Market intelligence and analysis is critical for the B2B marketing strategies of large and small companies alike. While many companies feel constrained by lack of budget to invest in competitive market analysis, in this post we share a number of creative approaches that can yield valuable insights into your target market and competitive landscape.
For many, competitive market analysis conjures up scenarios of costly analyst reports and arduous market research initiatives, often scaring off the smaller end of the B2B SMB market from making any investment. But when we work with clients of our B2B marketing agency, we find creative ways to glean this type of insight and to weave it into the fibers of our daily marketing activity to maximize impact without overinvesting our time or marketing budgets.
Market intelligence serves different purposes at various stages of a company’s lifecycle:
Market and competitive intelligence data is critical to all these stages, and understanding the outlets for creatively collecting this information is key. In our work with clients on go-to-market planning or marketing program planning, we find that leveraging these resources is invaluable to building the appropriate B2B marketing strategies & programs, and to ensure we’re doing so in a very cost-effective and time-efficient manner.
#1: Free industry & analyst reports. While the high cost of purchasing research from leading analyst firms is prohibitive to many smaller firms, numerous reports can be found available for download from tech vendor websites in exchange for contact information. You can find reports on tech sector trends from firms like Forrester and Gartner to understand market sizing, trends, and review key vendors and their positioning across a wide array of technologies—and many of these firms have readily accessible blogs with trends and opinion pieces as well.
To understand industry verticals relevant to your firm, surveys and studies can yield valuable insights as well. These may be published by analyst firms, research groups, and industry associations, so it’s helpful to search broadly to really understand what’s out there. One trick for finding industry research is to search for infographics on a relevant topic and scour the sources of data referenced.
#2: SEO & PPC tools. There are dozens of tools out there that help companies understand the search marketing behaviors of competitors. While we primarily use these tools to arm ourselves with the best intelligence for search marketing strategy and campaign development, we also find the insights collected to have broader implications. Want to understand how much your competitors are spending on paid search? Who you are competing with for online mindshare (versus your closest competitors)? Which keywords competitors are focused on to gain insight into strategic areas of focus for their business? These types of answers are readily available in such tools if you take the time to look.
While the best intelligence generally comes from combined access to multiple paid tools, there are a number of free tools that are useful. For example, Google AdWords’ keyword planner can provide you insights into what topics and keywords users are searching for relevant to your solution, and show how your competitor’s websites are trending. Also, many of the advanced tools have freemium versions, including a few on this useful list of SEO tools.
#3. Content trends. In addition to simply looking at your competitors’ content marketing programs to better understand how they’re positioning themselves to clients and the topics they emphasize, use tools like Buzzsumo for deeper research. Tools like such help discover the topics that are performing best for your competitors and industry influencers around specific areas.
To get a better sense of content trends by target audience or persona, diving into social media channels like Quora or LinkedIn Groups, or scouring industry event agendas can provide useful insights as well.
Those of us in the SMB market in particular are lucky to operate in a business ecosystem rich with information that can be collected, analyzed, and aggregated (and much of it, free of charge) to make more informed marketing & strategy decisions. Building the right practices into your marketing discipline and keeping an eye on new tools that can support these efforts helps even the playing field between small firms and their larger competitors.
Magnetude Consulting provides B2B marketing services to tech-sector SMBs spanning marketing strategy development and program execution to help clients reach their growth objectives.