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At this point in your work on your landscape analysis, you’ve collected information, thought about what your key takeaways could be, begun to organize that information into an outline, and now it’s time to finish things off.
In any landscape analysis you’ll probably run into spots with gaps or incomplete information. To address this issue, you want to ask yourself this question: Where is the landscape light on information or takeaways?
The following are a list of alternative sources to help you fill these gaps or supplement the information in your landscape analysis. This does not reflect everything you can possibly do, and you need not do everything on this list, but it should help spark ideas to get you started.
Example Alternative Sources to Fill Landscape Analysis Gaps
Store walks are a great way to get a sense of competitive information, competitive products, claims, category structure, and retail dynamics. They’re also great for taking photos that you can use in your landscape analysis presentation.
Mintel has a number of advantageous reports containing category and innovation information from the marketplace. Mintel also has a new product database, called Mintel NPD. They log all of the new innovations that show up in the marketplace and capture the claims/label information. If you’re looking for product launch trends in any consumer goods market, this is a good resource.
Go look at the advertising your competitors are doing to give you a glimpse into what their strategy could be, how they position their brand, and who they’re targeting. Beyond a typical Google search, most brands post their advertising on YouTube. You can also search Ads of the World where a lot of brand and product advertising is uploaded and searchable. You could pay for a service from Numerator such as Competitrack, but YouTube and Ads of the World are no cost to you.
Press Releases and Articles
Go to publications and press release sources to look for articles that are being published by competitors. You can also find industry expert articles.
Industry Data Sources
Most categories and industries have an organization that helps promote that industry or further the agenda of the companies in that industry. In many cases, those organizations do research and have statistics, articles and studies that could help you.
In marketing, for example, there is the American Marketing Association or the Association of National Advertisers. These organizations do ongoing work, including studies and surveys, that you can tap into. Most consumer goods and manufacturing industries also have similar organizations.
Google the Stat
If you have a slide that you’re working on and a point you’re trying to make, but you don’t have the stat, go into Google and literally type word-for-word the stat that you want or wish existed. Nine times out of ten, you will find the stat you’re looking for or something very close to it that you can use.
For example, if you wanted to know how many home purchasers are first-time home buyers, and you have a hypothesis that 20-percent of the market is actually first-time home buyers, go to Google and type in 20 percent of housing market first-time home buyers. You’ll probably get the exact stat you need.
Social Media and Social Listening
There are software and platforms that allow you to do social media listening. You don’t have to go to a competitor’s social feed and comb through it all on your own. You can use relatively inexpensive listening tools to search for keywords or hashtags and not only see what your competitors are doing, but hear what consumers are talking about in the marketplace.
When in doubt, if there’s a piece of information missing in your analysis that should be available in your company, start asking who around. Find someone who may know where this information exists and identify that person. Now, if you get to the person who should have information and they still don’t have something, interview the stakeholder. You can basically consider them to be the subject matter expert and, a lot of times, you can get information out of them that may not exist in an actual document.
Becoming a Customer
Use your competitors’ products. Buy their products. Use their services. Go through the experience a customer actually goes through with your competitor. This can help you understand their strengths and their weaknesses, not just with their products but with the experience of interacting with that brand.
Call Your Competitor
These days, most of our interaction with people is through the internet, text messaging, or social media. But a phone call is the best way to learn and get all your questions answered about your competitor. Most products and brands have customer service lines that you can call. Call them up and start asking your questions. You will be surprised how much they will reveal to you and give to you right over the phone—technologies, how their product works, their customer service practices, etc. Call and ask a customer service agent and you might get the answer you’re looking for.
Conduct Your Own Research
You can conduct your own research often for free or very little money. Google has great free tools, such as Google Forms or Google Survey that you can send out. You can also have Google recruit and send to people for you and it’s relatively low cost. You can also use survey tools such as SurveyMonkey or other common survey tools.
Chances are you know people that are like your target audience in some way, or you have friends or family members who roughly meet the criteria of your target consumer whom you can also ask questions. It’s not perfect recruiting, but it can be a rough proxy and you can learn some of the answers to your hypotheses. Don’t be afraid to do friends and family research—get a group together, have a party at your house, and in exchange for food and drink, start asking them questions.
Don’t feel like you have to do all of these, but this should give you ideas and a starting point to help you close the information gaps and finish off your landscape analysis.
TEACH YOUR BRAND TEAM HOW TO WRITE A STRATEGIC LANDSCAPE ANALYSIS
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You might also like:
- Strategic Questions to Organize a Landscape Analysis
- How to Gather Key Takeaways for a Landscape Analysis
- Ultimate Guide to Writing a Creative Brief
- Ultimate Guide to Writing a Brand Positioning Statement
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Kevin Namaky is CEO at the Gurulocity Brand Management Institute, a marketing education company that trains and consults for notable brand teams including Kimberly-Clark, Scotts Miracle-Gro, Bolthouse Farms and Gorilla Brands. Kevin is a featured instructor for the American Marketing Association, lectures at the IU Kelley School of business, and has been featured in Ad Age, Forbes, Fast Company and the CMO Council. Previously Kevin worked for 20 years in the corporate and agency world growing notable brands. Follow/connect with Kevin on LinkedIn, TikTok and Twitter.