Why Manufacturers Should Do a Competitive Analysis

What can you learn from the competition? Here are some questions to ask and some tools to use.

Many small and medium manufacturers struggle with committing time to work “on” the business, whether it’s for market research, B2B sales enablement, scouting for opportunities with product enhancements or supply chain management. A competitive analysis can be a great opportunity to focus the company on a key aspect of the business. In many ways, it is similar to a continuous improvement or lean mindset for operations. It’s a worthy investment of resources and effort.

What Is a Competitive Analysis?

A competitive analysis looks at product, sales and marketing strategies for you and your competitors. The benefits of a competitive analysis really can be simplified by asking these questions:

  • Where do my competitors show up?
  • How do my competitors get visibility/traffic?
  • Where are they that I am not?
  • Where am I where they are not?

To start, take the time to answer the questions about your own company. This exercise is an important foundation. It will show you where you are strong in the market, and then you can layer in your competition. With both in hand, you can tweak your tactics and dial up or down marketing and sales initiatives.

There are many ways to view a competitive analysis, which can be broad to narrow across an industry or shallow to deep within a segment. A competitive analysis can focus on almost any aspect of your products or sales and marketing. You can do an analysis of your SEO or paid media and how it contrasts with competitors. You can compare content marketing strategies, or social, email and video strategies.

Tools for Conducting Competitor Research

The technical capabilities of technology available for competitor research are astounding. They can show what your competitors are targeting and how they are interacting and presenting themselves to the marketplace. Lots of enterprise-grade tools exist to do this but most of these won’t be accessible to small and medium-sized manufacturers. Fortunately, there are a handful of more affordable tools — or tools with free trials — that can help you gain actionable insights into your competition.

Tune into the latest episode of the Industrial Marketer podcast for a discussion of some of the more accessible tools and technologies and to learn how you can get started using them. Among the tools mentioned are:

  • SEMrush – well-rounded traffic analytics
  • SpyFu – for organic and paid keyword research
  • Google Keyword Planner – for paid keyword opportunity identification
  • SimilarWeb – for general information on competitor website traffic acquisition
  • BuiltWith – for seeing what tech a website relies on (including integrations)
  • Brand24 – for tracking brand mentions across media

The Benefits of a Competitive Analysis

Hubspot summarizes the benefits of a competitive analysis as:

  • Identify gaps in the market
  • Develop new products and services
  • Uncover market trends
  • Market and sell more effectively

A competitive analysis is a great path to refining how to engage with customers and prospects at different phases. The more you know about your competition, the more nuanced you can be in your marketing and sales strategies and tactics.

Listen to the Podcast to Learn More About Competitive Analysis for Manufacturers

Listen to Episode 11 of the Industrial Marketer podcast for a more in-depth exploration of the benefits of conducting a competitive analysis — and how to do one using accessible technology.

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