Product marketing is about improving the product, providing a better customer experience, increasing adoption, and reducing churn. But if you don’t understand the market players and your buyers thoroughly, how can you create any sort of well-briefed strategy?
That is why one of the first pillars of product marketing has to be gathering the qualitative and quantitative competitive intelligence to support your efforts.
As challenging as it might be, product marketers must find the time for competitive intelligence if they want to deliver that.
This article will help you understand the steps Product Marketers should take to leverage their ability to use Competitive Intelligence.
Step 1: Increase Sales with Competitive Intelligence
One of the key assignments for product marketers is driving revenues. Those who successfully distribute proper competitive intelligence to support their sales teams, especially when using professional Competitive Intelligence experts, are much more likely to see a revenue increase than those who share information they gather sporadically.
Utilizing intelligence about competitors helps the sales team achieve their targets by leveraging knowledge about competitors’ weaknesses, how the pricing policy changes across different types of customers, and how they change their sales tactics across different regions, helps Sales achieve their targets, reduce sales costs and increase win rates.
Step 2: Improve the product and customer experience with Competitive Intelligence
Product Marketers who succeed in collecting product intelligence are not just learning from mistakes others are making but also identifying technological gaps in the market and improving their products accordingly. The aim is to gain a clear understanding about the real features and functionalities of each solution, beyond what is publicly available. That will uncover the deficiencies of each module of their solution.
Additionaly, revealing your your competitors’ product roadmap and development plans will help the product team better plan and execute.
Step 3: Increase Retention and reduce churn with Customer Intelligence
Competitive intelligence assignments by Product Marketing are focused on supporting sales teams to sell and helping customers to buy. However, customer success teams need to understand better and position themselves as well. For customers to get the correct information to evaluate your solution better, Product Marketing should obtain accurate intelligence about their needs and usage, so they can educate them, focus them on what’s important, and make them understand what differentiate you across the board. Whether it’s a vendors perception survey or customer satisfaction survey, customer intelligence analysis can provide valuable insights into your customers: what motivates them, the challenges they are facing, and finally, what will drive their buying decisions. It can also give you a better understanding of how customers and prospects perceive competitors versus you.
Step 4: Use win/loss analysis regularly
Product Marketing can use win-loss analysis to highlight its differentiators in the eye of your customers. Any product marketer needs to help sales or customer success teams to understand where they’re losing customers and focus on why they decided to purchase your solution. By supporting that, they answer questions like “Was it something with the product? Was it in the sales process? Was it the cost?”. Adding this layer of information through interviews can be helpful.
Step 5: Harness your management to invest in Competitive Intelligence
Just show them the win rate stats; that’ll do it. A competitive win rate indicates how often you win deals against each competitor. Not enough companies determine their goals based on competitive intelligence. As a product market, setting KPIs around competitive intelligence will allow you to force management to invest in the Competitive intelligence function. Knowing who you’re winning and losing against will make you edit that competitor’s battle card with new relevant information and maybe decide to dig deeper and gain more intel about it to adjust the sales tactic against that competitor.
Step 6: Distribute Competitive Intelligence findings
As a follow up point to harnessing management, Competitive Intelligence's findings distribution is crucial. Product marketer has to enable stakeholders (sales, marketing, executive leadership, and product management) and management (VPs and CxOs) with theae findings. Newsletters, alerts, dashboards, presentations, and battle cards should be produced by Product Marketers so management can take decisions with validated intel to back them up.
Step 7: Create battle cards and update them
Battle cards are typically 2-3 pages long, and the card format varies widely, depending on a company's needs and business strategy. Generally, here are the items that we see as imperative to include: Competitor Overview, Target Customers, Important Product Features, FUDs (fears, uncertainties, and doubts), Landmines, and Success Stories.
As the competitive landscape is dynamic, product marketing teams must regularly update the battle cards. As you create your sales battle card, remember that it must work for your team, so constantly gather feedback and improve. You can divide them into verticals, regions, or product modules.
Step 8: Build sources that you can count on
To develop a practical competitive intelligence practice as possible, Product Marketers need to use internal sources like your product management, regional sales, and external teams. Open web, companies' annual reports, and traditional analyst firms can help with the general required items, but in order to get the most validated and granulated data, you will need to run a dedicated Competitive Intelligence program based on the experience and knowledge of executives in the market.