In this article, we offer our thoughts on Market Intelligence: profiling the competition. What profiling is, how to do it and what you can do with it.
Competitor profiling starts where you identify your significant competitors. And then researching their sales, products and marketing strategies. Using that information to create better business strategies and improve your performance against them. To develop a deep understanding of each competitor, isolate what you are doing well and what opportunities you could be missing.
Profiling the competition structure
Regular competitor profiling should consist of at least one of the following four areas:
- Isolate gaps in the market
- Create opportunities for new products and services
- Uncover market trends
- Ensure your sales and marketing is more effective
Firstly, you need to determine who your competitors are, what their products/services are. Dividing the competitors into the following:
- Direct – companies which offer products similar to yours
- Indirect – provides a product which is not the same as yours but solve the same customer problem
How to define direct and indirect competitors
Like all good Intelligence, it comes down to asking good questions. Questions like, are their customers precisely the same as yours? No minor differences? Keep looking because indirect competitors can become direct competitors overnight.
What products do your competitors offer your customers?
What products do they offer your customers? Take a look at your competitor’s product and analyse the quality, pricing, market share, how they sell and what they say about their offering? Also, what channels and resellers are they selling through?
Determine if they are selling on price or quality and how many they sell. Do they offer bulk discounts? What needs are they fulfilling? What is their pricing, and does it differ on and offline?
Who are their customers?
- B2B – Who are their key customers? What do they think of them?
- B2C – What sort of people are attracted to them?
How do they get their products to their customers? Who do they use, and is it efficient? Are they growing or suffering? What are their sales targets, and how do they compare to their actual sales performance? Who are their best salespeople?
It is no good for your sales team talking to their prospective customers, and they bring up a competitor’s name in a conversation. Then the sales person is off to their next meeting, they do not note down any information gleaned and it can’t be analysed centrally. Also, salespeople are great at asking the what, when, where and how questions. But finding out why a customer is considering to purchase off you and not the guy down the road is also incredibly important.
Likewise, when you lose a customer to a competitor, it is vital to find the reason why they have moved on. It is not usually an “it’s me, not you.” situation. There’s always a reason.
Analyse how your competitors market their products
Looking at your competitor’s website is an excellent place to start. What are they saying about themselves and their product? And what are they not saying about themselves and their offering? It’s equally important to understand how are they communicating with their audience. And the same with their blogs, whitepapers, webinars, analyst calls, case studies, videos, press releases, slide decks, product data sheets and brochures etc. etc. Again read between the lines to find out what they are saying – and not saying.
Moreover, is what they are saying about themselves, the product and service true? Look at the photos they use. What do they portray? And do they have a consistent tone of voice? And do the images reveal anything of interest? Look at the background, as well as, the back end data.
Also, look at social media and determine who follows them, what sort of person is interacting with them and what is the subject of their content. Is it positive, or are they fielding complaints? Are they engaging with their prospective customers?
Then diving more in-depth look under the bonnet of their website, advertising and promotions. Look at the keywords, the image text tags. Have they missed anything? How does this compare to yours? Do some analysis on them. Nothing complicated. An in-depth SWOT analysis is a great start. Yes, it is simple but often when done properly, is very powerful.
In this article, we offered our thoughts on Market Intelligence: profiling the competition. Competitor profiling can show you strategic weaknesses in rivals that you can exploit. Being proactive with profiling will allow you to anticipate what your competitor is going to do next. What are their planned strategies and what are your competitors ultimate goal? How do they plan to counter changes in your market environment? This knowledge will make you more agile, be able to go on the attack armed with Intelligence to exploit opportunities and make the most of your strengths. You can also stop your competitors dead in their tracks if they try to go for your weaknesses.