Listen to the Godfather: Watch Your Competitors

16 Competitive Marketing Elements to Track

Are you providing opportunities for your competitors without realizing it? Marketers can learn from Sonny Corleone’s illegitimate son, Vincent Mancini-Corleone, played by Andy Garcia, who says, “Your enemies always get strong on what you leave behind.” in Godfather Part III (Affiliate link).

Competitive analysis is vital for marketers, especially in today’s dynamic social media landscape where a variety of monitoring services as well as third party information services (such as Nielsen, comScore, Compete or Hitwise) enable you to track what’s being said about your company, brand and products as well as those of your competitors.

16 Competitive Marketing Elements

Here are sixteen major categories of competitive information to collect and analyze to ensure that your competitors don’t get strong on business opportunities that you’ve overlooked.

  1. Business strategy. How do your competitors conduct business? Do they sell directly or through agents? What are their business objectives? What are their business models?
  2. Target audience. Who are your competitors targeting? Are they in a business-to-consumer or business-to-business? Think across demographics, psychographics and past behaviors. How broadly or narrowly do they define the market? Do you understand their marketing personas? How does this compare to your customer base? Are there segments that you should be addressing?
  3. Geographic locations. What markets are your competitors in? How does this compare to the region that you cover? Do any of these regions make sense for your business to address?
  4. Offering. How do your competitors define their product array? How are their products and brands categorized and cross-sold?  Does this differ from your products? Are there products or opportunities where you can leverage your strengths?
  5. Suppliers. Do your competitors use suppliers? If so, do you and how do they compare? How does this effect their pricing structure.
  6. Distributors. Do your competitors use distributors or sell direct? How does this compare to your strategy?
  7. Website. How do your competitors’ websites measure up? Are there merchandising components that are missing on your site? Are you missing competitive opportunities?
  8. Retail establishments. Do your competitors sell through their own stores? Do they sell through grocers or big box retailers? How appealing are their physical stores and their locations? Do they sell via direct mail or catalog? Do they only sell online? How do these costs effect your cost structure on a relative basis.
  9. Mobile marketing offering. With the growth of smartphones, the use of mobile phones during the sales process is important. Do competitors have a mobile strategy such as a website  and/or app? Do competitors have a tablet strategy?
  10. Social media marketing efforts. Where are your competitors on social media platforms? Do they have related social media advertising budgets to support them? How does this relate to your organization’s social media presence? Don’t overlook blogging or social sharing.
  11. PR. Are your competitors effectively using PR to expand their market? If so, how do your strategies compare. Where are they getting placements? Do they have an active blog that’s gained traction? Do you also have a blog?
  12. Advertising. Where are your competitors advertising across traditional offline and online advertising options? How does this help their offering? Branding or sales oriented?
  13. Content marketing. Are your competitors using content marketing? If so how are they using it? Across products, events or other options (such as the purchase process)? How does their content marketing compare to yours? Is it more engaging? Is it better integrated with their sales process?
  14. Search marketing. How are your competitors supporting their search initiatives? Are they using paid search and/or optimization? Does their content support these efforts?
  15. Customer connection. How do your competitors engage prospects and provide a means for collecting e-mail addresses, getting RSS registrations or other other contact information? Register for these offerings to understand the information that they’re focused on.
  16. Shopping experience. Shop the competition where it makes sense, and test different scenarios across channels (retail, phone, online and mobile) to see how the consumer is treated. Purchase and return product. Monitor costs, timing, and correspondence.

Remember the Godfather kept track of what his competitors were up to ensure he and his family were protected. Similarly, you need to monitor your competitors to position your business effectively and take advantage of the potential opportunities without being vulnerable to competitive initiatives.

Are there any other competitive elements that you monitor that should be added to this list?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Here’s some advice from Godfather Michael Corleone.

Photo credit: Paramount Pictures, Francis Ford Copala

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  • http://www.strategicdriven.com joseph ruiz

    Heidi, great list. I would add what kind of culture do they have. This would be helpful in identifying hiring practices, training, expectations for customer experience. No doubt this would be related to the other items in the list.
    Best
    Joe