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Competitor Analysis: A Roadmap to Differentiation, Not a Marketing Playbook


Most marketing professionals incorporate competitor analysis into their daily routine. Whether it is a competitor’s newsletter in your inbox, following them on LinkedIn, or the occasional website visit, it’s easier than ever to keep up in today's digital landscape.

Conducting competitor analysis is critical to building your strategies and ensuring your company’s voice joins the industry conversations. However, most manufacturers tend to turn the results of competitor analysis into their marketing playbook.

Not only does this mistake make you lose your differentiation in the marketplace, but it also causes you and your team to dedicate precious resources to the wrong initiatives and stray from what your customers need in the first place.

The "Why" Behind a Competitor Analysis


Let’s start from the beginning. What is competitor analysis and why are they important?

Digital marketing authority, HubSpot, defines competitive analysis as “a strategy that involves researching major competitors to gain insight into their products, sales and marketing tactics.”

Competitive analysis can help you learn the ins and outs of how your competition works, identify potential opportunities where you can out-perform them or fill in their gaps and yield internal benefits, such as:


Capture Market Share

Staying complacent and not revamping your go-to-market strategies and marketing assets allows competitors to quickly enter the playing field unnoticed (and usually with financial backing). Staying in tune with marketing trends and collected data insights is important to cultivating a lead pool, and engaging content will nourish this effort. While keeping the status quo may generate revenue with existing customers, it doesn’t grow your lead pool or promote overall company growth.


Strengthen Marketing Strategies

Taking the time to see what competitors are doing helps you identify what they are doing right and where they are falling short. You can take these insights to ensure your campaigns exceed industry standards and unearth opportunities to test out unique marketing strategies your competitors aren’t taking advantage of.


Identify Gaps in the Market

Based on findings, are your competitors not doing something that customers have expressed a need for? If so, you’ve opened an opportunity to swoop in, fill the gap and be the customer’s hero.


Uncover Market Trends

Comprehensive market research helps establish the foundation for an effective sales and marketing strategy that helps your company stand out from the crowd. By understanding the market and industry trends, help your company stay relevant and keep up with what customers expect to see in your marketing efforts.

What You Shouldn’t Do with Competitor Analysis


Let’s preface this section with a note of understanding – reactionary marketing is a natural inclination.

You’re scrolling through LinkedIn, you see a competitor release a fancy new ad campaign and quickly think, “Why aren’t we doing that?” Before you know it, you’ve sunk hours of your time, your team’s time and maybe even reallocated funds to create a lookalike campaign.

But was that a valuable use of your time? If done in haste and without consideration of your company’s unique brand identity, it probably did more harm than good. As indicated earlier, a well-executed competitor analysis should accomplish three goals:

  1. Strengthen marketing strategies
  2. Identify gaps in the market
  3. Uncover market trends

If it doesn’t help reach those goals, you might be approaching competitor analysis wrong. Here are three things you should avoid doing in a competitor analysis.


Impulsively React to Competitors

Let’s make this clear. Copying how a competitor says things does not support the brand or your company's unique opinions/perspectives.

For example, let’s say you receive an email from an industry trade publication you subscribe to. The email is promoting a webinar they’re hosting with one of your direct competitors leading the discussion on a prominent industry topic your company is trying to grow business in.

Rather than quickly adding it to your to-do list, do your due diligence. Take the topic or initiative to your team to develop a unique, brand-centric statement or strategy, gain alignment on what the company is doing to support it and strategically circulate it internally and externally.

If the company doesn’t currently have a unique take on a topic, consider putting it on the back burner until the company is more invested in that initiative, so it doesn’t look like you’re trying to hop on the bandwagon.


Echo Competitor Opinions on Market Trends

Using the same example from the above paragraph, don’t rush into a company response that you think customers want to hear. Do your homework and take the time to develop a well-thought-out, unique stance or contribution to the industry market trend in question. This helps you stay aligned with your brand identity, position your team as a well-informed authority and set your company apart in the sea of echoes.


Copy Content Ideas

In the era of content marketing, evaluating competitor content ideas is becoming second nature for marketers. From infographics to blogs, everyone is pumping out content as a part of demand generation, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales enablement and customer retention strategies.

While it might be tempting to say, “Oh, I like that idea. We need an X like that too.” Stop. Take a step back and determine if it makes sense for YOUR brand. Or will it look like a fish out of water in the big picture that makes up your brand identity?

Conclusion


We hope this article has given you a new perspective as you approach your next competitor analysis. A well-crafted competitor audit should provide the insights you need to put your company on the path to a differentiated stance in the sea of manufacturing sameness.

Remember - your company and brand identity are unique entities with a unique perspective on your industry. Share that voice with your customers, not your competitors.

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