6 Steps on How to create a competitive analysis

6 Steps on How to create a competitive analysis

Contents

 

Competitive analysis identifies your direct and indirect competitors by researching their strengths and shortcomings. This guide explains how to undertake a competition analysis and how it can help your business.

Understanding your competition is important in business and sports. You’re not trying to score touchdowns at work, but rather business transactions and consumers. Once you know your strengths and limitations compared to your competitors, you can level up.

 

Competitive analysis:

The competitive analysis identifies your direct and indirect competitors by researching their strengths and shortcomings.

Indirect competitors sell the same product to a different audience than direct competitors. After identifying your competitors, use the data to assess your market position.

This form of study improves your business strategy and gives you a market advantage. Without a competitive study, it’s hard to know what your competitors are doing to win customers. The report may include:

Market description

Your product’s advantages over competitors’

Market share, sales, and revenues

Comparisons

Analyzing marketing and social media

Rating differences

To analyze strategy efficacy, compare your product or service to the competition. Comparing company success measures enables data-driven decisions.

What’s a KPI?
Competitor analysis
Follow these five steps to build a competition research report and gain market insight. This strategy might help you examine many competitors and better target clients.

1. Competitor analysis

Step 1: Choose 5-10 competitors to compare your company to. You should choose competitors with similar products and company models. Choose direct and indirect competitors to understand how new markets effect your company. Choosing startup and seasoned competitors diversifies your analysis.

Google or Amazon can help you locate industry competitors. Top results are likely competitors. If you’re a startup or serve a niche market, you may need to go deeper to locate competition.

2. Market-research

After identifying your competitors, you’ll conduct market research. Primary and secondary research will be used. Primary research originates from clients or the product, whereas secondary research is compiled. Use a user research template to record your data.

Market research includes:

Buying rivals’ goods

Customer interviews

Surveying customers online

Focus groups in-person

Secondary research includes:

Competitors’ websites

Assessing the current economic situation

Identifying technological developments

Reading company records

Tip: Search engine analysis tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush can help you examine competitors’ websites and obtain crucial SEO information such as the keywords they’re targeting, the number of backlinks they have, and the overall health of their website.

Free user research template

3. Compare product features

The next step in your analysis involves a comparison of your product to your competitors’ products. This comparison should break down the products feature by feature. While every product has its own unique features, most products will likely include:

Price

Service offered

Age of audience served

Number of features

Style and design

Ease of use

Type and number of warranties

Customer support offered

Product quality

Tip: If your features table gets too long, abbreviate this step by listing the features you believe are of most importance to your analysis. Important features may include cost, product benefits, and ease of use.

4. Compare product marketing

The next step in your analysis will look similar to the one before, except you’ll compare the marketing efforts of your competitors instead of the product features. Unlike the product features matrix you created, you’ll need to go deeper to unveil each company’s marketing plan.

Areas you’ll want to analyze include:

Social media

Website copy

Paid ads

Press releases

Product copy

As you analyze the above, ask questions to dig deeper into each company’s marketing strategies. The questions you should ask will vary by industry, but may include:

What story are they trying to tell?

What value do they bring to their customers?

What’s their company mission?

What’s their brand voice?

Tip: You can identify your competitors’ target demographic in this step by referencing their customer base, either from their website or from testimonials. This information can help you build customer personas. When you can picture who your competitor actively targets, you can better understand their marketing tactics.

5. Use a SWOT analysis

Competitive intelligence will make up a significant part of your competitor analysis framework, but once you’ve gathered your information, you can turn the focus back to your company. A SWOT analysis helps you identify your company’s strengths and weaknesses. It also helps turn weaknesses into opportunities and assess threats you face based on your competition.

During a SWOT analysis, ask yourself:

What do we do well?

What could we improve?

Are there market gaps in our services?

What new market trends are on the horizon?

Tip: Your research from the previous steps in the competitive analysis will help you answer these questions and fill in your SWOT analysis. You can visually present your findings in a SWOT matrix, which is a four-box chart divided by category.

6. Identify your place in the market landscape

The last step in your competitive analysis is to understand where you stand in the market landscape. To do this, you’ll create a graph with an X and Y axis. The two axes should represent the most important factors for being competitive in your market.

For example, the X-axis may represent customer satisfaction, while the Y-axis may represent presence in the market. You’ll then plot each competitor on the graph according to their (x,y) coordinates. You’ll also plot your company on this chart, which will give you an idea of where you stand in relation to your competitors.

This graph is included for informational purposes and does not represent Asana’s market landscape or any specific industry’s market landscape.

[inline illustration] Identify your place in the market landscape (infographic)
Tip: In this example, you’ll see three companies that have a greater market presence and greater customer satisfaction than yours, while two companies have a similar market presence but higher customer satisfaction. This data should jumpstart the problem-solving process because you now know which competitors are the biggest threats and you can see where you fall short.

Free business strategy template
Competitive analysis example
Imagine you work at a marketing startup that provides SEO for dentists, which is a niche industry and only has a few competitors. You decide to conduct a market analysis for your business. To do so, you would:

Step 1: Use Google to compile a list of your competitors.

Steps 2, 3, and 4: Use your competitors’ websites, as well as SEO analysis tools like Ahrefs, to deep-dive into the service offerings and marketing strategies of each company.

Step 5: Focusing back on your own company, you conduct a SWOT analysis to assess your own strategic goals and get a visual of your strengths and weaknesses.

Step 6: Finally, you create a graph of the market landscape and conclude that there are two companies beating your company in customer satisfaction and market presence.

After compiling this information into a table like the one below, you consider a unique strategy. To beat out your competitors, you can use localization. Instead of marketing to dentists nationwide like your competitors are doing, you decide to focus your marketing strategy on one region, state, or city. Once you’ve become the known SEO company for dentists in that city, you’ll branch out.

[inline illustration] Competitive analysis framework (example)
You won’t know what conclusions you can draw from your competitive analysis until you do the work and see the results. Whether you decide on a new pricing strategy, a way to level up your marketing, or a revamp of your product, understanding your competition can provide significant insight.

Create a competitive analysis template
Drawbacks of competitive analysis
There are some drawbacks to competitive analysis you should consider before moving forward with your report. While these drawbacks are minor, understanding them can make you an even better manager or business owner.

Don’t forget to take action
You don’t just want to gather the information from your competitive analysis—you also want to take action on that information. The data itself will only show you where you fit into the market landscape. The key to competitive analysis is using it to problem solve and improve your company’s strategic plan.

Be wary of confirmation bias
Confirmation bias means interpreting information based on the beliefs you already hold. This is bad because it can cause you to hold on to false beliefs. To avoid bias, you should rely on all the data available to back up your decisions. In the example above, the business owner may believe they’re the best in the SEO dental market at social media. Because of this belief, when they do market research for social media, they may only collect enough information to confirm their own bias—even if their competitors are statistically better at social media. However, if they were to rely on all the data available, they could eliminate this bias.

Update your analysis regularly
A competitive analysis report represents a snapshot of the market landscape as it currently stands. This report can help you gain enough information to make changes to your company, but you shouldn’t refer to the document again unless you update the information regularly. Market trends are always changing, and although it’s tedious to update your report, doing so will ensure you get accurate insight into your competitors at all times.

Boost your marketing strategy with competitive analysis
Learning your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses will make you a better marketer. If you don’t know the competition you’re up against, you can’t beat them. Using competitive analysis can boost your marketing strategy and allow you to capture your target audience faster.

Competitive analysis must lead to action, which means following up on your findings with clear business goals and a strong business plan. Once you do your competitive analysis, you can use the templates below to put your plan into action.

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