At this point in the year, you’re probably feeling like you just got your marketing program off the ground. But I’m here to tell you it’s time for a pulse check.
The world moves fast. Trends come and go, and new innovations hit the market daily. If we don’t take a moment to regularly evaluate our competitive landscape, we may miss out on some important insights.
What are we looking for?
That’s the thing, in this quarterly exercise with your marketing team, we should be observing. Some of the basic marketing research strategies can help us do it.
First, gather up the team for a half-day session. If you’re remote, try two mini sessions using a tool like Mural.co
If you’re a solopreneur, consider treating some of your partners and clients to join you in the exercise!
Step 1: Gather Competitor Assets
First, assign the team to spend a few days perusing the internet. Have them capture websites, social media posts, articles, and ads of your competitors. Start googling yourself and others to see what comes up. Ask search questions about your product or industry and see if any Ah-has appear. Hint: you can do this on social media, too!
If you’re handling things in person, you can print your findings. OR save paper by having a presentation deck for each client and treat boards like a collage.
Step 2: Act Like a Customer
After spending some time scouring the internet for examples, you’ll hopefully start to recognize some client engagements that would be of interest. Take note of these by screenshots, screen recordings, or general notes. Things you might find:
- Customer reviews
- User-generated videos and social posts
- Retargeted ad messages
Step 3: Present Findings
Next, get the team together and start observing. So that everyone is engaged, ask team members to present their individual findings. Engage in conversation, talk about what you’re noticing.
While you’re presenting, have sticky notes or a whiteboard on hand to go through a SWOT analysis together.
On a separate board or wall, have a spot to drop ideas or topics that could be a session within itself – we usually call this the parking lot.
Exercise: SWOT Analysis
During the SWOT Analysis, you should take a moment and identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats on behalf of your competitors. Think about their positioning, target market, and be critical.
Now, turn the mirror on yourself and fill in the same gaps. Where do you overlap? What are your true strengths?
Don’t just look at the market itself, think about messaging, calls to action, visuals, reviews, and more.
Bonus: PASTEL Analysis
If you want to take the SWOT even further, consider expanding your review by looking into the environment. A PASTEL analysis includes:
- Political: How does the current political environment benefit or hurt your competition? How about your company?
- Economical: How does the current economy affect your business, your competitors?
- Sociological: What changes in society do we notice benefiting/hurting your business/competition?
- Technological advancements
- Environmental shifts
- Legal: What policies?
As with above, compare yourself and your competitors.
Use The Insights
The goal of this exercise is to identify areas of opportunity and optimization in your marketing plan. This is not an exercise meant to completely change the course of your strategy unless there are such great shifts in the landscape that calls for it.
Use the insights gathered from this session to enhance your marketing strategy. Maybe this introduces new target markets or potential product innovations. Perhaps it gives you inspiration to enhance your messaging or increase engagement.