Dec 28, 2023

Why you should be the keeper of the competitive landscape

Creator of Dive

In order to have influence as a designer you have to get into the room where the real decisions happen…

Here’s one way I did that at Maven 👇

From my first day I positioned myself as the keeper of the competitive landscape.

All it took was creating a simple Notion database 👀

I know what you're thinking...

"Well duh, I'm a designer—I obviously research competitive products..."

That's great 👏

But I'm not talking about simply documenting UX flows or understanding feature parity. That's just the tip of the iceberg.

I got my hands on everything I possibly could to understand the business strategy for each competitor:

  • 📧 Subscribed to founder newsletters

  • 💰 Documented changes in their pricing models

  • ▶️ Attended their virtual conferences and webinars

  • 🔤 Documented tweaks to core marketing copy (even used a tool to identify updates to their Twitter bios)

I made sure I understood our landscape better than anyone on the planet (and I let people know by regularly sharing updates in Slack).

This has two benefits:

1 — It grows your product strategy muscle

If you want to meaningfully contribute to product strategy, you have to have an informed point of view.

So you become a better designer when you understand what your product can uniquely do well and how to counterposition against the rest of the market (I have a story here—reply if you're curious).

Try putting yourself through a simple thought exercise:

  • Where do you think _______ competitor will be by the end of 2024?

  • How do you think that should impact your own company's strategy?

Owning competitor research is a great way to grow that product strategy muscle and clarify your thinking 💪

2 — You're looped into more strategic discussions

If you regularly research and share your takeaways, eventually you'll become leadership's go to source for competitor insights.

"What do you think _______ competitor's strategy will be for this?"

☝️ I got asked some form of this question constantly.

And again, I'm not talking about feature implementation here...

Positioning myself as the keeper of the competitive landscape created space for me to participate in top-level strategic discussions around pricing, customer personas, product direction, etc.

Before you can contribute your ideas you have to get in the room... and owning competitor insights could be your foot in the door 👀

In order to have influence as a designer you have to get into the room where the real decisions happen…

Here’s one way I did that at Maven 👇

From my first day I positioned myself as the keeper of the competitive landscape.

All it took was creating a simple Notion database 👀

I know what you're thinking...

"Well duh, I'm a designer—I obviously research competitive products..."

That's great 👏

But I'm not talking about simply documenting UX flows or understanding feature parity. That's just the tip of the iceberg.

I got my hands on everything I possibly could to understand the business strategy for each competitor:

  • 📧 Subscribed to founder newsletters

  • 💰 Documented changes in their pricing models

  • ▶️ Attended their virtual conferences and webinars

  • 🔤 Documented tweaks to core marketing copy (even used a tool to identify updates to their Twitter bios)

I made sure I understood our landscape better than anyone on the planet (and I let people know by regularly sharing updates in Slack).

This has two benefits:

1 — It grows your product strategy muscle

If you want to meaningfully contribute to product strategy, you have to have an informed point of view.

So you become a better designer when you understand what your product can uniquely do well and how to counterposition against the rest of the market (I have a story here—reply if you're curious).

Try putting yourself through a simple thought exercise:

  • Where do you think _______ competitor will be by the end of 2024?

  • How do you think that should impact your own company's strategy?

Owning competitor research is a great way to grow that product strategy muscle and clarify your thinking 💪

2 — You're looped into more strategic discussions

If you regularly research and share your takeaways, eventually you'll become leadership's go to source for competitor insights.

"What do you think _______ competitor's strategy will be for this?"

☝️ I got asked some form of this question constantly.

And again, I'm not talking about feature implementation here...

Positioning myself as the keeper of the competitive landscape created space for me to participate in top-level strategic discussions around pricing, customer personas, product direction, etc.

Before you can contribute your ideas you have to get in the room... and owning competitor insights could be your foot in the door 👀

In order to have influence as a designer you have to get into the room where the real decisions happen…

Here’s one way I did that at Maven 👇

From my first day I positioned myself as the keeper of the competitive landscape.

All it took was creating a simple Notion database 👀

I know what you're thinking...

"Well duh, I'm a designer—I obviously research competitive products..."

That's great 👏

But I'm not talking about simply documenting UX flows or understanding feature parity. That's just the tip of the iceberg.

I got my hands on everything I possibly could to understand the business strategy for each competitor:

  • 📧 Subscribed to founder newsletters

  • 💰 Documented changes in their pricing models

  • ▶️ Attended their virtual conferences and webinars

  • 🔤 Documented tweaks to core marketing copy (even used a tool to identify updates to their Twitter bios)

I made sure I understood our landscape better than anyone on the planet (and I let people know by regularly sharing updates in Slack).

This has two benefits:

1 — It grows your product strategy muscle

If you want to meaningfully contribute to product strategy, you have to have an informed point of view.

So you become a better designer when you understand what your product can uniquely do well and how to counterposition against the rest of the market (I have a story here—reply if you're curious).

Try putting yourself through a simple thought exercise:

  • Where do you think _______ competitor will be by the end of 2024?

  • How do you think that should impact your own company's strategy?

Owning competitor research is a great way to grow that product strategy muscle and clarify your thinking 💪

2 — You're looped into more strategic discussions

If you regularly research and share your takeaways, eventually you'll become leadership's go to source for competitor insights.

"What do you think _______ competitor's strategy will be for this?"

☝️ I got asked some form of this question constantly.

And again, I'm not talking about feature implementation here...

Positioning myself as the keeper of the competitive landscape created space for me to participate in top-level strategic discussions around pricing, customer personas, product direction, etc.

Before you can contribute your ideas you have to get in the room... and owning competitor insights could be your foot in the door 👀

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"There's no doubt that Dive has made me a better designer"

@ned_ray

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Get our weekly breakdowns

"There's no doubt that Dive has made me a better designer"

@ned_ray

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I've been binging Dive Club lately and the quality is nuts

Literally the only show about design I watch”

Eugene Fedorenko

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