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The Product team’s guide to market
and competitive intelligence.

4. Mapping out the competitive landscape

With a single glance you can see where your market is.

Matrices are a popular way to illustrate a competitive landscape because of the perspective they give. With a single glance, you can see where your market is, and your place in it according to the criteria.

In this guide, you can learn about different frameworks and get started with provided templates. We are going to order this guide in a simple manner:

    1. What is a competitive matrix, and what are some examples of competitive matrices.
    2. When should you do a competitive matrix
    3. Doing the analysis
    4. Applying what you uncover to your business or product strategy

What is a competitive matrix, and what are some examples of competitive matrices?

Now, there are many ways to show a matrix in this way, but at its core, a matrix is quite simple to visualise. Just like a SWOT analysis, you are spending your time thinking instead of being an artist.

Below is an example of a blank SWOT matrix. (and don’t worry, you can access a full template here.)

Looking at the above grid, you can see that we plotted by “Innovation” and “Market Presence”. Based on these, let’s break this into four quadrants and give them some names. Highly innovative companies with a low market presence are niche, but high innovation and high presence are market leaders. This grid is also now broken down into a 1-10 score (10 high), allowing us to apply a score to each rival.

This matrix format is used to show that scoring in Gartner, G2Crowd, Forrester and many other market reports.

When should you do a competitive matrix?

You probably heard me harp on this in other articles and podcasts, but competitive matrices, SWOTs, battle cards and other analysis tools are not “achievements to unlock”, these are powerful visualisations displaying research and competitive intelligence that should be kept current all the time. Rival’s “Reports” section does just that, where you can score each of your rivals and have any number of dynamically updating matrices.

Ok, let’s talk about doing your first matrix outside of Rival. Here is a template pack that you can use as a base.

You should do a competitive matrix to visualise:

  • Where you win/lose in competitive head-to-head situations.
  • How future features of your product stack up against what is available in the market.
  • Evaluate which competitors you need to keep a close eye on.
  • Competitive landscape on legacy products vs new products in your pipeline.
  • Visualise the competitive edge of different sectors of your organisation (like customer success)

“…Competitive matrices, SWOTs, battle cards and other analysis tools are not “achievements to unlock”, these are powerful visualizations displaying research and competitive intelligence that should be kept current all the time. “

Building a competitive matrix

While a competitive matrix appears simple, it is a lot of research to properly plot the market. Depending on which of the above situations I put together above (as examples of when you should do an analysis), there are different factors to plot.

Where you win/lose in competitive head-to-head situations

Plot your win/loss ratio against the number of head-to-head encounters for each competitor. If you win 50% of 4 head-to-head situations, then you have a 5 on the win/loss. You can create an opportunity measure by taking the highest number of head-to-head situations and dividing each number by them. For example, if you have gone head-to-head against someone 23 times, then 2.3 opportunities is the scale for each square on the grid.

How the future of your products stacks up against the market.

Depending on your analysis of features, you can use the Kano model (link) of drivers to evaluate that. For example you can map out innovation and market penetration, or other drivers.

Evaluate which competitors you need to keep a close eye on.

G2Crowd’s reports use satisfaction and market presence based on the reviews on their sites, and Gartner uses “completeness of vision” and “ability to execute” as some of the ones they use. Those are both very valid ways of evaluating competitors, but I prefer to use “Innovation” and “Market Presence”. It allows you to see who are smaller potential disruptors, and also who are the ones closely surrounding you in both innovation and size.

Other matrices.

Mapping out the competitive landscape on legacy products vs new products in your pipeline, and visualizing the competitive edge of different sectors of your organization (like customer success) are two final suggestions. Mapping out the competitive landscape of your features and product are often the same in classification. The same is true for mapping our sectors of your business, this can be done the same way as your overall competitive analysis, but with a focus diving down into the context of that specific department. You can also map out multiple factors on the same matrix using colour coding. For example, you can colour code legacy competitors a different colour or to differentiate the size of business (small, mid, enterprise).

“The average time it takes for a company to go from birth to compete with established players is under 3 years.”

Applying what you uncover to your business or product strategy

To start, review each of the categories and evaluate the following:

    • What actions can be taken to close the gap? Prioritise these actions by how they remedy the weaknesses in your organisation or resolve any threats to your organisation. What are the tangible steps to doing those actions? If you say that you are going to “better understand X competitor,” “do a deeper evaluation of Z opportunity,” or “re-evaluate Y business threat,” make a list of the actions to do that. This is also a great time to set goals and metrics for that area and delegate the oversight of those tasks to key people on the team.
    • Make sure that there are KPIs in place to measure the ongoing health of the areas where your business has an edge. You do not want those strengths to fade away to just being “average.” Your rivals are possibly doing the very same exercise in a meeting room just like you. What you consider a strength may be something that they are tackling as you read this.
    • Get Rival to automate your competitive intelligence. Rival automatically tracks the changes in your market and competitors, allowing you to keep your new competitive matrix up to date.

We have now mapped out the current position of your business and product, as well as the competitive matrix; we can dive into using that knowledge to determine our “Blue Ocean” or the market space to dominate. That takes place in the next chapter.

To help you get started, we have put together free templates for doing both SWOT and competitive matrix exercises!

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