How to do a super simple competitor strategy analysis

When it comes to a marketing report, you may dread the idea of seeing pie charts, bar graphs and numbers floating around. That’s not to mention the accompanying dry, boring analysis of these results, written in what looks to be a different language.

If you think this, you’re so very wrong.

Recently, I wrote up a competitor strategy analysis for a client, Living Goodness. The results took no longer than 30 minutes, there were no graphs, and the report reads just over a page long!

Read on to find out exactly how I accomplished this – it’s super simple, I promise.

How to do a competitor strategy screenshot 1

Seriously, this is 97% of my report – short and simple!

#1. Find your competitor

If you’re running a business and have no idea who your competitors are, you need to remedy this quickly.

Open up your internet browser in incognito mode and Google search a few keywords on what your business is about. Why incognito? Well, the search results will be personalised to your search history so you want to find a competitor that is worth analysing.

Living Goodness sells sauerkraut, so I typed into Google, “sauerkraut nz”. Google has been working on improving localised searching since around 2015. While obvious searches such as “Italian food” will bring up local restaurants, I needed to localise Living Goodness keywords so that Google knows I want to buy this product from a local store, as opposed to just needing a sauerkraut recipe.

Living Goodness ranks on the front page for “sauerkraut nz” (yay!) but so does a competitor. This will be the target of my strategy analysis.

 

living goodness google ranking

Third place on the front page of Google! Yay Living Goodness!

 

In a new document for notes, I made three subheadings:

  • Website
  • Facebook
  • Instagram

You’ll need to adapt these to suit the media platforms of your client.

#2. Website

From the competitor’s website, I can see all their social media buttons on the top right. This is the first difference I note. Living Goodness’ social buttons are in the footer of every page, but that requires scrolling down to see. Placing additional social links somewhere on the homepage where they will be visible to visitors is the first thing I make note of in a section called “suggestions”.

living goodness website

There’s not much above the fold on the Living Goodness website…

I embark on a journey across the competitor’s website, making note of what they have and what Living Goodness don’t have on their website.

Along the way, I kept asking, “why?” For example, the competitor lists recent recipes on a sidebar on their landing pages. Why is this? Well, as a mere consumer searching for sauerkraut products, I can see that it will prompt me to head to the recipes page, especially if there’s a delicious concoction that catches my eye.

A sidebar can easily be installed into websites as an automated widget – this means any new recipes uploaded will reflect in this sidebar without additional action, thus providing fresh content for each time I visit their website.

#3. Social media

Next, I compared the social media platforms of Living Goodness with their competitor. I pulled up their Facebook and Instagram pages, and scrolled through like a scorned ex-girlfriend.

How often did they post? What sort of content were they posting? Did they do something different on their social media pages that Living Goodness didn’t do?

Who had more followers? Why and how? These were all very important questions that I needed to ask.

I also compared the hashtag activity because everyone knows that behind every successful Insta-famous account is a strong hashtag game (also pretty photos, of course). As this competitor sold products that were pretty similar to ours, I derived a list of hashtags that our client doesn’t use but should do.

Living Goodness’ products are very visually appealing, so their Instagram needs to reflect that.

#4. Suggestions

Of course, I didn’t want Living Goodness to copy their competitor post for post. This strategy was merely to boost their digital presence, just based on my observations of their competitor.

One important thing I had to keep in mind at all times was objectivity. I had to see Living Goodness’ competitor from the eyes of a hungry 20-something-year-old who just wanted buy sauerkraut.

This allowed me to cruise through their website and social media platforms from a fresh perspective. What would I first notice if I wanted to buy some of their products? What would annoy me if I were trying to see their stockists? If I needed to read reviews of their products, was it easily accessible?

With this frame of mind, I also turned my attention to Living Goodness’ own platforms to see what needed to be changed.

From all this, I wrote out a brief but very useful competitor strategy, using clear subheadings and bullet points. Easy to write, easy to read!

Living Goodness facebook page

I all but stalked the social pages of Living Goodness. As you can see, this is a proven and justified technique.

#5. Client meeting

I scheduled a meeting with the lovely Fiona from Living Goodness and ran through this report with her. It was important that she took the same journey I did, so in a few cases, I got her to open up the social media platforms to see exactly what I was referencing.

Next time I conduct a competitor analysis, I could include screenshots to highlight my points. As it was, Living Goodness only have one major competitor, and as I had explained my strategy clearly, it wasn’t just another boring report to be tossed aside.

When it comes to working for a client, it can be too easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. This report showed that we like to keep an eye on the industry to boost the presence of Living Goodness.

 

Now are you ready?  Here’s another article about How to Compare your Website with a Competitors

Innovation game, conteneo

Interview: Luke Hohmann, Conteneo Weave

Luke is in town for the Agile NZ conference and graciously agreed to give us an interview.

Innovation game, conteneo

Prune the product tree innovation game

I first ran into Luke because I am a particular fan of his Innovation Games sub-brand.  Check out these for your next team brainstorming session.  There are 12 games all explained in detail.  Some are part of the Conteneo Weave platform e.g. Speed boat. I can see good uses for “Buy a Feature” and “Prune the Product Tree” games for marketing and new product development.

What’s Your latest work?

Conteneo has recently introduced some powerful new capabilities to the Weave platform, most notably, anonymous participation in forums. This means that organizations dealing with sensitive or challenging topics can create a truly safe – and scalable – means for internal and external stakeholders to collaborate. We have also completed localizing our Weave platform in German, Spanish and French, greatly expanding the ability to promote collaboration around the world (with more languages to come).

What’s impressed you?

I’m a curious person, so I’m impressed by a lot of things! I was impressed when Kevin Durant joined the Golden State Warriors and they won the NBA Championship. Mostly, though, I am impressed by our customers. They keep doing things with our Weave platform that we’ve never imagined – and once we see them, they make complete sense.

What’s the next big thing?

Historically, Conteneo has focused on serving large corporations who want to increase engagement and improve operational effectiveness by identifying, shaping and aligning on their customer’s priorities and their internal priorities. These entities have hundreds to thousands of teams in multiple locations who need to collaborate at scale. What we’ve found is that smaller organizations are facing similar challenges!

Like larger companies, smaller companies have project portfolios that exceed available funds. They need to better understand customer needs and align their organization to deliver products and services to these needs. Accordingly, our next big thing is quite profound: we are extending our business model to make it radically easier for small companies to use the Conteneo Weave platform. Specifically, we’re creating a self-service approach that will enable companies with teams of arbitrary size to leverage collaborative frameworks. We’ll be releasing these improvements in Q1 2018 – and we’re really excited about how we’ll be able to help organizations of arbitrary size and scale.

Check out Luke’s website where they integrate games with problem solving and project prioritisation.

 

Raz Chorev, Marketer, Australia,

Raz Chorev talks Email Newsletters

Raz is CMO of Orange Sky CMOs in Sydney, Australia.  We caught up recently and got his insights into the latest in email newsletters for business marketing.

Raz Chorev, Marketer, Australia,

Raz Chorev

You’ve been doing email newsletters for years. How frequently do you change something major e.g. layout, frequency, type of article?

Every couple of years: content, structure and design.

When you assess the analytics on a newsletter, what are the top 3 metrics you use?

Open rate, engagement rate, and unsubscribes. This keeps me focused on people opening the email, reading / engaging with it, and not getting pissed off or bored with it.

Do you have a view on whether B2B brands should re-use blog content in newsletters?

Content can be repurposed, based on the audience. not the sender. You can use blog posts, videos, images, tweets, quotes – anything to engage your audience and add value to them as they read.

What’s one tip for the future in newsletters?

Talk to your audience, like as a person, like in a conversation. See what I’ve just done here? Don’t talk AT them. Try talking WITH them – and they’ll respond.

What’s your favourite AdTech for newsletters?

I’m not fussed either way. they are all pretty similar. it’s your content which is the most important, not one fancy feature over another.

Connect with Raz via LinkedIn or Orange Sky outsourced CMOs.

team work, teamwork, teamwork.com, bad example payment update, payment expiry date,

SaaS renewals that are easy for customers

A robust, scalable business is always based on strong processes.  And if you are in the business of offering a Software as a Service (SaaS) product, you will doubtless have a recurring revenue model.

Our business debit card expires tomorrow and so I’ve been in the throes of receiving alerts, notifications and emails from a range of providers asking me to update my card details so they do not lose their revenues.  The experiences were very varied from the best, smoothest, least painful to the worst where I had to raise a support ticket.

Given SaaS firms risk losing revenue from non-renewals, this is a critical business process.

Here’s what we found

  1.  The earliest “nag” emails came from Hootsuite, Unbounce, Xero and MailChimp.  They were sending them 30 days prior to expiry.
  2. The laggards include Upwork, Skype, FeedBlitz, Teamwork and LinkedIn (from 10 to 5 days in advance),
  3. The “best” process just allows me to update the expiry date on the card (PayPal) without having to re-enter all the other information
  4. The “worst” don’t send me a link into the EXACT page on my account where I can update my details after logging in.  Skype was particularly irritating with a hideous UX on their mobile browser. They leave me failing to find the right billing page detail and resorting to search / help / customer tickets.
  5. The Very Very Worst was Teamwork where they successfully hide the link in an upgrade screen which is not where I’d look to find my payment information (see below)
team work, teamwork, teamwork.com, bad example payment update, payment expiry date,

Hard to find link for payment information on Teamwork.com

Mystery shopping

Any customer process needs testing and constant monitoring to keep it relevant and improved.  Clues which may indicate you have this problem can be found:

  • Check the exit pages on your website
  • Check the long dwell time pages (that you don’t expect)
  • Check the customer service enquiries
  • Check the Searches on your website

When did you last mystery shop your business?

Facebook Groups logo

YIKES! My Facebook Group Got Hijacked by Competitors

When you start a group online in a public social platform, it’s easy. Nothing much happens until your group hits a ‘tipping point” of size + engagement + activity.

Facebook Groups logo

Facebook Groups logo

Different groups achieve this at different points in time. We have a sports group run for a client that has nearly 2,200 members and gets 2–3 posts daily from group members. It is now attracting ‘commercial’ elements such as an advert for privately owned equipment listed for sale.

Interestingly, that one post opened a floodgate of listings from others. It seems as though people felt that ‘permission’ had been given to dive in and sell to the group.

The client runs the group in public at his expense and he refrains from selling into the group more than once a month for his own products. It was clearly time for an intervention and setting boundaries about what is acceptable behaviour in this group environment.

3 Types of ‘Sales Pitch’

1) The first was the lady who listed the equipment for sale. I messaged her privately and she told me that despite getting a huge reaction from the group, it was a private sale and she sold it to a friend, offline. We let this pass as just a one-off. Clearly every member of the group won’t be listing items weekly.

2) The second was a lady who runs an Instagram account through which she gives ‘free training programmes’. We checked out what she does and came to the decision that she’s not making a living out of this. And so I am classifying her as a ‘volunteer’. But her actions need to be curtailed because regular postings promoting her services (even though they are free) would upset the balance of the discussion dynamic already established.

Actions to mitigate impact

We messaged the Instagram lady privately, explaining she can publish her stuff on the website via an existing ‘submit post’ feature where community notices are published. This is important because although it publishes to the blog, it is set up to avoid getting into the newsletter, the Facebook page and other communications channels. She does get indexed by the SEO spiders, gets link backs, but does not get referenced or categorised in the archive.

3) By contrast, the third type of pitch was a post by a commercial sports professional trainer. When we reviewed it, we found it is definitely a paid promotion designed to recruit readers from the client’s Facebook group into HER email list and commercial program.

Actions to Arrest Unwanted Activity

First I turned off comments on this post. Nobody can add to them, and this helps prevent Facebook showing it in feed updates. We also removed all her replies in the comments because they linked to her programme over and over again.

Then we wrote to her privately asking her to get in touch by email so she can pay to promote her products on our platforms, along with other commercial retailers (the website is advertising supported). I am waiting to see what her reply to this Facebook message will be – if she’s contrite and apologetic, I’ll leave her post published; if she takes no action to reply or is aggressive and rude, I’ll delete it and block her from the group.

Behavioural boundaries are yours to define

The underlying logic is that commercial enterprises pay, and volunteers can get access as part of the goodwill of the group. The commercial publicist had made no effort to engage and join in the group discussion – she just joined, dove in and started selling. That’s not how this group rolls.

Making the rules for the group is part of good practice in community management. You can publicise these with a pinned post, or a message to new members explaining what is and is not acceptable.

Enforcing the boundaries will help you to create the group and community YOU want. Know what actions you will take if the boundaries are crossed and also understand how to take discussions into a private space – you don’t want to have a public argument while you try to explain your motives. And you don’t even need to explain them, only the acceptable behaviours.

This article first appeared on NZ Entrepreneur Magazine  

nz marketing summit 2017

Foster Innovation at the NZ Marketing Summit 2017

Spark ideas, develop strategies, and add value to your brand while joining New Zealand’s leading marketers at the annual NZ Marketing Summit. Listen to our own CEO, Rebecca Caroe, in her session on “Strengthening the brand-agency partnership – how to work with an expert (when you aren’t one)”.

Attend Four International Keynotes

  • Brigitte Slattery (Head of Marketing – Lifestyle Group @ Foxtel Australia)
  • Nick Lanzafame (Head of Strategic Insights & Analytics @ Buzzfeed)
  • Charlotte Dewhurst (Global Marketing Direct @ Les Mills International)
  • Col Kennedy (General Manager – Brand & Customer Experience @ Country Road)

Explore Three Programming Tracks

  • Digital & Social
  • Brand & Content
  • Tech & Experiential

Along with the 20+ speakers featured, the Marketing Summit offers a choice of two full-day workshops. “The Content Workshop” and “Brand Building Blocks 2.0” will be held the following day on September 22nd.

Join and connect with 300+ fellow industry professionals in generating and exchanging insights to fuel brand development. You can register before 5pm on August 25th and secure early bird pricing.

SKYCITY Convention Center, Auckland

21 September 2017

8:30am – 5:00pm

Book Your Ticket

testimonials, creative agency secrets, rebecca caroe

Giant thanks for this testimonial

Campbell Naish, Partner at export strategy and marketing consultancy Katabolt, wrote a generous testimonial for Creative Agency Secrets.  Many thanks!

Rebecca provided Katabolt with a valuable specialised set of marketing recommendations with a specific focus on services which was a great match with what we needed. Her B2B expertise and international experience and perspective helped our team refocus marketing plans and bring new skills into the fold. Thanks

testimonials, creative agency secrets, rebecca caroe

Read other Testimonials or see our Client List

Have you got a strategy in place for testimonials?

Every business needs a strong plan of action to get and publish testimonials for the business from creative agency secrets review, testimonialcustomers and clients.  As the internet becomes the strongest recommendation engine, because it’s easily searched and free to use, your business MUST get a strong profile in places where testimonials and reviews can be seen and shared.

Don’t forget that recent reviews are more powerful than old ones.  So this is a tactic you need to implement weekly or monthly.

Read this Case Study – 3 ways to increase referrals which should give you some ideas for your business.

TrustPilot is a great review site

We implemented TrustPilot for an ecommerce client who needed to improve visibility of its amazing customer service.  Based around the world, TrustPilot has local sites for each country – this one was in the UK.  The integration of their free version with ecommerce platform was seamless – every time a customer buys, they are invited to leave a review a fixed time period after the purchase is complete.

As a mail order business, the time delay between online purchase and receiving goods can be a while and so the flexibility to specify when the review request email is sent was appreciated.

On the reviews page, you can respond to each one which gives full visibility to your prompt response to feedback.  And when you upgrade to the paid version, the option to enable reviews by product, not just for the company as a whole, gives a host of new options.

 

Read more blog posts about Step 5 Relationship Development by clicking the image below – it will take you to that category on our blog.  Teach yourself how to build relationships with people who will bring new custom to your business.

Symbol for relationship development

how to get subscribers to my email newsletter

How to Get Subscribers to My Email Newsletter?

I just started a curated newsletter about personal finance for millennials. Each issue includes 10 curated articles from various sources about investing, budgeting, paying off loans, and etc. I do not have any subscribers yet.

Well done – getting started.

Focus on Your Marketing Assets

Let’s help you work out the key answers you need:  Start with answering these questions.

  1. Do you have a website?
  2. On your website how do you invite subscription?
  3. Have you got social profiles?
  4. On your social profiles, how do you invite subscriptions?

So you’ve guessed, you need to get people to visit a place on the web which you own (website / social profiles) and then invite them to join your newsletter. Consider what ‘offer’ you can make which is attractive to them in addition to getting the articles. Sumo.com has a good WordPress plugin for subscriptions. Also check out Push Notifications as many sites prefer this as subscribers won’t share their email address. I wrote this article about Notifications

Things for you to GrowthHack test

Once you have started the newsletter and finding subscribers, you need to work on continuously improving your offer and the means for people to join it.  Growth hacking is the process of improvement and measurement.

  1. Is 10 articles too few / too may / just right?
  2. What offer can you make to subscribers?
  3. How are you monetising your newsletter?
  4. Which brands can you collaborate with to grow your list with theirs in a joint venture arrangement?
  5. What are your key metrics and ideal customer profile?

Now grow your profile

Get known by answering questions in public which relate to your issue (Financial services) and your audience (millennials).  By showing off your knowledge and linking back to your website or social profile, you can encourage people to remember your brand and respond – starting discussions, which further allow you to show off your expertise.

  1. Good places to start are Reddit and Quora search for questions on your topics of interest e.g. student loans.  Also find niche financial services websites and discussion forums
  2. And also use Google Alerts to search and email you links to places where your key words are being added to the internet
  3. Bookmark websites where these show up regularly.  Approach them and ask if you can write a guest article with a link-back to your website

Good luck and keep up the good work.

This answer was originally posted on Clarity.fm

NZ Entrepreneur Magazine features our article

We are stoked that this month’s NZ Entrepreneur Magazine has published an article by Rebecca.  Called

 

Marketing Strategies to Grow and Scale a local business, it sets out 12 top tactics for local marketing.

Subscribe to NZ Entrepreneur Magazine to get it monthly delivered to your inbox.