How To Write A Competitive Analysis For A Marketing Plan

As much as we all want to believe there’s a blue ocean out there for us, most of us are swimming around in a red one. Competition is fierce, and with the advent of digital marketing the competition has never been as effective at getting itself front and center to your audience as it is today.

You need a plan. The first step to building your marketing plan is to figure out what the competition is up to. Here are the essential steps to conducting a strong competitive analysis.

Do your research

The first step is to know who your competitors are, and they aren’t just the big players in your industry. Pick one or two of the big dogs to analyze, but also look to other brands that may be lower in the pecking order and picking up some of that market share you’re looking to grab.

Google “alternatives to [insert the big dog name here]” and see what comes up. That’s a good place to start. Also, search the “similar accounts” function on Instagram and look through the hashtags to see what comes up.

If there’s a specific feature or offer that you have, look for brands that have the same thing or something similar.

Record the important parts

Now that you know who your competitors are, start writing down the details. You’ll need to record their website address and links to their social accounts. Next, what is it they’re offering? Take notes on what pain points you see them solving and the kind of language they’re using to talk about it.

Lastly, who do they believe their audience is? You can get ideas about this from their branding, their messaging, and even their solutions. This will help you figure out either A) they’re actually not serving who you want to serve and they aren’t really your competition; or B) there’s a market segment you didn’t even know you could be serving and you need to make some adjustments to your strategy.

What are they doing well?

Now that you have recorded where to find your competition, you need to start analyzing them. From website copy to social media aesthetics to messaging—this is your chance to get inspired. Ask yourself:

  • What do I like about their imagery? How does it create connection for the customer?

  • What do I like about their messaging? Are there certain words I should be using in my copy? Is there a specific attitude or tone I can emulate?

  • What’s special about their offer?

  • Are they running any ads that are unique?

  • What can I learn from their pricing structure?

The idea here is not to copy what your competitors are doing but find what they’re doing well and see how you can use similar strategies in your own marketing plan.

What could they improve?

Now here’s the kicker: no matter how big your competitor is, there are elements to their strategy you aren’t going to like. Is their website tough to navigate? Is their offering lackluster? Are they priced too high or too low in the market? You can learn just as much from your competitors “losses” as you can from their wins when developing your own marketing strategy.

Keep in mind, however, this isn’t just about what YOU don’t like. Your marketing is never about you, it’s about the customer. A key step in your competitive analysis is going to be considering how certain strategies are perceived by your target market. If you can, plan on a market study to you can get authentic feedback on the opinions you formed from the strategies of your competitors.

Rinse and repeat

Now that you have the basics of what to look for and what to do for your competitive analysis, it’s time to do it again. And again. And again. You’ll want to analyze several competitors to get a strong feel for the landscape you’ll be operating in and what you can do to stand out.

Once you’ve put together each individual competitor analysis, it’s time to bring it all together by identifying patterns, audience similarities, and recording your key takeaways so you can move forward putting together your own marketing plan with confidence.


Meet the Author: Shauna Armitage

Shauna is a Marketing Director or Fractional CMO helping early-stage startups scale with effective strategies, creative solutions, and unparalleled integrity by making the most of small budgets for maximum impact.

As a vocal advocate for women in business, Shauna is on a mission to redefine what it looks like to be a working woman and to support other women doing the same. She spends her free time traveling with her husband and four kids while drinking Coca-Colas. Connect with her on Instagram at @shauna.armitage.

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