Tamsen Huver, Director, Western Region, Strategic Partnerships, PublicRelay
Understanding your competitive landscape is almost as important as managing your own brand. As we witnessed first-hand with the Equifax data breach, the entire industry was dragged into brand crisis mode. While you may not have a line of sight into a crisis this extreme, having a good grasp of the key players in your industry makes you smarter about how you manage your own brand.
For instance, today, many companies are proactively taking stances on key social issues and making pushes to improve on diversity and inclusion, lessen their footprint on the environment and much more. And for publicly traded companies, the ESG (environmental, social, and governance) movement has become an important pillar of investing. Competitive intelligence is key here to understand the position your peers are taking or not talking on these issues. You also need to know how your key audiences are reacting to your messages for these key issues.
Regardless of what industry you are in, you need specifics to really understand your position in the market and find where you stand vis-à-vis your competitors. Competitive insights will help you build or revise your strategy and take advantage of weaknesses in your competitor’s positioning and messaging.
So how do you get started? Here are 4 steps to help you glean intelligence about your competitors:
Define your competitors
List out your competitors and define what insight you want to learn about them. It is very important that your comparison analysis is performed on key data points that you also gather for your own brand. For example, if you analyze your own coverage for topics that include Innovation, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Workplace Environment, you would gather the same data about your competitors.
Measure to set your baselines
You’ll want to answer questions like these: Are there topics where you are dominating the conversation? What is the sentiment used when discussing your brand versus competing brands? Are there authors writing about your competition but not you? And are there differences in the quality of outlets covering companies or issues, the amount of social sharing of content, or the syndication and reach of the coverage?
Implement a data-driven strategy
Now that you are collecting the right information, it is time to assess your weaknesses and opportunities on a regular basis. Are your competitors getting more influencer pick up for their CSR initiatives, are they growing positive SOV for their customer service? Use data to justify assigning more resources to focus on improving strategies that bolster underperforming brand drivers or boost categories that are doing well.
Use insights to drive decisions
Over time you can become more predicative about your messaging. You will be able to see trends in your coverage and that of your competitors. This will help you quickly identify anomalies and dig in deeper to see the underlying causes that might help you take advantage of competitor weakness.