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How to do a Proper Competitor Analysis – Defining Your Opponents

We often overlook our Competitor Analysis.

As founders and marketers, we’re often enthralled by our ideas and we’re more eager to execute before actually scoping out the playing field.

This blog post will help you scope out your competition, identify worthy opponents, and help you win the game of chess.

Business Strategies, Umbrella Companies, Procter & Gamble, Uber

A book associates often hear me praise is Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works by the Harvard Business Review. In this book the authors, A. G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin, draw on Procter & Gamble as an example of business strategy.

Procter & Gamble is a parent company. Owned by their company are brands. These brands consist of Tide, Gain, Olay, Crest, etc.

When we start out with new businesses, it’s best to have an underlying comprehension of our values and interests. We’re not going after small specific technologies or businesses, we’re building empires of products that complement one another.

An example I draw on in my ebook, The Founder’s Guide to Go-to-Market Strategies, relates to Uber.

Uber value proposition is “Transportation”. Beyond just their car-sharing app, Uber can branch into other avenues for which it contributes towards their core value. This explains why Uber purchased a bike-sharing company, investigates the scooter-sharing market, and even the jet-sharing market.

What’s your key value proposition? What brands make sense for your business?

Tip: If you’re new and starting out, try to start your cash-cow businesses first. Every new business starts with the same problem, cash flow. Solve this problem with businesses and brands that serve ripe markets. Then you’ll have the cash flow to expand operations.

How to do a Proper Competitor Analysis

These are the things I recommend exploring with your competitors’ content. The more thorough you can be, the better things will play out in the long-term.

1. Build A Big Competitor List

In a Google Spreadsheet, build a list of your competitors.

Finding Competitors for Free

Here are a few free ways you can locate and identify competitors:

  • Scrape through Chamber of Commerce websites and find people who are offering the same product/service as you.
  • If selling an app, explore review websites like Product Hunt to find competitors.
  • Again for apps, scrape accelerator program websites like Techstars and Y-Combinator.
  • Google search your value proposition and see what competitors show up in the organic results and ads.
  • Search LinkedIn for companies in your space.

Now using a tool like Crunchbase, we want to search each competitor and catalog items like ‘Number of Employees’, ‘Year Founded’ (calculate how old they are), ‘Crunchbase Categories’, ‘Funding Status’, etc.

From here we can run functions to calculate the average size employee size of competitors, where they are in the business lifecycle (Seed funding versus Series C), etc.

2. Analyze Their Customers

Social proofing is a big part of today’s marketing strategies. They provide potential customers with insight into who else companies serve; building trust.  

Sadly, they also reveal key information to competitors. Let’s start scraping.

  • Go to each of your competitors’ websites and find out who their customers are (case studies, testimonials, etc).
  • Run those customers through Crunchbase to determine their ‘Industry’, ‘Number of Employees’, ‘Date Founded’, ‘Categories’, etc.
  • Identify patterns amongst customers – who do your competitors’ tend to target and serve?
  • Where are there opportunities for an interception? Which industries are growing over others?

This step reveals where the money is.

3. Analyze Their Inbound Content Marketing Performance

Everyone plays the content game today, but we want to find out who’s actually winning it.

There are 2 ways to do this:

  1. Assess their Blog Performance (reveals brand awareness methods)
  2. Assess their Content Offers (reveals lead generation methods)

In both cases, build a spreadsheet and start cataloging your competitors’ content.

3.1 Assessing Your Competitors’ Blog Content Performance

Some people write for keywords, but writing for personas is better.

  • Create a new spreadsheet and create a sheet for each competitor from the list above.
  • Navigate to your competitors’ blogs and start cataloging every blog URL and title.
  • Feed your competitors’ blog URLs into Facebook’s “Like Button” tool which tells you how many like those links have.
  • Identify which competitors have the most engaging content – these are your Content Marketing Opponents.
  • Do a qualitative analysis of why their content performs well (writing style, headlines, call-to-actions, etc).
  • Jump over to social media and check how they interact with their fans.

Why Blog Posts & Not Podcasts/Videos?

Reading takes time, energy, and focus. If someone is truly passionate about your niche or industry, they’ll read about it. It’s more narrow than a podcast or YouTube video. If your competitors’ have figured out their blogs, they have an extremely strong understanding of who their audience is.

3.2 Assessing Your Competitors’ Content Offer Performance

Seeing what content offers work best is difficult. We can’t pull the exact amount of form submissions a webpage generates, but we can collect metrics that give us indicators of successful (and failure).

What We Know About Landing Pages

Landing pages feature an opt-in form. The user submits the form to sign up for things like a newsletter, blog updates, or receive an offer like an ebook. After someone submits the form, they’re often redirected to a thank-you page. Thank-you pages sometimes feature a share button for social media.

Therefore we’re going to gather insights to landing page engagements; similar to the blog posts.

  • Create a new spreadsheet and create a sheet for each competitor from the list above.
  • Go to all of your competitors’ content offers and catalogue their URL and page title to the spreadsheet.
  • As we did for blog posts, head to Facebook’s “Like Button” tool and populate how many likes/engagements a opt-in page received.
  • Identify which competitors have the most engaging content offers – these are likely their most successful opt-ins.

4. Do Your Final Assessment & Identify Opportunities

Your competitors will have an inbound marketing play and an outbound marketing play (speaking engagements and outbound sales).

While the content marketing performance won’t showcase their full revenue operations, it’ll reveal enough to understand how they use content to position themselves for customers.

Here are some recommended questions to answer:

  • Who are my competitors? Size, age, industry.
  • Who do they service? Customer size, customer age, customer industry.
  • For content, how could my leading competitors be linking their content to sales?
  • What events are my leading competitors leveraging in combination with their content strategy?

These answers will paint a pretty clear picture.

Lastly, you can go further into your competitors’ marketing strategies. Other areas you may want to investigate include their advertising strategy and remarketing strategy. You may also want to analyze your competitors’ lead nurturing strategy. You can do this by downloading some of their free resources and document what emails you receive. Be sure to document their language and CTAs that drive you closer to a sales engagement.

Bring it Together – Define the Chess Board and Play Your Strategy

With a clear sense of who your competitors are, deem your worthy opponents. Consider the realm of the strategies you’re going to play and don’t stray out of bounds.

Strategize against your competitors and play to win.

Using the steps outlined in this blog post, you’ve identified how to locate opportunities to intercept new markets and acquire revenue. For your content efforts, come in strong with amazing value for your personas.

Over time, you’ll find new things to tweak in your strategy. The goal is to stay ahead of your competition, acquire/hold market share, and not burn too much equity raising your glamorous Series A.

Play smart and be tactical. Know who you’re up against and position yourself to win.

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