In business, it is believed that no company has a permanent advantage over its competitors. You will go extinct in the business world if you don’t follow the right strategies and tactics.
Among the many factors that contribute to the success or failure of a business – such as product, operations, sales, etc. – marketing is definitely one of the most important.
The beauty and challenge with marketing is that any business can steal the advantage you have today in less than a few months. But that’s possible only if you apply the right tactics.
In this blog post, I cover 9 marketing tactics I have learned over my career that you can use to gain an edge over competitors by making their marketing strength yours.
What does ‘stealing marketing advantage’ mean?
If you look at your competitors that have made it big in the long run, they all have 1 or more marketing or growth channels that have helped skyrocket their growth at different stages of their journey. For you, this could mean the following:
- If those growth tactics have worked for your competitors, there is a high likelihood that they will work for you as well (even though there will be exceptions).
- A large portion of your existing target audience is familiar with these channels. Hence the speed at which you can grab their attention is much higher if you choose these channels
- You would often find (in most cases) that the channel mix is different for different competitors. This proves that a diversified marketing strategy works in your industry.
In short, you can ‘copy your competitors elegantly’ (and ethically of course) to beat them with innovative marketing strategies and tactics. Today, I will cover all that you need to know in terms of ‘imitating’ your competition’s marketing strategy.
A good precursor to this article
Before we dive deep into the individual marketing tactics, I covered glimpses of this topic in one of my previous blog posts on competitor analysis. I highly recommend that you give it a read since it covers a detailed framework for doing competitor analysis from a marketing standpoint. Here is the link to the same:
This article will get you familiarized with various marketing audit techniques. Some of the methods we discuss today will be an extension or continuation of what has been covered in that article.
How to steal your competitors’ marketing advantage?
The fundamental principle behind stealing your competitors’ marketing advantage is identifying marketing activities that are working for them and doing them better.
With that in mind, here are the 9 tactics you can implement to destroy your competitors’ marketing strength and make them your unfair advantage:
- Implementing your competitors’ email marketing best practices
- Keyword gap analysis to steal organic traffic
- Tapping into online event attendees
- Winning a share of competitor traffic using Google ads
- Learning from all paid ads
- Reverse engineer your competitors’ YouTube marketing success
- Beat their content calendar
- Expand your TAM by analyzing competitor traffic
- Find new avenues of partnership marketing
1. Implementing your competitors’ email marketing strategies
Spying on your competitor’s email campaigns is one of the best ways to learn their positioning, messaging, and content marketing tactics. But doing this by subscribing to their email list using an unidentifiable email ID is very tedious and does not help you view relevant information in a consolidated manner.
2. Keyword gap analysis to steal organic traffic
This is a tactic we use for multiple clients at Skalegrow. Since SEO-led content is one of the most scalable marketing channels, we suggest almost all our clients to start early with it.
And keyword gap analysis is one of the marketing tactics used to get started with SEO-led content. It involves identifying keywords your competitors are ranking for but your website is not. By creating content around such keywords, over time you will be able to rank higher for some of them at least.
The only thing to note here is that creating regurgitated content that doesn’t add more value than your competitor’s content won’t take you far. You need to create content that is far better in terms of quality (check out Brian Dean’s skyscraper technique to learn more about this tactic).
Now, coming to how to go about doing keyword gap analysis the right way.
We covered this topic in detail in one of the edition of The Skalegrow Newsletter. Check it out here.
3. Tapping into online event attendees
This is possible only if your competitor has added the event on LinkedIn. The thing is, if you RSVP for a competitor event (or any event for that matter) on the platform, you can see all the other attendees.
You can then filter out people who don’t fall into your ICP and send connection requests to the others. Since you are an attendee, the platform also allows you to send messages to other attendees. That could be another way to establish a connect with attendees in your ICP.
You can extend the same tactic to steal people who engage with your competitors’ posts on LinkedIn. From them, connect with those who fall into your ICP. It requires a bit of manual effort, but it helps in the long run.
4. Winning a share of competitor traffic using Google ads
This is a tactic widely used by almost all advertisers on Google. This can be done in two ways.
The first method is similar to the keyword gap analysis technique we discussed earlier. Basically, you find keywords your competitors are ranking for and use them in your ads.
One bonus tip when it comes to doing this is to prioritize the organic keywords they are using and not the paid ones. This is because ranking for organic keywords is going to be easier than competing against them for paid keywords. You can use a tool like Ahrefs to find the paid keywords your competitors are using.
The second method is nothing but targeting your competitors’ brand keywords. This is a popular tactic, especially in the SaaS space, where many businesses run ads to dedicated product comparison landing pages (say a HubSpot vs. Salesforce landing page).
If you wish to do it in a sneaky way, stay away from using your competitors’ names in the ad copy and target their names only in the keywords section of your ads.
Now, most advertisers stop by targeting 1 or 2 competitors. But if you have the budget, it is always recommended to go after multiple competitors (I would say at least 5 to 6) to make this a scalable model.
5. Learning from all paid ads
This involves analyzing all the other ads your competitors are running. These can be on platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, etc., or other third-party media websites in your niche.
For social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook, you can make use of their ad library or native ads section to analyze competitor ads. A faster way to do this is to use a tool like Adbeat which will give you a consolidated view of all the ads your competitors are running. The free version of Adbeat offers you some basic features required for ads analysis.
Once you understand in-depth about your competitors’ ad strategies, think along the following lines to see what is it that you can replicate:
- Ad copy
- Ad creatives
- Videos (for video ads)
- Landing page design and copy
- Overall positioning and messaging
- Targeting (You won’t be able to see the targeting defined by competitors on the ad platform, but you can figure this out to some extent from the ad content).
6. Reverse engineer your competitors’ YouTube marketing success
You can do this manually by going through the titles, descriptions, and video content of all your competitor channels. But there has to be a better way of doing this, right?
That’s where YouTube SEO tools like VidIQ and TubeBuddy come to your rescue. There are a ton of insights you can get about your competitor channels that you can leverage to grow your YouTube presence.
When it comes to following a defined process for this, I found the below tutorial very useful.
Please note that this video is not tailored for a B2B audience and does not cover everything related to growing on YouTube. But it will help you get started with a structured approach using YouTube SEO tools.
7. Beat their content calendar
By this I mean, beating your competition in 3 parameters:
- Quality of content
- Quantity of content
- Diversity of content
The first two are kind of self-explanatory. Diversity of content is about the different content types you can create. If a competitor of yours is actively invested in creating different formats of content such as blog, case studies, whitepapers, videos, ebooks, brochures, infographics, etc., you will have to do a lot of work to beat them.
So, how do you beat them?
In short, create content that is of higher quality more frequently across more number of formats. A lot of work. But it pays off.
The reason why I am calling this ‘beating their calendar’ is because success in content marketing is relative. To beat someone creating good content at a decent pace, you need to beat their quality and consistency. It’s that simple.
8. Expand your TAM by analyzing competitor traffic
TAM stands for Total Addressable Market. But how does analyzing your competitors’ website traffic help you expand your TAM?
Using tools like Similarweb, you can analyze which regions are contributing the highest to your competitors’ website traffic. Most often, if you look at say the top 10 in the list, you will notice that 4 to 5 countries will be the same. But look for patterns beyond this.
For example, if you see the competitor getting a significant percentage of traffic from Japan, it means that they are focusing a lot on that market. You probably want to enter this market too – which would in turn require you to invest in marketing to that region.
In fact, more than a marketing hack, this is a business tactic wherein you gauge the demand for your solutions in a market by looking at competitor presence. You can also figure this out by looking at your competitors’ press releases, news updates, customer names, etc.
9. Find new avenues of partnership marketing
Partnerships and related co-marketing activities are some of the most underrated marketing tactics in the B2B space. Most of us don’t even identify it as a marketing channel. The reality is that partnerships help you reach audiences that you otherwise don’t have access to, especially in niche markets.
But how do you find the companies your competitors have partnered with?
Here are a few ways:
- Look at the partners page on their website. Also, check the news or press releases section to see any recent partnership announcements.
- Use social media listening tools like Brandwatch, Mention, Brands24, etc., to analyze the accounts that are mentioning your competitors frequently. Some of them are likely to be their partners. You can also manually go through the social media posts of your competition to look for any partner mention.
- Use SparkToro to identify all the social media accounts, YouTube channels, podcasts, etc., that mention your competitors.
- Simply Google by adding “news” or “partnership news” to your competitor’s name to find any partnership or collaboration announcements.
Once you find these partners, the objective is to do different co-marketing activities with them. But this might not be as easy as the other techniques on the list. You will most probably have to go through a partnership discussion and agreement process which most often lasts for months.
However, there might be other forms of collaborations these partners are interested in even before getting into a formal partnership – such as conducting a joint webinar/panel discussion for example. So explore such opportunities. In the process, you might also identify a few vendors who are offering paid promotional services in your niche.
In short, keep an open mind and look for all opportunities that offer you a chance to promote your business. You will have to reach out and connect with the right people in these organizations through email, LinkedIn, or a mutual connection.
There are a few tactics that I have not included in this article (such as martech analysis, website chat analysis, social media audit, etc.) since they have already been covered in the competitor analysis article. So make sure to read that article as well to get a complete view of how to steal from your competition.
Also, put your creative brain to work and come up with newer ways of doing this. After all, learning from competition is one of the best ways to validate your business tactics.
On the other hand, this is not to say that just because competitors are doing something, you should replicate it. Don’t shy away from experimenting with new ideas. In addition, as I mentioned in the beginning, ‘copy’ elegantly and ethically. Also, make sure to keep your brand identity unique to yourself as you do this.
Skalegrow – B2B demand generation agency
With marketing getting tougher and tougher, every wrong foot you make might hamper your growth. What you need is the right guidance and a helping hand. This is where Skalegrow can make a sea of difference.
Skalegrow helps IT, tech, SaaS, and embedded systems companies leverage new-age marketing tactics to grow their business. Check out the below intro video to learn more about what Skalegrow brings to the table:
Demand generation is one of our focus areas. While most marketing agencies talk in terms of campaigns alone, we take a more strategic approach and first think about how we can solve the growth challenges of our customers.
We are already helping some of our clients generate leads and improve brand awareness using innovative demand generation techniques. Visit our services page to learn more about how we can help. You could also write to us at email@example.com.
About the author
Naseef KPO is the Founder and CEO of Skalegrow. He comes with rich experience across multiple areas of B2B marketing including content marketing, demand generation, SEO, account-based marketing, marketing analytics, revenue attribution, marketing technology, etc. He writes thought-provoking and relevant articles on The Skalegrow Blog and his weekly LinkedIn newsletter Elevate Your Marketing.
Prior to starting Skalegrow, Naseef led large marketing teams in multi-million dollar B2B organizations where he made significant contributions to the topline growth of the business. He has also appeared on numerous podcasts where he shared his thoughts on trending marketing topics such as the application of AI in marketing, startup marketing, ABM, and B2B content marketing, just to name a few. Being the founder of Skalegrow, he is currently focusing on helping its clients stay ahead of their competition by using innovative yet practical marketing tactics.
You can connect with Naseef KPO on LinkedIn.