Competitive insights?! Scoff. Who needs those? You have enough customers, right? Business is going well, so why worry about the other guys’ slice of the pie? 🍰
Well - the wise never wait for a rainy day to repair a roof, or so they say. 💁
If you’re not working to sustain your competitive advantage, you can bet your competitors are hard at work to diminish your competitive edge, steal your market share, and take the lead.
By contrast, working to gain competitive insight keeps you ahead of the competition, enabling you to defend and sustain your competitive advantage. 🦾
In this article, we’ll cover:
- Why competitive insights are important.
- How you can find actionable insights on your competitors.
- How to use competitive analysis to identify market opportunities.
Why are competitive insights important?
Why gain insight into your competitors at all?
For starters, competitive insights…
- Help you stay ahead of the competition.
- Help inform your product roadmaps and product development.
- Help you define and defend your competitive advantage.
Ignoring competitors is risky
For one, ignoring what your competitors do puts you and the success of your products at risk. Especially with businesses investing in competitive intelligence at a greater rate than ever before, you can bet that your competitors are gathering insights into your own products, strategies, strengths, and weaknesses even now.
And the flipside to this coin is that your lax competitors represent an opportunity.
If your competitors are ignoring you, you have a golden opportunity to get and stay ahead of them, winning their market share as you begin to stand out in the eyes of their customers.
Competitive insights inform product development
When you know which aspects of your competitors’ products are a hit with their customers, you gain better understanding of where your product is doing well and where it’s falling short.
In other words, competitive insights teach you the features and benefits the market values most. And by gaining insight into the aspects of competitor products the market’s not so in love with, you’ll better understand what to avoid in your own product development roadmap.
Use this information to double down on those winning features your product already has, and fill in the gaps where something’s missing. Filling these feature gaps puts you on the fast track to being the best solution on the market.
In this way, competitive insights inform strategic decision-making across your business. From product development to marketing and executive strategy.
They help you define your competitive advantage
A solid understanding of your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses in relation to your own, and where each sits within the overall competitive landscape, gives you a clear picture of where your product is currently winning.
When you understand where and how you have your competitors beat, you can work to defend this competitive advantage against attack. For example, by protecting your intellectual property with patents, or by contractualizing agreements with suppliers to lock in a price advantage.
Or, if your advantage lies in your customer service being levels above your competitors, you can continue to invest in hiring and retaining excellent members for the team. You can also work testimonials, reviews, and other social proof of your customers’ love for your support team into your marketing messaging strategy.
Without competitive insights, you’ll never be totally clear on where you’ve got your competitors beat.
How do I find actionable insights on my competitors?
So if competitive insights are so important, how do you go about getting your hands on them?
Competitive intelligence - and subsequent analysis of that intel - gives you a framework for uncovering insights on your competitors that you can incorporate into actionable strategies.
Gathering competitive intelligence
Gathering competitor intel is a huge topic. That’s why we put together the practitioner’s complete guide to competitive intelligence.
Here’re the key points:
If you let it, the task of gathering competitor intelligence grows to mammoth proportions.
You need to decide upfront which competitors you’ll devote your precious time and energy to. This can change over time as you learn more about the competitive landscape, but the key is to come up with a shortlist of names.
Once you have this shortlist of core competitors you can start collecting intel.
Use your internal sources
Continuing the theme of ruthless prioritization, you should focus on the ROI of your data-gathering efforts when it comes to your sources, too.
The greatest ROI comes from pulling together all the intel your business has already collected.
Almost every arm of the business, whether they know it or not, has some small stake in CI. The departments to start with are:
- Customer success.
Sales and customer success both have a vested interest in understanding the competitive landscape. If you’re collecting CI in a formal capacity for the first time, it pays to know that intel on your competitors will have been squirreled away by different people in these teams.
After all, when you’re on the phone with prospects and customers all day, you hear things about competitors. You also hear what people like and don’t like about those competitors and their products. This is extremely useful data.
In the same vein, it’s the executives’ job to steer the ship of the business through the competitive landscape, identifying and capitalizing on opportunities as they arise.
Opportunities involve market demand and, naturally, your competitors. Executives can help you understand where your products are over- or underperforming versus your competitors.
Use competitive intelligence software
Once you’ve exhausted your internal sources of intel, you’ll naturally need to look elsewhere for additional information.
If you’ve the budget for it, competitive intelligence software can help you gather (and also analyze and deliver) intel on competitors from across the web.
Gathering new data and staying alert to developments is time-consuming, so automating this part of the process gives you back resources to focus on getting to the key insights that will drive your competitive advantage.
Whether you have the budget for competitive intelligence software or not, here are some of the best sources of competitive intel.
Conducting a competitive analysis
To get to those juicy competitive insights you’ve been waiting for, you’ll need to analyze the intel you’ve gathered.
For the greatest ROI, we suggest using this intel to gain a greater understanding of your place in the competitive landscape.
Understanding where your competitors are winning and losing in the eyes of customers, and knowing how that relates to your own products’ strengths and weaknesses, tells you how to proceed. These insights can then inform your product development roadmaps and other strategic decisions.
Think this sounds an awful lot like SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats). That’s by design. 😉
This love-it-or-hate-it method of analysis needs to be more than just an exercise to offer value. While a SWOT analysis can be time-consuming to perform, you’ll find the intel you’ve gathered makes a lot more sense (and leads to many more actionable insights) when viewed through the SWOT lens.
Rushed for time? Here’s the TL;DR version:
🏃♀️ Competitive insights help you get, and stay, ahead of the competition.
🔎 They help you identify and defend your competitive advantage, or establish one for the first time.
🙅♂️ Ignoring competitors is risky, but being proactive represents a great opportunity.
☝️ To uncover competitor insights, prioritize ruthlessly and start with internal sources.
⛰️ Conduct a SWOT analysis to better understand your place in the competitive landscape.
♟️ Use your insights to inform strategic business decisions across product development, marketing, and more.
Get the playbook on positioning your brand
Competitive insights can inform business strategy across all four corners of business. But when it comes to positioning your brand in a competitive market, there are pitfalls to sidestep, and best practices and processes to implement.
Inside the Competitive Positioning Playbook, we give you best practices and processes, covering:
⏰ How not to waste your internal resources and data sources to save yourself hours of time.
🧘 What “minimum viable positioning” is, and why it’s a key milestone early in the process.
🙅♀️ The three steps you must not skip in crafting competitive positioning.
These aren't just our opinions - we consulted with some of the best in the industry to put together these insights. (Oh, and it won't cost you anything).
Intrigued? Grab your copy today. 👇