Saturday, November 4, 2017

How Product Marketers can Build a Competitive Intelligence Program

A big part of my job at Zoom has to build out a formal competitive intelligence program. I had done competitive work before, but this was my first time building a whole program from scratch. As I usually do, I consulted a few experts. Here are the three experts I spoke to that shared some great ideas that I was able to implement into my program. 

Ken Porter Director Competitive Intelligence at Adaptive Insights
Jason Smith CEO of Klue
Peter Mertens Product Marketing at Sprout Social

Below are a few tips for anyone else getting a program off the ground that I picked up for the people mentioned above and through my own experience.  



Image result for competitive funny

1. Have a one stop shop. This could be a wiki or google site, really does not matter, but what matters is consistency. Your company needs to know where to find the latest competitive information. I built a simple google site for our team at Zoom. This saves me a ton of time. Everything I create is on the wiki and everyone knows to look there first before asking me a competitive question.

2. Select your main competitors. Even if your industry is not large or competitive, it helps to focus in on the main competitors. In our industry there are literally 100's of different competitors, but only a handful really matter. It'll be hard to do a good job if you don't focus. Select main competitors you'll be up to speed on and let the team know that they'll be on their own for the rest. As you get more time and resources you can always expand your list, but it will be hard to build a good program if you're stretched to thin from the start.

3. No competitor bashing or feature wars. While a Product Marketer likely won't do this, assets you create can be used to do both. It's important that there is a training/sales enablement element to help the sales team deal with competitors. Otherwise, especially for new reps, it's too easy to go down those paths which will not help your company sell more. 

4. Automate how you stay on top of your competitors. As much as possible, try to make sure relevant information gets pushed to you about your competitors. Here is a list of my favorite methods. 

Google news alerts
Page monitor chrome extension
Klue
Feedly
Wayback machine

5. Other tools that help. Here is another list or tools/products that can help you with your competitive efforts. 

Glassdoor- When checking out the glassdoor of your competitors you might find some nuggets of good intel or at least some FUD. 

3rd Party Review Sites- Sites like G2crowd, TrustRadius and Gartner Peer Insights provide a ton of information on the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. New reviews are posted all the time. 

PointDrives- If you have LinkedIn Sales Navigator, use PointDrives to create public facing competitive assets. It will let you know who is looking at it and sending a customization web page will help prevent it from getting into the wrong hands. 

Salesforce- A few simple fields asking about which competitors were in the deal will help you do win/loss analysis and figure out where you might be able to help out your company from a competitive perspective. 

6. Tap into your company. Any Product Marketer that thinks they need to know more than anyone else about every competitor is in for a real challenge, but if you leverage the expertise in your company you're much more likely to have a successful program. Find the competitive experts on your sales, support or sales engineering team and build relationships with them. A lot of people like talking shop. Find ways to highlight their expertise to the rest of the company and they'll always be eager to work with you.
 
This is a work in progress, but hopefully give you a few ideas on how to build a competitive intelligence program as a Product Marketer.

26 comments:

  1. As a product marketeer myself i can assure you that this blog post will help all the newbies in this field. Thanks for putting so much effort.

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  3. Great blog Derek. I've been a competitive intelligence director for 10 years (at Pegasystems), and then started a win-loss consulting business. If you are interested, I've started a blog on competitive intelligence - see https://www.petronio.com/wheres-the-vision/

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