Take an hour in the next week to objectively assess whether you have created a competitive edge in the way you engage buyers through online content. That is the first competitive battle you have to win. If you are outsold here, you may not get a second chance. You may not even become aware of the opportunity. Key points you have to assess when evaluating your competitiveness include:
- Will buyers relate to our understanding of their problem?
- Will buyers understand their options for addressing their problem?
- Will buyers get insights into what is really important to understand about their choices?
- Has our point of view given buyers enough insights and ideas to allow us to make the short list of vendors for consideration?
Assess Your Best Competitor
Begin your competitive assessment by going to your best competitor’s website to see what content is positioned to engage buyers. Look at the key tabs that focus on solutions, their blog, and their resources. Ask the following questions:
- How many and which buying roles are they targeting with their content?
- Is it clear to buyers what content is intended for each role?
- Is the content predominantly focused on the company’s products or the customers’ problem?
- Assuming the content is focused on their customers’ problem does it:
- Effectively articulate the problem, symptoms, causes, and impacts?
- Provide a clear position on why a buyer should want to change?
- Does it create a sense of urgency?
- Are risks of changing or not changing addressed?
- Are there customer stories or research data supporting their point of view?
- Are there calls to action to look at other content to extend the conversation?
- Are the media choices effective and engaging for their intended purpose?
- Is the content well organized to allow a buyer to easily find answers to buying questions?
Assessing Your Own Online Engagement Competency
Your own assessment begins with a review of your content strategy. If these components of your content strategy are not well researched, thought out, and documented you don’t need to look at your early stage engagement competency. You need to complete your strategy. Ask yourself the following questions. Check out this video on Customer & Content Frameworks for additional insights.
- Have we identified our ideal customers?
- Do we understand their problem for which we are a good solution?
- Do we know what will trigger them to want to address their problem?
- Do we know which beliefs about the problem will make them more or less likely to buy?
- Are we focused enough to be relevant to buyers throughout the buying cycle?
- Have we identified their buying cycle stages?
- Have we identified the important questions we have to address at each stage
- Do we have a way to assess where a buyer is in their process based upon the content they are consuming?
- Do we have an action plan for engaging at each stage?
- Are we prepared to touch a buyer with content multiple times at each stage?
- Do we understand the buying roles and personas that have to be addressed?
- Do we understand how the problem is viewed by each buying role persona?
- Do we understand when each buying role is most likely to engage in the buying process?
- Have we defined our core value proposition and the supporting messaging to answer our buyers’ questions?
- Have we defined the set of use cases we will use to engage across the buying stages?
- Have we tested whether these align with where buyers go to get information?
- Is there a content inventory and plan developed to support content asset requirements?
- Have we developed a scalable content production process to deliver the quantity and quality of content assets required?
Assuming your content strategy is well prepared and documented you should use the same questions identified for assessing your competitor for your own early stage engagement. Compare strengths and weaknesses from a buyers’ perspective. Develop an action plan to win this first critical battle. Be the company aspiring competitors benchmark.
Beware Incompetent Competition
Incompetent competition can be a disaster for you. That is one of the inherent dangers in benchmarking against competitors. Poor competition can lead to bad decision-making on your part. Without a competitive threat there may be less pressure to invest in competencies that lead to long term advantage. Every company should be aware of its competition but be driven by its own strategy.