When we get into conversations about competitive marketing intelligence with our clients, they’ll often say something like, “Nope. No. We don’t need that. We just did that six months ago. We tore through all of the information on our competitor’s solution. Right down to the specifics of the hardware and software and how they’re listed. We know exactly what’s on the market now, and we have a pretty good guess about what competitors are going to bring to the market in the near future.”
In these situations, we find ourselves trying a little harder to shift the conversation from product intelligence to marketing intelligence: the analysis of how competitors are marketing their company and offering.
Competitive product intelligence looks at what a competitor is marketing. Whereas competitive marketing intelligence looks at how competitors are marketing. The analysis takes a close look at a competitor’s marketing collateral, website, social media efforts, digital marketing tactics, and more to get a handle on positioning and messaging. It provides vital information and insight about a competitor’s marketing strategy that should be taken into consideration before developing your marketing strategy.
There are four key competitor insights a competitive marketing intelligence audit provides that your strategy can’t go without.
1. Marketing Tactics and Strategies
Competitive marketing intelligence looks at how a competitor is getting attention, raising awareness, and informing a target audience about its products, services, and solutions. It examines the tactics and mediums — from collateral to digital marketing — that the competitor is using to create a brand perception.
By providing an understanding of how all the tactics work in context with each other, this intelligence allows you to understand the marketing strategy the competitor is employing and how each tactic and tool is contributing to the overarching marketing objective.
2. Messaging and Positioning
Beyond what a competitor is doing to get attention and raise awareness, competitive marketing intelligence sheds light on how a competitor has structured the underlying messaging and positioning that is creating a market perception. This insight can’t be gleaned from one piece of collateral. Noting the consistency of messages across a variety of tactics provides insights into how the competitor is trying to position itself at the industry, business, and technology level.
Occasionally, it becomes apparent that a competitor isn’t marketing content that is built on clear foundational messaging and positioning statements. This observation provides insight into the critical market opportunity to counteract competitive marketing efforts with messaging that addresses a specific market need, pain point, or value.
3. Target Market and Audience
It’s one thing to know a competitor is going after your market, it’s another to have a clear understanding of how the competitor’s market strategy is trying to reach specific audiences within that market.
Competitive marketing intelligence provides deeper understanding of which audiences a competitor is targeting with specific tactics and messages. This understanding is crucial to planning efforts because it provides a clear picture of what you’ll have to do to cut through the noise to get your message to that same audience.
4. The Marketing Conversation
An effective marketing strategy creates a conversation with a target audience.
Competitive marketing intelligence will reveal the conversation a competitor is trying to establish with a target market and how successful the competitor’s marketing efforts have been.
For example, a company that’s selling “an all-in-one solution for project management” is doing quite well if it’s not only raising awareness for the company and its solution but also getting the industry buzzing about the necessity of integrated project management solutions.
With insights into the state of existing conversations with your target audience, you can determine what you’ll have to do to join a competitor’s conversation, change the conversation, or — ideally — create and lead your own.
Developing Your Strategy
A thorough understanding of your competitor’s marketing efforts provides the insights you need to formulate your own marketing strategy that acts as the defensive and offensive weapon it should be. Sometimes a competitive marketing analysis reveals that a competitor’s marketing strategy is not as effective as you originally thought or that the company doesn’t really have an integrated marketing strategy. Other times, it reveals that the competitor’s strategy is very effective.
In either case, inaction is not an option. With competitive marketing intelligence, you can gear your tactics toward cutting through the noise, establishing a conversation with your target audience, counteracting competitive messaging, and positioning your company, product, or service as the better choice in your market.