The business realm has always been notoriously competitive, with global companies fighting to establish themselves as leaders in their respective fields.

Competitive intelligence (CI) serves as a source of crucial information for PMMs, as they seek to identify market rivals, establish potential gaps in the market, and improve pricing strategies, to name a few.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the role of CI in product marketing leadership through the results of the State of Product Marketing Leadership report 2022, specifically:

  • How often do leaders analyze their target and adjacent markets?
  • How often are indirect competitors being tracked?
  • Are leaders planning on moving into an adjacent market?
  • How are leaders differentiating their products?

How often do leaders analyze their target market and adjacent markets?

With competition fierce, we wanted to understand how much time product marketing leaders are setting aside to analyze their target market and adjacent market spaces.

39.8% of respondents said they analyze their target market and adjacent market spaces quarterly, more than any other category.

Just under one-quarter of leaders (23.7%) said they complete the process monthly, 21.5% weekly, while 10.8% only analyze their market and adjacent market spaces on an annual basis.

A small percentage (4.2%) selected the ‘Other’ option - here’s what they had to say:

“We always analyze our target market and adjacent market spaces - it’s a continual process.”
JeriAnn May, Senior Consultant at Maple Marketing Solutions

“We complete the process as needed - mostly bi-annually.”
Sophie Bussell Cheng, Senior Director of Product Marketing at ZoomInfo

“The process is completed on an ad-hoc basis, less than annually.”
Zachary Fox, Senior Director, Product, Customer & Partner Marketing, & BizDev at RD Station

How often are indirect competitors being tracked?

Coke vs Pepsi, Spotify vs Apple Music, Chevrolet vs Ford - the market is full of direct competitors offering similar products or services within a target market.

But is enough attention being given to indirect competitors? I.e. products that are in a different category entirely, but may be seen as an alternative purchase choice?

While an indirect competitor may not offer direct competition now, it could develop into a direct competitor shortly.

Most of the leaders (33.3%) said they keep track of indirect competitors every month.

“Both this result and the one that speaks to target/adjacent markets align with the growing need within mid-market and enterprise companies to maintain a broader view of their competitive landscape.
“High-growth organizations can no longer be concerned about only their direct competition—they need to keep an eye on those aspirational companies who may veer into their lane by expanding their product line or come further down-market. Or they need to pay attention to where there may be market opportunities that they themselves can take advantage of.
“In this way, the market and competitive intelligence tasks that PMMs are now taking on with greater frequency become that much more important to their company’s strategic plans.”
Erik Mansur, VP of Product Marketing at Crayon

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Are leaders planning on moving into an adjacent market?

When we asked those occupying leadership roles if they plan to move into an adjacent market in the near future: 54.8% answered ‘Yes’; 45.2% answered ‘No’.

How are leaders differentiating their products?

Customers are attracted to products that are different and stand out in a competitive market. With communication essential to product success, we asked leaders about their processes for differentiating their products from their competitors.

“Our company focuses on connected TV advertising alongside our independence from media sales to foster interoperability with leading publishers and partners in the space.”
Laura Foster, VP of Product Marketing at Innovid

“Our differentiation lies with our platform-based approach.”
Vijay Sarathi Cherukuri, Associate Director of Product Marketing at Innovacer

“We use our technology (crawlers), unlike our competitors who often buy third-party data.”
Igor Kranjcec, Head of Marketing at Mediatoolkit

“By identifying the entire API lifecycle, we can clearly articulate that Stoplight fits at the very beginning. On the other hand, market alternatives start in the middle of the lifecycle.”
Anna Daugherty, Product Marketing Manager at Stoplight

“We look at the difference between the types of customers we have vs. the types of customers our competitors have. Then, we complete a big deep dive into our differentiators. When we go up against a competitor in a deal, we try to pair a few or more of our differentiators to each competitor's weak spot.”
Erin Lewis, Director of Product Marketing at Intellum

“We analyze competitive messaging to call out why we are different, and ensure crisp messaging is carried out across all mediums.”
Karen Crowley, Director of Solutions Marketing at Deep Instinct

“We focus on macro-level arguments pertaining to our product offering as a whole and its unique ability to solve customer problems, as well as the extras we offer outside of the product specifications.”
Lara Dobson, Head of Product Marketing at Staffbase

“Our products are part of a complete solution/ecosystem where the client can solve all issues in the same platform. We provide an all-digital solution and offer great customer support.”
Renata Zanquetta, Product Marketing Lead at Creditas

Optimize your competitive intelligence

We have a plethora of different resources you can you to help take your competitive intelligence skills to the next level.

Competitive Intelligence Certified: Masters

With the help of Alex McDonnell, Market Intelligence Lead at Airbase, we have created a Competitive Intelligence Certified: Masters course, designed to go even deeper into equipping you with essential CI skills.

By the end of this course, you’ll be able to:

✅ Build a tech stack for competitive intel.

✅ Conduct win/loss and primary research.

✅ Visualize your competitive position with a market map.

✅ Enable sales and customer success to deliver crisp competitive positioning.

✅ Bring CI to the table in strategy and product decisions.

Get CI Certified

Head-to-head: The competitive intelligence playbook

Head-to-Head: The Competitive Intelligence Playbook has been designed to equip you with the knowledge you need to build and refine your competitive intelligence (CI) strategy, and ultimately win your market.

Get your copy of the long-awaited CI playbook and receive:

📈 Six in-depth steps that’ll push boundaries and drive you towards CI success.

🧠 Valuable and actionable advice from industry experts from the likes of ClickUp, Airtable, and Atlassian.

🔥 Key tips and tricks that’ll make even the toughest parts of the CI strategy clear and manageable.

🧑‍💻 Free useful templates to take your approach to the next level.

Download the playbook

The State of Competitive Enablement report

Discover pivotal insights into how product marketers implement and handle their competitive enablement (CE) approach, especially when enabling revenue teams.

The State of Competitive Enablement report contains data from PMMs worldwide and has invaluable advice from leading experts from the likes of Klue, Highspot, Adjust, Legit Security, and more.

We've asked a vast range of competitive enablement questions, analyzed the data, and delivered an eye-opening report filled to the brim with CE intel, focusing on the following topics:

📈 Growth of competition

💻 Remote working

📝 Increased buyer education

✅ Impact of change on PMMs

🤐 Enablement difficulties

💰Proof of ROI

Get your copy

The Competitive Intelligence Summit

On June 8, 2022, join 20+ CI experts as they lead over ten action-led talks in one event laser-focused on competitive intelligence.

Listen to expert speakers for keynotes, panels, fireside chats, and OnDemand content, network with like-minded peers, and leave with new actionable strategies to implement.

Grab your free pass