Yo! Welcome to the next episode of The Content Strategy Reeder where 3,677 subscribers get better at content creation and strategy in less than 5 minutes.
The content game is heating up, and competition is fierce.
To stay ahead, many people think: Well, I guess I need to create MORE content.
More blogs, more social media posts, more emails, more webinars, more, more, more.
But there’s a better way to increase web traffic, engagement, sales, and every other success metric.
It’s all about being different.
And in order to build something different, you have to stand out from your competitors.
But first, you have to know who they are.
Discover your true competitors
You have two types of competition: product and attention competitors.
Product competitors are who you compete with for budget.
Attention competitors are who your content competes with for attention.
This is critical to understand because you must win mindshare before you win market share.
You will almost certainly fail to win your buyer’s budget if you don’t win their attention first. (Pretty hard to buy something you don’t know or care about.)
Winning mindshare requires designing a content strategy that is different from anything available to your target audience.
For example, if an interview-style podcast for novice rental property investors already exists, then creating the same thing but with the intention of being marginally better is a losing strategy. You’ll simply become noise. And that’s because you’re starting in second place (or worse).
You can pour your heart and soul into your content — but if it doesn’t stand out, ie, isn’t different — then no one will engage/follow/subscribe.
Remember “Different is better than better” - Udi Ledergor, Gong’s CMO.
Different is better than better.
But before you can build something different, you need to know what already exists. Here’s how:
How to find (or confirm) your Product Competitors:
- Save yourself some time and check your internal competitive documentation. Usually marketing or enablement teams have some sort of battle card, slide, or collateral.
- Then Google “[your company name] vs”
A dropdown of common searches will pop up with your competitors.
Viola! Your market just told you who they’re comparing you to.
- Review comparable companies on your G2 Crowd profile
Now you have a list of the competitors battling you for budget. But you’re not done yet.
How to discover your Attention Competitors
Your goal is to see what content types, topics, and creators are popular with your audience.
Luckily, there are a bunch of “top 10” lists for pretty much everything under the sun you can use to figure it out.
I recommend two search types:
1.“Top 10 [medium] for [audience]”
Example: Top ten podcasts for b2b recruiters
Review five or so lists, and see which podcasts are consistently at the top. Those are who you want to check out (I’ll share how in the next section).
Then repeat, but swap podcasts for other content types, like newsletters, webinars, events, etc.
Bonus: You can also supplement and confirm your research by asking your target audience (customers are usually best): Hey do you follow or have you ever heard of [insert content type]?
2. Top 10 [audience or industry] thought leaders
Rinse and repeat the steps above, expect this time you can also analyze which topics these thought leaders are talking about on social media. The content with the most engagement is a signal that those are the topics your audience is most interested in.
You can spend a lot of time on the research phase, so I recommend picking five competitors from each bucket (or medium, if you’re specifically looking for newsletter competitors, for example), otherwise you can spend weeks combing through all the content on the internet.
Now that you have your list of “players,” it’s time to analyze their content to understand the option available to your audience.
How to develop your Competitive Content Landscape
Now that you need to understand what content exists and who publishes it, it’s time to analyze their characteristics to understand WHY it exists and WHY people are or are not interested in it.
To give you a jump start, I created a Competitive Content Landscape Template that you can steal (it’s yours, for free!).
Here’s how to use it:
- Plug in in your top 10-ish competitors
- Fill in the columns for each one
- Analyze what’s available and what’s popular (look for saturation and green space)
- Use those insights to design differentiated content (row 12)
If you’ve gotten this far, congrats! You’ve set the groundwork for creating content that stands out. There’s one more thing to keep in mind…
Know when to partner and when to compete
Once you create your Competitive Content Landscape, you might begin thinking everyone listed is an “enemy” — creators that you’re exclusively trying to beat.
But that’s not true (though I can appreciate the competitive spirit).
Know this: Your product competitors are always also attention competitors.
But not all attention competitors are product competitors because they aren’t necessarily fighting for the same budget dollars you are. And for that reason, it might make sense to partner with them to mutually fuel your audience growth.
Here’s an example: I host Reveal: The Revenue Intelligence Podcast, designed for revenue leaders (sales, customer success, rev ops) with topics covering high-level, strategic topics.
30 Minutes to President’s Club is also for sales people, but for practitioners with topics covering sales tactics. Some overlap for sure, but not really competitive.
When considering partnering, I asked myself:
- Would 30MPC ever compete with me in a sales deal? No
- Could I grow my audience by exposing my content to their audience? Yes
- Will I lose my audience to them, if my audience learns about them? No.
In short, they can’t steal budget dollars or attention because our content each “sells” two different solutions and our content is different enough not to lose audience to them.
When creating your Competitive Content Landscape, lookout for complementary players to fuel audience growth.
If you truly want to dominate your category and rapidly build your audience, you have to create content that’s different from anything available. Don’t try to win the trap of “better.”
Map out ALL of your competitors, analyze them with your Competitive Content Landscape Template, then partner where appropriate.
Remember, someone’s always adding the noise, and someone else is breaking through it.
It just depends on which is you and which is your competition.
Holler at you next week,
Did you like this episode of CSR? If so, you’d make me sing “Smooth Operator” by Sade if you shared this link with your friends or on LinkedIn. Here’s an example from Lenora Gan for inspiration.