When you start thinking about competitive analysis, ask yourself this question: What do your customers see when they compare you to your competition? After all, your customers' perspective is the only one that counts. Knowing and understanding what the customer sees is the most important competitive analysis you can do.
The Customers' Perspective: Competitive Analysis
One part of being a professional advertiser is thinking like the prospective customer. Your customers and prospects do not live in a vacuum. They are sophisticated shoppers. Their perceptions of price, value, quality, and service are very high. What happens when they compare you to the competition?
Sometimes you can focus so much on what is special about your own company that you forget about your competition. But your customers and prospects will see and read your competitors' marketing materials. They are going to talk to them on the phone. They are going to price their products, review their guarantees, and meet with their sales people. Your customers will conduct their own competitive analysis.
You must do the same thing. It is very important for you to make these same contacts with your competitors so that you can understand what the customer sees. You need to know where you stand in comparison to your competitors from the customers’ perspective. Conduct your competitive analysis the way your customer would.
Here are some competitive analysis questions:
1. How do your advertisements compare to the competition?
2. How do your other marketing materials compare?
3. What other promotions are your competitors running? In many industries, published consumer advertising only represents a small part of a companies marketing budget. How else are your competitors reaching your prospects? Direct mail? Telemarketing? Incentives and specials? promos? Call and ask.
4. How good is your customer service compared to your competitors'? How often are prospective clients treated when they step into your office, or have to wait on queue for so long without being attended to? How soon do you return their call? How does this compare to your competitors?
5. How good are your competitors' salespeople? How professional are their presentations? How slick are their marketing materials?
6. What do they talk about? What marketing materials do they give to the prospect?
7. What time, volume, or seasonal incentives do they give?
8. Do your competitors follow up? How soon? How aggressively?
9. How good is their offer? How do they build value into their offer? What are their guarantees and return policies? How good is their customer service?
10. How do they stay in contact with customers? How do they follow up?
11. What do they do poorly? Why do customers leave them?
Conduct your competitive analysis so that you get the answers.
More Competitive Analysis
You don't conduct a competitive analysis to copy the competition. You could be copying systems or methods that do not really work that well. This is about understanding what your customers and prospects see, think, and understand.
And don’t worry if you can’t afford to sell the same way a large corporation can, because you probably don’t want to anyway. It is how you differentiate yourself from your competitors that counts. Your competitive analysis should determine how you are different and special, not how you are the same.
What differentiates you from your competitors from the customer’s perspective? What strengths and weaknesses do you have? What strengths and weaknesses do your competitors have? What is your potential customer seeing and thinking? The answers are probably found in the difference between your advertising and marketing materials, and your competitors'.
The answers are at your fingertips. The best competitive analysis you can do is to compare your brochure to your competitors'. How good is the copywriting? How professional is the presentation? You must run a competitive analysis on all of your competitors' marketing.
Without knowing the answers, you can never take advantage of your strengths, or compensate for your weaknesses from your customers perspective. Because you can be absolutely sure of one thing - your customers will conduct their own competitive analysis.
Do you really want to beat your competitors? Make sure that what your potential customers see about you is better than what they see about your competitors. Plan your marketing materials and presentations to take advantage of your strengths and of your competition's weaknesses.
Plan what your potential customers see when they compare you to your competition. Get the insight into your customer’s wants, needs, and desires, and market your company to address their concerns better than your competition does. Make sure your competitive analysis is done from the customers' perspective.
Competitive Analysis - Easy Examples
If your competitors are bad at answering the phone, and you use a great employee to answer your phones, you win. If people are calling from your ad campaigns, or anyplace else for that matter, then the single most important thing you can do is improve the quality of your phone skills. Your competitive analysis will tell you how good your competitors' are. First impressions count.
GTB bank in Nigeria won over LOTS of customers by providing a friendly and professional customer service. Bet you never though about that. What do the customers see? What’s important to them? What are the impressions you make versus your competitors? Your competitive analysis will tell you.
Take a good look at your brochure versus your competitors'. Is it twice as good? What company would the customer choose if your brochure was twice as good as your competitors'?
More than this, do your competitors even have brochures, or something to send or leave with potential clients? Don't think a cheap flyer will do the trick, but if you are the only company distributing brochures, or refrigerator magnets, or coupons, or information booklets, then you will win the business. People need to think, reference, and read before they decide. Give them what they need. Your competitive analysis will show you the way.
And just how slick are all of your marketing materials? How good is your presentation? First impressions count. It is natural to be impressed by a high quality presentation and superior marketing materials. You must conduct a competitive analysis on your own company. Remember, customers are conducting their own competitive analysis - How do you compare?
Competitive Analysis: Ask for Help
As always, we strongly recommend that you hire professionals for your printed materials, and ask a marketing professional to help plan and review the work. And it’s the best investment you can make if you can modify what your prospective clients see and think about your company versus your competitors'.
We also recommend that you contact a marketing professional to help you conduct a competitive analysis. In an hour a professional can give you some real insight into the quality of your marketing materials, how they compare to your competitors', and what you can do to improve them.