How to learn from and collaborate with competitors

How to learn from and collaborate with competitors
Sophie Turton
Sophie TurtonElectric Peach

Posted: Thu 20th Jun 2024

Effective brand development is a dance of strategy and foresight. Success often hinges on understanding your own strengths and the strategies and positions of your competitors.

Competitor research isn’t about keeping tabs on the competition. It could be repositioned more effectively as seeking to understand, learn from and be inspired by others while identifying opportunities for collaboration.

When I launched Electric Peach, a decentralised brand and marketing consultancy, the idea of competition felt firmly against my values. We’re a B Corp on a mission to use business communication tools as a force for good; surely, there was a more wholesome approach to strategic growth.

Early on, I shifted my focus from ‘competitive advantage’ to sharing freely and working with other businesses in my field.

As a result, Electric Peach is now a collective made up of brilliant brains in marketing, brand and sustainable business development. We offer the best talent at a fraction of the cost of bigger agencies, with teams built to meet the niche needs of our impact-driven clients.

This guide walks you through the practical steps of conducting a competitor analysis, offering insights and strategies to help you better understand your industry and audiences, while (hopefully) encouraging you to seek opportunities to collaborate rather than compete.

What is a marketing competitor analysis?

A marketing competitor analysis is akin to peering through a magnifying glass at your competitors' strategies, strengths and weaknesses. It systematically examines various aspects, such as their products or services, marketing tactics, customer base and positioning.

It can be seen as a detective mission, as much to understand your audience and the market as others offering similar products or services.

Benefits of a marketing competitor analysis

Conducting a competitor analysis provides invaluable insights into market trends and consumer preferences, helping you tailor your offerings to better meet customer needs.

Additionally, it allows you to identify gaps in the market that your competitors may have overlooked, presenting opportunities for expansion and market differentiation.

Watch this webinar to find out how to use the findings from competitor analysis to make positive changes to your business:

Tools I use for effective competitor research

I rely on free and paid options to understand the competitive landscape.

Tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs provide invaluable insights into competitors' keywords, backlinks and online visibility. At the same time, social listening platforms, such as Mention and Hootsuite allow me to monitor competitor activity across social media channels in real-time.

I also use Google alerts set up against key terms for my business. This tells me that anytime something relevant to my search is published, it can include your brand name or your competitors.

Each tool contributes to successful competitor research by offering data and actionable insights that inform strategic decision-making. This has given me a great source of inspiration, particularly around video, which has historically been an area of weakness for my agency.

Rather than "steal other people’s ideas", I approach those who inspire me to explore opportunities to collaborate and bring their brilliance into our offering.

My practical tips for performing competitor research

  • Go beyond the surface: Dig deep into your competitors' strategies, dissecting their messaging, content and customer engagement tactics to uncover hidden insights

  • Stay updated: Competitor analysis isn’t a one-time task, it's an ongoing process. Keep a pulse on industry trends, market shifts and competitor movements to stay ahead of the curve. The same applies to audience research

Mistakes I’ve made and learnt to avoid!

Over the years, I've made my fair share of mistakes regarding competitor research.

One common pitfall is relying too heavily on quantitative data without considering qualitative factors, such as brand perception and customer sentiment.

Another mistake is overlooking emerging competitors or niche players who often have an interesting and unique approach to their marketing.

How I’ve used competitor research for business growth

Competitor research isn’t just about gathering data — it’s about turning insights into action.

For example, by analysing competitor pricing strategies, I could optimise our pricing model, increasing profitability without sacrificing customer value.

Similarly, studying competitor marketing campaigns inspired innovative approaches to content creation and audience engagement, leading to improved brand visibility and customer acquisition.

This also led to a shift in our entire business model and we can now offer a full-service approach to brand development, campaign management and strategic business growth by partnering with people who had previously been considered competitors.

Lessons I’ve learnt from competitor collaborations

Viewing competitors as potential collaborators rather than adversaries can unlock many opportunities for mutual growth.

By forging strategic partnerships and alliances with competitors, we've accessed new markets, shared resources and leveraged complementary strengths to achieve shared objectives. This is important but requires a total mindset shift, trust and robust structures.

We always start with an NDA to protect the interests of all parties. We are also totally transparent with our clients about the way we work. We never pretend our partners work for Electric Peach and vice versa. We don’t have to. Our approach is, itself, a competitive advantage.

I've witnessed firsthand the transformative power of competitor research in driving business growth.

Whether optimising marketing strategies, refining product offerings, or forging strategic partnerships, competitor research is essential to understanding our market and staying ahead in times of rapid change.

At Electric Peach, collaboration is the fertiliser for the soil in which we grow. It’s changed the game of our business and made our work more impactful (and joyful) than ever before.

Relevant resources

Sophie Turton
Sophie TurtonElectric Peach

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