Step 2: Benchmark the competition
The second step is to conduct a competitive benchmark. For optimal results, consider benchmarking three to five competitors, including a mix of local, regional, and national companies. Select sales and marketing activities that can be efficiently and accurately measured. In the example below, I selected SEO, PPC, social, and PR, but you are welcome to incorporate other activities if you have the time and resources (making sure to adjust your scoring accordingly).
In the competitive benchmark example above, you can see there are slight differences between the two. Specifically, the SEO efforts are more linear (which may be due to better product page design and lead capture). Similarly, PPC efforts are rated higher based on a larger media spend on targeted keywords and customized landing pages. Social media performs better in the evangelism stage since the competitor is more effective at connecting with and engaging customers. PR is the one area where the competitor did not outperform the company benchmark, due to lack of focus or resulting coverage.
- Awareness: 11/16 (69 percent) vs. 10/16 (63 percent)
- Interest: 12/16 (75 percent) vs. 11/16 (69 percent)
- Intent: 9/16 (56 percent) vs. 7/16 (44 percent)
- Purchase: 6/16 (38 percent) vs. 5/16 (31 percent)
- Evangelism: 8/16 (50 percent) vs. 7/16 (44 percent)
- Total: 46/80 (58 percent) vs. 39/80 (49 percent)
For advanced marketers keeping score, the competitor outperformed the sample company 58 percent to 49 percent. Repeat this process for two to four more competitors and see how you stack up.
Step 3: Set a target benchmark
Once you've assessed your competition, you should have a good idea where you want or need to be in terms of the ideal funnel. As the old adage goes, you don't have to outrun the bear to stay alive; you just have to outrun the person next to you. Translating that to the funnel, ensure your resources are properly deployed to create the most robust and competitive DNA profile possible. The goal is to have a target of at least 50 percent potential across all stages of the funnel, including all activities.
In the example target benchmark below, the sample company has significantly beefed-up all sales and marketing activities, most notably marketing automation. The company is clearly investing more in online and traditional advertising to be more competitive. With additional effort spent on user experience and conversion optimization, all activities see improvement in the purchase stage. Also note that some activities are inherently better at creating evangelists than others (PR and social being top performers).
- Awareness: 24/32 (75 percent)
- Interest: 23/32 (72 percent)
- Intent: 20/32 (63 percent)
- Purchase: 18/32 (56 percent)
- Evangelism: 18/32 (56 percent)
- Total: 103/160 (64 percent)
Overall, the target benchmark for the sample company (64 percent) is a significant increase over the initial benchmark (48 percent). You may want to set a higher target benchmark for your company, but remember it's about outrunning the competition, not the bear.