Marketing: Competitor Analysis Tables - dummies

Marketing: Competitor Analysis Tables

By Alexander Hiam

Gathering information about your competitors via an analysis table can help you draft a more complete situation analysis. A competitor analysis table summarizes the main similarities and differences between you and your competitors. You can compete more effectively after you have a good understanding of how your competitors operate and what their strengths and weaknesses are.

Use a shared Google spreadsheet document or other online team platform so all your salespeople, distributors, or friends can add competitor analysis data. Or how about going even further and cloud-sourcing input about which products are best on which dimensions?

The kinds of information you can collect about your competitors varies significantly, so there is no pat formula, only suggestions. You can certainly gather and analyze samples of your competitors’ marketing communications, and you can probably find some info about how they distribute and sell, where they are (and aren’t) located or distributed, who their key decision makers are, who their biggest and/or most loyal customers are, and even (perhaps) how much they sell.

To get their customers’ perspectives, try pulling customer opinions from surveys or informal chats and group the information into useful lists to help you figure out the three most appealing and least appealing factors about each competitor. Ultimately, you want to gather any available data you can on all-important competitors and organize the data into a table for easy analysis.

A generic competitor analysis table should have entries on the following rows in columns labeled for Competitor #1, Competitor #2, Competitor #3, and so on:

  • Company: Describe how the market perceives it and its key product.

  • Key personnel: Who are the managers, and how many employees do they have in total?

  • Financial: Who owns it, and how strong is its cash position (does it have spending power, or is it struggling to pay its bills)? What were its sales in the last two years?

  • Sales, distribution, and pricing: Describe its primary sales channel, discount/pricing structure, and market share estimate.

  • Product/service analysis: What are the strengths and weaknesses of its product or service?

  • Scaled assessment of product/service: Explore relevant subjects, such as market acceptance, quality of packaging, ads, and so on. Assign a score of between 1 and 5 (with 5 being the strongest) for each characteristic you evaluate. Then sum the scores for each competitor’s row to see which characteristic seems strongest overall.

  • A comparison of your ratings to your competitor’s ratings: If you rate yourself on these attributes, too, how do you compare? Are you stronger? If not, you can include increasing your competitive strength as one of your plan’s strategic objectives.

JIAN’s Marketing Plan Builder software has a template for writing a competitor analysis table, along with many other planning tools. It’s one of the best strategic marketing plan template out there. You may want to pick it up if you have to write a detailed plan in a hurry.