Imagine being a Redskin and getting your hands on the Dallas Cowboy playbook before the season begins; or being Target and getting the inside scoop on the marketing strategy of Walmart. In this day and age, understanding your competition, and particularly the marketing strategy your competition is pursuing, is far more critical than many companies realize.
As Google continues to negate all the old SEO tools and techniques, moving our product pages further down the search rankings and with the mass migration to content marketing, it is creating a vast sea of web pages in which it is harder and harder to get found, particularly if you are a medium or small business on a tight budget. Yet there are tools emerging that can help us by leveraging commercial intelligence to fine tune our marketing strategies and help us navigate the ocean of content, picking up boat loads of new customers as we go.
According to Forbes, 78% of consumers say that the posts made by companies on social media influence their purchases. Furthermore, 81% of people say that posts by their friends influence their buying decisions. This is important because it tells us that even if your social channels are currently not producing desired results, they most certainly have the potential to do so. The fact that companies are influencing buying decisions suggests that it is most certainly worth developing social properties such as Facebook and Google brand pages and the fact that ‘friends’ have even more influence suggests that it is worth spending time building out those communities.
Of course, social channels are just a part of the online marketing process; they primarily get the message out and draw people to our primary websites. It’s the content on our main sites that then keeps potential customers interested. Content Marketing is the flavor of the month. The days of direct mail and cold calling are over. According to Brian Halligan, Hubspot CEO, prospects are deluged with 2000 marketing interruptions every day. With email spam filters, caller ID’s, DVR’s, satellite radio and other creative methods, people have figured out how to stop the “noise”. Now companies are forced to create high quality, informative content designed to help and engage their prospects. And it’s working:
“70% of consumers prefer getting to a know a company via articles over ads (Content + 2013) In fact, upwards of 75% of consumers don’t accept traditional advertisements as truth” (Source: Hubspot).
Now, companies are working hard to create compelling content like Blogs, videos, whitepapers, eBooks, slideshares and webinars to connect with their perspective consumers. This content not only helps generate leads, but also helps them build thought leadership and brand loyalty. Jay Baer said it best:
“If you sell something, you make a customer today; if you help someone, you make a customer for life”.
So the question then becomes how can you create content effectively and efficiently? With such a wide content canvas to fill, how do you reach the right people, in the right way, with the right content, so that you can connect with the people who will ‘like’ you and who will buy your products or services? It's a wild social media world out there with many different platforms. Understanding what content works on which platform can be tricky. This is where companies such as Track Maven come in.
Track Maven - Your Own Crystal Ball?
Imagine if someone could tell you exactly what content resonated with the prospects of your competition and on what social media platform? In other words which video went viral, which tweet had 10,000 re-tweets... it would be like looking into a crystal ball, wouldn't it? Think of the time and money you could potentially save with your own marketing strategy. There is a new breed of Competitive Intelligence tools that are starting to emerge that does this, with companies like Track Maven leading the way.
We all know the value of competitive intelligence as it relates to sound market research. Having a solid understanding of your competitors and how you differentiate yourself and your business is critical to success. Being cognizant of your similarities is just as important, especially when it comes to your consumers and your marketing strategy. Conducting a thorough analysis to identify your competitors, where they are positioned in the market and how you sit in relation to them will be a step you will not regret down the road.
I recently sat through a demo for a company called TrackMaven, which provides marketing intelligence for companies seeking to learn more about their competition. I have sat through many demos, but this one blew me away. To be honest, the demo was the inspiration behind this article. Put aside that their founders are going to become rock stars; the software gives companies the ability to be able to track everything that is driving the success (or lack thereof) of their competitor’s marketing and social media strategy right from their desktop - pretty powerful stuff.
So, lets break it down. Remember how I talked about what a wild social media world it is out there and how difficult it is figuring out what content to create for what platform? Track Maven lets you identify each of your competitors and then track all their content on each of their social media platforms. But here's the best part, you can watch and read each piece of content, and then ask the software to tell you which piece performed the best, which had the most views, click thrus, retweets etc. And, now that you know which video and blog are generating the most views, which emails the most click throughs, you can go and create similar content or contact the author of those blogs and hire them to write something for you. Want to know why your Facebook page has less Likes then your competitors? (yet you are posting more times a day), compare and contrast using Track Maven. It's pretty cool stuff.
In a transitional world where brands are defined by the content they create, understanding what content is resonating with your competition is critical to the success of any business. This is particularly strong stuff if you are a middle or small sized business trying to compete with larger players. It enables you to fine focus your content on what works for your market based on the successes and failures of your competitor’s content. Applying that understanding to your market strategy will provide the insight and intelligence need to thrive in the ever changing world in which we work and live.