Over in the PMA Slack community, Morgan Greene, Lead Product Marketing Manager at Swiftly, Inc. recently raised a great question that fast became a talking point amongst other PMMs quick to offer their advice.

Morgan - amongst many more of you out there no doubt - wanted to find out more about how other product marketers make competitive intelligence usable for their teams.

It’s all well and good nailing the capturing of competitive intelligence but what comes next? Without an actionable strategy in place, your CI might as well just be floating around in the aether.

By honing in on the subject matter, in this article we cover:

  • What competitive intelligence is
  • Making competitive intelligence actionable for product marketing teams
  • Key findings from the 2020 Competitive Intelligence Trends report
  • Our advice on how to use competitor intel findings
  • Key takeaways

What is competitive intelligence?

As the brains behind leading market and competitive intelligence platform, Crayon say in this article:

“The foundational goals of a competitive intelligence program are to enable the organization to better understand their market, make stronger strategic decisions, and ultimately increase revenue.”

You can’t sleep on what your competitors are doing. You know what they say about snoozing and losing. You also know what they say about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer… 👀

Competitor intel should therefore form an integral part of any customer marketing strategy.

In order to maximize your own offering and stay ahead in the game, you MUST keep a close eye on what your competitors are doing to be able to preempt their actions and adjust your own strategy accordingly.

In the Product Marketing Alliance 2020 Competitive Intelligence Trends report, we found that:

  • The vast majority of product marketers (87%) use competitor intel to establish how they can differentiate themselves from their rivals.
  • But only 2% said they have a specialized competitive intelligence team in place at their company.
  • And 13% of product marketing teams don’t currently have a competitor intel tool at their disposal.
  • Most PMMs (77%) currently get their insights from reading press releases and media mentions.

When you know what your competitors are doing - or indeed, not doing - to satisfy and engage their audiences, you gain an advantageous steer on how to retain your own customers and attract new ones. Perhaps even poach a few of your rival’s customers whilst you're at it…

*Pause for Dr Evil laugh*

Right, that’s quite enough from us for the time being. Let’s take a look at what the PMMs in our Slack community had to say in response to Morgan’s question, so you can steal some pearls of wisdom for yourself.

Making competitive intelligence actionable for product marketing teams

Q: How do you make competitive intelligence useable for your team? I'm curious about tools or processes that have enabled your teams to effectively understand both high-level and detailed competitive intelligence.

“Slide deck presented in a lunch and learn format, and Ask Me Anything; mix of high level and granular. People can come to you individually for deeper dives.”

Yuting Chu, Digital Product Manager at CrowdDoing

“Useful deliverables: External - one slide for customers showing where you are better (tick marks vs crosses). Internal - two-page battle card with strengths, weaknesses, how to attack, etc.”

Anatolii Lakimets, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Bold

“Sales will be focusing on individual deals and their territory - product marketing can add value by looking more broadly at trends and collating to give a larger picture. We tackle market intelligence a few ways at my company:

  • Maintain battlecards for tier 1 competitors, quick SWOT analysis for tier 2 and emerging competitors, and quick readouts of competitor news (investments and acquisitions, product updates, etc) analyze closed opportunities each month for win/loss, and do a quick recap on Slack to build interest in our market position.
  • Build an overview of key competitor analysis for new hires with a picture of where we win/they win.
  • Run workshops with sales to analyze recent deals, to get them talking to each other and sharing insights. E.g. how to spot a competitor, what traps they leave for us when to walk away.
  • As we build up a better picture of our competitors we create assets such as one-pagers to show reasons to choose us vs them. It’s not a feature comparison or checklist but we highlight our pricing strategy and how that helps customers to grow with us, for example.”

Louise Dunne, Product Marketing Manager at Linnworks

“Table with comparison by features and pricing. Newbies onboarding and testing. Bi-weekly meeting about the news and competitors. Chat in the Slack or Telegram for hot news, questions, and updates.”

Alexandra Kulachikova, Product Owner (ML-based SaaS for B2B) at Semrush

“In my experience, sellers want very straightforward competitive materials. Our battlecards are built in Crayon and integrated to live in Highspot with the rest of our collateral. They consist of:

  • Quick dismisses (< 10-word responses when a competitor is mentioned)
  • Long-form content for emails
  • Shareable collateral (G2 grids, case studies, etc)
  • A feature comparison
  • Negative customer reviews (from G2 and TrustRadius)

“Our executive team gets a monthly newsletter summarizing competitive product changes, acquisitions, funding, pricing updates, employee headcount changes, and competitor mentions (tracked via Chorus).

“Product managers get semi-annual reports based on the products that they own. In the reports, we include information from analysts, NPS, win/loss reviews, and survey responses that help them better understand what to prioritize for their roadmaps.”

Andrew McCotter-Bicknell, Product Marketing Manager at ZoomInfo

Key takeaways

Now that the experts have had their say and answered Morgan’s original question about how PMMs make CI useable, here are the key nuggets of information you should tuck away in your knowledge bank:

  • Competitive intelligence is a must-have tool when it comes to better understanding your market and where you pitch up against your competitors.
  • When collected and used right, competitive intelligence has the power to increase revenue and boost the bottom line.
  • Competitive intelligence needs to be made usable otherwise it’s rendered useless - without an actionable strategy off the back of it, you might as well not bother. 🤷
  • As always in the product marketing profession, how PMMs make their CI findings actionable varies from org to org in a diverse plethora of ways, including slide decks, battlecards, one-pagers, and workshops.

But hey, that’s just the tip of the iceberg! 🥶

To chip away further and take a deeper dive into the world of competitive intelligence for product marketers, get yourself enrolled on our Competitive Intelligence Certified course - stat.

Get Competitive Intelligence Certified.