There are many ways a business can go belly up. Disruption. Irrelevance. Obsolescence. For marketers, the most pernicious is the so-called Schumpeterian gale of creative destruction: getting out-branded.
Consider as a cautionary tale the battle of Beats versus Bose. Beats by Dre entered the headphones market in 2008 offering a lower-quality product at a comparable price point to competitor Bose. Not exactly a winning business model on paper. But with a massive marketing push, including a slew of celebrity endorsements, Beats asked consumers to “embrace the bass,” and definitively changed the market.
Fast forward to 2012, and Beats’ revenues hit the $ 1 billion mark. By 2013, Beats secured a dominant 51 percent share of the global headphones market. Among U.S. teens, brand affinity for Beats by Dre is 10 times higher than Bose.
It doesn’t feel good to be Bose in this scenario, and the moral of the story puts the “ad” in adage: marketing is a critical competitive differentiator.
Thankfully, nothing lights a fire under marketers quite like a healthy dose of competition.
Competitive intelligence helps you:
- Compare the topics, tactics, and channels driving market performance for you and your competitors.
- Uncover opportunities to outperform the competition.
- Benchmark versus industry leaders and market influencers.
There are ways to do this manually — perusing competitor websites, scrolling their social feeds, reading their blogs and press releases — but who has time for that. To buoy your business against digital disruption, here are five ways to use competitive intelligence to motivate your team.
5 ways to motivate your marketing team with competitive intelligence:
#1 — Share new campaigns and top content from competitors.
If a competitor launches a major new campaign, partnership, or product launch, your team should be the first to know. Use alerts to keep tabs on breaking news from across your industry, and surface any notable developments in your regular team meetings. Invite discussion around the goals, execution, and impact of top competitor campaigns. Ask:
- Does this warrant a response from our team?
- Is this a conversation we should join?
- Are there opportunities to differentiate our brand message in response?
The intention is not to get sidetracked with copycat campaigns. Rather, these discussions and brainstorms should elucidate the whitespace in the market where your business can stand out.
#2 — Benchmark your marketing efficiency.
Do competitors post more or less frequently than you? Do they get more average shares per blog post? Do they get more media coverage? The right competitive metrics can help you optimize your brand’s own distribution strategy. A few key competitive benchmarks include:
- Audience Growth
- Posting Frequency
- Content Engagement
- Number and Impact of Press Mentions
Efficiency is the goal here. Ask, “How can our brand get more from each blog post, webinar, or press push than the competition can?”
#3 — Track your share of interaction on key channels.
Share of Interaction (SOI) graphs are an especially useful tool for visualizing head-to-head comparisons. They show you the slice of engagement each brand in your industry owns on a particular social network, and how that ownership changes over time. SOI graphs can also help your team visualize the top-of-funnel impact of specific campaigns.
SOI graphs can also be used to compare the performance of press mentions and blogs for competitor brands.
#4 — Optimize your channel mix.
What are the key digital channels for your business? For your competitors? Keeping tabs on your marketing performance across both core and emerging channels prevents competitors from sneaking into your content marketing blind spot.
If a competitor comes out strong on a newer channel like Snapchat or Medium, for example, your team should be aware. It might not be the right time — or the right move — to follow in their footsteps and start Snapchatting willy nilly. But as Robet Wollan, Accenture’s senior managing director of advanced customer strategy, notes:
“The most profitable customers use multiple channels — even within a single interaction — to get the outcomes they want. To catch and keep them, companies need to offer interactions that deliver integrated, highly satisfying experiences.”
Stop thinking about your marketing mix like a fixed set of golf clubs and embrace the ever-growing number of tools and platforms at your disposal. By tracking competitors’ moves on new networks, you’ll be primed to explore new marketing tactics when the time is right.
#5 — Look beyond competitors to aspirational brands and influencers.
You can take cues from more than just direct competitors. Major industry influencers and aspirational brands can keep your team’s creative juices flowing, as well as creating opportunities for real-time marketing campaigns.
TTI Success Insights, the world’s leading source for research-based workplace and personal assessments and coaching tools, uses this approach to focus their marketing strategy around relevant industry trends. Specifically, they analyze top-performing content from major industry publications and common content sources for their buyer persona, such as The Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal, and others.
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