One of the interesting parts of setting 2020 communications strategies is the conversation around who the main competitors are. Is it who you compete against in RFPs, peers of a similar size and product range, or your counterpart at a firm who you simply don’t like?

Competitor analysis is crucial to ensure that you aren’t developing a communications strategy in isolation but are cognisant of what is happening in the marketplace – it shouldn’t dictate your own strategy, but it should inform it. You may think what you are doing is truly innovative; but if everyone else is saying the same thing, it’s unlikely to cut through.

Below are four key elements to consider as part of your competitor analysis:


Are your key messages ‘unique’ or are they a series of buzz words that could describe any of your peers – think ‘market-leading, innovative, client-centric’. Yawn. What really makes you different, and if you don’t know, ask your own clients, they’ll be able to tell you. If your messaging is just a mimicry of others’, then it isn’t doing its job.

Media presence

‘Share of voice’ is a common way to view yourself against your peers but what value does it add? It’s important not to get bogged down in the numbers, but rather to look at the quality of that coverage. If your peer received 20 mentions as a passing reference, what value does that add compared with a positive profile of one of your business leaders.

Social media presence

Whether good or bad, few can argue that public perceptions are increasingly being shaped by social media platforms. But social media is not just a numbers game; having followers is great, but are they engaging thoughtfully with your material and promoting your message? 20 000 followers who ignore your content adds little value. When looking at competitors’ presence, also analyse how their content engages their followers.

Dialoguing with your peers

Last but by no means least, pause before you delete all those invites to industry events from your inbox. An often overlooked area of competitor analysis is simply to talk to them, and discover where you converge and diverge. Understanding whether the challenges you face are unique to you, or actually symptomatic of a wider industry issue, not only provide a perspective but may also give you pointers.