Understanding the competitive landscape is critical to effective branding. Never underestimate the competition. Just when you think you have an advantage, they change direction and create a new challenge for you to deal with. Assessing the landscape should be an on-going exercise and the insights you gather should be applied to make your marketing plan as competitive as possible.
But, understanding the competitive landscape can be confusing. In this post, I provide some guidance on how to make the exercise easier and more productive.
The Lesson I Learned
One of the more difficult challenges in branding is getting a good perspective of the competitive landscape. It is hard because there is often so much information you could pursue that the exercise becomes overwhelming.
When I was a P&G Marketing Director, I was always amazed that no matter how much lead time I gave my Brand Managers to prepare their annual marketing plan, it always ended up being a last minute rush to complete. The reason is that they invested the additional time in gathering competitive information from as many resources as possible in hopes of finding the insight that would provide a strategic advantage. To make the landscape assessment exercise more efficient and effective, I deployed a set of questions to guide their research. Using these questions, my Teams were able to get through the exercise much quicker and more of what they learned actually impacted the decisions in their marketing plans.
How To Apply In Place Branding
I have modified the questions to be relevant for place branding. If you invest the time to get answers to these questions, you will be in a much better position to recommend a marketing plan that will help your community be more competitive. At a minimum, your understanding of the competition and your community’s strength/weaknesses will be enhanced.
This assessment is a “guided analysis”. In a guided analysis, you define the questions up front and then dive into the data to find the answers. It is very different than the traditional approach of reading through reams of reports in hopes that a pattern emerges. You will find the guided analysis approach a lot easier to work through and the results will be far more actionable.
The Questions You Need To Answer
How challenging do you find writing a competitive marketing plan to be? Most people have difficulty starting the process. The questions I recommend above are intended to make the exercise easier. What resources do you think would be most helpful in answering the questions? How useful would it be to leverage a panel of industry experts in your community to help you answer some of the questions? Are there additional questions you would suggest be included in the list?
Leave a comment with your thoughts.
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