Do you know the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors? Do you know how they compare against your strengths and weaknesses and what that means for your market share? As B2B markets become increasingly competitive and margins shrink, a better understanding of the competitive landscape can help you identify threats and opportunities that could impact your organisation’s revenue.
In this article, we break down the fundamentals of competitor analysis and provide an easy to follow guide for getting started.
What is competitor analysis?
Broadly speaking, competitor analysis is when you analyse one or more of your competitors across set criteria to better understand their strengths and weaknesses. The analysis is used to identify threats and opportunities for your business, giving you valuable insights to adapt and improve.
Criteria can cover products and services, features, pricing, marketing tactics, messaging, content, client base (recent and longstanding), technology integrations, partners and more.
How does competitor analysis differ from competitive intelligence?
Competitive intelligence refers to insights gathered about your competitors or the competitor landscape in your market. It involves identifying primary and secondary competitors and tracking their activity and mentions online. Competitive intelligence is typically an ongoing activity, where information is shared in real-time or daily, to help the business improve its collective understanding of the market and make smarter decisions to protect and grow revenue.
Competitor analysis is a more specific, planned-in task with a fixed output – usually a report or presentation.
How does B2B competitor analysis differ?
Competitor analysis can be applied across any sector and type of organisation, so when we talk about B2B competitor analysis the difference is in how it’s applied to that market, the criteria for the analysis and the types of data sources it uses. It often boils down to the type of scenarios and problems B2B companies face, including new business, brand awareness, recruitment, finding the right tech solutions, finding the right partners, content quality and volume, generating investment and investing in the right areas, innovation and more.
Why do you need competitor analysis?
Many B2B industries are oversaturated. Competition is high and product offerings are, on paper at least, very similar. It’s hard for businesses to define what makes them special or better than the rest without using intangible factors like ‘our team’ or ‘our state-of-the-art technology’.
COVID had a massive impact on the B2B sector due to reduced spending and the difficulty of building new relationships and leads. Some were able to adapt quickly and evolve to the new world of work, others have seen their market share reduced. With the economy worsening, the challenge to stay relevant, effective and profitable means it’s never been more important for B2B companies to identify threats and opportunities.
B2B competitor analysis can give you the insights to gain an advantage over competitors by better understanding consumers, the tactics that work versus those that don’t, the gaps that exist and the ones that are closing in. It can help you to protect and grow revenue at a time when others are struggling, but only if the approach is right.
Setting up your B2B competitor analysis
To help you get started, we’ve identified the key areas of consideration:
1. Defining objectives and motivations
When setting up competitor analysis, the first step is to understand why you want to do it. It takes time and resources to undertake, so you need to be clear about the reason to invest. The easiest way to answer that question is to consider how you plan on using what you learn.
Maybe you’re planning a product launch or new feature. Or need to claw back lost revenue. Or have ambitions to reach the next level in business. Or perhaps a competitor has launched something new and you want to understand their strengths and weaknesses before responding.
Whatever it is, once you have a clear understanding of your motivation, you can work backwards to plan your competitor analysis approach. It will also help you determine when to carry out your B2B competitor analysis.
2. Defining your competitors
Once you have that clarity, the next part of your plan is to identify which competitor or competitors you intend to analyse. Are they primary competitors you compete with directly (i.e. in the same product or service category, targeting the same profile of clients in the same territory) or are they secondary competitors (i.e.who compete indirectly, maybe with a different product or service or in a different location)?
Your answer to this question will be determined by the outcome. If you’re planning on launching a new product, for example, you may want to analyse the direct competitors in that market to clarify the best positioning.
3. Defining what data to gather and analyse
Once you’re clear on your objectives, motivations and competitors, you can plan what types of information you want to analyse. This could include looking at your competitor(s):
- Current market share
- Financial performance
- Employee size
- Marketing tactics
- Messaging and keywords
- Content – including social media
- Social media followers
- Target audience
- Partners and suppliers
- Business model
- Key features
- Pricing and pricing strategies
- Management structure
- C-suite profiles
- Recent news coverage
4. Choosing your competitor analysis tools
Once you’ve decided, you’ll need a way of gathering the intelligence. Some information will be known to you and just needs to be verified. Others will be unknown and you’ll need to investigate or capture up-to-date data.
An automated intelligence platform can fulfill the latter requirement. With the help of our sector analysts, including B2B markets, we can get your competitor analysis set up so that you’re ready to capture real-time data across your set key criteria.Your intelligence will be prioritised and presented in an easy-to-use dashboard, ready for you to analyse and draw conclusions.
5. Analysis, conclusions and actions
The analysis can take many forms but SWOT is often the most common. It allows you to understand you and your competitors’ respective strengths and weaknesses – where they’re different and where they overlap – and what they mean in terms of threats and opportunities for your business.
From there, you can draw actionable conclusions – such as changes to your strategies and roadmaps or the creation of new plans based on what you’ve learned.