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How to Use Competitive Analysis to Drive Results

Bridget Johnston September 17, 2020

Marketers are always asking: what should I do in my creative that is going to drive performance? There are a variety of tactics that begin answering this question, but a very common one is to look at what the competition is doing, and what is working well, to inform how we should adjust our strategy. 

What I have found after doing competitor analysis for a variety of brands is that 9 times out of 10, competitors are doing the exact same thing you are. Your clothing subscription box competitor? Yes, they are using lay downs and a girl wearing an outfit, too. The other furniture retailer? Yep, they are using a wide shot of a living room in grey tones, too. Even Jake from State Farm and Peyton Manning and Brad Paisley with Nationwide are pretty much the same concept – characters that make you laugh become synonymous with their respective brands. 

So how do I differentiate my brand and drive performance?

Know the Trends

First, understand what is trending. We have seen trends change more this year due to COVID than any other year. In early March we saw images full of groups of people, public settings and hand holding, but by April the images shifted to single people in more casual clothing in home settings. But it goes deeper than that. What colors are trending? Should my image be inside or outside? Should I have a plant in my image? What words are trending that I should include in my copy? Which emoji should I use? These elements and more change rapidly, so as a marketer I need to understand and incorporate these into my creative process. Failing to look at trends puts us at a disadvantage before we even begin. 

Get Crazy 

When we discover we are using similar creative to our competitors, it is time to become the disrupter. What can I do that is wildly different to grab attention? Instead of a woman modeling an outfit do we put the accessories on a little girl with catchy copy about playing dress up to highlight my subscription box? Do we have a messy man cave that looks more real life than the picturesque grey toned living room? Do I have a dog driving a purple car to sell car insurance? Spin out of control with the ideas, mock up a few images, write a variety of crazy copy and then test. But we will never know if there are ads that will outperform what is currently running if we don’t try something very different. 

Test Before Launch

The only way to know if new ads will work is to test them. Understanding trends and becoming a disrupter will set you apart from the competition and hopefully give you an edge. But are you willing to put $10,000 in ad budget against that to see? $100k? $1 million? If the answer is no, then test with a platform that allows you to see which creative combinations will perform best for your specific audience for the objective you care about before putting budget behind them. And be sure to test your new ads against several audiences you care about – what works for one audience may not work for another.  

If you want to learn how to do this in Pattern89, contact and we can help you get started.