotion strategy ie they start advertising each Thursday and start your campaigns earlier

    1. Identify their pricing strategy and counter it with your better offer (bundles, upsell, etc)

    1. What is the competition missing? A location, language, segment, or emotion that you can tap into to make your marketing stand out. 

Questions from your peers about Market Research

Competitive Analysis Checklist

What are the best tools for analyzing competitors?

There are several tools available to help you analyze your competitors effectively. Some popular options include SEMrush, SimilarWeb, and Google Trends. These tools provide valuable information about your competitors’ website traffic, keywords, backlinks, and overall online presence. Additionally, tools like BuzzSumo, SparkToro, and Sprout Social can help you analyze your competitors’ content and social media presence.

Which methods are most effective for competitive market analysis?

The most effective methods for competitive market analysis depend on your industry and specific competition; however, some common approaches include SWOT analysis, Porter’s Five Forces analysis, and a competitive matrix. SWOT analysis helps you identify your competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Porter’s Five Forces analysis can be used to evaluate the competitiveness within your industry. A competitive matrix helps you compare your products and services against those of your competitors.

What are the main steps in conducting effective market research?

There are several steps to conducting effective market research. These include defining your research objective, gathering data from primary and secondary sources, analyzing the data, drawing conclusions, and implementing your findings into your marketing and business strategies. You may need to gather data through various means, such as surveys, interviews, and analyzing existing market reports. Don’t forget also to consider your market segmentation, as it will help you better target your audience and cater your products and services to their needs.

Why is competitor analysis important in marketing strategy?

Competitor analysis is crucial in marketing strategy because it allows you to understand your market and the players within it, which helps you develop effective strategies to compete and grow your business. By analyzing their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, you can identify your own competitive edge and create a long-lasting, sustainable advantage in the market. Additionally, competitor analysis can help you uncover gaps in the market, improve your product or service offering, and adapt your marketing tactics to reach your target audience better.

This week’s FREE resource
Competitive Digital Teardown Worksheet

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