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So What? Tools for competitive intelligence

So What? Marketing Analytics and Insights Live

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In this week’s episode of So What? we focus on competitive intelligence. We walk through the tools used to gather competitive intelligence data and what to do with your competitive intelligence data. Catch the replay here:

So What? Tools for competitive intelligence

In this episode you’ll learn: 

  • what is competitive intelligence
  • the tools used to gather competitive intelligence data
  • what to do with your competitive intelligence data

Upcoming Episodes:

  • TBD

Have a question or topic you’d like to see us cover? Reach out here:

AI-Generated Transcript:

Katie Robbert 0:30
Well, hey there, everyone. Happy Thursday. Welcome to so what the marketing analytics and insights live show. I’m Katie joined by Chris and John. How’s it going, guys?

John Wall 0:40
Good Neighbor.

Katie Robbert 0:43
On today’s episode, we are talking about tools for competitive intelligence. What is competitive intelligence, the tools used to gather competitive intelligence data. And then, as always, what the heck to do with all this information. And so before we get into sort of the nuts and bolts of it, I don’t know how you guys feel about it. But I feel like competitive competitive intelligence is just another one of those terms. That gets tossed around that doesn’t have a whole lot of meaning. But it sounds really fancy. John, what do you think of when you hear competitive intelligence?

John Wall 1:19
Well, we have thought much about this, the Trust Insights, patented competitive analysis, digital footprint, we cover, search, and then pay so so that’s it, you know, all SEO stuff, you can compare what you’re doing to everybody else. And then Gini Dietrich, his patented model of paid earned social and owned, you can measure on all those fronts to what your competitors are doing. So it’s, especially in mature industries, where you have a number of competitors, to be able to see what everybody’s doing on those fronts. And usually, you’ll find a place where you’re coming up short, that you need to improve your game and do a better job of but that’s pretty much the you know, all in one easy done for you package that we put together. And that’s the easy way I like to look at it.

Katie Robbert 2:04
And if you want that you can reach out to us at trust and get John directly. And he will, you know, surprise and delight you with all the different things that our digital customer footprint offers. So now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, you know, when I hear the term competitive intelligence, or marketing intelligence, or data intelligence, I feel like it all really boils down to the same thing, which is having good data to make decisions from. And so it’s just a matter of the context in which you’re using it. So, Chris, what the heck, in this context is competitive intelligence.

Christopher Penn 2:41
I always think it was spying on people.

It is, in the sense, it’s open source intelligence gathering, right? So if you’re familiar with open source intelligence, it’s exactly the same thing. If you’re not familiar with open source intelligence, that is a term used in the intelligence community for information that you can get readily without having to use covert methods, right? You don’t have to, you know, what be walking around in a trench coat and fedora, you know, hanging out in people’s facilities, diving into their dumpsters and things, or doing wiretaps or anything suspicious. It’s all publicly available information. And it’s open source intelligence has become really popular in the last two decades, because of these, these lovely devices. And people documenting literally everything all the time, MAE are the perfect tools for sharing information. And then, because people like to talk and post and share and tweet and all that stuff, there’s so much information that’s available to us to look at what competitors are doing. And so there’s, there’s a huge, huge raft of tools that are available. So I guess I would start Katie, by asking, what’s the purpose, right? In the five P’s of competitive intelligence, what is the purpose what we’re trying to do?

Katie Robbert 4:06
Well, and it really comes down to, you know, it’s not going to be the same purpose for everybody. You know, so we were talking about this on our Slack group this morning. And that’s a slash analytics for marketers. And it sounds like, you know, rightly so everyone has a different reason for wanting to understand what their competitors are doing. For us, you know, I look at our competitors just to understand, you know, the words and phrases and language that they’re using, as they’re talking about their services and offerings, so that I can get a better understanding of what’s resonating and I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel. And so you know, if the term you know, digital marketing support is the term that I’m going to keep using digital marketing support, because that’s what every other competitors using that we are theoretically losing business to. So that’s how I use it. it. But the purpose for another company might be, I want to, you know, outpace my competitor in terms of social media followers, or I want to have, you know, better customer service ratings, or I want to have, you know, more customers in my community, then the guy down the street goes. And so it really comes down to putting together that user story of as a persona. And so let’s just say the CEO, as a CEO, I want to understand the language that my competitors are using for their services, so that I can mirror and match and try to get back some of that audience that I may have lost to them. Or as a CEO, I want to understand my competitors, organic Social Reach, so that I can mirror and outpace what they’re doing and capture some of their audience. Because really, when you’re talking about competitors, you’re talking about doing better than the guy next to you.

Christopher Penn 6:02
Exactly. And so with competitive intelligence tools, one of the things we have to think about is what level of visibility we have. So if we think about your your traditional sales, funnel, your sales and marketing funnel, you know, awareness, interest, consideration, evaluation, purchase, ownership, retention, loyalty, the usual customer journey, the further away from purchase you are, the easier it is to see things right. So it is easy to see awareness, right, we can see how many mentions or press releases or things that a company has published, we can see how many social media mentions, it’s much harder to see who’s a lead, right, that’s information is kept locked away, and people CRM systems, it’s difficult to see who has bought something, it’s easier to see what a customer thinks of something, particularly in certain industries, where there are review sites like Jeetu crowd, for example, or Rotten Tomatoes, or any of the, you know, any industries review sites. And it’s easy to see what a company is hiring for, because they desperately need people to say like, Hey, you know, we’re looking for these kinds of people, or, Hey, this is what it’s like to work at this company. So if we think of the customer journey as sort of as long arc, that middle part is very hard to see. But the externalities are very easy to see. So I guess the question then becomes, of the, when you’re thinking about the five P’s of of competitive intelligence, it’s what do you have available in each of those places? So for example, with, with people in, in competitive intelligence is who has the skills to do this sort of thing, who knows? How to do competitive comparative analysis. There’s a whole slew of processes. There’s a whole slew of technologies and tools. But ultimately, the performance, the outcome of competitive intelligence has got to be an action plan. Here’s what we’re looking for. You want to know, Katie, how do we beat competitors at search? The outcome has got to be do these five things to do better than your competitors search?

Katie Robbert 8:13
Well, it sounds like what you’re saying, Chris is, you know, over the past few decades, the amount of data available has exponentially increased. And you know, more platforms are being added regularly. And so, you know, before starting a competitive intelligence analysis, you really have narrowed down what your purpose is, because there’s no shortage of tools. John, when you think about, you know, evaluating a competitor or a company, what’s one of the first things that you do?

John Wall 8:45
Yeah, H refs is always the go to, for me, just because I’m really interested in the web presence, you know, and it gives you a couple of things in one hit, you can kind of see, what’s their domain reputation? Like, how long has the company been around? Is the website, a property that has been out there? What kind of content are they putting out there? And is it you know, getting traffic? And then are they doing any paid ads, you get a, you know, it’s not the be all end all, but it is a good one stop shop to at least figure out who the players are. And, or, more importantly, I was joking about it as a bozo filter, you know, you can, you know, there’s four or five companies that say they compete, but you go look on a trip. So you’re like, oh, yeah, now they’ve had four visitors in the last three months. Like, we don’t need to worry about these people.

Katie Robbert 9:29
And I think that that’s a really smart approach, because you can’t get a lot of that information just by looking at the person’s website. They can say whatever they want on their website, they can say, I’ve won, you know, 15,000 awards, and I have all of these clients, like, they’re in control of that information. When you go to a tool like H refs, you know, they’re not in control of that information.

Christopher Penn 9:53
Okay, so let’s look at a gallery. Let’s step through a, I’m gonna do a very quick walkthrough of just some of the tools that you can use. And then we can go back and look at the situations in which you might use these tools and maybe talk through some of the use cases, maybe even do one or two. But let’s let’s do this is gonna be rapid fire. So first one, Google search at Google, Big Query. But the G delt database. This is the comprehensive news database of news events throughout the world. This is several terabytes, it’s updated every 15 minutes. And chances are if it’s in here, it’s also in Google News. The easiest way to search the database is, of course by using the sequel terms. And you can see there’s the number of actors that are involved. There’s the scale or intensity of news events, there’s URLs. So there’s you can extract a lot of news data, that’s a tool that one is free to use, you do you need to have a Google Cloud account for that. Next, as John mentioned, H refs is one of the the premier SEO tools, they have an enormously large crawling database, and you can do things like look at a very specific website. So let’s look at what’s a website, we don’t have access to let’s do our friend, Chris Brogan, because you don’t have access to his website. And you can get a sense of the domain authority, the number of links that has the estimated amounts of traffic and things like that. You can compare keywords, you can audit the site to understand structurally how that site is doing. You can also do rank tracking, compare how a site ranks for certain keywords. And the tool. One of the things I think is really powerful is it has batch analysis to allow you do up to 200 websites, comparisons of their metrics, all in one shot. Very helpful. Another one that we use a lot is a tool called SpyFu. This is for specifically for Pay Per Click advertising, they do some SEO stuff as well. But SpyFu is a very, very powerful, helpful tool for understanding what’s going on with your website. And it’s and his paid keywords. Now, for us, it’s not going to be a whole lot of paid ads, you don’t run paid ads. But this was a tool that lets you go through and see what competitors are advertising, what they’re bidding how much they’re spending, and then you can get a look at the ads. Very, very. Next up Google Trends. This one’s totally free, I should mention H refs and SpyFu both have subscription costs. Google Trends, totally free allows you to type in specific terms and and look to see how those terms are doing compared to each other. So let’s look at Deloitte, for example, Accenture. Let’s look at Bain. This is a very simple example of how this works. You can see the relative search volumes in different lumped countries in different format types. Very powerful, very easy tool to use. This one is free., one of my favorites for job postings. The reason for that is that pretty much every job software package out there allows you to post your openings to for free, which is, again, super helpful. If we were one check out, for example, what our friends over at Netflix are hiring for. Let’s look at Los Angeles. Let’s see who is hiring and what are they hiring for a stock operations analyst. And of course, this list goes on and on and on. If you are trying to figure out where a company might have a weak spot, you go to and say, Well, what are they hiring for what things what gaps they have, we have talked about in the past, using this as a way to do sales pitches even so look at a company and say, Well, if you’re hiring for like 48 marketing analysts, you might need some short term health. You know, please call Trust Insights when you do indeed free to use. The next one is a piece of software called CrowdTangle. CrowdTangle is a piece of software owned by Facebook. And it allows you to extract data about Facebook groups, Facebook itself, Instagram and Reddit. You can export up to a two years worth of data, you have to put it in accounts manually. But you can go into those accounts then and see the history of of what they’ve been up to. So again, we’ll use our friends over at Netflix. And we can look at all the different Netflix accounts that they have and their engagement rates and then dig into an export all the individual posts and the post metrics. CrowdTangle is technically free to use but it requires an application process that occurs pretty much never, they really stopped admitting people to be allowed to use the software about five years ago. We were actually one of the last companies to be let in before they close the doors. But it is a useful tool. Fred, the Federal Reserve economic data system from the St. Louis Federal Reserve, this is by the US government it is free. Within here there’s a lot of good macro economic data about industries as well as certain industries, specific data. So for example, let’s look at analytics. And you’ll get a bunch of different datasets. Actually, let’s do this. Let’s do San Diego. And you can look at things like real estate jobs,, postings and stuff. So if you are, for example, the real estate industry, and you want to check out a market, how competitive a market was, for real estate, this would be a great tool to use. And there’s a gazillion and a half data series in here. So there’s macroeconomic data that you need to use to understand how not not a specific competitor, but how competitive a space could be, this is a fabulous tool to use. The next one is, of course, the US government’s And there are many of these types of services. The EU has won, most nations have one of these data portals that at least democratic, democratically elected nations seem to have these. And you can look at very specific things. And you can look at, you know, broad categories. So some things like Neo named company names, so they may or may not be in here. But you can definitely get again, industry data, and it will help you understand film production, what data the government has available, and then how you could get that data and, and work with it. Up next Talkwalker Talkwalker is a paid service. They are one of our favorite social monitoring, and I guess, consumer intelligence tools, you put in your search terms in here, and you can look at, take a look at different media types and the individuals as well as information about the crowd. So for example, I can look when I’m at the search term, Netflix can look at news newsletters, Twitter, YouTube, and so on and so forth, get a sense of the search volume, or the social volume in terms of what’s being said, do word cloud analysis to see what the major themes are about this company. And what people have to say about it. Look at some of the demographic data about who is talking about this company, and in what formats which can be very, very helpful. You can see here, for example, there’s some professions, locations, ages, etc. And as I said, you can get the verbatims, which is the individual results. So Talkwalker is a paid product, but highly recommend it if you want. We’re doing anything with news, social content and social video. Next up is open Food Facts. This is for the food and beverage industry. Specifically, this tool is a massive user generated database of 2.8 million products around the planet. So if you are in food and beverage and you’re looking at, you want to do competitive analysis of specific types of foods that your competitors offer, and the nutritional values and data and reviews, great way to do that. The Internet Movie Database has all of its data available, you can download these massive tables. So if you are in film or TV production, you can again do competitive analysis. Look at ratings look at reviews look at the velocity of growth of any particular show or franchise or selection of shows.

One of the tools that has become very prominently used in the last couple of months with the increasing instability of platforms like Twitter is a tool called SN scrape. This is a free open source tool. I should mention by the way, the IMDB and the Open Food Facts are also free. SN scrape is a piece of software that you have to download a compile. This allows you to scrape Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, Reddit Telegram, Twitter V contact and sign a Weibo. So if you’re trying to extract data about those services, and compute specific competitor accounts, you can get that data out of here. This requires some technical expertise. But it is well worth it if you can. This is our friend chat GPT, which is an interesting example because it is trained on large sets of data. So it’s not a bad idea for you to go in and ask it, what it knows about you and what it knows about your competitors. In this case, I asked to tell me what you know about a company named Trust Insights Incorporated, and actually did a very credible job of explaining who we are and what we do. So if you want to get a sense from a preview perspective of what things like, you know, beings chat GPT-2 integration might say, and you have access to the OG itself. Give it an ask a few more. A couple more. MX toolbox is a very powerful tool for examining someone’s email reputation. So you can put in the domain of your self or competitor and look to see, you know how well set up they are technically and then you know, are they on any email blacklists? Thankfully, we are we are doing good. So we are but you can obviously Imagine there plenty of companies that are not new it would be good to know from Make competitive prospective if your competitors have some email issues that might be reducing their reach. Google itself is a very powerful tool if you know how to ask a question. So in this case, I’m asking Google show me unprotected spreadsheets that are accidentally listed on US government websites containing emails. There’s a lot of these, you could just go ahead and download all these, if you wanted to. The use obviously is too competitive scans of custom domains to ask ask things. For publicly traded companies, a company like Seeking Alpha is a very, very powerful tool. It is subscription based, but there’s a lot you can get out of the free subscription before you have to start paying for it. I particularly like that you can get things like earnings call transcripts, where you can get the transcripts of earning calls, and then use natural language processing to pull out the major themes of what it is that people are talking about on earnings calls, you will find a lot of information for publicly traded companies about what they think are major problems. And finally, Google Scholar. So Google Scholar is another portion of Google but this one is specifically looked at academic papers that have been published about you know, about or from a competitor. So if you’re looking for competitors in and you have a field where academic publishing is a thing, this is a great resource to go and see what your competitors are publishing about. A few weeks ago, when we did our show on social media algorithms. This is one of the sources where we found those papers to fight. You know, here’s how Twitter’s algorithm works. You just have LinkedIn algorithm works. Oh, and one last one. I forgot about this one. Glassdoor. Glassdoor is a super powerful place to go to ask, What’s it like to work there? And you can, there are certain tools that you can use to extract information programmatically. So if you wanted to, to gather up all the one star reviews about a competitor, and kind of get a sense of what it is that people don’t like about working there, if you’re trying to hire away from competitors, great tool to use, but also just gives you a sense of what it’s like to deal with that competitor, what’s like to work at that competitor, and maybe some of the system wide issues that they’re having. So that’s the a short, very fast run through a lot of different tools, which is one of the reasons why we’re talking about how important it is to have those user stories and those five Ps to find.

Katie Robbert 22:27
Yeah, no. And I think that that’s, you know, it’s dizzying, I was writing down the names of the tools, as you were talking. And so if I changed the video that might have been me accidentally. You know, what about tools? Like, this is obviously not an exhaustive list of tools that are available. And I think that that’s, you know, sort of the overwhelming piece, like, if we think back to the mahr, tech 9000 There are literally over 9000 tools in possible in a Mar tech stack. And we’ve actually started talking about tools outside of the MAR tech stack. So add those tools from different industries on top of the 9000 Plus tools. And, you know, focusing your purpose first is, you know, number one, and so that goes back to that user story of as a persona, I want to so that. And so, you know, if you are, you know, someone who, you know, your executive team comes to you and says, I want to do a competitive analysis, you know, go find my top five competitors, and tell me what they’re doing. Well, we just in what, 15 minutes, covered 1-234-567-8910 1112 1314 1516 17 different possible tools. And that’s not even scratching the surface of how many are available. And so you’re probably going to be like me, and your eyes are struggling to focus, because so much information just came out you that your brain is like, Okay, I’m done. I’m overwhelmed. I’m good. Chris, what about tools, like Screaming Frog or scrutiny? Are those tools that you could use for competitive analysis as well?

Christopher Penn 24:13
Absolutely. So scrutiny is one of my favorites. scrutiny allows you to, to crawl someone’s website and extract all the information on it. So this is a tool that I have used very, very recently, actually, as part of the whole Save Warrior Nun campaign to find Twitter handles of people, but you can hang if there’s if there are links on a site, you can scrape that site, I recommend you do with a VPN. And then you can get a full digest of everything that that site links to. And you can even do things like build your own network graph to understand okay, here’s how you know what the most important pages like here’s how pages linked to each other. You can find files that may be that people on that side don’t know are publicly available that really shouldn’t be. So there’s all sorts of different ways you You can look at someone’s website, you can do an SEO assessment of some of the basics. We can how well optimized is the site?

Katie Robbert 25:12
I don’t know, John, is your head spinning yet?

John Wall 25:14
Yeah, that’s, you know, there’s a huge gigantic array of options, you know. And so it’s just a matter of kind of where do you want to go? What do you want to dig into? But yeah, there’s no shortage of stuff. And is I hadn’t thought about it in the terms that Chris had put it how? Yeah, you know, pre internet, like, you had to go bang on the door, or get your janitor costume on and go through the trash cans. There was no other way to do this. And now, there’s data just kind of spilling over that people have forgotten about. I was unaware of the whole IMDb database, I didn’t realize you could just go grab that whole thing. That’s insane. To me, I can’t believe they don’t charge for that. But I guess you can defend it against bias. If you say, hey, it’s out there. And everybody can look at it and verify Here you go.

Christopher Penn 25:58
Yep, there’s, there’s the IMDB Davis and and you know, there’s anything, any place that someone’s got an API, there’s, there’s probably data available. I mean, that’s one of the, I guess, more sophisticated hacks, of combat of competitive intelligence is if a company has got an API. And it’s open to the public and meaning you don’t have to do anything unsavory to get access to it. Send in an applic developers application and see what you’re allowed to get out of it. And sometimes, it’s a lot more than they think, because they’re not thinking about, well, how would a competitor uses data against me?

Katie Robbert 26:34
Well, and I think that that’s, you know, you didn’t say it explicitly. But this is sort of the important piece to know is that just because the data is available, doesn’t mean that you can use it. And so you have to have some level of data analysis, skill, maybe some level of coding. So when you were showing sites like Fred and, and indeed an IMDB open food source, you know, if you’re extracting data from those sources, you have to know what to do with it, once you get it an oftentimes, you’re not getting it immediately in this nice, clean, pristine, usable form with really nice labels, and no anomalies in the data, like, you have to clean the data. And a lot of times, I know with a lot of, and other government sites, there’s a corresponding data dictionary, and you have to try to piece it together. And so just because it’s available, doesn’t mean it’s instantly out of the box usable, which is why some of these other services like H refs, and SpyFu and Talkwalker, and scrutiny and Screaming Frog, cost money because someone has done the work to clean up and present the data to you.

Christopher Penn 27:50
Exactly, this example is what you get out essence, scrape, essence, scrape gives you what’s called JSON l files, which is just a long text file in JSON markup language of Twitter data, if you are not accustomed to processing this kind of data, this is really not going to be helpful. And that is one of the great challenges of this. The absolute worst, you know, the champion of impossible to use data is US government data. So you can get, for example, all the data about every single political campaign and who’s donating down to the dollar buy person from the Federal Election Commission, it comes in a format that was probably in use in 1975 was someone’s mainframe, like it is one of the worst, most painful data sources to use, super valuable, hard to use. And so there are actually companies that charge political campaigns like $1,500 a month, just to get access to data that’s freely available. Because it’s such a pain in the butt to work with the Federal Elections Commission data, I have often thought of opening up a cottage business on the side where you can just you know, people can access the data at like a discount here, get the Trust Insights, you know, $500 data, exactly the same as those other services. But you know, it’s it’s two thirds less because we’re competent, and coding. Well, you know,

Katie Robbert 29:07
if you’re interested in that contact on wall, they’ll set you up. But it’s actually that’s a real, that’s a really good point. When I in a past life, you know, when I was working more in the public health and mental health, substance abuse space, a lot of times we’d be looking at those government, you know, datasets of the self report. Yeah, I was gonna say I’m hard pressed to remember any of what they were at the moment, but they would come out in really unusable forms. And so you’re talking about, you know, data that was already at, you know, a two year lag and then you get it you finally get this data that you and your stakeholders have been waiting for and it’s messy and unusable and so you have to spend another six months cleaning it up, using you know, SPSS because at the time by That was the most appropriate tool to use it. And it was just, you know, just because the data exists does not mean you’re going to be able to immediately you know, use it.

Christopher Penn 30:11
Exactly. So for example, one of the systems that we use a ton is called IPAM. from the University of Minnesota, which is a, a, it’s a public free system, you do have to register, login and provide academic or business credentials. But it then allows you to deal with data from the US government for the Census Bureau, because the Census Bureau’s data is even less usable. So this one at least allows you to go through and choose your different different data types that you want. And then you can get data exports from them in SAS, SPSS or our formats, and then you can export that data and process it. But this is a tool that I’ve used. This is not for competitive intelligence. But this is just general data. And it is it if this didn’t exist, the Census Bureau data would be almost unusable. Because again, it’s it’s built for 1975. But there are other data sources. And you have to think outside the box when it comes to particularly government data, for competent for competitive analysis, because there’s some that are so good, but we don’t think about it until somebody else points it out. So one of the ones that we’ve talked about, I know on the past on the show is the payroll protection program. So the payroll Protection Program was a COVID era system that the government set up that said, Hey, you can get loans from the government to deal with everything that’s happening in pretty much any company that was in business period from the smallest cost convenience store to, you know, fortune 10 companies went and and got this data. Well, when you did that you also had to register with the government and say, here’s how much we’re making. Here’s how many employees we have. Here’s the industry we’re in. And so this data set, which is freely available from I wonder, I think it’s the Department of the Treasury has all your competitors and their most recent data, because they had to submit it in order to get these loans.

Katie Robbert 32:23
Yeah, I mean, and so I think the point that we have now completely driven home is that there is no shortage of available data, if you are asked to do some kind of competitive analysis. And you know, to Chris’s point, think beyond just Okay, how many Twitter followers do they have? How many articles that they publish this week? Or, you know, how many times is their CEO mentioned in the news. And so there’s tools beyond, especially depending on the industry that you’re in. So I was I just found the website that I was thinking of is SAMSA. So And then they also have Don data, and Psalms and SaaS, and as da RDC, Ted’s Sanda, I mean, there’s no shortage of datasets, within datasets within datasets, if you’re in that industry. And so, now that we have been talking for, you know, almost 35 minutes about the available data, let’s try to make it actionable. What can we do with some of this data? So let’s say Chris, for example, I come to you. And I’ve done my user story. And I say, as the CEO, I want to know, what, you know, how how big our web presence is against our competitors, so that I can make us even bigger and better. Really, what I’m saying is I want more awareness. You know, so where do we start with that? What do we do? Because that’s a big question.

Christopher Penn 33:57
Number one, who are your competitors? Right? It’s not a fishing expedition, you have to have some level of focus. So who are the competitors that you care about? That would be the first place to start? And then the second question is, okay, it’s website, you care about awareness? What specific measures? Does that mean? Are you talking about organic search traffic? Are you talking about pay per click advertising? What kind of what data set are we working with? Knowing the, you know, who’s involved? And what kind of data determines the process, right, if you know the people or in this case, the corporate entities, and you know, the data set, which is comes from the platform’s, then you can decide, okay, how are we going to present this into how we’re going to extract, transform and then present this information? If we don’t have that information? It’s very, very difficult to do any kind of meaningful competitive analysis. So Katie, how do you want to do this?

Katie Robbert 34:55
Excellent question. Do you want me to sort of list off competitors or like what data? You know, let’s say I’m a, you know, loudmouth CEO who doesn’t know what’s going on? How would you, the analyst start narrowing down my big ask?

Christopher Penn 35:13
I’d say, Okay, let’s pick three competitors, who are the competitors that you care about that that you really want to go after.

Katie Robbert 35:22
So let’s say for the sake of this exercise, let’s go McKinsey. Let’s go, you know, Deloitte and let’s go Bain. Because I have big lofty aspirations, you know, right or not, we’re going to be bigger than all of them one day.

Christopher Penn 35:46
Okay, so initially, we just the very basic, we see McKinsey, Deloitte and Bain and McKinsey, Deloitte ranked for about a million keywords, we rank for under 1000. So we got a little bit of work to do there, traffic wise about the same. And then we can obviously go through and take a look at these different links. So there’s some pretty clear gaps in in our measures between the number of referring domains. Clearly, one of the big things that we should be looking at is getting more links when you when you look at this case, Deloitte, Deloitte has 89 million links to its website, right? And McKinsey has 7.3 million and we have 70,000 73,000 is respectable. And that’s that’s not zero. But it definitely shows okay, there’s, there’s there’s a pretty big gap there. The next step that we would want to ask is if we want to increase our awareness, we need more links, to get more links, we need to go and start figuring out okay, well, where where should we be getting those links from? So in this case, we’ll use we’ll start here does not link to trust And so I’m looking for the different places that link to one, two, or all three of these competitors, that don’t link to us. Now this. This is, again, a good starting point to ask some of those questions about, you know, who do they get their links from? What quality of websites did they get the links from? And then, based on what this would spit out, we would then say, Okay, well, all those places that are giving them links, and this does take a little while. How realistic is that we will be able to go and get comparable value links because no offense to us. But when McKinsey releases a new paper, it’s not terribly hard to get people to link to it. Because the McKinsey brand, it’s slightly harder for us. So it’s not possible, but it’s slightly harder for us.

Katie Robbert 37:47
John, so you mentioned at the top of the show that H refs is one of the first tools that you do, is this one of the types of analysis that you’re looking at? Or is this something that you might start incorporating into your research?

John Wall 38:00
Yeah, no, I’ve seen this report. It’s usually not what the first one that I run, the big one is the other one that shows content units actually see what are the four or five biggest resources on their website? That’s really where you can get a feel of, you know, the stuff that they’re publishing? Is it getting any traction for him? And that’s just like the easy steel. You know, you go look at those top 20. And you say, okay, which ones of these 20 Do we not have on our website? And that’s an easy place to get started, as far as you know, gaining some ground on your competitors. Yeah, there you go. So, see if there’s anything we can steal from McKinsey, right off the top.

Christopher Penn 38:36
If we have a metaverse.

John Wall 38:38
What is the meta? Yeah, that’s, well,

Christopher Penn 38:41
COVID-19 pandemic, and never.

Katie Robbert 38:45
So, you know, in terms of, you know, prioritizing this as actionable. You know, if Chris, you and John, were coming back to me with this information, you know, I’d be like, great, go write something about COVID. Or great, go write something about the metaverse and steal that traffic, I would expect you to say to me, yeah, we could do that. But it’s not the right audience, because that’s not at the core of what Trust Insights does as a business. And so just because you’re seeing this information doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right information. And so, you know, you may get, you know, into this, it’s like, what is a blockchain? Something? I can’t read what that says. But what is blockchain? You know, that’s yeah, we could answer that question. But it’s not necessarily the right question for us to answer. And so as you go through this, you might be like, you know, what? Yeah, McKinsey is great and aspirational, but we don’t actually compete with them at all because they do a bunch of stuff that we don’t do. So we need to find someone who’s more aligned with what we do. And so that would be the conversation that you the analysts would have to bring back to me and try to convince me the CEO that I’m wrong, so good luck with that.

Christopher Penn 39:58
It is challenging because See, you do have one of the challenging parts of competitive intelligence is that there is a natural while they’re doing it at work, so we should be doing it too. And it’s like, well, you know, I can look at at Kobe Bryant and he plays basketball, and has done very well. So should I go play basketball, probably not a very different outcomes, the ROI of a basketball for Kobe Bryant is substantially higher than it is for me. So that is part of the of what you have to take into account is going back to the very beginning. What is it that you’re trying to do, because if you, if you’re aren’t clear on that, and you don’t know what the outcome is that your your stakeholders are after, you could end up doing a ea a whole bunch of work, that doesn’t matter. Or B could do a whole bunch of work that leads you to a very unproductive outcome.

Katie Robbert 40:52
Well, and so even ahead of doing the competitive intelligence analysis, you really need to challenge yourself to make sure you have the right list of competitors. I know for us, we’ve gone through this exercise a few times. And I would say, you know, I’m saying sort of like tongue in cheek, depending on how we feel that day are listed competitors changes, because, you know, we might decide one day, you know, what, we’re really going to double down on data science, who’s in that space, or, you know, digital marketing is the right place for us to be, you know, hanging our hat. So who’s in that space? Or let’s just look at general consulting. And so, you know, first and foremost, you need to know who you are as a business and what it is that you want to be known for. And then you need to be selective about your competitors. We were joking about this, again, in our analytics group analytics for marketers, our Slack group earlier, our community, that there are some companies that don’t believe they have competitors at all. John, you have your two cents on that.

John Wall 41:57
Yeah, that’s well, we were just talking earlier about, you know, if you don’t think of competitors, then your competition is apathy. Right? You need to sit out and become the do the missionary sale, which is worse than having competitors.

Christopher Penn 42:10
Yeah, the general argument is, if you have no competitors, then the market doesn’t value what you do.

Katie Robbert 42:17
And so I think you know, what, what we’re trying to come back to in terms of, what do I do with this, I’ll have all this information. Like anything, you have to do requirements upfront to understand what’s the question I’m trying to answer. And so Chris, we’ve worked with clients who their sole focus was getting more Twitter followers than their competitor. But that was a very clear purpose statement, as the CEO, I want to have more Twitter followers than my direct competitor. Great, there was no ambiguity in terms of what the ask was, or where you should be spending your time, or what the outcome was going to be. You have to have more Twitter followers than the guy who’s sitting next to you period done. as goofy as we think it is. It’s very straightforward. It’s when you start to get into those vague, you know, how can we overtake McKinsey? Well, what does that mean? Do we want more money? Do we want more of a digital footprint? You know, do we want to steal other team members? Like we have to be a little bit more specific. And so in terms of competitive intelligence, that’s 100%, where you should start.

Christopher Penn 43:28
Exactly. All right. So any other final thoughts on competitive analysis before we roll out this

John Wall 43:36
week? Go stomp the competition, see them scattered before you shake their gold.

Katie Robbert 43:48
I would say just be super clear about why you think you need to understand what your competitors are doing. If that’s your sole focus, and you’re not really focusing on what’s happening in your company right in front of you. You maybe need to reevaluate your priorities. Yeah,

Christopher Penn 44:03
that’s the old Henry Ford thing. You know, the competitor, you really need to beat is is the company you were yesterday. In order to be the company you want to be tomorrow, competitors are good. And it’s important to know that the pressures they exert on your market, but if you’re going to spend, if you have 100 points of effort to spend, spend, like 95 of them on making yourself a better company to do business with because in the long run, that is the most sustainable tactic. Thanks for tuning in. Folks. We will talk to you next time. Thanks for watching today. Be sure to subscribe to our show wherever you’re watching it. For more resources. And to learn more, check out the Trust Insights podcast at trust AI podcast, and a weekly email newsletter at trust Got questions about what you saw in today’s episode. Join our free analytics for marketers slack group at trust for marketers See you next time

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