The London 2012 Olympics are here. As the nations of the world prepare to compete for gold medals in various events it blows my mind that the athletes involved prepare for years for this one moment to shine. Rigorous hours honing their craft, developing their approach and training their minds, bodies and souls all culminate in this one shot to make it all happen and bring home the gold.

Why should launching an online marketing campaign be any different?

All marketing campaigns are aimed at one thing: influencing as many members of your target audience to take the action your want them to take, whether that is joining your mailing list, buying your product or believing your ideology. Marketers get a shot at the gold more times than Olympians, and we should never be afraid to “fail better next time” (if something you are doing doesn’t work out there will be other shots at the winners circle).

All marketers can learn from the dedication, preparation and planning of Olympic athletes. This series of posts will put that into perspective when preparing your own marketing plan.

Here are the posts to expect over the next week in this 5-part series:

  • Part 1 – Competitive Analysis: remove obstacles like a judo champion
  • Part 2- Targeting Markets: zeroing in on your customer like an olympic archer
  • Part 3 – Unique Selling Propositions: what artistic gymnastics teach you about execution
  • Part 4 – Goals, Metrics and Timelines: the triathlon of marketing measurement
  • Part 5- Tactics: sink or swim by using the right Olympic strokes

Let the games begin!

Competitive Analysis: Start Your Preparation By Sizing Up Your Competition Like a Judo Champion

competition analysis like a judo warriorJudo evolved from jujitsu, the hand-to-hand combat techniques used by ancient samurai warriors. To win, you have to throw your opponents to the floor and pin them into submission. According to the official Olympics 2012 website, “Two athletes (judokas) gain points for throws and holds in a bid to beat their opponent. A contest lasts a maximum of five minutes, and the athlete with the highest score is the winner.”

No judo competitor can hope to win without considering the individual skills and talents of their opponents. In training, a judokas will watch hours of footage, studying the athletes they will face and even practice to counter particular fighting styles and strengths. The studying of their opponent, dictates the training regimin and momentum towards the gold.

Smart marketers start their research by studying the competition. Like a judo warrior they know a lot of their work can be laid out for them and their goals defined by what the competition is doing. This does not mean copying your competition, rather it means analyzing and learning everything you can from what is currently available.

What if you have NO competition?

There are only two situations I can think of where this scenario will present itself: (a) what you want to do is so earth shatteringly groundbreaking that no one has even thought of how to bring it into existence until you came along or (b) no one cares about what you want to market and they won’t buy it at any price (situation (b) is much more common).

3-Easy Steps to Study and Crush Your Competition

Your competitors include anyone who can divert your target customer from buying your product. Competitors create options for the customer, and your job is to position your product in such a way that it is a no brainer for the customer to buy from you. To do that you have to better understand the people buying from your competition and begin to develop the targets that you will go after.

Step 1: Find Your Audience Using Analytic Tools

Think about the top companies and websites who sell what you are going to sell. Even if they are huge and you are not going to be competition to them (yet) realize that the audience following and buying from those websites are likely the same audience you want to start with. Write down 5-websites that you will analyze.

Note, if you are having trouble identifying specific companies and website, do a Google search for whatever it is you are going to sell (I always tell my students “Google is your best friend”). Take down the most relevant websites from Page 1 and use them in your analysis.

Next you are going to sign up for free accounts at both Quantcast and Google Ad Planner. Both of these sites help marketers analyze websites for potential ad campaigns and can provide you with some key information on the competition.

  • Google shows a summary description and categories on the site
  • Monthly site visits and page views
  • US demographics
  • Quantcast has a feature called “Audience Also Likes” that shows related categories and websites the target customers visit
  • Google has a feature that shows “Sites Also Visited,” “Audience Interests,” and “Keywords Searched.”
  • Each of these entries also has an “Affinity Rating” that relationships between the sites listed and the site researched, and “estimates how many times more likely you are to reach an audience who visits a specific site or searches for specific keywords versus an audience on the internet overall.”
  • Quantcast shows the “Traffic Frequency” giving you a breakdown of what percentage of the site visitors are site “addicts,” “regulars” and “passer-bys”

Between researching your competition on these two sites you can already get a pretty comprehensive picture of the playing field and what targets you are going after.

Step 3: Analyze the Data to Draw Conclusions About Your Competition and Target Market

Once you have that information these are the judo warrior things to understand about your competition:

  • Who are your competitors and what are their killer moves (offers)?
  • What are they doing right and how are you going to counter that?
  • What weaknesses and opportunities do you see to take them down?

For each competitor, you should create a list or chart for each of these points, and use the knowledge to emerge victorious.

Part 2 in the series will talk about hitting a bullseye with your target market.