When you’re launching your marketing campaign, it’s absolutely vital to get a feel for the competition. Competitor analysis in marketing can make all the difference in the success of your brand by letting you know what your competition is offering, what customers are looking for in services like yours, and how you can stand out from the bunch.
It can be daunting to start a marketing campaign in the first place, much less pitch a product or service in a marketplace flush with other brands looking for their share of customers. To get attention, you need to stand out. To stand out, you need to discover what’s already out there.
Conducting a thorough competitive analysis report will help you get a sense of the field you are entering with your business and track how that field evolves over time. You will also better position your brand to stay up-to-date and consistently appeal to customers.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’ll start with the basics.
This post will define competitor analysis and help you understand its importance to your overall business success. Then, we’ll offer ten tangible steps to take for conducting a thorough competitor analysis.
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Let’s get started!
What Is Competitor Analysis?
Competitor analysis is researching other brands, businesses, or marketing campaigns in your field and understanding how they operate.
When conducting competitor analysis, you’ll get a sense of what products or services your competition offers, how they attract attention from potential customers, and how you can differentiate yourself when running your own campaign.
A thorough competitive analysis report will cover every aspect of your competitors’ services. You’ll uncover broad information, such as who else is offering similar products and how they’re attracting potential buyers.
You can also better understand more specific elements, such as how much they’re charging for shipping or how they handle customer service.
Why Is Conducting Competitor Analysis in Marketing Campaigns Important?
While many marketplaces are undoubtedly crowded, there will always be unfilled needs, underserved niches, or space to wrestle your way in by providing something new or unique.
By learning how to perform competitive analysis, you can:
- Get a feel for your competition. Know the other options, whether they’re from direct competitors or indirectly fulfill a similar purpose.
- Learn what clients are looking for. Understand your potential customer’s specific needs so you can start building up a clientele.
- Adjust your marketing. Fine-tune your approach so that you can differentiate yourself from your competitors.
- Stay current. Keep up to date on your field’s state and the transitions it will inevitably go through. Whether you’re just starting out or have been running your business for a long time, it never hurts to stay on top of changes by keeping an eye on what’s out there.
Now that we understand its importance, let’s look at how to start your competitor analysis.
How Do You Conduct Competitor Analysis in Marketing Campaigns?
When planning a competitor analysis in marketing, break the process down into steps that cover every aspect of a successful marketing campaign. Here are ten tangible steps to take for conducting a thorough analysis of your competition.
Step 1: Determine Who Your Competition Is
Begin by figuring out who your direct and indirect competitors are. Your direct competitors will offer similar services to yours, such as how Target competes with Walmart. Customers who can’t find what they’re looking for at one store can reliably check the other for the same product or close enough.
Your indirect competitors might offer different services in a similar field. At first blush, a frozen yogurt shop and an ice cream shop might offer different products, but at the end of the day, they both sell cold desserts, which puts them in competition with each other to some degree.
Step 2: Learn What Product or Service Your Competitors Offer
Once you’ve narrowed down your competitors, develop a thorough understanding of what they currently offer their clients, beginning on a broad level with what products and services they sell and then narrowing down to more granular things like what their customer service looks like or what their return policy is.
You must consider these elements of competitive analysis in how you view your competitors and how potential customers will ultimately view you.
- What sets your product apart from theirs?
- How are your services unique?
- Do they offer a similar value or better?
Step 3: Research Your Competition’s Sales Strategies & Outcomes
Competitor analysis in marketing will show you what other brands like yours have done to make their services competitive in the field. Research your competitors’ sales strategies and figure out how they’ve positioned their products to potential buyers, how they’ve compared themselves to similar brands, and what they’ve done to make themselves seem more appealing.
Then figure out if it worked and, if possible, why? Which elements of your competitors’ strategies seemed to set them apart at the time? What were customers attracted to about the products on offer, or what didn’t resonate with them, making them turn to a different product instead?
Step 4: Study Your Competition’s Pricing Structure
Consider how your competition charges customers for their services and whether that model fits best for what is on offer. Do they charge fixed rates for products? Do they ask for service, maintenance, or delivery fees, and do those fees do enough to offset the cost of those services while simultaneously appealing to customers?
You should also consider the pricing structure in the grand scheme of what’s on offer, which goes beyond the product and customer support. Apple, for example, makes a lot of money off their phones, but they also offer phone repair and maintenance services and device upgrade programs, for which they charge monthly subscriptions.
Step 5: Interpret How Your Competition Markets To Their Audience
Before launching your own marketing campaign, figure out how your competitors have marketed their own products. Consider all the questions you’ve asked yourself for your own marketing and then apply them to your competitors and see whether they’ve gotten results.
- What demographics did they aim for? Did they skew younger or older? Towards any specific gender, age group, or aesthetic?
- What aspect of their product did they highlight? Did they focus on any specific element or simply market their service as a whole?
- Did they succeed? Was their marketing push successful, or did some aspect of their campaign fail to resonate?
Step 6: Investigate Your Competitor’s Content Approach
To maintain a presence in your field, your competitors will have their own strategies for content delivery. Figure out what those strategies are and how the content serves to further your competitors’ platforms. How frequently do they post content? What is the voice of their messaging? Does their content focus on any single aspect of their platform, or does it take a more holistic approach to represent their services?
These questions are essential because, outside of giving you a peek into how your competitors represent themselves, they can also help to inform you on what types of content delivery fit best with specific marketing campaigns, including yours.
Step 7: Inspect The Technology Your Competition Uses
One of the most practical competitive analysis steps is to research the software and hardware your competitors use and consider why they might prefer that technology. Of course, it’s essential to remember that particular tech will work better for some and not others, but it’s worth developing an understanding of why certain businesses use specific systems.
Once again, this will range from broad to specific. Why do some competitors use Excel while others prefer Google Slides? Why do certain businesses choose Mac instead of Windows? Why do some companies even go through the effort of developing their own proprietary programs?
Step 8: Determine What Your Competition’s Audience Engages With
As part of your competitive analysis in marketing plan, you’ll find that audiences find various elements from your competitors’ brands appealing. Customers are attracted to products and services based on several factors which often go beyond the quality of what’s on offer and the competitiveness of the price:
- What are the company’s politics?
- Are they making an appeal based on their stance on a specific topic?
- Are their products sustainable?
- Do they market themselves as environmentally friendly?
- Is there some aspect of the product’s construction that they are foregrounding, such as that it’s handmade?
Step 9: Check Out the Competition’s Social Media Presence
Find your competitors on social media and consider how they use their platforms to draw engagement. What is the tone of their content? What voice do they use in their posts, and who does it seem like they are trying to appeal to?
Another question is about the differences between platforms and what kind of content best suits the customers you’re trying to reach. Are your competitors using short-form platforms like TikTok? Or are they making longer content on blog spaces or their own websites? Should you be doing the same, or are you looking to go in a different direction that might be more fitting to a different platform?
Step 10: Determine Your Competition’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT)
Conduct a SWOT analysis to get a broad, holistic view of where your competitors stand in your field. What are they doing well? What could they be doing better? Is there some corner of the market they are missing? Are they lagging behind in some aspects of their services?
More importantly, how does that relate to you? If there is some way in which they’re lagging, how can you come in and offer something they do not? How can you differentiate yourself in a way that makes it so that you can both occupy a space in your field? What is something you can offer to customers that they are not?
Competitor analysis in marketing can help you strengthen your campaign and develop a thorough understanding of your field. Research your competitors, figure out what works and what doesn’t, and carve out a unique space for yourself where you can fulfill your customers’ needs and thrive.
Have you had any experience vetting the competition?
What has worked for you when conducting competitive market analysis? What methods have you found successful? Have you found any to be less successful? Do you have any steps you might add to make a competitive analysis report as thorough and helpful as possible?
We would love to hear about your experience or process in the comments!
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