Benchmark yourself against your competition
Written by Pete Howroyd
When it comes to brand performance, do you know how well you measure up against your competitors? Competitive benchmarking - the process of comparing your brand against a number of competitors using a set collection of metrics - is a great way to keep track of where you stand in the market, whilst simultaneously helping you to recognize available opportunities to increase your market share over time. Benchmarking also means that you can easily spot when a competitor is doing well or beginning to struggle – both prime times to evaluate your own strategy.
Depending on your business goals, there are several metrics you can measure that offer a comparative analysis of your sector. These could include branded content performance; share of voice on social media; timing and frequency of branded messaging; engagement rates; web conversation rates etc. Your existing KPIs are a good place to start.
Once you have chosen your metrics, it is time to choose which competitors to benchmark against.
There are plenty of different approaches here as competitors - and your relation to them - can vary wildly, so who to include depends on what you are aiming to get out of the exercise.
Whether you choose to benchmark against your closest competitors - the ones that are most similar to your brand in terms of size and success – or to look at the biggest and the best within your sector - in order to gain some insight into how you could ultimately achieve their success in time - it is imperative that you obtain as much relevant and reliable information on them as possible to make your study effective.
But how do you do this? Sure, you’ve got access to all of your own information, but what about that of your competitors? Some data is easier to access than others. Anything that is public will be relatively easy to get hold of, whilst private data is much harder to obtain.
The answer? Do your research.
Look out for sales reports, news articles, and press releases to see what info businesses are releasing. Companies House is also a good place to look for data and information on larger companies. Carrying out benchmarking surveys is also a good option and means that you can ask the exact questions you want answered directly to the specific group of customers that you are looking to learn from. This could be done openly or privately depending on which is best and will give you valuable insights. It can be a costly process, but if done right the returns will outweigh the costs.
Ultimately, obtaining the data to carry out effective competitive benchmarking can and will take some time to set up and track, but the insights you’ll gain will be invaluable.
After the results of the analysis have been interpreted and communicated to the appropriate people within your business, goals should be established – these should be concrete, attainable and in line with your corporate strategy. Following this, you should continuously monitor the results of the benchmarking efforts and ensure the action plans are consistently applied.
However, whilst benchmarking is clearly a very useful tool, you should take caution not to be too reactive to what your competitors are doing as this can sometimes be worse than doing nothing at all. Common sense tells us that knowledge is power - simply knowing how you compare, finding quick wins and defining your medium to long term strategy gives you more control and power.