Performing a Simple Competitive Analysis
Copyright 2007 by Mark S. Levit
Marketing, in its purest form, is based on a thorough understanding of the
arena in which your brand competes. That understanding enables you, as a
marketer, to successfully promote and sell.
Successful marketers understand their markets, competitors and customer wants
and needs. That understanding gives those marketers an opportunity to be
Identifying and analyzing your direct competition is an important first step
prior to making a decision about your marketing strategy. It’s vital to the
success of a brand because it reduces risk, time required, resources and
Picture your competition as a series of concentric circles, like a target
with a bulls-eye in the middle. The bulls-eye represents your direct competitors
and moving outward from the center the competition grows less direct.
Bull’s eye, center of target—the specific businesses in your marketing
category that offer products interchangeable with your brand in the customer's
view. For example, if you market a regional brand, you may compete against the
other regional brands within a 5-state radius.
Second ring—competitors offering similar products in a different category or
who have achieved less significant distribution. Using the example of a regional
brand, a product that can be substituted for yours is also your competitor, as
is a major national brand. None of these competitors provides exactly the same
product as you, but they may be winning lucrative portions of your business.
Third ring—competitors who compete for "same-purpose" dollars. To the degree
that your regional brand, perhaps a beer, is a refreshing product, third-level
competitors might be companies that provide other types of refreshment;
competitors might be marketers of wine, wine coolers or other alcoholic
Carefully consider, from the customer's point of view, all the alternatives
there are to buying your brand. Knowing that, you can assure your brand provides
real or perceived advantages over your competitors, beginning with those who
market brands that most directly compete with yours. In fact, you can even
borrow tactics from second- or third-level competitors to compete more
effectively against your first-tier competitors!
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It's to your advantage to know as much as you can about the details of your
competitors’ businesses. Study their advertising, promotions and brochures.
Analyze their pricing strategies and distribution methods. Talk to their channel
partners and end users to determine what your competitors are doing well that
you can imitate and what they do poorly upon which you can capitalize.
Secondary data, as well as information from your sales force or other
contacts including your suppliers and customers, can provide rich information
about competitors' strengths and weaknesses. Basic information every marketer
should know about his or her competition includes:
Competitor's market share, compared to yours.
How customers and prospects perceive or judge your brand, as well as your
Your competitors' financial strength, which affects their ability to invest
in advertising, promotions, and abilities to invest in equipment among other
Each competitor's capabilities and speed of innovation for development of new
There may be other facts you need, depending on the type of product you
offer. For example, if you're in manufacturing, you'll want to know how quickly
your competitors can fill a typical order, their return policies and what they
charge for shipping and handling, etc.
Once you identify your most direct competition and have a firm grasp on your
second- and third-tier competitors, project which actions they’re likely to take
in the next year or so. Forecasts of competitors' future activities depend on
your knowing and understanding their objectives, strengths in the marketplace
and resources. Key intelligence for your brand's success:
Annual forecast of sales, spending and profit, promotion and advertising
Introduction, support rollout and success of new products.
Market segment, product category and sub-category trends.
Direction for future growth.
Gathering competitive intelligence can make a difference between realizing
your company's annual plan or losing business that may never be won back.
About The Author
Mark Levit is managing partner of Partners & Levit Advertising and a
professor of marketing at New York University. For more information visit
Elements of a Successful Advertising Campaign
Copyright 2007 by Christoph Puetz
A successful marketing campaign needs certain elements to be successful. The
following information will help you to develop a successful marketing campaign.
1) Establish a feeling of urgency for the buyer. Basically tell your
customers, "You need to sign up today because it will make you reach your
goals." Don't tell your customer the offer will still be as good tomorrow; they
must buy today! Urgency! Study how successful ads make the customer act now.
Remember the X10 Spy Cam advertising campaign? They always had their website set
up with a deadline for a special deal. Something like that is easy to program
and will eventually urge the customer to sign up today. Don't over do it - use
this tactic for a week - then switch to something else. Rotate these marketing
tools. Start looking more closely at the marketing vehicles (email, letters,
postcards,) you receive yourself every day, and you'll begin to see that
effective marketing always gives you a reason to act now.
2) Show a list of benefits if the customer signs up with you. There must be a
list of benefits to make him sign up. Will you be smarter using your services?
Will he get more visitors? Will your server be better than the competitions
hardware? Will your business help to make the site more successful? Or make him
richer, or healthier, or faster? Focus on the client, not the advertiser. Most
benefits need to be skillfully integrated into the ad. It is a waste of time and
money in an ad or on your website if you don't work in benefits and present them
3) Call to Action: Tell them what they must do to get it. Don't assume that
your prospects and customers will figure out how to get what you are offering.
They won't do your work for you. So, go ahead and tell them what to do. If they
have to call you to get it, then tell them to call (to call you now!). If they
have to write or drop a post card in the mail, or fax something to you, then
tell them clearly and in words easy to understand. The point is to make it as
easy as possible for your target customer to do what you want them to do. People
don't like to do anything that is going to take work on their part. Make it as
easy for them to respond as possible, or they won't = no good results for you.
3a) Do it again: You have to (must) tell customer what to do (to sign up with
you). Tell your customer to order now (this moment). So many ads assume that the
customer will guess to fill out the contact us form, email you, or telephone for
the information, or product. Tell the customer what to do. Provide the customer
on how to respond today in several ways. As more options you can offer, the
better will be the results.
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4) Plan your advertising calendar and campaign several months in advance.
Failure to plan advertising in advance will waste a lot of your money. Rush
charges, poor design, rate increases, poor creative and poor copy are common
results of failing to plan in advance. “I didn’t have enough time”, “I was under
the gun to get this placed”, are common phrases heard under rushed
circumstances. Take a blank calendar and fill in the days, months, or quarters
to advertise to your target markets. Figure out the number of ad insertions that
will make sense and negotiate a contract with the various media suppliers (e.g.
local newspapers). Book banner web space on the important website early in
advance. Prepare your website with a special landing page for the expected
5) Test your banners and your ads. Only by trial and error will you be able
to set a baseline as to the best response rates for your ads and banners. It is
very important to maximize response for the amount of dollars spent. Sometimes
re-phrasing text or adjusting the ad layout can make the difference between a
low or just average response and a great success and high ROI (Return on
Investment). You will need to find out what works best for your business. After
you find this out, you’ll want to stay on course and base future advertising
campaigns on the success of the old one.
6) Avoid misleading or dishonest advertising in hopes of converting duped
readers/website visitors into using your products or services. Honesty and
integrity are the primary key to repeat sales and repeat business. If you have
to trick your audience to get their attention, you will have a very hard time
keeping their attention and their business if they sign up at all.
7) Running On-(Web)Site Events. Running events on your website is an
excellent way to encourage repeat traffic and repeat visitors. You'll want to
begin running events once traffic from your site launch begins to fade. Examples
include contests, games, on-line interviews, chat sessions and maybe even audio
broadcasts. Do the things your competitors don't do.
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About The Author
Christoph Puetz is a successful small business owner (Net Services USA LLC)
and international author.
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