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Podcasts > Tea Time with Tech Marketing Leaders

Keep Your Competitors Closer

Kerry Guard • Tuesday, October 17, 2023 • 52 minutes to listen

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Tirrah Switzer

Resident market expert, borderline-obsessed competitive sleuth leaned on by sales, marketing, product, and executives for competitive intel and latest market sentiments and trends. Experienced manager adept in motivating teams and individuals in successful product marketing and marketing initiatives. Develops effective internal and external partnerships. Excellent problem solving and negotiation coupled with strong project management and planning skills.


Good marketing leaders. I'm your host Kerry guard. I'm so grateful. You're all here with us today. I am talking to Tirrah Switzer. Thanks for the amazing Tara pollack. She's awesome.

Tirrah is a senior director and product marketer at Community brands. She's been there folks. For five and a half years we're gonna unpack and figure out why that is because that's unbelievable. That company must be doing something right we're gonna figure out what that is in a second here. Tirrah is a resident market expert, borderline obsessed, competitive sleuth, which we're going to we're going to lean into real hard in a minute. Marketer, product marketer, and executive for competitive Intel and the latest market sentiments and trends. She's experienced manager adept to motivating teams and individuals and successful product marketing and marketing initiatives develops effective internal and external partnerships. She's an excellent Problem Solver negotiator coupled with strong project management and planning skills. We all need a Tirrah.


Kerry Guard: Tirrah, I'm so grateful you're here.

Tirrah Switzer: Great. I'm excited to be here and talk about one of my favourite topics, competitive enablement.

Kerry Guard: If you're here with us live, please, please comment. And let us know that you're here because I can't see you otherwise. And then we look forward to having your questions so that we can answer them because that's the beauty. That's the beauty of being live is that we can do this pretty magical.

Tirrah Switzer: Exactly.

Kerry Guard: Tirrah, I just sort of gave a high level here. But why don't you tell us your story? What do you do? And how did you get there?

Tirrah Switzer: Awesome. So I have been at Community brands for five and a half years. That is the longest job I've ever had in my life.

Kerry Guard: But I started as an individual contributor, doing product marketing, and kind of worked my way up to leading our product marketing team for our division. But how I got into product marketing is actually kind of unique. So right out of college, I started doing marketing for a restaurant company. So this was a while ago, very like old school direct mail in store promotions, like email marketing was just kind of starting out. Yes, I'm dating myself. But I always wanted to work in nonprofits. And so I was able to have a stent of my career as a professional fundraiser and volunteer management. And then now I get to kind of combine the best of my best of both worlds in my background. So product marketing for a tech company that specialises in technology for associations, nonprofits, and K through 12 schools. So it's nice to kind of blend those two backgrounds together.

Kerry Guard: Yes, you have quite the eclectic background, which is astounding. And I loved following on your little LinkedIn journey there. Can you tell us specifically about community brands? And what's so magical that you have been there for so long, sort of unheard of in the marketing world to be there for five and a half going on six years?

Kerry Guard: Yes. So one of the things first off, I think one of the great things about community brands is that, you know, we're tech for change, like every single one of our customers is making a difference. there either, you know, an association that is developing a code of ethics and standards for professions, are there nonprofits that are you know, helping people in their community, or, you know, K through 12 schools that are educating our kids and the next generation of and the people who are going to take care of me when I'm old one day, so our customers are just amazing, which is great. And then I think the other part of it is that, you know, you're really able to kind of develop your own path here. You know, there were things that I was really passionate about, that I was able to dig into, to grow my skill set in and then eventually make programmes out of it for our for our division. So I think that's really kind of the the great things about community brands.

Kerry Guard: I need you to meet Do you know, Peter Wheeler?

Tirrah Switzer: I do not.

Kerry Guard: I'm gonna make that introduction. It's going to be magical. He's all about he worked at octave, but it was very much on the for good side like empowering folks, giving them the right tools from A nonprofit standpoint to like, stand up and like get going. It's gonna be magical. I can't wait. Peter, baby, you're listening and you're going to reach out since here, it's going to be great. Um, we're all human. And even in the magical world of brands that we love working for things are still sort of in our way making our lives hard. So what is it for you right now? What's, what's one challenge you're currently facing?

Tirrah Switzer: I mean, the most immediate challenge I'm facing is performance reviews are due tomorrow. And I still have a few to do. But I would actually say the kind of bigger challenge really is the same that I think all product marketers face every day. And it's even more amplified if you are a player coach, like I am. But product marketing has a really big wheelhouse. So a lot of you know, the biggest challenge that we face every day is, you know, how do you balance all the things that have to be done and give everything enough time? Like? Am I spending enough time on competitive enablement? Am I you know, spending enough time on buyer support needs that sales is requesting? You know, am I spending enough time on messaging and positioning that demand gen needs and you know, when loss interviews, so that striking that balance of that huge wheelhouse that has to be done every day? And again, I think that's just the challenge of product marketing in general. And all my product marketers listening are probably like, yes, every day, I think that guy keep the ball the balls in the air. Yeah, you are a lot of hats as product marketers, as I've been learning among more of like the project demand on the marketing demand side. And they're certainly you know, a lot of hats, but I think we get a little bit more wiggle room in terms of support systems, like we get our marketing managers who do a whole bunch of stuff and get our VPS, who sort of like manage the marketing managers, and then we get, you know, the CML. So, where I feel like product marketers, that they get the short end of the stick, there's just a little bit more expected in terms of the hats they have to wear, and all the things they have to know in terms of all the moving parts to keep it all going in the right direction. Yes, and all the teams that you collaborate with asking you for stuff. So like, you know, it's marketing, and we sit in marketing and SEO, and we said under sales, so that like, that's always top priority, but the product wants some things and customer support needs some things and you are you're you're sort of the you're the connector, because you're the you're the enabler, which we are going to talk.

Kerry Guard: So to unpack this. You are particularly a competitor enabler. So talk to me about why you think, paying attention? Well, I don't know if it's paying attention. But there's something about understanding your competition. That's important. So what is that for you?

Tirrah Switzer: So for me, why, why competition matters? Like why you should pay attention to them? It has nothing to do with like, oh, like, are they? You know, are we looking to copy them? Or are they copying us? Really, it's about reducing strategic risk, and increasing revenue opportunities. So paying attention to your competitors, your up and coming competitors, really helps you have this deep understanding of what has happened, what is happening right now, and what may happen in the market. So by paying attention and knowing kind of past present, you're able to think a little more into the future about how their moves are going to affect the business. So again, going back to that reducing strategic risk, and increasing those revenue opportunities.

Kerry Guard: Let's unpack that for a second. So when you're saying strategic risk, what are risks to you, if you don't pay attention to your competitors?

Tirrah Switzer: I mean, product is always a huge risk, that they can innovate faster, innovate in a different way. That really brings differentiators to the market. That's always I think one of the biggest risk. We live in a world of tonnes of m&a activity. So, you know, really paying attention to those partnerships, those kind of early indicators that there could be some m&a activity on the horizon and thinking through how is that going to affect our business? Will it be a risk or will it not be does it give us a competitive advantage. And then also you can kind of see like, are they starting to go after different markets? So will they maybe no longer become a competitor? Or are they like coming full board onto where you are?

Kerry Guard: So mamy questions. Okay, let's start with up-and-coming. You mentioned that up and coming competitors was ideally what you should be looking at up and coming meaning they're like slightly behind you like one step or like, you're in line coming up and coming mean that they that they are a bit bigger than you and ahead, but they're doing different things. What is, what does that mean coming up and coming can be everything, right?

Tirrah Switzer: Like, competitors come in all shapes and sizes. And your super obvious competitors are the ones doing a very similar product, right? You're coming up against them in deals, you know who they are, I think of up and coming competitors and a couple of different ways. One being maybe just smaller orgs, who don't have the market share that you do. But that may also mean that they can move a lot quicker, innovate a lot faster. So they're good to pay attention to, because they're most likely learning from the mistakes you've made. So you have those kind of up and coming, you have some maybe adjacent industries, who not really a direct competitor today. But if they added XYZ to their product, then they're like full on competitor. I think that up and coming competitors could also be your vendors, and your partners. I would say vendors and partners is something we see growing in the nonprofit space of becoming a competitor. But yeah, it's really your entire ecosystem. Because just one movement could completely change where they sit in comparison to you and competition.

For there's a partner's Keep your friends close, but your partner's closer.

Tirrah Switzer: It's a lot of frenemy action.

Kerry Guard: Yeah, I would imagine, right? Like you're all working together, but then we're stealing a little bit from one another and learning and growing and then end up competing. That's that's a tough world to live in. But also unnecessary full right. Regard. Exactly. This feels like a lot to follow between the types of up and coming companies you need to pay attention to as well as how to reduce your risk factor. When you're falling competitors, what sort of your How many do you generally try and follow like the list could go on.

Tirrah Switzer: So if you are able to invest in competitive enablement, software, it automates a lot for you. And it is fabulous. And we have luckily been able to invest in that in the last several years. But when I started at Community brands, it was very manual. And there I'm part of a community called healthy competition with just a bunch of CI folks in it. And the majority of them are all doing it manual. And it does take a lot of work. But you just you kind of you get used to it and you kind of know like what you're looking for. But I would say you know some of kind of the top things that I look for when following somebody. Obviously, you look at their website, which is going to tell you positioning messaging, you know, what are their differentiators? Who's their target market? What news are they like super excited about and shouting about review sites for what their customers and staff love or don't love about them. I pay close attention to three star reviews. Ones and fives are outliers. They're either ecstatic fans or they 100% hate someone. And if you're giving a one or five, you're giving a very biassed opinion. So take review sites with a grain of salt. I will say that but threes are my favourite because they're a little more, you know, even keeled and their emotion that they're putting into it. I also look at content strategy, you know, like what trends are they talking about? Do they have like in depth product breakdowns, case studies. You add to that you know the digital landscape of keywords and AdWords and then of course your staff half your team, that's a huge source of competitive Intel. Your STRS Customer Success A E SES SES are great. You know, what are they hearing? You also again have to take it with a grain of salt though because it is a little bit of telephone game, a prospect told them who then tells you. So you do need to kind of validate that information or just realise like, Hey, this is rumour on the street. And then I would say my last thing that I'll mention, and one of my favourite things to also look at, besides review sites is career pages. Where are they investing in staff? And where are they seen turnover? Also, you can see are they like, mandating back to the office gives you a little bit of information for a recruitment campaign talent. But also can tell you a lot about the business, you know, like if all of a sudden they have like, you know, a bunch of QA positions available? Like they have some issues, most likely, and they're investing in that area, because they need to clean it up. So what Fudd? Can the sales reps put in, you know, as they're going through that journey? So yeah, just career pages can tell you a ton.

Kerry Guard: Yeah, this is I love how much how much you're looking at? Yay for software that can help you. Yes. Yes. And and how many competitors? Are you just like? Is it three to five? Is it 10? Like, especially if you're doing this manually? I imagine you wouldn't want to veer in so how are you staying focused, not getting distracted by the shiny objects that show up and decide they're gonna be mad at her for a minute.

Tirrah Switzer: So I would, when I was doing it manually, I definitely had top three that I stayed on top of. And, you know, maybe two or three, up and coming that I may be checked on every other month, once a quarter, you know, wasn't spending a tonne of time, but at least had some.

Kerry Guard: Yeah, yeah. And from now that you're using a tool that's helping you tremendously from relieving a lot of that manual pain. Two questions there. One is, as the number increased from three to five,

Tirrah Switzer: oh, it's hugely increased, probably 10 times.

Kerry Guard: Okay, and my second question is, what's your favourite go to tool now that we're trying to like, you know, broadcast which tool you should use, but it's just helpful to know like, where to start for people who never even know that there was like, competitor tool management out there.

Tirrah Switzer: So we have been very loyal customers to clue with a que. And they, they're amazing, their product is great. But their staff is even more amazing. They're a true partner in our success, which is fabulous.

Kerry Guard: So you have all this data that you're sitting on, nothing's more glorious, and having too much data, champagne problems. You're having too much data. So how do you sift? First of all, how do you sift through that data? Does it go like, there's there's things that you mentioned that you're looking for? I would I would separate those things you're looking at versus things you're looking for. So you look at their website, you look at their company page, look at what the staff is saying and career pages and content strategy. You mentioned some things that you're looking for, such as the three star reviews versus trends, case studies, and those sorts of things. But like, what's the intel that you sort of keep an ear to the ground for that's going to help you make decisions?

Tirrah Switzer: So part of it, you know, you right, you have all this data. But all this data on its own is just like a great FYI. Like okay, great. Like, that's good to know. But someone has to add perspective and insight into that data collected for it to mean something. So like, if I'm looking at a piece of Intel, like, what does this tell me? Like what does this mean for the competitor? So what does it mean to us? And what does it mean to the market? And if some of it is just FYI, like, we don't usually share that information. It's just like, Okay, this is good for us to know. And to like monitor. But I'll go back to like the QA. Example. Not only is that information for sales, but it's like, hey, product team, they're like our competitors, investing in x, y, z, like, let's talk about what that means. And then we can add that like perspective and insight to it, because it's that perspective and insight that's going to enable the business to make a decision, or prepare for something.

Kerry Guard: I think that's important. So there's two things you said, I'm going to write this down, so I don't forget it. So monitor versus action is something I heard in there, right. So you're generally sort of like, it's like, all those lovely social media tools we had back in the day that I feel like baby are used, but probably not, you know, the social listening tools, which we, you know, we were, anyway, feels a little bit like that. But on a grander, more important scale from a monitoring standpoint. So you're really keeping an ear to ground on all this sort of information that's happening. And then when any things sort of strikes a tune, or jumps out of beat it, it's easy to see and say, Well, why did all this content jump around this keyword for this client? What are they? Did they just launch a new page, not client, but competitor? Did they just launch a new product, what's going on over there, there's some news breaking, and then you can sort of like, spider web, the story of what they're all sudden talking about, it's why there's actually versus action when that spidering happens, and you know, to go do something. So it sounds like you're not always necessarily doing. I mean, depending on how many competitors you're watching, you could try something all the time. But if you're looking at three to five, and you're just paying attention, you're not making action until they're making an action. Right? Or, or you start seeing kind of trends, right?

Tirrah Switzer: Maybe two or three competitors are kind of going, you know, kind of doing the same thing. And we're not paying attention to that at all right? Like, hold on, like, everyone's kind of over here. And we're like, way over here, like, Should we be? Is this a risk? Or is this actually like a huge revenue opportunity? Like, you know, they're actually five steps behind, or they're five steps ahead of us. So it's monitoring on the regular so that you can identify those trends to be able to make those perspectives and insights. And then, you know, other times it's just like, you know, someone comes out with news. That's like, okay, someone's a competitor to us now.

Kerry Guard: Yeah, this, let's talk about folks who do this really, really well. And why they're, while they're industry disruptors, and and maybe category creators, I think this is where like, category creation becomes really interesting. I think Apple's really good at this, where they sort of sit back, and they sort of like, watch the, you know, the field of where Oculus and meta are sort of playing, and they go, No, there's like, there's power to VR. But this ain't it. Right? So we're gonna go over here, call it something totally different. Computing and disrupt everything, right? Like they aren't, they aren't really first anything. And this is where paying attention to competitors is really powerful. I think there's a lot of talk in the industry about whether you pay attention or whether you don't pay it and don't get caught up in it. Don't worry about it like you do you think about your differentiators, make sure you're, you know, bringing that to the space and not getting too caught up in like what your competitors are doing and it sounds like maybe, but if you can pay attention to what they're doing a monitor it the right way, then you can sort of like be apple. Exactly.

Tirrah Switzer: You can do that and also like you can already be on the defence, knowing that, hey, this is probably going to come. Like these are trends that we see a competitor doing. We're still like in this lane. And this is still like our differentiator, but you'll be well prepared to respond to it. And if you're not paying attention, the other thing is, is that I would, some people may hate me for saying this. But in the big scheme of software, whatever category you're in most orders, check all the same boxes, right? It's how that box is checked, which makes really the difference. So if you have maybe one or two boxes that your competitor doesn't, and then they're, you're not paying attention to them, and then they have it. Like, you could have just lost all your differentiation, all your talking points, all your messaging. And like you have to like scramble and be reactive. Whereas if you kind of knew what was going on, you had a heads up, you can start preparing, you can start working with your product team to be like, hey, like, eventually these differentiators aren't going to be a differentiator, like what's our next one?

Kerry Guard: Is kind of like when you're at the forefront of things until you're not. So it's like all those companies like myself who were remote first, pre COVID For the longest time, and it was differentiator can work from home can build your own schedule, like you've got, you know, no more commutes because he's sitting in traffic forever. And then COVID happened. Everyone wrote remote. And this is no longer a differentiating talking point. Right? So or it is, but it's the sense of like, we know what we're doing. We're ahead of the game, we have this right systems and processes were built on remote. So work for a company who doesn't micromanage you, right? So there is sort of different ways of thinking about it. But if we didn't pivot in that language, and we just kept saying, but we're remote first, everyone's remote.

Tirrah Switzer: But think about like, if you had a sales team of 50, people like that small tweak of messaging then has to be like a training and it has like, it's all the these like kind of massive things that you have to do to make sure everyone's like talking the same talk.

Kerry Guard: So let's talk about the benefits of this, then, because I think that's important. This feels like a lot of work. So raise probably a little like, oh my gosh, why on earth would I invest so much energy into this, I will say to my cybersecurity friends that it is a growing industry, and it's fantastic. But there's a lot of you now, so I would sit in lean in on this one. I do think talking more about those value points is really helpful. So we talked a lot about risk, you know, diminishing the risk of that what you talked about some of the types of risks in terms of strategic risk of making sure that are differentiating m&a partnerships. And you just mentioned one, or what other why is this? So? Like, what if you don't, not that I want to add fun to the conversation, but I think this is kind of like, I can do that later. I can get to it at some point. You know, a lot of people gotta change messaging. That's huge.

Tirrah Switzer: Yeah, it's huge. And it's a investment of time. So if you have a program, you're paying attention on the regular, you know, you kind of hopefully diminish some of those kind of reactive things. But some of the like really big benefits is that you know, your, your sales team can, you know, really understand the pain points of current customers when they're trying to like displace the status quo. So if you're, you know, in a deal and you're up against the incumbent, like, you can have really great talking points value benefits, you know, exactly the pain that that customer is going through. So really helps the sales team and marketing content like really focus on the pain that you know, those customers are having. It really helps the sales team be prepared for objection handling. Like this is what the competitor is going to say about us. Like, you should be prepared to reframe the conversation. You know, ask questions. reposition, you know, whatever it may be for that objection handling, but no having them prepared and polished on what is going to be said about us what objections our competitors have put in their mind. It also helps the sales team plant landmines, you know, plant a seed of doubt in that prospects mind. Like, oh, you should ask whoever XYZ because we've heard, you know, that's kind of a pain point. So why don't you ask them about that in your next conversation. Onboarding, hugely decreases onboarding time for new marketing and sales team members. Because they, they have information, especially if they're coming from a different industry, like just that really prepares them to be successful. And then of course, just like differentiation, differentiator messaging throughout your entire, you know, marketing lifecycle, all your content. All your campaigns can really focus on your strengths, what you do well, and what you do well over the competition.

Kerry Guard: Yes, I think this is all really important. And I don't know that we know, like, it can feel just so overwhelming. So where do you mentioned where you start in terms of the things that you look at? And you mentioned that it's really manual, paint us? And it might sound really raw and hard, but just hang in there with us folks? paint us a picture pictures here? Where, like, is it a spreadsheet, and you have your competitors in one, you know, in all the rows and then in the columns isn't a document? Like? How do people bring this to life in a way that they can manage it, if they're doing it, if they're trying to start with those top three competitors, and just trying to get started.

Tirrah Switzer: So it's definitely a conversation we have a lot in one of the CI groups and part of spreadsheets are definitely probably most widely, wildly used. You know, because you can keep track of, you know, screenshots, URLs, the date it was received, you know, what it meant, etc. And then you kind of have that historical knowledge that you can go back on. I am pretty, I am pretty much obsessed with decks. So I always used a PowerPoint, and mine. And lots of screenshots and dates, so that I could kind of have a historical representation. So since we started automating our competitive information, I don't update my deck anymore. But it is it's valid from 2018 to 2021. So I still reference it a tonne. And it's a gazillion slides long.

Kerry Guard: I believe it.

Tirrah Switzer: But I would say kind of whatever works, whatever works for you as an individual, but I would say spreadsheet is definitely what I hear people use most. I personally loved PowerPoint. And then I will say I collected my data in PowerPoint. But then I presented it to the team in Word. So just a document that was just a write up of the competitor. And at the top, it said this was the date it was last updated. And you know, it's just kind of like some overview information, some strengths, some weaknesses, you know, talk tracks for the sales team, kind of detailed product info for product team. But just one easy doc that people could you know, easily scroll through was how I presented it to the consumers of the information.

Kerry Guard: So you sort of had your raw data in a presentation did you do it by competitor or did you do it all in one presentation?

Tirrah Switzer: I did it all in one and then I just had like a transition slide. You know, that was like next competitor. And the kids really And

Kerry Guard: I can imagine, I can totally imagine that. And then you, and then you sort of like, boiled it down. Did you ever compare? Did you keep them all silo? The competitor, competitor, one competitor to competitor? Three? Did you ever do like a versus, like us? versus these folks who do try and keep it like a little less us versus them? How is sort of your approach? In when you did present it to the team? Was it an us versus them? Or was that was it just like, here's the competitor, here's what they're doing, there's a we need to care why or why not.

Tirrah Switzer: So I didn't do so much like us versus them. But like, you know, competitor, A's strength is, you know, XYZ. And if that was a differentiator for them, and they, they owned that, like we said that like this is a differentiator. And this might be a point where you need to get out of a deal. If this is like super important to them. But then there were other times it'd be like, Hey, this is their strength. But also, this is the weakness in their strength. And this is how we compete against that. And I think part of that is to, for me, I think it was really important for us, like competition is good, competition is healthy. And we should have a positive mindset about competition, not a negative. So as opposed to kind of us versus them. I tried to make it a little more positive of like, hey, this, they do this great. And you know what they do better than us. And that's fine. We can make up in it in this way. Or, like, if this is super important, tell the prospect like we're not the fit for you. Like you should talk to them. Thank you have a great day doesn't fit you call me back.

Kerry Guard: I'll be this one way more authentic way to do it. Yeah. I'm not really you could do it without knowing what you're up against. In terms of where they're competitive. Like knowing what somebody's I feel like that just in the world that we're in right now, that just plays such an important part of not trying to sell for the sake of it. Being really like, it sounds like this is what you need. It sounds like this company has what you have what you need, like, you should go test them out. We're here for doesn't work. But based off of alignment. That's your best bet. I mean, so many people I've turned around said, Okay, this isn't going to work for this project to be working with you. But because you gave me that sound advice. And it turned out perfectly. I'm going to turn around for the next thing and come back to you like the trust of that just builds in the long run. I know from a short term standpoint, it's really painful, y'all. But from a long run standpoint.

Tirrah Switzer: Yeah, also, it keeps from just a, you know, unsatisfied customer, that's then going to hurt your NPS, it's going to hurt your CSAT it's going to hurt your online reviews. And it could lead to a deep book. So then everybody spent all this time for something that we know that we actually don't do well.

Kerry Guard: So how do you integrate like collecting all this data? Use analyse some malarkey out of it, you created a Word doc that sums it up so nicely, you've presented it to the team. How do you actually get it ingrained in the organisation where it's actually being used? And it's useful versus just being like I presented this thing to you. And now you're pulling your unless we have a system process otherwise, that's generally what happens.

Tirrah Switzer: Yes. So we took the stance of heights the hell out of it, like every single meeting, we talked about it every single like we have a chat dedicated to competitive intelligence. We keep communication going there, we constantly ask people for feedback. And we just we talk about it all the time. So I think that has been like the key to building this like culture of compete. Because a everyone feels like it's part of their job. Like yes, I want to like give some intel i want to be part of it. And it keeps it front and centre that people are like, oh, yeah, like this is where I go to like, get this information. Here's where I can get it. So yeah, it's just literally for three years. I think we haven't shut up about it. Probably four. But that was that was really the biggest that I think is the biggest thing that you have to do.

Kerry Guard: And what are the let you say you do saucer for years, you've been there for over five years. So what has been the shift for you in the organisation in terms of how it's been able to afford its mission, in actually paying attention to its competitors and having it ingrained in the culture and organisation? What's the outcome of that?

Tirrah Switzer: I think it's a positive culture. People are excited to talk about our differentiators. They're, you know, really polished in you know, kind of our talk track our messaging and positioning. So, it's really turned into a really positive culture of, you know, competition is good and, you know, we know our stuff. And, you know, anytime you know, someone new comes up, you know, it's like, Hey, do you have any information on them? Or you know, can you tell me XYZ you know, just yesterday, you know, a GM asked, in chat, like, tell me the difference between a, you know, competitor a and us this, like, one product feature? Like, here's your quick answer to sentences like, you can also find details here.

Kerry Guard: I love having the answer. It feels so good. Um, and my last question for you, Tirrah. Like you've been doing this forever. It seems. You're totally ingrained. I loved your little caption around like on LinkedIn about you being like, editor sleuth, you clearly like love it. What is it for you?

Tirrah Switzer: So there's this meme about CI about like, what, you know, like what my parents think I do, like, what society thinks I do. What do I think I do? Like I 100% think that I am James Bond. But I am close to CIA. I was.

Kerry Guard: I will say though it like I'm a I don't know if it's because like, I'm a ginormous True Crime fan, like I love research. But you do have to have a mindset for it. Like you have to enjoy doing it. Otherwise, it's just like a really mundane task. But you, you just get to see, like, all this information, and then you're able to like see trends and be like, okay, like, this is what I anticipate this means, like, this is probably a future m&a activity coming in the future. If it doesn't happen, then, you know, XYZ, so, you know, you get to kind of come up with some hypothesis of like, what does this mean? And that's what they are their hypothesis, just kind of based on, you know, trends and kind of what's going on in the market. But it's fun to you know, identify those come up with them, and, you know, present them to your team to executives, and talk about it so, so yeah, I clearly don't like it at all.

Kerry Guard: What I'm hearing what I'm hearing from you about what you like about it is it sounds like you feel like you're on the cutting edge, you can sort of see the forest for the trees, because you've captured enough information, your brains made enough connections about where things might be going that you get to sort of place your bets intentionally and make really smart help the organisation make really smart pivotal decisions, and not lose sight of what it's there to do. But also like what everybody else on the outskirts competitor wise is also trying to do at the same time and how you can sort of keep ahead and also break out of the mould exists as well. Exactly.

Tirrah Switzer: That was a great summary.

Kerry Guard: Like you, I love to capture all the data the sector and then spit it out. So yeah, I'm with you. I'm a researcher. This is why I have a podcast this is it's I get to see those trends firsthand. It's an everything you're saying. I like want to go help our clients dig into their like, I could just see my brain going off and wanting to do this. I feel the power of it. And I'm excited. It is a it is a tricky world class piece of advice for folks if you give it in terms of being careful. It sounds like a bit of a balancing act. You guys have a dedicated team that does this or fails can worry about other stuff, but it sounds like a very easy black hole to sort of fall into How do you help? How do you either yourself or help the team, not get caught up in the shiny objects of it all the competition of it all, but like, just use it as data and information to move forward?

Tirrah Switzer: Yes, it definitely can take you down a black hole and do like all day long, we do not have anyone dedicated to it full time. So our product marketing team competitive Intel as part of their job. So you know, depending, you know, it's probably 15, maybe 20% of someone's time. And really, I think what helps us is time boxing it, you know, like, I do a little bit every single morning, when I wake up, I, you know, do it kind of touch base in the middle of the day, and I do a little bit at night, as well. I probably do it much more than some people on my team, which is perfectly fine, because it's just my jam. But we do have, you know, blocked out time on calendar to make sure that it's there's time dedicated every week. So I would say timebox yourself so that you don't go down a huge rabbit hole. And then the last thing that I would say is, be respectful. Don't be in a hole while you're doing it. Skip, which is the strategic competitive intelligence professionals Association, they do have some ethics around collecting Intel. So if you're going to do it, I highly suggest reading the ethic has. But really it comes, you know, don't click on competitors add excessively like, No, that's wrong, just don't do that. You know, if you're going to download content, say who you are, and that you're from a competitor, you'll be surprised almost the majority of people will allow you to have their content. Some people won't some people, you know, block your email address, which is fine, like good for them. I tried to download content from a competitor the other day, and it was a checkbox. And it was like, I don't work in this, you know, industry. And I'm not using this for competitive Intel. And I was like,

Kerry Guard: Well, I can't click that. So on to the next that is trust right there.

Tirrah Switzer: Um, so yeah, there's, you know, just, if you're going to do it, do it, right. Do it the right way. And I think that skips code of ethics is there's nothing wild and crazy in there. It's, you know, mostly talking about a whole kind of old school corporate, like, you can't go digging in people's trash things.

Kerry Guard: But you'd want to be treated equally. school ground rules, right?

Tirrah Switzer: Yes. And I will say I did not know there were the code of ethics. I started doing it. So I definitely evolved as I've come along. But yeah, I did not. I didn't know it existed when I first started doing Gi

Kerry Guard: Oh my gosh, it's amazing. Now, I love that there's a code of ethics and I love even more that you follow it because there is like about all those things that you listed in terms of like gelling. There's a CIA mentality here in terms of sleuthing and stalking and, and there's a line.

Tirrah Switzer: That's right there the line.

Kerry Guard: I love that Tirrah. I'm so grateful for this conversation. Before we go, that was going to end I'm going to end the conversation there because it was perfect. But before we go, I do want to know more about you because you're more than a marketer and product marketer and competitive slicer. Which 1am I going to ask I three that I asked I'm going to ask about your hobbies given like the change in the world and COVID and working from home and that time that period of time where like we had too much time on our hands for the first time in ever. Did you pick up any new hobbies and are you still doing this?

Tirrah Switzer: So I I did not pick up any hobbies but now not driving. That one has definitely stuck. I've barely ever drive. But I would say when I'm not working. We have a two and a half year old dog puddle has. He's a pit bull. He's adorable. We play a lot of wall ball in the yard. So that's every afternoon and then my husband and I live in the middle of wine country so we go to a lot of wine tasting. We try to try a new place once a month.

Kerry Guard: I mean, what a great hot. I mean, yeah, I would have been bad at COVID have a shut that down on me, right? Oh, that is an puddle. We had Otis, we had a cat Otis and he, yes, he's more playful than I did my last cat he like once he gets mad if you don't play with them. It's like, why are you not play with me right now? What's wrong with you? Yes.

Tirrah Switzer: So I did a webinar this morning. And then I had this this afternoon. So he's been like, locked out of the office. And he's kind of like, what is what's up mom?

Kerry Guard: Oh, this will come to my door and like, scratch on it real hard. Like I hear you, buddy. Because you will literally like sit right here. Right? Ah, yes, pet parents. I love it. Tirrah, this was awesome. Thank you so much for joining me. If you'd like to hear more from Tirrah and community brands, you can find them on LinkedIn. Link will be in the show notes post the show. So grateful for you joining me.

Tirrah Switzer: Thank you. It was a great conversation.

This episode is brought to you by MKG Marketing the digital marketing agency that helps complex tech companies like cybersecurity, grow their businesses and fuel their mission through SEO, digital ads, and analytics.

Hosted by Kerry Guard, CEO co-founder MKG Marketing. Music Mix and mastering done by Austin Ellis.

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