HOW TO DO COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS

[14 Step Template]

Let’s face it, a “how to do competitive analysis” article is not getting anyone leaping out of their seat with excitement is it?

There may be some people out there who wake up in the morning absolutely pumped to research the life out of their competitors.

But for most of us it feels like a task reserved for the long finger or the “someday” list.

Here’s the thing though… For anyone who wants to build a successful brand, it’s a non-negotiable and something you simply must do.

Skip this step and the brand you build will lack a key ingredient of any successful brand…. Relevancy.

But it’s not all bad.

When you have a framework in place and you know the steps to follow, painting a picture of your market landscape becomes simple.

If you’re still not motivated to roll up your sleeves then know this… There is gold to be found in an effective competitive analysis.

When you have a clear picture of the choices your audience has and how they feel about those choices, patterns begin to appear.

These patterns represent gaps which are the birthplace of extraordinary differentiators and iconic brands.

Let’s face it, a “how to do competitive analysis” article is not getting anyone leaping out of their seat with excitement is it?

There may be some people out there who wake up in the morning absolutely pumped to research the life out of their competitors.

But for most of us it feels like a task reserved for the long finger or the “someday” list.

Here’s the thing though… For anyone who wants to build a successful brand, it’s a non-negotiable and something you simply must do.

Skip this step and the brand you build will lack a key ingredient of any successful brand…. Relevancy.

But it’s not all bad.

When you have a framework in place and you know the steps to follow, painting a picture of your market landscape becomes simple.

If you’re still not motivated to roll up your sleeves then know this… There is gold to be found in an effective competitive analysis.

When you have a clear picture of the choices your audience has and how they feel about those choices, patterns begin to appear.

These patterns represent gaps which are the birthplace of extraordinary differentiators and iconic brands.

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What Is Competitive Analysis?

With the number of businesses in the world clocking the 200 million mark, we’re not short of choices regardless of which product or service we need.

No matter where you are, how small your industry, or how specific your niche, chances are there are plenty of businesses offering the same thing to the same people, possibly at the same price.

Smart brands understand this and do the necessary due diligence.

They identify what their target audience already has in the market in the way of choices, and they specifically avoid offering the same.

They go out of their way to become the consumer and view the choices in the market from those consumer eyes.

They experience the market as the consumer, in order to fully understand the market landscape including where the market is served well and where it’s underserved.

Comprehensive competitive analysis provides brand builders the information needed to make strategic decisions by answering critical questions such as:

What opportunities exist?

What are the gaps?

How do we fill the gaps?

What are the market trends?

What features should we focus on?

What benefits do we promote?

How does our audience feel?

Where is our audience being let down?

How can we stand apart from our competitors?

Without an effective competitive analysis, the answers to these questions would be based on a guess at best.

Why Do You Need Competitive Analysis?

When you think about competitive analysis you can be forgiven for picturing a covert operation to penetrate your competitors guard to steal their secret sauce for yourself.

To be fair, we do go “undercover” as a consumer and may even speak to a competitor’s customer service as part of our due diligence.

But you don’t need to acquire a fake moustache and start ordering Martini’s “Shaken not stirred”.

There is no secret sauce to uncover and even if you found one, that’s not your mission.

Of course you want to understand what your competitors are doing well, but competitive analysis is more akin to geographical mapping than it is undercover spying.

Competitive analysis is part of your positioning strategy where the ultimate goal is to stand apart from your competition as a better option to service their needs.

Ultimately, you need effective competitive analysis to position your brand effectively.

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What Competitor Analysis Aims To Uncover

Competitive analysis provides the information needed to make strategic positioning decisions.

It’s a critical step in mapping the market landscape and uncovers information such as:

Similarities

Differences

Strengths

Weaknesses

Audience Preferences

Offers

Customer Sentiment

Features

Benefits

Value

Price Points

Differentiators

Market Positions

The information uncovered throughout this process, coupled with the audience persona analysis, provides the basis for all positioning strategy decisions.

The Goal Of Comp Analysis

The process of analysing your competitors paints a clear picture of the conditions in the marketplace.

This includes the strengths of your competitors, what they’re doing well and why their customers may be loyal advocates who will never jump ship.

These strengths can provide food for thought for any developing brand to introduce aspects into their brand that have been proven to appeal to their audience.

Ultimately though, the end goal of a solid competitive analysis is to provide insights into potential gaps and opportunities in the market where your audience are underserved.

Maybe they’re openly vocal about a shortcoming in the industry, have mixed feelings about their options or maybe they aren’t even aware of an alternative because they haven’t been offered one.

Regardless of how the information is used within the differentiation strategy development, the competitive analysis provides a clear outlook for brand builders to use in order to make effective positioning decisions.

Who Needs A Competitor Analysis Framework?

The 14 Step Competitive Analysis Template

There are many steps to analysing your competitors.

If you’re going to do it, you should commit to it and do it properly.

Having a framework and step-by-step guide will keep you on track so you don’t wander off and fall down a rabbit hole of wasted hours.

STEP 1: Create A Data Capturing Tool

Competitive analysis is about first, gathering data to analyse.

Open up a new speadsheet and title the first column “Number”.

List the numbers 1-10 underneath that column.

Title the next column “Category”.

These two columns will provide you with your top 10 competitors and their category.

From here, title each proceeding column based on the data you gather from the proceeding steps.

STEP 2: Identify Your Top 10 Most Relevant Competitors

You might know your competitors well if you’re building a brand in an industry you’ve worked in your whole life.

If you’re building brands for clients, then chances are you’ll be working with industries you’re not as familiar with.

Either way, the key to identifying your top 10 is to focus on relevancy.

For example, if you’re opening a trendy book café, then the McDonald’s down the road is less relevant than the hipster café around the corner.

Start with a search on Google for what you do and capture the top 10 results remembering your relevancy focus.

If the results page is full of multinationals and you’re a small start-up, then you need to get more specific with your search to identify more relevant competitors.

You can also use social media channels such as Facebook, Linkedin and Youtube by typing in keywords or relevant hashtags.

Then there’s the keyword research route.

Identify the highly relevant keywords your target audience searches for around what your brand does and use a tool such as SEM Rush to drill down into the brands ranking for those keywords.

Whichever method you choose, identifying the most relevant competitors is the critical starting point.

STEP 3: Categorize Your Competitors

Next you want to categorise your competitors from one of the following choices:

Primary Competition

These are your most relevant direct competitors. You’ll share the same audience and will have similar or the same products or services.

Secondary Competition

These are the competitors who serve your audience with a lower or higher end version of what you offer. They’re fixing the same problem but often for different people through a different experience.

Tertiary Competition

These are indirect competitors though you play in the same space. They might have slightly different customers and offer a slightly different solution, though there is crossover in what you do and could serve as an alternative.

Although it’s important to have an understanding of the broad landscape, focus on relevancy. You’re top 10 most relevant competitors may all be your primary competition.

Always ask the question when comparing competitors:

“Who would my audience most likely use?”

STEP 4: Experience The Brand

This is where you put on your fake moustache and go undercover to become the customer.

You want, with your consumer hat on, to experience each of the brands in your top 10 list as your customers would experience them.

Each of your competitors will have multiple touch points.

Make it your business to find and experience each one.

STEP 5: Analyze The Visual Brand

The first experience you will likely have with your competitors is their visual brand.

If it’s designed well, this should be making a strategically intended impact and it should also communicate specific characteristics.

Analyse the look and feel of the brand and the moods or feelings it evokes.

Analyse the overall user experience of the website and how the content is presented visually.

Aside from digital, is there any physical branded material you can get your hands on such as brochures or flyers? (this is relatively easy if your competitors have physical locations).

How do they use

Colour

Typography

Images