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How Product Marketers Can Prioritize & Elevate Their Competitive Intelligence Programs

Picture of Lauren Kersanske
Lauren Kersanske on Fri, Dec 4, 2020

The cool thing about working at Crayon (besides incredible dog and cat Slack channels) is that I get to talk to Product Marketers a whole lot—whether it’s on LinkedIn, in the awesome Product Marketing Alliance (PMA) community, or at product marketing events like PMC or PMA Summits. I get to understand their problems, what their day-to-day is like, and how they operate within their organizations. 

When the conversation turns to competitive intelligence, there are a few common refrains I hear:

“I wish we were doing CI more consistently, but we just don’t have the time.”

“I’m so bad at keeping up with our competitive intel. It’s been ages since I’ve really sat down and looked at it.”

“It’s so important—we just simply don’t have the headcount to dedicate to it right now.”

Simply put—many product marketers don’t have enough time in their day to do competitive intelligence effectively, and therefore it becomes de-prioritized. It isn’t surprising—product marketing teams are notoriously understaffed, have very little budget, and are often juggling many competing priorities from various stakeholders. According to PMA’s State of Product Marketing Report, 1 in 5 product marketers work solo, and half of organizations invest $250k or less per year in product marketing.

Product marketers must make time for competitive intelligence, and not because they need to check a box—it’s because competitive intelligence is critical to driving revenue. According to the State of Competitive Intelligence, those who shared competitive intelligence with their organization on a daily basis were 84% more likely to see a revenue increase than those who share intel on an ad-hoc basis. 

Building a competitive intelligence program doesn’t happen overnight, but there are a few things product marketers can do to start integrating competitive intelligence into their strategy and priorities. 

Start with this Simple Competitive Intelligence Framework

It’s best to start out simply when building (or revamping) a competitive intelligence program. The basic three-step process breaks down as follows: capture, analyze, and act.

  • Capture: Track every move competitors are making both on and off their websites. This includes website changes, product reviews, product and pricing changes, employer reviews, etc.
  • Analyze: Spot the trends and meaning behind your competitors’ moves. What do each of the competitors’ moves mean for your sales, marketing, or product strategies? 
  • Act: Set action items and provide recommendations for different teams to help them meet business goals. Examples of action items include updating competitive collateral like battlecards, conducting training for sales on new competitor updates/features, providing a roadmap direction to the product team based on market analysis, etc.

There’s more detail when it comes to designing a competitive intelligence process, but it’s best to start with the basics. The simple and repeatable nature of the framework will allow for easier adoption and integration into your daily workflow.

Ready to get started with Competitive Intelligence? Get the free guide

Four Ways to Make Competitive Intelligence a Priority in Your Organization 

Set Goals Around Competitive Win Rate 

Only 50% of companies set goals around competitive intelligence, which could partially explain its de-prioritization. Setting goals and/or KPIs (key performance indicators) around competitive intelligence will allow you to force the function of CI—you need to do the work if you have a goal to hit. The metric most reflective of competitive intelligence efforts is competitive win rate.

Competitive win rate is a metric that shows how often you are winning deals against a certain competitor. Understanding who you’re losing against will show where you need work in regards to your competitive intelligence. For example—if you have a low win rate against a specific competitor, you may want to refresh that competitor battlecard with new intel and talking points, or perhaps even conduct a deep-dive training on selling against that specific competitor.

Competitive win rate should be measured on a regular basis, but be sure to really dive into it during your win/loss analysis and interview sales reps who lost deals to a specific competitor, as well as prospects who decided to buy from a competitor and not you.

Automate Manual Competitive Intelligence Gathering

Without automation, competitive intelligence becomes extremely manual, particularly in the intelligence gathering stage. According to the State of Competitive Intelligence, more time is spent in CI is the research (e.g., capture) phase than any other phase. While this stage is crucial, spending too much time here takes away from performing in-depth analysis and most importantly—driving action.

To decrease the time spent in the capture phase, you’ll want to employ automation in any way you can. If you’re just starting out, Google Alerts is a very basic way to automate intelligence gathering. You can track any mentions of your competitors, or even keywords related to your industry to receive updates on the market. Be wary though—you’ll need to set a lot of filters on your search terms or else you risk being overwhelmed with irrelevant data—the exact opposite of what you want. You’ll also only receive new announcements or content that your competitor wants to make public, so anything your competitor wants to keep quiet (ex. pricing changes) will not be picked up by Google Alerts.

However, if you’re looking to eventually build a scalable, repeatable, and impactful CI program, you’ll want to invest in a solution that will automate data capture for you across millions of sources and is used and trusted by thousands of product marketers. Crayon’s competitive intelligence platform not only captures the competitive data you need, but it was also recently voted as the Leader in CI by thousands of product marketers in the PMA Pulse.

 

 

See why Crayon is voted the #1 CI Software by Product Marketers

Enable Stakeholders with Competitive Intelligence 

Product marketers touch every aspect of the organization and have many stakeholders. Primary stakeholders of product marketing include sales, marketing, executive leadership, and product management. 

Each of these teams rely on the output of product marketers to make strategic decisions and win deals, so enabling these key teams with intel that helps them achieve these goals will garner buy-in and elevate CI across the organization.

Here’s a handy table on what type of CI to gather for each stakeholder, what the outputs might look like, and how to effectively communicate the intel.

Audience

Insight Types

Outputs

Goals

Executive Leadership

Messaging and positioning changes, pricing and packaging changes, financial news such as SEC filings, M&A, etc., product launches, field intelligence

CI newsletters, alerts, dashboards, presentations

Inform strategy

Sales

Messaging and positioning changes, pricing and packaging changes, feature releases, third party reviews (e.g., G2), support forum threads, new customers/partnerships, field intelligence

Battlecards, alerts, CI newsletters

Win more deals

Marketing

Campaigns, messaging and positioning changes, pricing and packaging changes, website changes, new customers/partnerships, A/B tests, field intelligence

Alerts, CI newsletters, dashboards

Improve messaging and campaigns

Product Management

Product updates, feature releases, third party reviews, new customers/partnerships, field intelligence

Alerts, CI newsletters, dashboards

Inform product roadmap

 

Set Clear Guidelines Around Non-Priorities

Another sentiment I often hear regarding competitive intelligence is that it can have the effect of making teams too reactive to competitor shifts. While competitive intelligence is crucial to driving revenue, it’s obviously a bad strategy to obsess about your competition and react to every single move they make.

The best way to avoid being too reactive is to be very clear about the non-priorities—what don’t you care about? What is the business NOT doing this year? What product features are explicitly NOT in the roadmap?

Build your competitive intelligence around the business priorities for the year—features that are in the roadmap, verticals that will be targeted, etc. This will keep your competitive intelligence program from being too reactive and keep you focused on your top priorities.

Keeping competitive intelligence on the back burner results in missed revenue opportunities, so product marketers prioritizing competitive intelligence is more crucial than ever. If you’re ready to start prioritizing competitive intelligence, check out our free Guide to Competitive Intelligence or request a demo of Crayon’s competitive intelligence platform.

Guide to Competitive Intelligence

Originally Published on October 11, 2019. Updated on December 4, 2020. 

Topics: Product Marketing

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