Sometimes, the best way to create a successful marketing plan for a client is to start by assessing what their competition is doing. Comparing how your client stacks up against rival businesses—a practice that is widely known throughout the marketing industry as “competitor analysis”—can help you tremendously in uncovering potential opportunities and areas of growth for your clients.
Read on for everything you need to know about competitor analysis, and how it can help your client take their PR campaign to the next level.
Why is Conducting Competitor Analysis Important?
Competitor analysis is an essential component of a well-rounded advertising campaign. It provides a unique perspective on the areas where your client should look to establish itself by showcasing:
- Your competition’s strengths and weaknesses
- Which advertising strategies could give you an advantage over your competition
- How you can block other potential competition from entering your target market
How to Do a Competitor Analysis?
Conducting a competitor analysis is a comprehensive, multi-step process that entails the following:
Step One: Identify the Competition
This may seem obvious, but the first step in doing a competitor analysis is to make sure you’ve accurately identified the competition. Who is your client going toe-to-toe with today? And who may emerge as a direct competitor in the future?
These questions can be answered through one of two methods:
- Think Like the Customer – Consider what the customer base within your industry is like, and what their expectations are. Then, group and rank your competitors based on their effectiveness in reaching this target audience and meeting their expectations.
- Think Like the Competition – Assess the top factors that would motivate a theoretical competitor’s approach to advertising. Which strategies would they employ to showcase their strengths? How about to hide their weaknesses? Then, group your competitors based on these strategies.
Step Two: Research the Competition
Once you have determined which companies present direct competition to yours, both today and in the future, find out key information about them by researching the following areas:
- The Skinny – Who are they? What’s their status within their industry? How much market share do they have? Who’s on their executive management team? What do their recent press releases and accolades say about them? What else has been said about them in the news? Which publications have they been covered in?
- Ad Placements – Where do they place their ads (television, radio, print, etc.)? What type of content do they feature in a typical ad? What unique opportunities are they creating for themselves through their advertising strategies? Have they stuck to the same strategy for a long period of time, or have they recently switched things up?
- Strengths and Weaknesses – Which assets and skills do they bring to the table that have helped them achieve success within the industry and develop brand loyalty amongst customers? Do they offer a top-notch quality product or service? Or do they conduct business in a way that no one else does? In which areas are they vulnerable? Where are they absent?
Step Three: Chart Your Findings
Now that you’ve analyzed the competition’s assets, past media coverage and past advertising strategies, organize this information into three separate charts. This provides you with clear visuals and tools to better understand the areas where your competition has thrived, and where they’ve left the door open for your client.
You should also place your client within the asset chart to give you and your team your first honest look at your client’s strengths and weaknesses.
What do I do with These Findings?
Creating the above competitor analysis charts will give you valuable insight into how your client’s competition has set the bar within the industry. But it isn’t enough to merely know what the competition has done. You also must know how to convert this insight into a winning marketing campaign for your client.
Here are some tips on how to reap all the rewards of your competitor analysis report:
Seek Out the Road Less Traveled
Though it can be tempting to simply emulate the things your client’s competition does well and hope for similar results, remember that advertising isn’t a copycat league. On the contrary, it’s an arena in which originality wins the day.
Instead of harping on the competition’s accomplishments, embrace the ways that your client is (or has the capacity to be) unique. Shift your focus to the ground your client’s competition has yet to cover and look for creative ways for you to raise your client’s flag there.
Possible examples include:
- Seeking coverage in the publications and media outlets that haven’t covered your client’s competition in the past, and pitching fresh story ideas to the ones that already have.
- Creating key messaging in advertisements that accentuate either a singular strength that your client possesses or an industry angle that the competition has overlooked.
- Employing a marketing strategy that your client’s competition hasn’t utilized in their past marketing campaigns.
Conduct a Supplementary PEST Analysis
The internal factors that motivate your competition can be better understood by weighing the external factors that might affect them. This can be achieved through a PEST analysis.
PEST is an acronym for:
- Political – In recent memory, has the competition been the victim of political drama (i.e. Tennessee State Representative Steve Cohen eating from a bucket of KFC as a way of calling Attorney General William Barr a chicken)? Has a competitor been able to capitalize on the current political landscape (i.e. Nike signing former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick to an endorsement deal)?
- Economical – Has the competition suffered from the current drowning economy in ways that your client can avoid? If your client is prone to the same economical drawbacks, is there an adjustment your client can make to either its image or business operation to change that (i.e. Honda establishing itself as an altruistic corporation that gives back to the community through its “Helpful Honda” ad campaign)?
- Social – Is your client’s industry vulnerable to the general public’s concerns surrounding topical social issues (unfair treatment of employees, animal cruelty, etc.)? Can your client address these issues through advertising (i.e. Sam Adam’s recent ad campaign that showed viewers a slice of employee life by taking them behind the scenes of a brewery)? How about adjusting its business model (i.e. adding vegan options to the menu)?
- Technological – Does the lightning-fast rate at which technology advances put your industry at risk of falling behind the times (i.e. newspapers)? Are there areas that your client can adjust to accommodate modern technology (i.e. deliveries, online orders, etc.)?
Conduct a Supplementary Social Media Analysis as Well
With social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram giving advertisers the ability to reach a limitless audience in the blink of an eye, a multitude of brands are creating social media accounts and shifting their attention toward trendy digital marketing techniques like:
- Instagram Stories
- Facebook Messenger
- Live video on Facebook and Instagram
- Sponsored ads
Additionally, the fact that customers tend to trust word of mouth from their peers (more than they trust the brands themselves) has paved the way for increasingly popular techniques like:
- Influencer Marketing – Influencer marketing entails a brand hiring a celebrity or any individual with a massive social media presence to promote their product or service. Having an influencer pass along a ringing endorsement of a company’s products to their thousands, perhaps even millions of followers is a highly bankable way for advertisers to drive the conversation on social networks surrounding their brand.
- User-Generated Content – Brands that don’t want to spend money on influencer marketing have begun turning to user-generated content (UGC), or any content that someone creates without the expectation of being paid. Though UGC doesn’t come with the same guaranteed following that influencers bring with them, the fact that it’s created by someone who wasn’t hired by the brand they’re promoting makes it the most trustworthy content out there.
If your competition has thrived using one of these digital marketing methods, come up with fresh ways that your client might enjoy similar successes within that venue. And if your competition has left any of the above stones unturned, evaluate whether your brand has the potential to be the first to capitalize on it.
Consult a Database
Subsidize your newfound qualitative data with some cold, hard quantitative numbers available in marketing software databases. There, you’ll find illuminating metrics about your competition’s web performance, such as their:
- Reach – How many people visited a site to view an ad versus how many of these visitors fall in the company’s target demographic.
- Bounce Rate –The number of people who visit a company’s website but then surf away after only viewing one page.
- Domain Authority – A score from 1 to 100 that measures how successful a company’s website is in SEO rankings.
Collaboration is Key
Remember, the overall goal of a competitor analysis report is to obtain an honest assessment of your client’s strengths and weaknesses. Inevitably, the more people you have working with you to analyze the data, the more objective that assessment will be.
Thus, you should do competitor analysis as part of an ongoing team effort. Schedule regular meetings in which you and your team members discuss any new relevant data and insights that have come to light and reassess where your client currently stands compared to the competition.
Competitor analysis is a productive way to elucidate where your client currently stands amidst the competition, and which measures your client can take to surpass them. Following the above steps will help you and your team create a marketing campaign for your client that incorporates their competition’s strength—all while en route to pouncing on their weaknesses.
1) “Competitive Analysis” by editorial staff at Entrepreneur.com
2) “What is Marketing Competitor Analysis and How to do it” by editorial staff at Pestle.com
3) “PESTEL Analysis of KFC” by Keisha Frue