The first blog post in this series explained how competitive analysis is necessary but difficult, while the second blog post discussed how to undertake an effective competitive analysis project. In this final installment, we offer suggestions for providing the benefits of your competitive analysis project to various groups in your organization. These include not only your sales and product dev, management, and marketing teams, but executives too. We also present some ideas for converting your competitive analysis material into a living document that is kept up to date as the marketplace changes.
Using the Competitive Analysis
Three direct beneficiaries of the hard work you have done include the marketing, sales, and product teams.
Marketing: The competitive analysis can help present your solution in the most favorable light, both to greenfield opportunities and to prospects actively engaged in a competitive situation. Use the competitive analysis to build or refine your positioning statement and for combatting each of the principal competitors. The knowledge gained in the competitive exercise can help both define and defend strategies.
Sales: An extremely useful byproduct of the analysis is the sales playbook. The most effective sales playbooks are short, easily digestible encapsulations of the solution and its value to important personas, with an overview of pricing, positioning, messaging and how to win against each major competitor. Battlecards are generally derived from the playbook. One for each competitor, they show the competition’s strengths and weaknesses, suggest ways to combat their FUD, and include methods for attacking competitors’ weaknesses, especially regarding key capabilities that are important to prospects.
Product Management/Development: The product team is the third direct beneficiary, gaining solid data on which to make decisions. With up-to-date information on what updates the competitors are making, what customers are saying about the solution, and a view of competitive pricing strategies, the product team can make adjustments to pricing and packaging, fill gaps in the product line and fine-tune the product strategy.
A living document
Nothing ever stays the same. Companies evolve, expand, merge, get acquired, spin off divisions, develop new product lines and enhance existing ones. New companies spring up seemingly out of nowhere. The analysis you did six months ago is probably already out of date. How to keep up?
Look at competitive analysis as a two-way street: you provide information but also consume it. One of the most valuable sources of information and feedback is the sales/SE team. They are on the front lines, hearing directly from prospects, and are often involved in RFPs that can contain clues to the competition’s strategy and key features. The support team is another important source, since they speak directly to customers and are often the first to hear of new features or competitive claims. Members of the product team may be in a position to gather important nuggets of information from peers in other organizations, industry forums, standards bodies or other sources.
External sources include industry analysts, who publish roundup reports as well as analyses of individual companies. The competitors themselves are a key source of data: read their press releases, white papers, and blogs; talk to them at trade shows; don’t ignore their websites or their social media posts.
Don’t forget that your teams may encounter different competitors, value propositions and requirements across the globe. It’s important to capture the perceptions of customers and prospects not just locally but around the world, so that you can spot emerging trends and identify new competitors early on.
How often to update?
Many companies update their competitive analysis once a year. In reality, it’s better if the updates happen at least twice a year. It may seem like a daunting task, but if the analysis is treated as a living document, information can be added or modified continuously. Don’t forget to alert the teams when major changes are made to the analysis or any derivative assets such as playbooks and battlecards.
We’d love to show you how AimPoint Group’s expertise and experience can help drive value for your business! Contact us today for a free competitive analysis strategy session; together we’ll look at your needs and map the best path forward.