TIPS & TRICKS

Create an Amazing Competitive Analysis

or… How to Sharpen an Axe.

Joshua Cook, Chief Branding Navigator

Creating a “Competitive Analysis” is the best tool for any cutthroat marketer. It lets you intimately understand your competitors before you go in for the kill and steal their coveted customers.

But so few marketers take the proper time to create a competitive analysis because it isn’t as sexy as a website, or as flashy as an advertisement. It appears dull, but the reality is that it is the most dangerous tool you have.

Let’s start with the dull-sounding definition of a “Competitive Analysis”:

A “competitive analysis” is the identification and research of competing companies, brands, and products relative to your own, with the goal of better positioning yourself to gain market share.

Sounds boring, right?

Think of the idea as if it were a dull axe, and every time you refine it you are sharpening that axe. And your competitors often don’t have an axe. In a battle royale, who do you think will come out on top?

(A hint: it is the person with the freakin’ axe.)

The competitive analysis is the second most important part of any marketing strategy, behind only the definition of your buyer personas (if you haven’t done this, here is all you need to know about creating great buyer personas). A good competitive analysis will help you:

  • Identify key competitors competing for your customers’ loyalty;
  • Identify indirect competitors competing for your customers’ money and/or time;
  • Showcase how your competitors have become successful, or where they’ve struggled; and,
  • Identify gaps within the marketplace that you can take advantage of.

A major pitfall for many business owners – even those who have established businesses – is to skip this step because they think they know the competition. Please fight this urge! Making a competitive analysis a key component of your marketing toolbelt, and should be revisited as often as you can.

To begin, start with the basics… let’s use a golf course as our example:

  • What is your primary competition?
    List the competitors that you are head-to-head with.
    If you are a golf course, you’d want to list all other golf courses that are aiming at buyer personas similar to your own. 
  • What is your secondary competition?
    List the competitors that may be an eventual threat to your business, either through their expansion or yours.
    What are the golf courses targeting different buyer personas? Could they eventually expand into your market? Or, do you want to expand into theirs?
  • What is your tertiary competition?
    List the competitors that may not offer the same services as you, but compete within your general category. Your potential customers only have so much time and money – are they deciding to spend them elsewhere?
    What other forms of entertainment are targeting golfers for their time and money? Consider other sports or activities, or even the movie theatre down the street.
  • What products or services do they offer?
    What is the focus of each competitor?
  • What is the price point of their services?
    What do their products or services cost?
  • What is their target market?
    By reading their marketing materials, can you tell who they are talking to? Is there anything you can learn from their buyer personas that you’ve overlooked? Is there an obvious gap in who your competition is targeting that you can take advantage of?
  • What are their typical marketing strategies?
    Do they typically market themselves in the same ways, on the same media? What can you learn from their tactics about their product, their buyer personas, their strengths, and their weaknesses.
  • What are their strengths and weaknesses, and how can you exploit those strengths and weaknesses?
    Take the last question a step further: evaluate as much as you can. Even a competitor’s strength can be an opportunity for you. Know the competitor and what they rely on to earn the customer’s purchase, and think about ways to exploit it.
  • What can you take from them?
    Unapologetically, go for the jugular. What market share can you take from them? Know what makes you unique, and determine why your prospective customers will care.

If you have a team supporting you, bring them into the conversation. They will offer unique perspectives and benefit from understanding the core ideas that are fuelling your marketing strategy.

Keep your own company and product in the back of your mind, but make sure you don’t let it guide your research – this should be a process of discovery. Consider what you don’t know about your competitors, but also try to identify different perspectives and new considerations you haven’t yet thought of. Ask:

  • Does your competitor do anything unconventional or unexpected? Why do you think they do that?
  • Are your competitors doing anything that indicated trends within the greater marketplace?
  • What strategies are they employing that you hadn’t considered? Why haven’t you considered them? Should you have?

Question everything.

Sharpen your axe.

You will be glad you did.

Get Your Free Competitive Analysis Template!

Sharpen your marketing axe by better understanding your competitors!

About the Author

Joshua Cook
Chief Branding Navigator

Josh is a passionate marketer, founder of Creative Compass, and general caffeine addict. Building on 13 years of experience working with brands like Toyota, Samsung, and The Macallan scotch, Josh aims to provide entrepreneurs with marketing materials to help them build their own something amazing.

Looking for help with marketing fundamentals? Shoot Josh an email!

About the Author

Joshua Cook
Chief Branding Navigator

Josh is a passionate marketer, founder of Creative Compass, and general caffeine addict. Building on 13 years of experience working with brands like Toyota, Samsung, and The Macallan scotch, Josh aims to provide entrepreneurs with marketing materials to help them build their own something amazing.

Looking for help with marketing fundamentals? Shoot Josh an email!

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