Industrial Marketer

Why Manufacturers Should Do a Competitive Analysis

May 11, 2021 Joey Strawn & Nels Jensen Episode 11
Industrial Marketer
Why Manufacturers Should Do a Competitive Analysis
Chapters
Industrial Marketer
Why Manufacturers Should Do a Competitive Analysis
May 11, 2021 Episode 11
Joey Strawn & Nels Jensen

A competitive analysis looks at product, sales and marketing strategies for you and your competitors. The Industrial Marketer Podcast in this latest episode will help you get started by looking at the tools and technologies available and how to frame an analysis in terms of goals and perspective. But 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?

The internal diagnostic is an important foundation in a competitive analysis. 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.


Show Notes Transcript

A competitive analysis looks at product, sales and marketing strategies for you and your competitors. The Industrial Marketer Podcast in this latest episode will help you get started by looking at the tools and technologies available and how to frame an analysis in terms of goals and perspective. But 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?

The internal diagnostic is an important foundation in a competitive analysis. 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.


Joey Strawn:

Hello everyone and welcome again to the industrial marketer podcast, your place for the tips, tech trends and tactics for industrials who care about driving leads to their companies. I'm one of your hosts. My name is Joey Strawn and I couldn't be happier to be here with you today. And as always, I am joined by on e of my most favorite people Nels, Nels banana fanna fo fells, Jensen. How are you today now,

Nels Jensen:

I'm doing great. Glad to be here with you again, and glad to be speaking with the industrial workers out there who are grinding away trying to help the creators move products and processes.

Joey Strawn:

Well, we are here moving into the more summer months, things are getting hotter out there, everyone's getting out into the market, the world actually is. Fingers crossed, knock on wood starting to open back up and getting more social, which means there's more people out there that are competing for our business nails. So we have decided to dedicate this entire episode to the art, the practice and the science of a competitor analysis. I have a very special guest coming up later in the on the shop floor segment is a guy who lives this day to day. So he's going to be able to tell us a lot about it now, but we talked beforehand about some of the things that are necessary when we're talking about the prism that is competitor analysis. Right? Where right where did you land on this? What were the things that were really important for you that we dive into?

Nels Jensen:

Yeah, so there's there's the tools obviously, there's, you know, the techniques, but there's also just sort of a basic context of the order are what are the fresh eyes that you can bring to the equation, the surprises that are in there? And then how well is somebody achieving their goals with their current tactics? So there's sort of the known and the unknown. Okay, so so you really,

Joey Strawn:

When you were thinking about this, you're really thinking about this on like, the kind of the the trade side, the trade of the absolute marketing, right? See, that's really fun. Because when you told me that you wanted to talk about competitive analysis, my mind immediately went to all the weird nerdy tech tools and stuff that I use.

Nels Jensen:

So you can you can answer all my questions.

Joey Strawn:

Right. Okay, great. Good. Yeah, I want to I want to make sure that we have those Honestly, I even brought some questions to the table, because there are questions going into competitive analyses that are that people and practitioners have to be able to ask themselves and about their companies. Yeah, absolutely. Um, so Okay, I'm thrilled that we have this, this kind of dichotomy here. So now, I want to talk a little bit about the techie tools and trends and things like that, that I use when I approach a competitive analysis. And then I want to turn it over to you for the more trades, the contextual side of it, and really focus on like, okay, after you have this information, what are you really looking for and why? I mean, there are a, there are 1000 tools out there, you can Google, you know, competitive research tools. And there'll be blog posts galore and directories galore. There's a lot that are paid. And we use a handful of the you know, that have paid subscriptions, but it's not necessarily the case. There's a lot of free stuff out there that people can use. One of the easiest tools that people don't think of when doing competitive analysis is just Google, Google and Bing, going on, and typing not only your competitive names, but your brand name questions regarding your industry, your questions regarding your competitor, but one of the really, really interesting things to do. And I don't know if listeners have done this about their own companies, but I would very much recommend that you do but type in your company name. And then see what the predictive search pulls for the for the followers for the following of this like, because those are the things that people are searching about your company name online, that's a neat thing to find out. But also take the next step, put your competitors in there and type their brand name. So if it's x, y, z fan company, or if it's so and so you know, fluid management, type that in and see what comes up in the Google predictive search or the predictive search because you may find out some pretty interesting context that you didn't think about before.

Nels Jensen:

Or of course, the most annoying thing and I spent many years in the news business in the business journalism businesses. You know, you search your company name, and of course, Google shows up with those couple of paid spots above. Organic spots.Guess who shows up, your competitor. They're buying your your brand keywords, you know.

Joey Strawn:

So it's, and that's a great segue into the other tool because my other tool is a basically keyword or SEO Planner Tool. The one that I prefer is sem rush, no sponsorships or anything, I just I like them a lot, view SpyFu. And they're also very powerful, but a tool like that. And most of them have free information that you can go to just type in SpyFu comm or sem, rush calm and type in a competitor website, and you'll get an amount of free data from them. But the advanced tools are the tools that you subscribe to nails to your point, not only can I see what is coming up for when I type my brand name in, I can see the exact terms and the exact ads that my competitors are using. So from an organic standpoint, I can see who is competing in the keywords that I and my brand name needs to compete for, I can see what other companies rank for my name that I may need to be aware of Sure. And so I can also dive deeper and find the banner ads and the placements that they're using. And if they have competitive keywords that they are spending money on, that happened to be to your point, my brand name, I that might be a really, really good information.

Nels Jensen:

Right. And it's not just your brand name, it might be, hey, they're going after a new segment that they haven't been going after before they're going to encroaching on you in this area. Or maybe they're not as focused on something, and they're focusing on something else, which may be, you know, an opportunity for you. So it's, you know, it's not just about the brand names, it's also about, you know, the the sectors and the products and you know, it, obviously you align that with your own company goals. And that's where the magic happens, hey, we got a great opportunity to do this, or we're really gonna have to fight for that, right?

Joey Strawn:

Yeah, well, and honestly, and if you want to take it even a deeper step nerdier. Before we get into some of the context here now slyke, there are tools called like built with, or brand 24 or similar web that will go so far as to tell you the percentage of traffic that your competitors are getting, like how much is coming from referral traffic versus paid traffic versus organic, it will build with will monitor market segments and tell you fluctuations and ranking based on like market information and market data. And honestly go as far to tell you as the technology that your competitors websites are built with? Do they use Google Analytics or aperture? Do the hay have to plug in and a blog plug in? Or do they connect it some other way you can go to that level and all this is free information that exists out there guys, it's just a matter of looking and finding it. And we have articles you know, go to industrial marketer calm because we've got articles on competitor tools and things of that nature. But yeah, sem rush SpyFu, Google Keyword Planner, similar web built with brand 24. If they're out there, guys, go find them. Use them learn what you can about your competitors, and what they're doing online.

Nels Jensen:

And there's tons of templates. You know how to get started? If you're not sure how to get started? Yeah, do do basic searches. And there's lots of free resources out there to get started with

Joey Strawn:

Yeah, I you know, honestly. And the last thing I want to leave everybody with is and before we segment over Nelson, to your into your context stuff is you don't just use these tools in a vacuum, you should be trying to answer questions about what your competitors are doing or about the market in general. So I brought a few questions now that I think everyone doing competitive analysis needs to be asking themselves along the way. And I'm going to unveil these one by one, and I'll probably have our special guests reference these later. maybe ask them about them. But so question, one, where do my competitors show up? You need to know like, if you type a competitor name, are they on the first page of Google the eighth page of Google? Do they have ads? Are they on social media? Do you know do Where are they? Two? Where and how do my competitors get visibility and traffic? are they paying for it with ads? Are they in every every trade directory under the sun and everything is organic or referral? Is all of their marketing done through social media? You should be finding this out. Three, where are they that I am not? So find out if they're if all of your competitors are bidding on a set of keywords that you're not, there's probably a reason that you need to be going after those terms or looking into it unless they're completely irrelevant to you and your business. or more. I mean, there's so much you can find out by Oh, they're in this trailer.magazine there in this directory, I should be getting some of that traffic value. And then four the final one, where am I? That they're not? Yeah. So are there some opportunities that you have as a brand to double down on or take more advantage of or be protective of identified those in the process as well? So those are some of my questions that everyone's looking at themselves and others need to be asking.

Nels Jensen:

Yeah, and, you know, my mind was was just a slightly different lens, it was what are your strengths and weaknesses? What are your competitors, strengths and weaknesses? How are your technical tactics working? Are you achieving your goals? And how are theirs working? So those essentially, it's the, we're covering the exact same ground? You know, your questions are excellent. I like those a lot. Right?

Joey Strawn:

Well, and now I know specifically, when you're diving into some competitor analyses, you're going to their websites, the competitor websites and looking at their emails and looking at their pages and saying, oh, you're throwing these questions here.

Nels Jensen:

Yeah, you're subscribing to their emails for their newsletters, you're, you know, you're searching, hey, where do they appear on trade media, you know, if, like, hey, if they're in this key trade pub, do we need to be in there, you know, they're, hey, they're running a sponsor, you know, content programming, they're, you know, there's you just you just learn a lot what, you know, it's, it's just opens up, the more, you know, the more nuanced you know, about tactics, you know, the more sophisticated you can get with the adjustments you make.

Joey Strawn:

I agree. And, you know, we started this conversation by saying, like, there's this trade element, and there's this tech element. And, you know, going forward, we'll talk to our guests about this, but the merger of those is understanding what you're doing and why. And understanding what your competitors are doing and why and being able to basically weave that together into some sort of story. And to provide context for your marketing choices. That's where that's where the gold comes from. It's not just a matter of, oh, XYZ is bidding on this term. So that means I need to bet on this term. Maybe you do. And maybe you don't, you know, so answering these questions and diving deeper and kind of putting that picture and that story together is going to be really important.

Nels Jensen:

And so couldn't have said it better. Excellent.

Joey Strawn:

Well, I brought a special guest now, this time that I think is going to help us weave some of that together and talk to us about how to tell that story a little bit. So do you want to head on down to the shop floor and meet?

Nels Jensen:

Yeah, let's go. Alright, we're heading on down to the shop floor listeners. Let's do this together. All right now. We've walked all the way down here. We just had a great discussion about competitive analysis, and why you need to spy on the people that you're spying on. I've walked us down here because it's time to get on the shop floor and talk some tactical advice from people who do this every day. And I have brought a very special guest today. And his name is Dan Dan, the media man. Dan, welcome to the industrial Marketing Podcast. Yayy..yay.

Dan Fitzpatrick:

Howdy.

Joey Strawn:

He's not a cowboy, everyone, but He rules the Wild West. That is competitive analysis with an iron lasso. I don't know what any of that means. But Dan, give, give the listeners at home a little bit of a recap of your history and media and how often you spy on the competition.

Dan Fitzpatrick:

Yeah, absolutely. So really, the competitive analysis and sort of competitive tactical bug that was born in me was when I was working up in DC. So I was doing mostly media strategy and planning and buying forpublic affairs firms that were doing an eye down ballot issues, even specific politicians. So what was interesting about that is we would develop a strategy and a tactic. But as soon as either the opposition or yourselves would go on television, or radio, even digital, all of that became public files. So from there, we would be able to actually start looking at what the competition what the opposing view opposing political figure was doing tactically near the FCC website. And it was really a great tool to start saying to yourself, okay, they're trying to reach folks on channel two, and they're reaching people, right? Top 40 FM station. What is that mean? We want to double down on that we want to find our niches do we want to find the overlap? And that, you know, it started for me from a political standpoint, but obviously, that carried over immediately into any sort of b2b or b2c. Because money, time and resources are all finite, so you need to know where to allocate.

Joey Strawn:

Well, and it's interesting. And now so I'll transition over to you for a question here. But, you know, dad, one of the things we talk about a lot on the show is because we're focused on the industrial sector, I mean, it's even more niche than just specific b2b. So where you know it, these are people, these are marketing executives, these are professionals who are dealing with the not Nike budgets, you know, to spend on multibillion dollar ad campaigns or things of that nature. So using your resources in a strategic way is of the utmost importance, especially when you rely on the supply chain or the market or, you know, certain sorts of acquisitions and moves in, you know, global affairs. I mean, you know, competitive research is something that we talked a lot about, just before we walked down here, but you focused a lot on the context of it. Yeah. So, yeah, take it from here.

Nels Jensen:

Yeah. So just to kind of reframe it into a question. In the first segment, we talked about how if you know, you're really scoring your leads, if you really know, a lot of nuance about your marketing, then you could be ready for a competitive analysis. And I guess, I want to turn that to you, Dan, and say, you know, maybe we're making it sound more complicated than it is, is this advanced work? Or is this basics that every manufacturing and industrial companies should be considering?

Dan Fitzpatrick:

It's a it's a little bit of both. So from a basics standpoint, it's as easy as just having somebody you work with, start looking up search volumes, and seeing Okay, hey, there's a residential, there's not many residential petroleum searches in Idaho. Right now. That's a low volume, it's a low cost. But then through some of the tools that we have, like sem rush, in that

Joey Strawn:

I mentioned that earlier in the episode, yeah.

Dan Fitzpatrick:

Yeah, you can then go in and see, okay, well, who's bidding on these kinds of keywords, who's bidding on residential, petroleum, and Idaho, and you can make a case to your client or internally saying, Hey, 4000 bucks estimated, we can really turn the tide here. And we can start appearing on the top of the search results rather than our competition, right? Or, we can say to ourselves, $4,000 nobody's bidding on this? Why don't we go in? And why don't we become the top the top result that people are seeing in this very niche search. And that's what it is like Joey alluded to, it's very niche. So there's that combo, that's a pretty basic way to just kind of dip your toe into competitive.

Nels Jensen:

So sorry, now let's go on. Okay, I'll go one more, and then I'll turn it over you, Joey. Yeah. You know, one of the difficulties for industrial is for a lot of manufacturing companies, they aren't really advanced in sort of the manufacturing technology. So the competitive sales analysis can be very wide, it can be very narrow and deep. I mean, how do you get started? What's your advice for companies that are looking to get started in the competitive analysis realm?

Dan Fitzpatrick:

Yeah, that's a really good question. So what you're going to want to do is focus on what you're good at. Right? So So what kind of thing do you as a company offer? What what are you manufacturing? What are you creating? What are you helping the market with, and see what your competition is doing to combat you with that. So before you get too complicated and two inch wide, mile deep, or mile wide inch, actually, in this scenario, view of mile wide and an inch? before you get too complicated about trying to figure out every little nook and cranny of what your competition is doing? It's just a good way to focus on what what is the competition taking away from what we do good right now. So that would be my first piece of advice is just focus on how they're taking from you. And then you transition that and start focusing on Oh, well, how can I make little little bites? How can I figure out what they're not touching? How can I figure out how to do better at things that they are touching, and then it becomes a larger, larger undertaking, but just focusing on what you're good at, and how the competition reacts to and how the competition is trying to try to win that from you is a really good start.

Joey Strawn:

I love that I want to take it a step deeper. And I want to I want to I want to scratch the surface a little bit, Dan, because one of the things that's always fun, and I've seen it, you know, throughout my career and I you and I have talked about this, you know, because you're not colleagues in that but one of the things what would you tell a company, there's going in saying, I know exactly who my competitors are? Like what, you know, is there a possibility that you're going to uncover new competitors or unknown entities in the market doing some of the things that we may talk about, like I mentioned earlier in the episode, like using builtwith, or sem rush or, you know, like Google Keyword Planner, or something like that. And, you know, doing some competitive research just with Google, but you know, how likely is it that you may uncover a competitor that you hadn't thought of before?

Dan Fitzpatrick:

Yeah, it's very likely. And it's one of the really advantageous things even doing this. Because, you know, with the vendors you just mentioned, you can add in similar web or brand 24. By adding by seeing, really, by learning a new organization that might be very tangential to what you do, but has that small, little overlap, you can gain a lot of learnings that work better for your business based on what they're doing from a competitive marketing standpoint. So more often than not, we as a company, so when our when we do this type of exercise for our clients, we more often than not end up telling them about a marketplace that are doing somewhat similar things to them, that you can really gain a lot of learnings from, because they're doing them in a small way.

Joey Strawn:

Well, and one of the things that I've I think I've told this story on the show before, but there have been a handful of times when in conversations with people will come up and be like, Okay, well, you know, we were doing some research. And I, Dan, I'm usually coming at this from an organic perspective, but you know, we're having these conversations, and I'll say, Well, I found company XYZ, you know, as a competitor for you guys. And they'll be like, Oh, no, no, no, no, no, company XYZ is theirs. They're not a competitor of ours, like, well, they outrank you for like, 10 of the things that you told me that were very important for you. So whether or not you think they're a competitor, they are competing with you in these spaces. And, you know, without the analysis to be able to say, Well, look, we found them organically and then to, to the level of detail that you can find, which is sometimes astounding of not only are they doing banner ads, I can tell you which banner version creative is running on which websites, and which like audiences, they seem to have been targeting, you know, it's a it's a level of specificity that's a little daunting to in some degree, like all that's out there about what the competitors are doing. But the the wealth of value that can come from it. Sometimes just astounding, I love that I love being able to put those stories together. Because like, here's the node and here's the unknown. And then we can actually use that for the common good, if you will.

Dan Fitzpatrick:

And that that's exactly it is what we're doing is we're telling a story of how their competition interacts and presents itself to the marketplace. And those types of stories are what can really help shape how you how nimble you are to that now. So it's quite interesting in that regard.

Joey Strawn:

Awesome. Well, before we wrap up Now see, how do you want to follow up with any questions, anything from a content or a context perspective, when, you know, when we were talking earlier about kind of achieving goals and making sure that we're kind of focused in on what we're trying to achieve with the competitive research and analysis? You know, what do you want to add? What do you want to get from Dan, while we have him here?

Nels Jensen:

Yeah, well, I he touched on one of them, which is start with your strengths. And that, you know, he also just touched on another one, which was like, What might your blind spots be? Right? But ultimately, it seems like, you know, there's, there's a lot of ground to cover about, you know, where you're vulnerable and where you're strong. So, you know, I guess that's I guess, I don't really have a question so much as a as. Okay, go for it.

Joey Strawn:

So what Dan, what sorts of information and context Could you tell from a good competitive analysis on where your own brand is strong and where your own brand is weak in the market?

Dan Fitzpatrick:

Yes, so that's a really, there's a lot, there's a lot of places to go with that. And when a competitive analysis and again, we can do really anybody can do just sort of that, that small version of it, or you can do that, that really in depth, deeper dive into it. And either of those one you end up what you end up learning can help you shape the future of your marketing as an organization, because now you have a leg up, because you can with the story that we're able to tell, you can see where other people are going. And importantly, you know, internally where you're going to begin with. So now, now, instead of just one static path forward, there's a little bit more of an opportunity to be dynamic. And you can start taking a step to the side, going diagonal doesn't have to be a straight shot. And kind of capturing it and overtaking opera exactly, right.

Nels Jensen:

Tweaking your tactics a little bit, maybe it's adding that a B variant to see how, you know, not just to address a potential weakness. But one thing, you know, we've been talking a lot more at our agency is, Hey, can we make our strengths even stronger? Right? Yes, this works, can we make it work even better, dialing it up, dialing it down, it's the more you know about, you know, your how your tactics work out, the easier it is to tweak your tactics.

Dan Fitzpatrick:

And a funny thing about that, too, is and something that usually astonishes some of the organizations that we work with, is will do a competitive audit for them. And it's almost it's almost flattering to them when they learn that their competition is bidding on the keyword of their organizations. So yeah, they all of a sudden say themselves, wait a second, people might, you know, one of our vendors, one of our clients might be they don't know our website, the only way they find us is if they search, you know, Joe's Joe's manufacturing facility. But it turns positions Steve's manufacturing facility is already bidding on Joe's. Exactly. So it's really funny when Joe learns, because Joe says, What's up? Well, you know what, that I'm going a bit on Steam. But it's not just about bidding on that it's also about being able to take advantage of your own organic opportunities. So that's Steve now is spending money to try and win a job search. But you've already beat him organically. So there's, you know, sort of like, there's just so many flanks and opportunities and ways to examine.

Joey Strawn:

It's really funny. It's really funny, Dan, that you mentioned that, because our very next episode is about how organic and media need to be thought of more holistically nowadays and the benefits in doing that, you know, because in the past, I was like, oh, whatever you bet on is not going to help you organics blah, blah, blah, blah. Yeah. And, you know, and I think we have a pretty fresh case, to say that, you know, we need to take a new look at that. So that you have led directly into a fantastic segue. So everybody, make sure you listen to the next episode of the industrial marketer podcast. But before we wrap up here, Dan, I want to get your opinion on this. In the first segment, one of the things Nelson I talked about were questions that everybody needs to ask when they're doing a competitive analysis. So I want to share, share the ones that we had with you, and see if you could sort of give your highest priority, like if you were going to tell one question that people need to ask themselves, which of these would you start with? So here are the questions that we come up with? Where do my competitors show up? It's a good one. How do my competitors get their visibility? Where are they that I am not? And where am I that they are not? So those are, those are four big questions. Where would you start on that list? If you if someone's like, I've only got time to really dive into one of these, but I need to get some started. Where would you were, as you atomize that down to?

Dan Fitzpatrick:

I would start so they're all good questions. I think the ladder, the the two, the two on the ladder, and I think have the most value, because they helped me with that story. So where am I where they are not is probably where I would prioritize only because only because that requires sort of a real internal diagnostic to what it is they're trying to mark how they're trying to now that makes a marketplace. So you need to have that sort of real honest look and honest conversation. Kind of I'm not trying to say agnostic of competition, but I having that then you start layering in the competition. And that's when you start to see okay, well, you know, you might think you have a B plus in that but really, when we look at the competition here, there, you know, your grade might be a little lower right now with opportunity to be back in an A, if you just hit these other little things. segments that are pretty low cost and low volume, but they're wide open.

Joey Strawn:

Yeah. Wow. That's awesome. Well, Dan, thank you so much. That was I can't think of a better way to end that and I wouldn't try and be more eloquent than than you in that if I tried so, Dan, thank you so much for joining us today. We're definitely gonna have you back I want to talk to you more about you know, the the media worlds that you live in and some of the research things that you've been able to come up with it's it's gonna be a lot of fun any parting words for for Dan, Dan, the media man nails before before we kick him out?

Nels Jensen:

I just love that last answer. It was great. It's, you know, these are all important, but you have to understand the internal diagnostic, before you can layer in your competition. Great words to go by. Awesome. Well, as always, thank thank you, Dan, Dan, the medium man now, as always my partner in crime here. Thank you for joining me today. And all of you listeners. Thank you once again for joining us here on the industrial marketer Podcast, where we are here to just make sure that we are all moving in this progression together Kaiser earning our way to better marketing and better results for the efforts that we put in to this crazy game that we play. If you haven't already, please subscribe to the podcast. There are a lot of great episodes of coming there are a lot of great episodes in the archive if you've missed those. You can also go to industrial marketer.com to find old episodes and a boot coudl have additional resources out there we've got articles we've got data, Nelson's even written some stuff on there, you guys wouldn't even believe you'll be lucky to say what I can't believe it. And I would have told you I said See I told you so. So go listen, follow us on social, follow us on podcast, email this around to your friends, they'll love you for it, I promise. So get out there and until next time, guys. We are the industrial marketing podcast and we will talk to you next time.