To grow your business, you need leads – but (and this is a big but), successful demand capture requires a great deal more than smart email campaigns. To uncover ideal leads and increase potential for conversions and sales, ensuring your organization’s foundational readiness should be a top priority.
That means confirming that your database is healthy. It means ensuring your brand has a story that is understandable and relatable to your audiences. Most importantly, it means crafting an authentic message positioning foundation that resonates with them because it demonstrates that you understand their needs and can clearly articulate the value they can expect from your product or service and — the focus of this article — why they should choose you over your competitors.
We continue our series dedicated to achieving success with your demand generation investment by digging into the importance of understanding how you stack up against other providers your target audience may be considering.
DO YOU TRULY KNOW YOUR COMPETITION?
To win business, you don’t just have to be better. You have to sound better, look better and be perceived as better than your competitors. You have to differentiate your brand so it stands out in the crowd. To do that, you need to know your competition well.
You probably know your competitors at a high level, but have you taken the time to understand the experience they create when a prospect (YOUR prospect) is evaluating them as a potential provider?
- What are the products and services they offer that directly compete with your offering. Do they offer more or less than you?
- Do they extend themselves into other categories whereas your business is focused in one area of expertise?
- How do they position their products and services?
- What kind of story does their brand tell? How do they show up visually?
- Are they active on social media? What kind of content do they publish? Is there a clear strategy?
- Are they active advertisers? Do they garner media coverage — positive or negative?
- How are they perceived in the marketplace? Are there relevant ratings or rankings that provide insight?
- Does it seem like they’re gaining traction? Or losing steam?
Unless you completely understand your competition, you can’t discern where or how your business is truly unique. You may be missing key opportunities to dial up the differences that matter most to your prospects – thus passing up your chance to stand out and be memorable.
THE SOLUTION: CONDUCT A COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS
If you don’t know your competition as well as you could, it’s time to conduct a competitive analysis. Take a deep dive into top competitors so you can analyze how your organization and your products/services compare.
At a minimum, a competitive analysis should include the following components:
- Overall message positioning. This should include any information you can find on their tagline, value proposition, client benefits, strengths, weaknesses and unique differentiators.
- Brand look and feel. Summarize their visual brand look and feel by examining design elements like colors, fonts, imagery, photography and graphics.
- Market perceptions. Conduct an online search on the competitor, follow their social channels, talk to colleagues and customers, and look for reviews or ratings to find out how they’re perceived.
- How your organization compares. When you know the message positioning, brand and market perceptions of your biggest competitors, you should evaluate how your organization stacks up so you can identify opportunities to differentiate. This means evaluating the above components for your own organization as well.
WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS
Once you have this competitive analysis completed – use it! This information should be used to help you determine how to truly differentiate and elevate your brand. It should help you take the following steps:
- Create or refine your messaging framework. Your messaging framework is a document that clearly articulates your value proposition and differentiators. Ensure that your message positioning resonates with your targets, is unique to you and clearly differentiates your organization from your competitors.
- Revisit or create brand guidelines. Your brand guidelines are your source of truth for visually telling your brand story in a way that sets you apart from your competition. These guidelines should inform every single webpage, brochure, advertisement and more to ensure a consistent brand identity is used across all sales and marketing content.
- Find opportunities to outshine your competition. You now know where your competition is falling short. If their shortcoming is your area of strength, then promote that in a positive way. Use public relations, social media, advertising and more to show off what makes you better.
WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO LOSE?
Marketplace confusion. Well, good. Getting lost in the pack hasn’t served any business well in their lead generation efforts yet.
The pricing war. Good riddance, right? You are not a commodity. Focus on how you are different and better. Center your messaging on the value you create. Move beyond cost comparisons to a shared vision and growth potential.
Awkward interactions. Don’t wait to learn about a competitor’s innovative new solution from your prospect. Getting caught flat-footed in a sales call by a prospect who has studied the competition and wants to know why you are the better choice is not the conversation you want to fumble through. Being in this situation is not only embarrassing, it could jeopardize the sale.
GO FOR THE WIN
Ultimately, the goal of a competitive audit is to get to know your competition really well so that you can take steps to ensure your own brand stands out. There’s no doubt that your target audience is looking at your competitors. When they put you side by side, you need to be the brand that “wins.”
A competitive analysis may be the catalyst you need for taking your brand to the next level. Once you look, feel and act like the clear choice, you’ll be one step closer to getting the prospects you want and the sales you need. Contact us today to get started with your competitive analysis.