There have never been more brands than there are today. Most categories have tens, sometimes hundreds of direct competitors. While 5 years ago winning on a better product was a viable strategy to pursue, today that is no longer the case.
Every tool has every feature. Almost all solutions are easy to use and deliver good support. You still need a good product to win, but it’s merely a ticket to play. You need to win on other things beyond the product.
To win in an era of saturated markets, you need to know:
In essence, you need buyer intelligence. The faster your feedback loops, the bigger your advantage.
Buyer intelligence provides data on:
Do you know what your target customers think about the problems you solve? I mean, what do they really think about it?
If you’re not sure, you need more buyer intelligence.
Buyer intelligence gives you insights on why a customer buys, how they make purchasing decisions, what marketing and product messages are likely to hit home (or not).
It’s knowing exactly what your ideal client’s challenges and priorities are right now.
Boiled down, buyer intelligence = what your target customer thinks + how they respond to certain messaging.
Having sufficient intel on this is the key to out-marketing and out-converting your competition.
The first step to effective buyer intelligence will comprise of relevant, up to date, information listing your specific target audiences’:
If you know this, you have a good chance of crafting marketing and product messaging that truly resonates. If you don’t have this intel, you’re likely to miss the mark.
The second step is validating how your messaging is resonating with your target buyer.
Most intelligence gathering falls short, looking only at the topics bullet-pointed above. They don’t take this last element into consideration and their conversions suffer from it.
When you nail your messaging, your marketing becomes significantly more effective.
It's never been easier to start a company. It's never been harder to build one.
This quote by Naval from 2012 rings even more true today.
The barriers of entry have truly come down. The tech is way easier and cheaper than it was 15-20 years ago. There's so much know-how widely available on the internet. In the remote world, you can hire talent anywhere.
And when the barriers of entry go down, the competition goes up. Like WAY up. So much noise. So many well-funded competitors. Companies that started with SEO 10+ years ago have a massive head start (Just try to catch up on backlinks…).
All innovative companies need to deal with near-identical clones sooner or later.
Things that have become more important than ever when it comes to business building:
1. Brand and other moats. They can and will copy your feature set. Yes, you can keep on out-innovating others in theory, but it's hard. What someone cannot copy is your reputation, your brand perception, trust, and relationships.
2. Speed. Speed of execution, speed of decision making, and accelerating market feedback loops are paramount. If you're slow, they will not only catch up but run past you.
You need to optimize your back-of-the-house operations for speed (stop making your leadership a decision-making bottleneck). And then, you need to speed up launching and testing new products as well as acquiring customer insights and acting on them.
You need tools and systems to get feedback very quickly. The old way of "let's build X, then ship it and gather data for weeks and months" is a woefully slow feedback loop.
More and more companies will need dedicated product people/teams focused on innovation and testing new things fast.
3. Buyer intelligence. Competitive strategy requires a theory of advantage. How can you do better than other smart people out there going for the same customers?
The key strategy here is "choose your customers".
If you know more about the target customer than others, you have a leg up. Customer research is hard, buyer research is even harder. It's painful enough that most don't do it, even today. That's your opportunity.
Buyer intelligence is not about drawing up personas. It's about knowing in almost real-time what the priorities and challenges are for them today. What's the priority for this next year? What's a job to be done for the title you sell to? What are they being measured on? What's the desired gain?
While your competitors are putting our messaging on their website, emails, and ads that are gut-based (and 50% a total dud), you can craft messaging that is interesting, relevant, and aligned with the exact priorities of your buyer (if you know what they think and want + how your messaging is landing on them).
Knowing more about your target customer than your competition gives you a HUGE leg up.
Mining buyer intelligence has been traditionally a complex and time-consuming process. A hassle that many shy away from.
Today, sourcing buyer intelligence is faster, more accurate, and easier than ever. With Wynter, this takes minutes to set up and on average 24 hrs to get the full data.
Since most marketers are neither gathering nor using this type of data, anyone using buyer intelligence received an edge over their competition.
Imagine this… while your competition is crafting vanilla messaging that’s never been tested or validated, you are crafting messages that are truly interesting, relevant, and aligned EXACTLY to the priorities of your buyer.
This is the power of using buyer intelligence to craft your messaging.
Buyer intelligence goes much deeper than drawing up your average persona (Linda, 32, marketing manager, loves walking and Netflix).
Buyer intelligence will help you answer questions like:
Once you have this data, what do you do with it?
When messaging addresses their perceived challenges and goals, they will feel understood. You have the power to give that certainty of success.
If your target customer could be confident that your solution will result in success for them, they'd buy it.
How can you engineer that?
Identify their fears, doubts, uncertainties, and then effectively address them.
This is where buyer intelligence comes in. Use the information you source to do an in-depth risk reversal and tackle what’s holding them back.
A challenging part about nailing your messaging is the feedback loop involved.
The traditional way to do this is the classic build-measure-learn loop: You put the messaging out there, and see what happens. It can literally take weeks or even months to see if your message was effective.
Way too slow for today’s competitive pace.
The other problem is that while you can see if it converts well or not, you won’t know what parts of your messaging convert more customers… and which parts turn them off.
With a modern feedback loop, you can get this data in just 12-24 hours. This gives you the chance to both validate the messaging AND learn exactly how to improve it — in a day.
Instead of “flying blind”, you’re able to get accurate feedback from a niched down target audience after creating a messaging map, new landing page, email campaigns, a product idea, an experimental method, etc.
If you have the traffic to run statistically valid A/B tests — great. Message testing works in conjunction with A/B testing, helping you eliminate duds from the get-go and only test the most promising variants.
Most marketers know they should be talking to more target customers, but they don't.
Not only is buyer research via 1:1 interviews slow and expensive, but it’s such a big hassle that it just doesn't get done.
It's a considerable pain to do. It's scary to reach out to people, it's painful to follow up, it's hard to find mutually convenient times.
1:1 meetings are always going to be the crème de la crème of interactions, but the cost is too high for most things to be justified.
What to do?
Any communication that's not centered around relationship building should be async. Buyer intelligence interviews can be high quality, but they're expensive, inconvenient, and slow.
Speeding up market feedback loops is a massive advantage, and going async will help.
Aim to talk to people in your target market one by one. Takes weeks and months. It mostly doesn't get done at all because of the pain involved.
Supplement interviews with surveys of people in your target market in bulk (can be achieved with a couple of clicks).
What goes into a buyer intelligence survey:
Let’s say your company solves problem [X] for your customer. So do many other companies... So, why should your audience choose you over the next guy? Does your target audience really get why they should choose you?
If not, your conversions are probably suffering.
On average, a customer will visit three or more websites before making a decision on who to buy from. Fortunately, figuring out how to differentiate yourself is as easy as getting specified buyer intelligence. This data goes beyond the usual generalized questions and goes into specifically testing your message against your competition.
Using buyer intelligence to out-market and out-convert your competitors in 3 steps:
This requires honest, deep, qualitative data from your exact target audience that includes pains, needs, and preferences when it comes to your competition.
Let’s nix the weeks and months gathering data from their audience with 1:1 interviews, and use better buyer intelligence surveys with lightning-fast turnaround. Use better data and use it to craft (and test) messaging that your customer actually cares about.
Then validate data-informed messaging via message tests, identify its shortcomings. Make changes, address identified issues — run another message test to see if you successfully solved the friction.
Buyer intelligence helps you move much faster than the competition, and do better marketing. You learn faster, experiment faster, and convert better.
If we’d play chess and you could make two moves every time I make one move, you’d beat me every single time. Getting and using buyer intelligence is very much like that.
I’m closing this off with a short checklist to get you started with buyer intelligence: