You know it. We know it. Heck, every product marketer should know it: competitive intelligence is an essential part of the role.
If you don’t know what your competitors are doing, you’re giving them free rein of the market, and you’ll rue the decision further down the line.
Competitive intelligence can help you and your product marketing team understand the methods being used by your competitors, how their products work, key features and USPs, and pricing strategies, to name a few.
When we surveyed product marketers for the Competitive Intelligence Trends 2020 report, we unearthed a plethora of competitive intelligence tips to consider when conducting the process.
“Don’t be afraid to get help from other parts of your organization. Being able to get help from a sales engineer or a developer while you’re reading technical documentation can save a ton of time and help you better understand different personas.”
Mindy Regnell, Marketing Competitive Intelligence Manager at BigCommerce
“Job postings can detail info about their tech stack. For example, if they say ‘looking for an IT manager with experience in Oracle, Kronos’, then you know the company uses these tools.”
Laura Massingham, Senior Director of Global Product Marketing at HotSchedules
“Make sure to leverage your entire company and look for a way to integrate information-sharing into your teams' daily tools (be it Slack, or a Sales Enablement tool, etc).
“Whenever someone new starts at Showpad, we hold a session dedicated to Competitive Intel and how each Showpadder plays a part in gathering and sharing that information. Our Product Marketing team is not big enough to do all the research ourselves so we've set up a system to source info gathered by BDRs, AEs, CSMs, etc.”
Lara Verlinden, Product Marketing Manager at Showpad
“Spend time getting to know the competitor from all angles: explore their website and gated assets as if you were a prospect, but also understand from their existing customers if the true product experience matches the initial marketing.”
Megan Magee, Product Marketing Manager at ServiceNow
“Start with your value proposition not mentioned by you, but by your customer. From there understand why you don’t live up to that value prop and where you can improve. Know your segment, know your buyer and persona.”
Hien Phan, Director of Product Marketing at ModeAnalytics
“Social media is a goldmine of information.”
Avi Goldstein, Director of Product Marketing at Hertz Furniture
“Job postings reveal a lot about your competitor's product/growth strategy. They will often disclose which areas they're trying to invest in on a technology perspective or which segments they're trying to grow the business in the most.”
Julian Clarke, Product Marketing Manager at Lattice
“In a non-transparent market, get creative. Current clients can be great sources of information. Also, think about other players in the ecosystem that can share stories and data.”
Jill Dornan, Director of Product Marketing at HealtSparq
“Don't ignore customer reviews and prospect calls.”
Ruchita Shah, Product Marketing Manager at Mavenlink
“Automate it or do frequent checks. As far as understanding your marketplace and competitors is concerned, you need to form your own opinions to roadmap.”
Benny Kuo, Product Marketing Manager at CDSG
“Try the product, the screenshots on the website look better than the actual product is!”
Natasha Katson, Product Marketing Manager at JetBrains
“Keep an eye on your peers, but don't lose sight of why your company is unique. That's the story you want to focus on getting in front of your customers. We've found that when we check all of the right boxes, our customers spend less time comparing us to others and more time asking us what ELSE can we do together?”
Jessica Munoz, VP of Product Marketing at LiveIntent
“Give sales and product as many chances and channels as possible to easily provide information. Then prove value with easily scannable sales tools that help the team combat objections. That will make them more willing to contribute when they do have juicy info!”
Katie Jefcoat, Product Marketing Manager at PayNearMe
“Take screenshots of your competitor's top messages on their site and maintain a ‘clip file’ to compare over time, like quarter over quarter. Put into a PowerPoint deck and use as visuals for understanding messaging trends over time.”
Sheryl Floyd, Global Sales Enablement and Product Marketing Manager ar Papaya Global
“Not every company you may consider to be a competitor is a competitor. Spend more time identifying who that true competition is rather than wasting time on outliers or perceived competition.
"If you're able to truly understand what differentiates you from your core competencies, you'll inherently be able to find your value prop against those perceived competitors.”
Matt Powell, Product Marketing Manager at Docebo
“Hearing what customers say has been the most fruitful competitive intel - using tools like Gong and G2 help to gather that info.”
Andrew McCotter-Bicknell, Product Marketing Manager at Zoominfo
“Keep close with engineering to understand the technical stuff behind the marketing message.”
Suvi Tarvas, CFO and Product Marketing Manager at Rugged Tooling
“Monitor direct competitors, but beware of the newcomers. They can sweep you up in a second!”
Igor Kranjcec, Product Marketing Lead at Lemax
“Read the cons on all the reviews - even the 4-star reviews have something they don't like. I analyze this for trends so we can rebuke any objections to sales pitch.”
Maureen West, Director of Product Marketing at 6sense
“Get your new hires to take demos and gather intel before they start / when they still have their old email addresses.”
Natalie Clark, VP of Product Marketing at Stardog
“Loss interviews can be very revealing, especially with customers who leave you for your competition.”
Carmen DeCouto, Product Marketing Manager at SiSense
“You need a good platform that helps capture intel that’s already publicly available. We use Klue and have found it easy to use for the product marketing team and more importantly the users. I would advise against building something in-house as it’s costly and time-consuming.”
Jayne-Marie Pooley, Product Marketing Director at CDK Global
“Communicate with your customers who have switched from a competitor. They're the source and can articulate pain points which are more valuable than market-facing positioning from the competitor.”
Miles Price, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Sailthru
“Find a competitive intelligence tool that is helpful to you. Don't just use an expensive one.”
Nina Churchill, Product Marketing Manager at SellersFunding
“Get everyone to agree on who your competitors are first, then start the research/monitoring efforts.”
Ian Thomas, Director of Product Marketing at BlueVoyant
“When building your analysis, start from the point of view of your buyer, not from your own features or your what your competition is doing.”
Gudrun Van Durme, Product Marketing Manager at Unmind
“Automate the gathering of intel, otherwise, it is a full-time job!”
Kimberley Megaw, Customer Success Manager at Kompyte
“Get the right processes and tools in place to take the heavy lifting off of you.”
Steven Pelham, Senior Customer Success Manager at Podium
“When sharing competitive intel with other teams, add some context about why it matters for your business.
"For example, if you're seeing signals that a competitor is shifting up-market, explain how that will open up a gap in the market that can be filled by your product. What seems obvious to the product marketer isn't always obvious to others.”
Larissa Hildebrandt, Head of Product Marketing at Close
“There's a big difference between positioning and a product feature analysis. Even the biggest players go up against competitors that eat their lunch in a feature-by-feature analysis - but you can't let that distract you from the big picture. Positioning is all politics. I like to say: If your position can't fit on a bumper sticker - you don't have it yet.”
Laura Foster, Director of Product Marketing at Innovid
Interested in investigating the finer details of competitive intelligence in further detail?
Download your copy of the Competitive Intelligence Trends 2020 report and unearth a host of enthralling CI insights, including who owns the task, how often product marketers are conducting the task, common challenges faced by practitioners, and a whole lot more.