Competitive benchmarking always starts with the identification process – what goals are an organization trying to accomplish, who are the relevant competitors, what metrics will tell the right story? In these initial steps, an organization must identify its relevant competitors based on brand priorities. As with any market, there will be competitors closer to a particular brand and those leading the industry. With brands closer to a specific organization, it can be easy to identify easily accessible opportunities to gain a competitive edge. Because these brands are often similar in market size and positioning, benchmarking metrics against theirs should require less effort than comparing with an industry leader. To benchmark against close competitors, organizations should look at industry trends, growth potential, competitor traffic sources (through online digital marketing tools), and competitors’ top products and offerings.
When benchmarking against an industry-leading organization (as a minor player), it’s best to utilize insights gathered from their competitive positioning to build a roadmap toward that level of success. Analyzing historical data, past strategies, marketing campaigns, and current positioning will help identify organizational goals that your business can strive towards as it moves along the pipeline. Digital tools to analyze web traffic and SEO content can be compelling in this benchmarking strategy. They offer insights that are often unavailable to the public without significant effort or high cost.
Another form of brand benchmarking involves comparison with industry disruptors. These organizations are shifting the way business is handled in your respective market and can be a mighty area to benchmark against if the entire industry is heading that way. It’s essential to understand whether these disruptors have a sustainable business model to avoid benchmarking along the wrong path. Still, failure to do so against successful disruptors can make or break any business if the industry normalizes its offering. This is especially true in technology segments where industry-wide adoption of solutions could shift buying patterns for decades (think smartphones and electric vehicles).