How-To Guide for Conducting a Competitive Assessment
When was the last time you took a look at your competitors’ communications? Do you know why your lost prospects are choosing them or why your customers are choosing you?
It is worth taking the time to identify and assess your competitors. Far too often, the team at C.E.K. & Partners, an Atlanta-based B2B branding and strategic communications firm, hears from its clients that they do not have competitors. Yet, we know that every brand has a competitor. Ask yourself, if your brand did not exist, what would the buyer purchase to solve their problem?
"...we know that every brand has a competitor. Ask yourself, if your brand did not exist, what would the buyer purchase to solve their problem?" -Carolyn Kopf
A competitive assessment doesn’t come in a one-size-fits-all formula. It depends on what your brand wants to learn. One type entails evaluating your competitors’ offerings, along with the different features and pricing. Another type assesses competitors’ communications to understand what they are saying, how they are positioning their brand against others in the market, and what they are promising. An extension of this includes understanding where and how a competitor is communicating. Is it purely online with social channels, the website and email and newsletters? Or does it incorporate magazine, newspaper, tradeshows and other traditional channels?
Why do a competitive assessment?
To carve out your company’s distinct brand positioning
To articulate a point of difference – that truly is unique
To define your brand’s story
Simple Process for Conducting a Competitive Assessment
1| Identify your top 5 – 7 competitors
Start by identifying your top competitors. Answering this question will help guide your thinking: “If your customers did not buy from you, which companies would they consider and purchase from?” The marketing and sales team should have a pulse on which companies – local, regional or national players – they are bumping up against in pitches or at tradeshows.
If you are still unsure who your competitors are, consider taking a look at SEO. A HubSpot article written to gain a competitive advantage online, highlights gaining an understanding with the search terms used to find the solutions and products you offer – along with which companies are using these terms.
2| Outline what you want to learn
What do you want to learn from conducting a competitive assessment, and what will you do with those findings? For example, why are you looking at other brands’ messaging? Do you want to tighten your brand story in a unique, yet relevant way for the category?
C.E.K. & Partners advises B2B brands to assess the following types of information when working on a brand’s positioning and brand story:
High-Level Strategic Communications
Really understand what is being communicated by your competitors.
When you are working on a marketing plan, you might take a closer look at where your customers are buying, but also understand where and how your competitors are communicating. This entails taking a close look at channels competitors are using for communication, both digital and traditional.
What channels are competitors using?
eCRM / email
Search (SEO + PPC)
Are you thinking about developing content to support your customers across the buying journey? Evaluate what type of content they are or are not being exposed to by your competitors, along with the general themes/topics:
Content Assessment What type of content are your competitors creating?
Customer success stories
eCRM / email
Interactive assessments and quizzes
3| Present and share the findings and implications
Once you have compiled what you have learned from the competitive assessment, outline the implications (“What does it mean for our brand?”). Clearly identify the key learnings and the corresponding implication for each. For example, if all plastic manufacturers are saying that their product is the highest quality, it probably doesn’t make sense to join the pack, but spend time identifying a compelling point of difference to demonstrate how your brand is better, special and different. Without this insight, it would be challenging to effectively compete. You would not be standing out.
Ready to elevate your content marketing with insights from a research study or just want to tap into our writing lab? Give us a call +1.404.345.6447.
C.E.K. & Partners is a branding firm that helps brands create meaningful connections with customers and accelerate business growth. We help category leaders reposition their brands and help them put in place the strategies and tools to establish thought leadership and grow. Our team of senior practitioners holds expertise that spans custom research design, brand strategy, content creation, media relations and creative design - including digital assets and website design.
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