How you communicate your company’s unique solutions to the market is critical to attract and engage potential buyers. Great messaging requires both a deep understanding of your target personas as well as an analytical view of the competitive landscape. Getting deep market and persona knowledge has always played a key role in crafting great messaging, but looking at competitors’ messaging is an often overlooked step. However, without completing a competitor analysis, you risk having your messaging fall flat in a sea of similar and undifferentiated content.
Here’s how to capture, analyze, and continuously monitor the competitive messaging landscape.
7 Key Sources for Competitor Messaging
When it comes to analyzing your competitors’ messaging, you need to start by collecting the language they use throughout their content. What’s great about analyzing a competitor’s messaging is that you frequently have just as much access to it as your prospects do. Here are a few particularly helpful places to start.
- Homepage - A company’s homepage lays out their messaging front and center. This is the first impression to their prospects, so you’re likely to find the crystalized version of their messaging. Don’t forget to check their page title for keywords and industry phrases, and pay special attention to the headlines on the page for key messaging points.
- About Page - The About Us or Company/Team pages can also give you some great messaging details. Here you may find some more company-level rather than product-level messaging, since an About Page needs to speak to prospects as well as customers, investors, employees, and job candidates equally. Look for a company overview or even company values.
- Press Releases - Press releases are another example of highly manicured content. In particular, the boilerplate used on press releases can tell you a lot about a company’s messaging. Even slight changes to a boilerplate can be meaningful to note because so much attention is given to articulating the company’s purpose and products in a concise manner.
- Product Pages - Product pages, too, can be helpful in getting more messaging details. Particularly if a company has many different products, it can be helpful to do the homepage analysis exercise on a product by product basis, looking at headlines, page titles, etc.
- Collateral - You’re likely to see a fair bit of overlap in messaging across web and printed content if the company has done a good job of using consistent messaging. Still, if you can get your hands on the competitor’s collateral, that can provide additional messaging points that are less front-and-center.
- Emails - Sales and marketing emails, if you can get copies of them, can provide a more informal version of the company’s messaging. You may even start to see variations of messaging being tested by different individuals, and get hints of where the messaging may be going.
- Presentations - Sales presentations such as demo decks, company overviews, or even thought leadership content published by marketing teams, can provide additional messaging input for your analysis. Search for company PDFs on Google or check public sites like SlideShare to access these types of presentations.
There are many other great sources of intelligence on a company’s messaging, including case studies, app store listings, social profiles, and more. Leverage any and all resources in order to get the data you need for your analysis.
How to Analyze Competitor Messaging
The same framework you might use to determine your own positioning and craft messaging points can be reused to analyze your competitors’ messaging. For example, when crafting your own messaging, you would likely define your positioning pillars and key proof points to support each of those pillars. Consider all of the elements of your own messaging framework and turn that into a comparison of each element for each competitor. Remember to include yourself in this analysis, since this is how you’ll be able to see if you are differentiated.
Collect each of these aspects of your competitors’ messaging from the sources discussed. This includes:
- Category Name - What does the company call their product? Page titles and social profile taglines are great sources for this.
- Tagline - Does the company have a frequently used catchphrase? Homepage headlines and ads are good places to source this.
- Elevator Pitch - What’s the elevator pitch description of the company and the benefits they provide? A press release boilerplate provides this to you exactly.
- Positioning Pillars - What are the core messages they communicate about their solutions? This may require pulling from multiple sources.
- Proof Points - How do they prove that those positioning pillars have substance? Again, this may require multiple sources of intelligence.
- Problems/Solutions/Results - What problems do they solve and how? This takes positioning pillars and proof points to the next level by diving into the problems they solve, how the company’s solutions map to that, and the results they discuss for each.
- Target Audiences - Who are they trying to reach with this messaging? This is perhaps one of the most important factors because it determines if you’re even competing for the same attention. Leverage sources such as case studies or even their sitemap to determine their target customer’s roles, industries, etc.
Collect each of these aspects into a spreadsheet or similar document where you can see each tagline, pillar, etc. side-by-side. Then, start to look for similarities and differences. Highlight words and points reused by many competitors. Circle aspects that are unique to each competitor. Make notes about your own positioning - is it unique when you look at it alongside your competitors’? What is unique? What needs to be changed in order to better differentiate? Identify gaps in audiences, messages, or phrases that you could leverage to stand out in this landscape.
How to Stay Ahead of Competitive Messaging Shifts
A company’s messaging is not static. Just as you are analyzing and adjusting your own, so are your competitors. It is critical to monitor changes to a company’s messaging across each of the sources mentioned. Once you have your competitive messaging matrix with each of the elements discussed, it is that much easier to make sense of a seemingly small change to a product page headline.
For example, this change to Intercom’s footer reveals some significant shifts in messaging. Among other changes, “Bots for Sales and Marketing” was changed to “Customizable bots,” showing a shift in their target audience for this functionality. Similarly, the change of “Bots for Support” to “Automated answers” again shows a shift to use the same functionality for different audiences beyond Support. Seemingly small changes to messaging are key to understanding a company’s direction and how you should best differentiate yourself in the market.
By analyzing your competitors’ messaging, you’ll be better equipped to craft your own messaging that will be differentiated in the market. Be sure to incorporate all the sources of your competitors’ messaging into your analysis and monitor shifts over time to adjust your own strategy as needed.