Gaining in-depth knowledge about your competitors is crucial for succeeding in today’s competitive business arena, but many businesses tend to consider competition as a serious threat to their brands without actually delving deeply into the matter. Carefully assessing the competitive landscape can help you come up with better products and/or services than those that already exist on the market. Getting to properly know your competitors before trying to beat them is undoubtedly the best strategy, as armed with this precious knowledge, you can lay the foundation for the sustainable strategic development of your brand. This is where competitive intelligence can help.
What is competitive intelligence (and what isn’t)?
Let’s get one thing straight: There’s a world of difference between competitive intelligence and competitor spying. It is true to say that both activities have competitors as the main part of the external monitoring and analysis process, but the former is based strictly on ethical research, where all relevant pieces of information are disclosed and honest and realistic recommendations are made, while the latter may involve shady and secretive practices. In other words, competitive intelligence is legit, purposeful fact-finding, while competitor spying is more like going through your competitors’ garbage in search of clues.
Naturally, the first step in the competitive intelligence process is to identify competitors. This might look easy at first, but in reality, things are much more complex, especially if you are trying to foray into a new territory.
If you google several variations of keywords for the products/services that your brand is targeting, the top results in SERP are the companies that you should try to surpass. Although these are probably among the prime competitors for your brand, employing additional tools will definitely get you a clearer picture.
Define the sales strategy
If you know what promotional channels your competitors are using and what messages and values they are trying to convey to seal the deal, this can help you come up with a winning sales strategy for your brand. Collecting data about your competitors and the market trends enables you to establish your ideal customer profile and learn what it takes to attract target clients. You should act like a consultant to your prospects and be deliberate when moving upwards.
You’d be best advised to test your sales strategy before you start implementing it in earnest. To this end, you should run a sort of a ‘disciplined experiment’. Once you establish exactly what you are trying to test and you are crystal clear about the goals and the timeline for accomplishing them, KPIs and relevant metrics will tell you if your strategy works.
Boost marketing efforts
As a brand, you surely don’t want to let your competitors outperform you in your marketing efforts. Sign up for newsletters on their websites, subscribe to their blogs and attend the webinars that they are conducting, as this will allow you to keep tabs on the info they share about the topics of their interest.
Analyzing the content gap can get you ahead of the competition by giving you insight into the types of content you should develop to appeal to your target customers. The more thoroughly you answer all the questions that your clients might have throughout the acquisition process, the better chances you have at them sticking around and buying from you and not from your competitors.
Develop new markets
With the help of competitive analysis tools, your business can identify the market gaps that are waiting to be filled. Closely monitoring your competition certainly facilitates your expansion efforts, but you shouldn’t let it hamper your vision – you should constantly focus on meeting the preferences of your target audience or prospects and driving value.
Without a proxy already existing on the market, your role is to educate your target customers on the placement and value of your products. No market is prepared for products that cross multiple categories. For instance, clothing is commonly split by “work or casual” and “day or night”. You have to find a way to navigate this type of balance and explain it to your customers to create a new category with your brand.
As you can see, collecting intelligence about your competitors and the market and using it to differentiate your brand is not as easy as it might appear. If you lack the capacity to properly pursue these activities in-house, you can always seek help from a specialized agency like HiveMind for in-depth knowledge and accurate insights about your competition.