Writing Great Landscape Assessments

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In this video, Kevin teaches what great business landscape assessments have in common. This video is the first of a series where we will focus on strategy topics. Watch for tips to make your next competitive landscape assessment more strategic and actionable.


Hello, Kevin Namaky here, and today we’re going to talk about what great landscape assessments have in common. This video is a part of a new phase we’re entering where we’ll focus more on topics that relate to strategy. 

Our first topic that is landscape assessments. These come up all the time in our daily work and we’re asked to do them for a number of different reasons. Here are some tips for great landscape assessments. 

Common Issues with Landscape Assessments

When we’re writing landscape assessments, they can often be very cluttered. There’s a lot of information to go through. Information gets collected, looked at and analyzed, and all of that information can create clutter. It also makes our landscape assessments lengthy if we don’t do them right. We need to be careful how much information we include. Many times when we presenting information, we create ambiguity. The more information we present, the less clarity there is. Last but not least, a lot of time landscape assessments can seem open ended if we don’t provide clear direction as to what to do next, which isn’t a good thing. These are common issues we want to avoid when writing a great landscape assessment. 

Business Questions Drive Great Landscape Assessments

One thing to keep in mind when we write a landscape assessment is that we’re usually writing it for a specific reason. There’s a business issue, challenge, or question that we need to answer. Here are some examples of questions the business might have that would lead to conducting a landscape assessment: 

  • Should we launch a line extension? If so, what does that look like?
  • Should we enter a new category? Which one?
  • How should we defend from competitive action?
  • How do we diagnose or uncover the driver of a key business issue? What should we do about it?
  • How do we best capitalize on a trend?

These are a few examples, and you may have other issues that come up over the course of running a business. The point is, these kinds of questions are the reasons we write landscape assessments in the first place. 

Typical Category/Competitive Analysis

Many times, a brand manager will start by doing some kind of category or competitive analysis. This is a common, and it’s not a bad thing to do. But when we do these kinds of analyses, we usually look at high-level information like what’s selling in the marketplace and how it’s moving. The key word here is information. Usually this approach results in slide decks that are simply collections of information. While that’s good to understand, it’s usually not enough if you want to write a great landscape assessment. 

Three Things Great Landscape Assessments Include

Great landscape assessments are strategic. They provide direction for how to answer the question that’s being asked of the business and help the team determine next steps. It goes beyond mere information. Great landscape assessments include your thinking—thinking is the key deliverable versus only delivering information. 

Here are three things to think about when you look at your own landscape assessment. These three imperatives will help you understand if you’ve written a truly great landscape assessment. 


Does your landscape assessment educate the audience? This is the basic first step that most landscapes do. Chances are you’ll be able to check this box. 


Does your landscape assessment focus the team on the most important information? What matters most in your analysis and what are the most important takeaways? You must answer those questions—not just simply present a collection of information. 


Does the landscape assessment direct specific action that should be done next? You don’t have to solve every single question that’s out there, and you may not know the final answer to the question that you started with. But your landscape assessment should at least end by pointing to the specific thing that the team should do next. In other words, what’s the most immediate next step that advances the project forward? 

Those are three things that you’ll want to go through in your head. Does your landscape assessment: 

  • educate? 
  • drill in and focus on the key issues and areas? 
  • direct the team as to what should be done immediately next to advance the project?


If you use these tips as a lens for evaluating your landscape assessment, you will find improvements to make your next landscape assessment stronger before you present it to an audience.

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