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A competitor analysis is an important part of your business plan. Once you have defined the vision for your product and the customer problem you are solving, it is essential to understand the other companies in your market. This helps you identify opportunities and threats. It also allows you to set strategies that address the needs of your prospective customers better than your competitors can.
Your research should focus on understanding how customers are coping with the problem today. This requires a deep understanding of all the alternatives that are available to them — including direct and indirect competitors. Direct competitors offer a similar type of product within the same market. Indirect competitors offer a different type of product that serves the same need. Considering all the options available to your prospective customers helps you differentiate your offering and establish a sustainable competitive advantage.
The free Excel and PowerPoint templates provided here make it easy to organize and communicate your competitive research. They are a huge time saver. Choose from a wide range of examples and download them at no cost. Of course, if you want to quickly capture competitive information, build product roadmaps, and define go-to-market strategies using a collaborative and web-based approach, you can try Aha! free for 30 days. If you are not yet ready to do that, get started with the templates below.
A competitor analysis is a useful tool to understand the market landscape. This helps you identify alternative ways prospective customers can solve their problems. It is also a great way to evaluate other vendors' strategies so you can assess their strengths and weaknesses. This gives you important insights into how other companies are trying to provide value to your target buyers.
Your competitive analysis should answer these core questions:
Product and marketing teams use these findings to inform their strategic plans and determine what will make their product a success. It allows them to formulate an approach that considers the strengths and weaknesses of their own offering relative to the competition.
There are many different types of competitor analysis. When considering which template to use, it is important to think about the factors you want to analyze and how you will share your findings.
Listed below are the pre-built examples included in this guide.
|Competitive landscape||See where your company fits in the overall market landscape and position alternative vendors based on their strengths and weaknesses.|
|Competitor profile||Capture key information about each competitor, including important details about the company, product, and features.|
|Competitor scorecard||Assess your competitors using a set of scoring metrics and weigh the relative importance of each attribute.|
|Competitor overview||Gather intelligence about each competitor and compare your findings to identify their relative strengths and weaknesses.|
|Capabilities analysis||Compare your unique, best, same, and poor capabilities against your competitors and consider their importance to customers.|
|Features analysis||Create a detailed comparison of the features included in each product and use Harvey Balls to show the degree to which they are complete.|
|Marketing competitive analysis||Gain insights into the marketing strategies that each competitor uses to target buyers — such as social media, keyword targeting, content, events, and more.|
|Value proposition analysis||Evaluate the key messages your competitors use to communicate the benefits of their product.|
|Imitability analysis||Determine how easily your competitors can imitate your key value so you can identify the strengths and weaknesses of your offering and market position.|
|Competitive differentiation analysis||Analyze the basic, expected, augmented, and potential benefits of your product to define a strategy that sets you apart from the competition.|
Understanding how your customers are dealing with their challenges today and what options they have helps you define your long-term product strategy. The value of this research extends beyond just looking at competitors. You can also use it to inform strategic planning models, such as Lean Canvas, SWOT analysis, and Porter's 5 Forces models. This allows you to deeply consider your business and product assumptions and what will make your offering a success.
You should regularly update your competitive analysis and the business models that are impacted by your findings. This allows you to quickly identify changes in the market and respond to new challenges and opportunities.
Surpass your competition by using these carefully selected templates to see where your product fits in the market.
This template makes it easy to visualize your competitors in a single view. It is the perfect way to position the key players in the market and how they relate to each other. It is useful, for example, when you need to provide an overview of your competition to executives or advisory boards. You can easily customize the titles for each quadrant and change the values on the x and y axis to align with how your company assesses the market.
This template makes it easy to build a detailed profile for each of your main competitors. It is great for capturing a wide range of information about their organization, customers, and products. A well-defined competitor profile gives internal teams — such as marketing and sales — a better understanding of who they are up against. It provides insights into the strengths and weaknesses of each competitor so the team can position their own offering as the better solution to prospective customers.
Create a competitor scorecard to rank your competitors and measure the threats they represent to your business. It is a great way to assess your competitors using a consistent set of scoring metrics. You decide which attributes you want to score. For example, you can assess organizational attributes, such as market awareness or ability to execute. Or you can rank product attributes, such as ease of use, unique features, and quality. This template also provides a weighted scoring approach so you can rank the relative importance of each attribute from the customer's perspective.
Use this worksheet to gather important information about all of your competitors in one place. It allows you to capture details about each company, product, and their go-to-market strategies. This template is a useful tool to organize your research so you can easily find and access the information you need. It serves as the foundation of your competitive analysis and provides a consistent way to collect and analyze key data.
A capability analysis allows you to assess how your product and team compares to a competitor's. It is a great way to analyze the collective skills, abilities, expertise, and even how product features match up. This template helps you define what your organization is good at and where you can improve. It also lets you rank the relative importance of each capability to customers. This keeps you focused on how effectively you are solving the customer's problem.
Use this features analysis template to create a detailed comparison of the features that each product includes. It allows you to conduct a thorough assessment of competitive products so you can see how your own offering stacks up. This helps you identify features that are unique to your product as well as any gaps in relation to what your competitors offer. A common approach is to use Harvey Balls to show the degree to which each feature is complete. This makes it easy for internal teams to understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of their product from the customer's perspective.
A marketing competitive analysis gives you deep insights into how your competitors go to market and position themselves. This matrix is perfect for capturing the marketing strategies that each competitor uses to target buyers. What social media channels do they use? How much are they spending on ads? What keywords are they competing for? These are key questions that help you understand the marketing strategies your competitors use. It also allows you to identify potential weaknesses in their plans so you can increase your own competitive advantage.
Use this template to evaluate your competitors' value propositions. This is a great way to compare the key messages your competitors use to communicate the benefits of their product. It allows you to rate the core messages that address your customers' needs so you can see how your position in the market compares. This gives you important insights into how competitors are targeting potential customers and the messaging they use, so you can identify ways to strengthen your communication plan.
The imitability ladder template helps you determine the uniqueness of your offering. It is a great tool to help you assess how easily your tangible resources (financial, physical, technological, and organizational) and intangible resources (human, innovation, creativity, and reputation) can be imitated. This helps you understand your competitive advantage and identify existing and potential weaknesses in your business strategy.
This template helps you define a product strategy that will set your company apart from the competition. It is perfect for identifying the basic, expected, augmented, and potential benefits of your product. This makes it clear where you need to add value to your solution so you can create customer delight and lasting competitive advantage. You can include functional features and non-functional features (such as design or branding) that differentiate your product from competing solutions.