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Marina Ben-Zvi

Marina Ben-ZviShare

Sr. Director, Product Marketing, Productboard
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Marina Ben-Zvi
Sr. Director, Product Marketing at Productboard December 15

To determine the competitive position in which you’re a clear winner and have unique strengths, try the following:

  • SWOT analysis
  • Competitive map plotted against two axis of the main attributes/values that matter to your CUSTOMERS, not your company
  • Customer/Company/Competitor values venn diagram to identify your unique value points (where company and customer overlap), where its a draw (all 3 overlap and where copy-cat messaging stems from), where you lose (where customer and competitor overlap), and the value points that don’t matter (company and competitor overlap)

Before getting started be clear about your ICP and Personas and fill in these frameworks vs the competition based on how your target audience would rate you vs them. Perception is reality, so even if you have the best capabilities but your personas can’t tell the difference or it’s not important to them, don’t focus on it. This is where a lot of companies stumble.

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Marina Ben-Zvi
Sr. Director, Product Marketing at Productboard December 15

Love this question, because if sales doesn’t use your competitive intel then what’s the point of investing time at the expense of your other competing priorities. A few things I recommend:

  • Work with your sales leaders and sales enablement (if you have sales enablement) to determine the best format, channels, and cadence for competitive intel. Make sure it’s easily accessible since reps won’t waste time searching for it. What works best depends on your sales team and their preferences.
  • Make it actionable and easily digestible. For the most part reps don’t need in-depth capability comparisons, they need quick talking points - kill points, objection handling, quick customer win stories vs the competition, and proof points. Those talking points and sales plays should be the focus of battlecards and trainings.
  • Speaking of trainings, competitive intel isn’t simply about creating assets like batlecards or market roundups. Have live competitive shareouts or training sessions where you review sales plays vs key competitors. Make these interactive by bringing in reps who’ve won vs the competition to share their learnings and encourage discussion.
  • Beat the drum. Just because you shared competitive intel in Slack and other channels doesn’t mean it gets noticed and adopted. Reps are busy. Continue to remind them and lean on sales leaders to remind their teams about the valuable competitive resources they have available. And have a regular cadence for sharing competitive insights and holding competitive play sessions since the competitive landscape is always evolving.

Like with anything - pilot, learn, and iterate. The first iteration won’t be perfect. Get feedback on what is and isn't working and continue to improve on it.

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Marina Ben-Zvi
Sr. Director, Product Marketing at Productboard December 15

I’ve found the top 3 sources of competitive research to be:

  • Peer review sites. G2 and other review sites are the best source of information because it comes straight from the users. Even though most reviews will be positive, pay close attention to the low star reviews and what customers say in the dislike section within the positive reviews. This is where you’ll find your kill points.
  • Competitors’ content. Deep dive into what they post on their website - videos, guides, documentation, case studies, blog posts, etc. Some competitors disclose all the technical details and showcase their product, while others are more secretive. But if you do some digging and Google searches you’ll uncover what you need.
  • Sales feedback. Reps are talking daily to prospects who are evaluating your competitors, and prospects often share a lot of information, including competitive sales decks, pricing, product weaknesses, etc. And don’t stop with the sales teams, others within your company know people who work at competitors or hear information from their networks. I highly recommend having a competitors Slack channel to share and collect competitive intel from across your company.
  • Bonus: win-loss interviews. Here prospects will provide a detailed assessment of how you stack up vs the competition if you just ask and keep probing.

Analyst or other market reports are useful, but biased. Secret shoppers are another interesting strategy, but it isn’t scalable and the information becomes quickly outdated. Glassdoor reviews from employees also sometimes disclose interesting information.

Then once you have your research do a SWOT analysis to identify competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats and then turn it into actionable battlecards and competitive plays.

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Marina Ben-Zvi
Sr. Director, Product Marketing at Productboard December 15

There are a lot of great frameworks out there and they all have common elements. I recommend reviewing a few and customizing to what’s relevant and actionable for your company. I like to include:

  • our differentiated POV
  • positioning statement (internal-facing)
  • tag-line
  • brand personality
  • value pop
  • 25/50/75 word descriptions
  • 3 messaging pillars with core message, use case, business benefits, and proof points under each
  • high level persona descriptions and messaging by persona

Competitive positioning needs to be at the heart of your messaging. It's the key input that you build your messaging around. Positioning is the strategy and messaging is the execution — the words and narratives that bring your competitive positioning to life and have it land with your personas.

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Marina Ben-Zvi
Sr. Director, Product Marketing at Productboard December 15

Positioning (which by definition is competitive positioning since it carves out a place in the market where you are the clear winner) is your strategy. It defines who you're for and how you'll win.  As a result, not only pricing and packaging but your marketing strategy, product roadmap, partnership strategy, etc are designed to deliver on that position.

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Marina Ben-Zvi
Sr. Director, Product Marketing at Productboard December 15

This is a great question because without a framework for competitive intel you’ll get overwhelmed and lost in the noise. Here’s a few tips to get started:

  1. Define and tier your competitors. Every industry is saturated and you can’t track every competitor or alternative that your sales team comes across. Bucket your competition into tier 1 (who you’re always going head-to-head with), tier 2 (other common players you come across in deals), and up-and-coming competitors to keep an eye on. Keep the tier 1 list short and manageable since that’s where you’ll focus most of your energy. You likely already have a good idea of which competitors fit into which bucket, and you can run a SFDC report to confirm the competitive set and see the trends in your competitive mix.
  2. Determine your competitive assets for each tier. Will you have battle cards, regular competitive news roundups, trainings on competitive plays, etc? Aligning with your sales team and other teams who’ll be using your competitive intelligence on what will be useful for them. Be clear about what you can support for each competitive tier. And think about what kinds of competitive intel you need for each audience (SDRs, AEs, product, etc). These inputs will help determine what competitive information you need to collect.
  3. Set your cadence. While you want to keep competitive intel and resources fresh, PMM has a lot of other priorities. Set expectations on how often each type of competitive asset will be refreshed.
  4. Invest in a Competitive Intelligence platform such as Crayon and Klue. RSS feeds are useful, but you still need to sift through all that information. CI platforms not only aggregate all the relevant data but also help you filter it, organize it, and immediately insert it into battlecards, competitive Slack channels, and anywhere else that information needs to go.
  5. Block off an hour weekly to review the competitive updates, share relevant information with your team, and incorporate the intel into assets as needed.

Keep in mind, that while it seems like there’s so much new information daily, most of it is noise. The big updates you need to know will immediately rise to the top, especially if you’re using a CI platform.

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Marina Ben-Zvi
Sr. Director, Product Marketing at Productboard December 15

Competitive differentiation is what forms your positioning and what you build your messaging around. With how crowded every market category is now its essential to nail your differentiation and then communicate it through your messaging and the rest of the go-to-market.

Enabling sales effectively requires making the competitive information actionable and easily digestible. Whether you’re creating battlecards, sharing competitive updates in Slack, or leading a competitive play sales training distill it down to the key points and bring it to life with examples with what worked in deals.

Finally to test if your messaging is resonating you can:

  • Test copy across competitive campaigns and landing pages
  • Look at competitive win rates before and after competitive enablement
  • Sit in on sales call or listen to call recordings to see how competitive messaging points are resonating
  • Ask industry analysts for feedback
Most Relevant
Marina Ben-Zvi
Sr. Director, Product Marketing at Productboard December 15

Similar to an earlier question: (1) define and tier your competitors, (2) determine the competitive assets you need, (3) set your cadence, (4) invest in a Competitive Intelligence platform, and (5) block off an hour or so weekly to review competitive updates.

For competitive intelligence to be fresh, relevant, actionable, and accessible you need the right tools. PMM has too much on their plate to stay on top of all the competitive moves. If competitive intelligence is important to winning deals, as it is across B2B SaaS and most other spaces, then invest in a competitive intelligence platform such as Crayon and Klue. It’s easy to make the business case - depending on your ACV, just one incremental deal closed more than covers the cost.

Credentials & Highlights
Sr. Director, Product Marketing at Productboard
Product Marketing AMA Contributor
Lives In San Francisco, California
Knows About Competitive Positioning, Messaging, Pricing and Packaging, Product Marketing Intervie...more