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Pete Winter

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Pete Winter

Apr 7, 2016

Why conducting a competitor analysis can give your content strategy a competitive edge


To keep your customers close, look closely at your competitors

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Here’s a scary thought: your customers don’t belong to you.

They belong to the market. Blind loyalty is dead. And if you’re not the choice that makes most sense for their business, you’ve no right to expect a continued relationship.

It’s not because they’re bad people. But because they have business cases to answer, shareholders to satisfy, budgets to meet. (Just like you.)

When in content strategy mode, businesses often indulge in navel-gazing. Wondering how they could improve their editorial calendar, or respond faster to trending topics. But a better approach might be to look outwards, with a competitive analysis.

To know what questions your customers are asking, look at what your competitors are answering.

The first part is easy. You already know who your key competitors are. Check out where they post on social media, the content of their blogs, what they put on their Twitter feed and how often. Doing this across your top 5 competitors may flag up areas of customer pain you could be easing.

The second part isn’t much harder. See which areas of customer pain hurt most. Ranking the top issues in order tells you what’s really bothering the buyers in your market. Be open to the possibility it isn’t what you thought.

The third part is harder, but worthwhile. It’ll draw heavily on your brand voice and possibility audit (if you’ve done one), but see if there are ways to communicate the answers in a way that’s distinctively yours. It may mean blindsiding your competitor’s starchy style with a friendly and personable chat. Or sounding authoritative in a world of here-today-gone-tomorrow startups. But if prospects can recognise a trusted voice in the search results, it’s a real competitive asset.

And the fourth part is positively fun. After your competitor analysis has given you the top questions, try looking in the “long tail” - the business issues mentioned rarely, but which are of supreme importance to the few who ask them. It’s clear blue ocean: if you’re the go-to search result for a vital question, you’re on their consideration list almost by default.

Done as a standalone project, these four tasks are Hard Problems. But if you cast your gaze more broadly - towards LinkedIn Groups you don’t normally participate in, forums where you’re not in the conversation yet - your competitors can provide a huge volume of useful information.

In fact, you may find your competitors can write your content strategy for you!

Although of course, you shouldn’t tell them about it.

Takeaways

  • To see where the customer pain is, look at how your competitors deal with it

  • Rank the importance of business issues by the number of times questions are asked about it

  • Answer less common questions to catch prospects at the start of their customer journey

  • A competitive analysis does part of the work of content strategy for you!

Competitor Analysis gives you a place to stand. To stand even taller you need to understand what your audience is talking about though. Download How to Create a Conversation Audit to Drive B2B Marketing Success today and learn how to pay attention to what your audience wants

Topics: Content Strategy

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