Monthly Archives

June 2020

Boy and girl comparing height regarding an article by Octopus Intelligence on knowing your competition inside and out. We isolate your problems, reduce risk and uncertainty and deliver intelligence-led answers and innovative solutions. Dedicated to help you win.

Knowing your competition inside and out

By | Intelligence Analysis

In this article we aim to guide you to show that knowing your competition inside and out is very important. And, hopefully, showing you Competitive Analysis is so much more than SEO and keywords. 

Marketing people can sometimes get nervous about spying on their competitors and believe its best to just focus on their own business. Some will think that knowing your competition inside and out is a bit unethical, but nothing could be further from the truth when you do it the right way.

A Highly competitive environment

You are working in a highly competitive environment, and you need to know what you are up against. After all, it is highly likely that your competitors are looking at you. If not, then the critical question to answer pretty quickly is – why not?

It’s relatively easy to find the basics on a competitor and even look at their strategies. Start by looking to see how they are performing better than you.

Google Competitive Intelligence and be blindsided

Now, if you GoogleCompetitive Intelligence” or “knowing your competitor inside and out” you will likely be swamped by the latest SEO software claiming to offer Competitive Intelligence. And offering to monitor keywords. Keywords and SEO is only a tiny part of Competitor Intelligence. And in most cases, you don’t need to spend a penny on finding competitor keywords – Ubersuggest from Neil Patel is a great starting point and it’s free. 

Looking at keywords will indeed enable you to improve your landing page performance. Powerful landing pages can significantly increase a conversion rate, while weaker ones can completely turn off potential clients.

Looking at how others in your industry conduct SEO and other online initiatives will assist you in picking up new strategies. Big budget competitors may be keeping landing pages simple or using video. And you can improve your keyword performance. I know its a little boring,

But, these are all excellent ideas, but let’s face it, its all very tactical.

Knowing your competition inside and out with Competitive Intelligence is so much more powerful and yes, strategic.

Be more strategic

Take a look at what your competitor is saying in it’s communication to the outside world. Also, what they are not saying. Ask yourself, does this equate to what they are actually doing and thinking? And, most importantly, what are they going to do next. Questions to consider:

  • What are they writing about?
  • What is their style?
  • Do they have a consistent tone of voice? Can you describe it?
  • How do they engage with their audience?
  • Do they reveal future strategies?
  • Are they announcing new initiatives because the current one is bombing?
  • Are forums and review sites telling you a different story to the official line they are pumping out?
  • Are they revealing how the management team thinks and make decisions?
  • Is about just one person – the founder, or have they gone beyond that?
  • Then provide an answer to each of these questions:
  • How can we take advantage of what they are doing
  • Can we see what they are going to do next?

And, finally, a fundamental question. So what?

In summary

In this article, we have suggested that knowing your competition inside and out is very important. Don’t be fooled into the thinking Competitive Intelligence is just keywords, SEO and other tactical rubbish. We suggest it is about knowing how they think, decide and act. And, what they are going to do next and most importantly, so what?

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Market Intelligence: Profiling The Competition boy looking into a wooden box for an article by Octopus Intelligence. We isolate your problems, reduce risk and uncertainty and deliver intelligence-led answers and innovative solutions. Dedicated to help you win. infloai_Gprl_e56842a8ff53c0b01296e02d0bb740a1

Market Intelligence: profiling the competition

By | Competitor Intelligence

In this article, we offer our thoughts on Market Intelligence: profiling the competition. What profiling is, what to do and what you can do with it.

Competitor profiling is where you identify your significant competitors—researching their sales, products and marketing strategies. And using that information to create better business strategies and improve your performance against them. Therefore, you will develop a deep understanding of each competitor, isolate what you are doing well and what opportunities are your missing.

Profiling the competition structure

Regular competitor profiling should consist of at least the of following four areas:

  • Isolate gaps in the market
  • Create opportunities for new products and services
  • Uncover market trends
  • Ensure your sales and marketing is more effective

Firstly, you need to determine who your competitors are, what their products/services are. Dividing the competitors into the following:

  • Direct – companies which offer products similar to yours
  • Indirect – provides a product which is not the same as yours but a customer solve the same problem – the problem they are currently addressing.

How to define direct and indirect competitors

Like all good Intelligence, it comes down to asking good questions.

Questions like, are their customers precisely the same as yours? No minor differences?

Keep looking because indirect competitors can become direct competitors overnight.

What products do your competitors offer your customers?

What products do they offer your customers? Take a look at your competitor’s product and analyse the quality, pricing, market share, how they sell, what they say about their offering? Also, what channels and resellers do they sell through?

And determine if they are selling on price or quality. And who many do they sell – do they offer bulk discounts? What needs are they fulfilling? What is their pricing, and does it differ on and offline?

Who are their customers?

  • B2B – Who are their key customers? What do they think of them?
  • B2C – What sort of people are attracted to them?

How do they get their products to their customers? Who do they use, and is it efficient? Are they growing or suffering? As well as, what are their sales targets, and how do they compare to their actual sales performance? Who are their best salespeople?

It is no good for your sales team talking to their prospective customers, and they bring up a competitor’s name in a conversation, and they do not record the information to be analysed centrally. Also, salespeople are great at asking the what, when, where and how questions. But finding out why a customer is considering to purchase off you and not the guy down the road is incredibly important.

Likewise, when you lose a customer to a competitor, it is vital to find the reason why they have moved on. It is not usually an “it’s me, not you.” situation.

Analyse how your competitors market their products

Looking at your competitor’s website is an excellent place to start. What are they saying about themselves and their product? And what are they not saying about themselves and their offering? Equally important, how are they communicating with their audience? And their blogs, whitepapers, webinars, analyst calls, case studies, videos, press releases, slide decks, product data sheets and brochures etc. etc. Again read between to the line to find out what they are saying – and not saying.

Moreover, is what they are saying about themselves, the product and service true? Look at the photos they use. What do they portray? And do they have a consistent tone of voice? And do the images reveal anything of interest? Look at the background, as well as, the back end data.

Social media

Also, look at social media and determine who follows them, what sort of person is interacting with them and what is the subject of their content. Is it positive, or are they fielding complaints? Are they engaging with their prospective customers?

Then diving more in-depth look under the bonnet of their website and advertising and promotions. Look at the keywords, the image text tags. Have they missed anything? How does this compare to yours? Do some analysis on them. Nothing complicated. An in-depth SWOT analysis is a great start. Yes, it is simple but often when appropriately done, is very powerful

Conclusion

So to conclude in this article, we offered our thoughts on Market Intelligence: profiling the competition.

Competitor profiling can show you strategic weaknesses in rivals that you can exploit. Being proactive with profiling will allow you to anticipate what your competitor is going to do next. What are their planned strategies? And how they plan to counter changes in your market environment. This knowledge will make you more agile, be able to go on the attack armed with Intelligence to exploit opportunities and make the most of your strengths. You can also stop your competitors dead in their tracks if they try to go for your weaknesses.

Another article on Competitor profiling can be found here.

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Market Intelligence Versus Business Intelligence article by Octopus Competitive Intelligence who solve their clients problems

Market Intelligence Versus Business Intelligence: What’s the difference?

By | Intelligence thoughts

Business Intelligence and Competitive Intelligence are critical in the performance improvement of your organisation. However, Business Intelligence and Competitive Intelligence are very different animals when on their own. When put in the same cage, they can bring huge rewards for your business.

The main differences are that Business Intelligence has an internal focus, while Competitive Intelligence looks at what’s happening in the outside world. Business Intelligence and Competitive Intelligence collects data. Then sorts it into relevant virtual piles within one location. Analysing what’s found and then taking action.

Business Intelligence looks into the business so the main difference with Competitive Intelligence, is that data from external sources. The analysis (the part which most organisation’s skip), creating options and then taking action.  Similar processes, but their benefits differ.

What is Business Intelligence?

Business Intelligence looks inward and is, to varying degrees, well established in most businesses. Business intelligence gathers data on your business from many of sources. Such as like sales, SEO and accounts etc. And bringing it all together to analyse it to make decisions to the allow you to grow.

So, business intelligence looks through the data. So you to make decisions on the improving or creating new tactics and strategies to make your business more efficient and profitable.

What is Competitive Intelligence?

Competitive Intelligence looks outwards and is not as established as Business Intelligence. Competitive Intelligence gathers data on your competitors, markets and external environment (think Porters 5 forces), to give you an understanding of the critical information, and using your findings to anticipate your competitors’ or markets’ next move. You will understand your competitive landscape so much better and improve upon your own strategies and associated tactics.

How Can You Benefit from Business Intelligence?

All businesses will have multiple data sources holding valuable Intelligence for your teams.

  • Your management team will get a snapshot of whats going on in the business so they can make the big decisions on processes, expansion, investment and recruitment.
  • Your marketing team will get an understanding of how campaigns are performing,  article metrics, and website traffic—allowing you to figure out what’s going well and where to invest your time and money in the future.
  • Product marketing teams can improve their product launches and sales development activities, and better target their ideal customers. Look at historical product launches, campaigns and take into account what worked and what didn’t to learn from it.
    • What they are buying?
    • What they are not buying and why?
  • Your sales teams receive better sales figures, so you have a better understanding of which deals close the fastest, average sales cycle times. And which members of the sale team perform the best. Allowing you to improve the sales message, focus on recruitment issues and target sales training needs.

How Can You Benefit from Competitive Intelligence?

Competitive Intelligence can help product marketers can understand what your competition is doing (and more importantly, what it’s going to do).  Research target audience, Marketing message and positioning. Create winning business development tools and deliver significant product launches that stand out and addresses the market’s needs.

One neat trick is if both you and your competitor are about to launch a fabulous game-changing product. With great fanfare, how much better would it be to launch it the day for your competitors? Marketers can take a look at their competitors:

Learn from the competition to enhance their differentiation. Also, it’s not to copy them. But reduce the strengths of the competition and play on their weaknesses. Clearly, sales need Competitive Intelligence to win more tender applications. And to understand why they win. Also why the competitor wins. To better position themselves and win more deals.

To have prepared “landmines” should come across a rival in the market. Using simple and accessible tools such as battle cards and SWOT analysis, sales teams can better position themselves against competitors and win more competitive deals. By understanding their competitor’s current strategy and future moves, the senior management can control the market better. Make better decisions based on Intelligence and not guesswork.

Conclusion

Market Intelligence Versus Business Intelligence. What’s the Difference? Well, we discussed what Business Intelligence and Competitive Intelligence are and the differences and benefits of each one. These intelligence toolsets are clearly used differently. One looks internally and the other externally.

They will, however, impact on all and different parts of your corporate strategy. Used together than you can ensure you are going to win a lot more than loose.

Get ready to put some noses out of joint and get closer to be the market leader with Business and Competitive Intelligence.

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4 ways to deal with your competitors by Octopus Competitive. Intelligence

4 Ways to deal with competitors

By | Competitor Intelligence

4 ways to deal with Competitors

This article will provide you with 4 Ways to deal with competitors

You may wish your competitor would go away. But having them around is good for your business. So don’t be afraid of competition. You have to deal with the situation you are facing advantageously.  You may have similar products to your competitors. However, when you start losing business to them, you only then find they are offering some great things. Yes, perhaps the products are even better than yours.

Then it’s definitely time to deal with your competitors. Having competitors focuses your mind, keeps you on your toes and forces you to go that extra mile. You can also learn many things from the successes and failures of your adversary. And of course, if they have failed at something, you don’t need to go down the same path, when they have spent their money proving it would not work. So don’t be afraid of competition — learn to use it to your advantage.

1. Never underestimate your competition

Competitors may vary in size, experience and capabilities, but they have one thing in common. They all want to beat you. Some of your competitors may have more money to play with than you, but it is usually the smaller competitors who turn out to be more of a threat to you. Small companies are nimble, move fast and can hide what they are doing better.Larger competitors have layers of bureaucracy, pulling them down.

An example of this is that we worked on two projects. One was a fantastic brand with 1000s of employees, and another was a start-up with 20 people in their team—both in FinTech, but not direct competitors. By the time we had gone through the NDA process from the large company, we had completed the entire project for the start-up. Your smaller rivals are in survival mode, and can they may cut corners and take more significant risks. Never underestimate your competitors, especially the little guys.

2. Don’t copy

Some think that the best way to compete with their competitors is to copy what they are doing. It must be right because my much bigger competitor is doing it. Competitive Intelligence is not about copying, but it’s more about creating more certainty that your own path is the right one.

If you copy you just jump on the latest trend and bandwagon, they are following.  And it could be the case that they could have bigger budgets to play with and a bigger team to keep busy. They will not have your drive, experiences and passion, so follow your path but make sure you know what’s around the corner and behind that bush.

3. Don’t play dirty

Competitors can also be partners. Competitors can be s great source of information and sometimes advice. They may play dirty, disrespect, criticise or see you as irrelevant, but so what? They act like this in their market; they will likely treat their customers the same way. Building you another competitive advantage over them.

4. Don’t Ignore them

You cant monitor everyone in the market, but you can’t ignore all of them too. How about defining your competitor landscape something like this:

  • Key competitors – Your key competitors.
  • Emerging start-ups – The next big thing, those who have the potential to become key competitors.
  • Watching – Potential competitors who have the resources to smash a hole in the market.

If you start losing business to s competitor, find out why. Is their product better than yours? Have they made improvements or made it more attractive. Ignore the competition at your peril. It will be disastrous for our business.

The competition will not disappear. Learn to accept it and take it your advantage.

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wo Coffee cups Octopus Competitive Intelligence. And for an interview with Epicos by Octopus Intelligence. We isolate your problems, reduce risk and uncertainty and deliver intelligence-led answers and innovative solutions. Dedicated to help you win. LET'S TALK. We would love to have you onboard.

Epicos interview

By | Guest writer
Epicos interview with Graeme Dixon of Octopus Intelligence.
Graeme Dixon, founder and CEO at Octopus Intelligence, gave an exclusive interview to Epicos. Among others, he stated that: “We offer bespoke Competitive Intelligence and Due diligence services, and we have an excellent track record of delivering quality work. From desk research to boots on the ground. We have never failed a client. We get the job done”.

Epicos: Graeme, can you please introduce to us Octopus Intelligence?

Certainly. Octopus is an Intelligence-led problem solver who has been around since 2009. 
We are UK based, with many of our clients around the world. USA, France, India, Central Asia, Africa and the middle east. 
We offer bespoke Competitive Intelligence and Due diligence services, and we have an excellent track record of delivering quality work. From desk research to boots on the ground.

We also work in partnership with a proven Intelligence software provider. So we can offer a fantastic competitor and market OSINT surveillance tool. We have searched for years to find a software company that understands what they are good at – Software – allowing Octopus to provide the Intelligence end product for their clients. It’s a great combination. 

What are the background and fields of expertise of your team?

I’m Graeme Dixon, the founder of Octopus.
I have a near ten-year track record of British Military Intelligence experience and twenty years Corporate/Competitive Intelligence.  And only the second UK professional to be asked onto the SCIP (Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals) global advisory board, the industry’s governing body. So our reputation and loyalty to clients are the most important thing for us. 

Darrel West is a business partner and a dynamo and is a great relationship director. Former international cyclist and successful business person, he keeps us all on our toes. The rest of the team come from many backgrounds, but we prefer to nurture and develop keen minds with the right work ethic. If you don’t go that extra mile, love what you do, then you don’t work for Octopus. 

Which are the services that your company offers to potential customers?

We offer Competitive Intelligence and Due diligence.

Or to put simply, using Intelligence techniques and processes we solve problems, increase certainty and reduce exposure to unnecessary risk. Whatever it’s called (Competitive Intelligence, Corporate Intelligence, Market Intelligence or business Intelligence) mainly to make it sound smart and mysterious, it boils down to knowing the answer – knowing the answers which will solve a problem.  Unless you have served in the military, people are often confused by the term Intelligence. Some think, its James Bond, others believe its data analysis and others think it’s just research. It’s none of them. 

So for clients, we solve problems, increase certainty and reduce exposure to unnecessary risk. 
Problems usually about how to grow or business development challenges. Their competitors, people, market sectors, products, future and current investments. 

What is the modus operandi of your company to provide clients what they ask for?

We find out what a client really wants to know by defining well thought out questions. We talk, we debate and challenge. 
Collect information from OSINT, primary sources and boots on the ground. Analyse information to create Intelligence. We then suggest options open to our clients. The end product is usually a written report in any format the client wants it in. 

What should a potential customer expect from your company?

That’s an easy answer. Honesty, loyalty and an end product that shows we have gone the extra mile to make it happen for our client. We have never failed a client. We get the job done. 

Which are the procedures and the ethical code that your company follow to guarantee the best services to your customers?

Everything we do is legal and ethical. Octopus adheres to SCIP’s code of ethics. You can still get the information your competitor would rather you did not know using legal and ethical techniques. 

Can you provide us a typical example of your services? 

Every project is different Epicos. But typically it will be a client wanting to know what’s happening (and what’s going to happen) within one of their competitors. They read a piece of PR or lose some business to them, and they want to know why. A competitor may have brought out a new product, and they want to know more about it. Is it going to cause a problem for them? They want to know how to keep winning and perhaps produce answers for their salespeople to use to counter a competitor’s strengths. 

An actual example that is not a case study on our website would be a major manufacturer who had been in business since the 17th century. So, I guess we can call them established in their market. However, the CEO knew that to last another 100 years; they would need to adapt to the changing world. We defined some questions which covered their problems. Problems were mainly surrounding aggressive competitors, how they sold their product and international markets. We created the Intelligence which showed what their rivals were planning to do, the challenges they faced and the options our client had to tackle the markets they wished to be in. 

Now our client has a clear pathway forward, and we have their backs for the foreseeable future. Quickly, another example was a US-based company looking to buy one of their competitors. They wanted to buy their rival because of their technology. We determined the owner was not to be trusted and the technology was getting dated.  They were shocked and put their $100 million back in their pockets. It was a mistake they didn’t make. 

Do you offer turnkey solutions? 

Yes, Epicos, we offer turnkey solutions. We can build an Intelligence section within a company. And, we can create an Intelligence team, purely for a client based on our premises—their Intelligence team our people. 

Do you provide follow up services?

Ideally, the client should see us as an ongoing partner because Intelligence changes all the time. What happens tomorrow does not mean it will be the same next week. So keeping an eye on the situation to ensure the problem does not return, or a new problem has taken its place is very important. But at the end of the day, it’s up to the client and their needs. We have worked with some clients for years. Our software monitoring/surveillance product is, of course, an ongoing service. 

Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Thank you, yes. We often hear things like – “we have a graduate who Googles our competitors to see what they are doing”.  
That’s not enough. Of course, companies can do Intelligence themselves. But they can, of course, be blinded by office politics, subconscious biases and the worst of all – industry experience. “I have been in the industry for years, and that’s not going to happen”. And yes, your competitors are likely looking at you to varying degrees of sophistication. 

Lastly, I would like to thank the Epicos team for the opportunity to talk to your audience and wish you well for the future.

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