In his seminal work The Art of War, Sun Tzu wrote "If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles."
Brand manufacturers aren't exactly at war, but they are in fierce competition with one another, especially in the omnichannel age. Digital engagement has opened up the world of commerce, transforming it into a massive, seemingly unruly landscape that requires a brand's best effort on every front (web, brick-and-mortar, social, text, mobile, etc.).
And just as Sun Tzu remarked several thousand years ago, the brands that come out ahead will be those that know their enemies and themselves.
Understand the true measure of your reach
"Are you making the most of your seller network?"
Before explaining what goes into knowing the competition, it's important for brand manufacturers to ask themselves if they truly know themselves. Specifically, they need to fully comprehend the resources they have access to, and whether or not they're making the most of them.
Case in point, are you making the most of your seller network? The simple fact is that brands cannot be everywhere all the time in such a large digital landscape. Nor can they necessarily provide benefits such as same-day delivery, which is now available to Amazon Prime users in 27 cities.
But what they can do is use retailers as an extension of themselves by first knowing exactly where there is inventory of their products. Which sellers have stock? This knowledge can subsequently be shared with customers via the brand's website. In turn, those prospects know where your products are available across your entire seller network.
It's a simple but powerful strategy.
Next, know the reach of your competition
Sun Tzu also wrote, "If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat."
Even while playing to your strengths (i.e., your seller network), you must also know where the competition is gaining ground. If you don't, they may start taking away customers from right under your nose.
Having that 360-degree view of the field requires comprehensive analysis of channels across the web that your competition is using to sell its merchandise. You need to know how much they are charging, where they are selling, what benefits they are advertising and, perhaps most importantly, how consumers are reacting.
You can learn so much about your competitions' strengths and weaknesses from customer reviews on product pages, social media, web forums, review sites and other channels scattered across the web. From this knowledge, you can attempt to undermine their strengths, and one-up them wherever they are weak.
All you actually need to achieve this feat is a data-driven tool that can sift through the noise and provide competitive analysis in polished, digestible reports. With this information at your disposal, you can compete more strategically against your market rivals and truly delight your customers time and time again.