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How Product Marketers Use MarketMuse for Competitive Analysis

7 min read

About a dozen years ago, The Atlantic did a terrific article on the history of brand marketing, with a nod to the 1950s consumer package goods titans Proctor & Gamble, Unilever, and General Mills. With barely any daylight between competing products, brand and/or product managers were tasked with coming up with a brand identity. 

If you remember soap operas, they were the perfect channel to differentiate your brand. You weren’t just doing dishes — you were doing something good for your hands. You weren’t just cleaning clothes. You were laughing and enjoying life as your kids wiped dirty paws on everything. 

Fast forward 75 years, and crafting a brand message is de rigueur for every company. Whether consumer or business-to-business, product marketers steep themselves in market research — including market trends and competitive analysis, to determine potential market share, target market, and craft a brand message.

This competitor research – helps in crafting the messaging to communicate your brand to your audience. It will inform your content marketing, and your brand promise? How will your target audience benefit?

But your marketing strategy will be very different from the consumer brand marketing of the mid 20th century.

Soap operas are nearly extinct, and further, they wouldn’t help with B2B marketing. Video is terrific – but where will it live? If you don’t have a massive branding budget, you’ll likely need to rely on search engine optimization to earn your audience’s eyeballs through strong organic. And the only way that can work is if your message aligns with how your target audience currently understands its problem.

This can be particularly problematic in high technology, because often, ‌executives want to elevate the message for investors. “We don’t sell a database,” one executive said, leaving us all head-scratching: “We sell a purpose-built repository for content reuse.”

In the zeal for differentiation, messaging can sometimes overlook the pedestrian. And that can be a problem when a customer has a very pedestrian problem (or perceives themselves to have a pedestrian problem).

And indeed, our competitors used database and data store on their sites, while this company went all in on their messaging. Now I’m not going to advocate going off message. But I am going to suggest that if people are looking for a database — you might want to create content around that topic and put it on your site. And of course, within the story, reframe as to why a purpose-built repository for content reuse is better — and then link to that pillar page. 

Being able to see what topics your competitor is using on its site can help you round out your content strategy — while using executive messaging. 

Competitive Intelligence

No doubt you have a strong competitive intelligence battlecard that lists your wins, losses, competitors strengths,  features, functionalities — and where they fall down on the job. And no doubt you are doing this competitive intelligence through interviews, deep dives with sales engineers, customer success, R&D, and reading customer reviews and analyst reports.

No doubt you are being customer-obsessed and looking for ways to tell your story from the perspective of how your product best solves your ideal customer profile’s problems, at a value-based price.  And of course, you’re probably perusing their websites to see product positioning. 

But often overlooked in this competitive intelligence is the vernacular used when describing the problem or challenge. Sometimes it can be rather simple — and subtle, and not really register as an issue. One company adopted the term ecommerce, while their competitors’ messaging used digital commerce. If you are trying to win for SEO, you’ll want to make sure you’ve addressed all these topics. 

Staying on top of these subtle changes is challenging and time-consuming. That’s why we started using MarketMuse for competitive content analysis at my last company.

Direct vs Indirect Competitors

If you’re using MarketMuse for your own content marketing planning, you can also use it as a competitor analysis tool.  

While you likely have a handle on your direct competitors, don’t overlook your indirect competitors. An indirect competitor isn’t selling a competing product — but they are vying for your audience’s attention and organic traffic. Worse, they may be interrupting your marketing message to your target customer. Their framing of the issues may not align with yours — and may indeed create confusion and even objections. Media companies, analysts firms like Gartner and Forrester, and systems integrators are all likely indirect partners.

Here’s how you stay aware of your direct and indirect competitors using MarketMuse.

Select Research from the left-hand menu and type in your topic. I typed in “customer experience platform.” The default is for the Topic Navigator on the Horizontal menu to appear.

Along the horizontal bar, Select Heatmap and a heat map of the top 20 search pages appears – as well as the most relevant topics across each.

At the top of the Heatmap are the top 20 search results pages for that given topic.

Zendesk holds the top spot, and likely doesn’t think of TechTarget as a competitor. Interestingly, TechTarget mentions Contact center on its page, while Zendesk doesn’t. is a direct competitor, however, and it too mentions “contact center”. Is that a gap for Zendesk? Only product marketing knows for sure.  

Selecting Gaps can provide more valuable insights to inform your content marketing strategy.

Sample of Competitor Analysis With MarketMuse

There’s another way to look at competitor analysis. Within Heatmap, on the left-hand side, choose website. Here I chose to constrain to its blog [] to see what comes up.

When I order by Relevance, I can see the topics most relevant to “customer experience platform.” Interestingly, while they do use the term customer experience software five times, they only use customer experience management software on their site twice. 

This is a good reminder that we aren’t selling just a platform, but also management software, software, solutions, and even a cloud product.

Then I filtered on blog for Zendesk, and saw the same occurrence for those terms as with Nice.

The insights you gain by looking at the topic maps of both direct and indirect competitors can inform not only your content marketing strategy, but also help determine your strategy with Linkedin and Google ads. 

As a product marketer, you’ve had the three Cs of messaging ingrained in you – Clarity, Consistency, and Character (which is now better known as Personality). But the 3Cs of marketing are Company, Customer, and Competition. 

Being aware of what your competitors are saying — and watching for where your customers are going, is key to making sure your message is heard.

What you should do now

When you’re ready… here are 3 ways we can help you publish better content, faster:

  1. Book time with MarketMuse Schedule a live demo with one of our strategists to see how MarketMuse can help your team reach their content goals.
  2. If you’d like to learn how to create better content faster, visit our blog. It’s full of resources to help scale content.
  3. If you know another marketer who’d enjoy reading this page, share it with them via email, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.

Diane Burley has three decades experience creating high-impact content at scale. As a published author and seasoned technologist, she translates complex concepts into clear, engaging messaging that connects with audiences. She can help you build a content factory that drives results.