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.

Follow us on Twitter.
And, get in touch here.
Also, for more information on Intelligence ethics click here.
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.

So if you like our 4 ways to deal with competitors thoughts please follow us on Twitter

And, get in touch here

Also, for more information on Intelligence ethics click here
Boy looking over a fence with bino 10 Marketing Tools to Spy on Your Competitorsfor 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.

10 marketing tools to spy on your competitors

By | Competitor Intelligence

It will come as no surprise that we believe it’s important to keep an eye on your competition. This article offers ten things you can start doing today. Many of your competitors want your customers. So, it seems pointless spending so much money on developing new business when your competitors are taking existing and potential customers off you.  Of course, using Octopus Intelligence would be an excellent idea, but you can also look to do it yourself. And it need not cost you a fortune either. So here are 10 marketing tools to spy on your competitors:

1. Just Google it

Google search. Once you have defined what you are looking for, any research should begin with a simple Google search and then visiting your competitor’s website. However, there are other search engines which may give you a different set of results. Like Bing, Yahoo, Ask etc.

Then they are the metasearch engines like Dogpile, Yippy, Startpage, Carrot2 and Metacrawler. A meta search engine is a specialised search engine which aggregates results from data of other search engines.Meta search engines are either generalists or topic/industry specialised. Also, if you are searching overseas, use a local search engine but make sure you have a VPN switched on, so they think you are in that country.

Google and Bing provide several tools to help you with Competitor Insights and using tools like Spyfu, and the free and excellent Ubersuggests enables you to see the keywords your competitors are using. It reveals what they think is important to them when looking for new customers. And what they say about their products or services.

Trends and patents

Google Trends allows you to keep on top of the latest industry movements and to compare yourself to others. Google alert enables you to keep track of your competitors and their keywords. Create a Google Alert on a number of your keywords will reveal how much interest there is in it. Also, are the keywords they are using different to yours? And why? Add an alert with your own company name, and you could be less surprised in the future. And, keep a track on their patents. Thats, Current, historical and new patents. Try Google Patents, Espace and WIPO.

2. Social networks

Your competitors should be all over social media. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and others. Marketing their wares, telling the world about the benefits of using them. Latest news and events. Interestingly, it’s not just what they are telling you, its what they are not telling you. Has an employee inadvertently revealed information? Or tell you about something that connects to another bit of information you already have? There are many free tools to monitor and search tweets, Facebook posts, blogs, review sites and videos. Also, social media will reveal what paying customers think of their service – especially if it’s imperfect.

3. Qualitative market research

There are many inexpensive resources to check competitors online and offline. There is the Frost & Sullivan’s, Gartner’s, D&BHoovers, Compasses, as well as the Pitchbook’s of this world. But, they can be costly, However, they can also provide a summary of what’s going on. And if they are researching your market, something must be going on within it. In the UK the British Library provides members free access. So, it can be worth a train ticket to London and a few hours browsing the databases. Also, take a look at what industry analyst firms are telling you. Subscribe to the various industry or share buying forums like VVFN.

4. Conferences and trade associations

Joining trade associations and playing an active role within them is an excellent use of your time. By going to relevant trade shows and conferences is an excellent way to learn more about competitors and their offering. Visit their booth and ask questions. Look at their literature and listen to what they are saying to other people. You can ask them questions, and you don’t even have to lie about who you are. Half the time they will not ask about you, especially if they seem really keen and you are asking excellent questions. Ethically you should not lie about your identity, and we find we don’t need to anyway. Bored salespeople love to talk.

5. Talk to your customers

Customers are a great source of authoritative competitor information. If you have a new customer, ask them who they used before and why. If you lose customers, ask them why they moved and to where. Once you have several insights, they will help you determine how well you are doing (and why) and how you can change what you do to get more business.

6. Speak to your suppliers

Take time to get to know your suppliers. Treat them well as they could supply your competitors too. They may reveal problems they have; orders they are receiving, the numbers and the type. They still may not tell you directly. But in a conversation, it may become apparent if you put 2 and 2 together.

7. Surveys

Outsourced surveys targeting your competitors, suppliers and customers can be beneficial. Ask about price, customer services levels, the future of the industry or anything else you need to know. It is essential to make time to define the questions. Remember, there is no such thing as stupid answers, just stupid questions.

8. Recruit them

Recruiting people from your competitors can reveal a significant amount of market intelligence. They have been inside their operations, seen the best and worst of your competitors. They will know what they are working on and whats their growth strategy. Disgruntled salespeople are the best sources of information, and you will find many have not signed non-disclosure agreements.

9. Job boards

Job boards are great tools to spy on your competitors. Look at your competitor’s employees CVs to find juicy information. It gives you an understanding of what they are hiring, how many, for what positions and job locations. However, this is just the start of it when looking at job boards.

Job adverts will reveal the tech they are using, the skills they need, future growth areas, new products they are developing. The phrase “a good understanding of X would advantageous but not essential” could be revealing. Is there a new job in a location they do not have an office? What does that tell you? The number of open jobs also show their plans.

If there are no jobs and there has been many in the past, what does that tell you? Are their job been repeated month after month? Are they struggling to recruit or retain their staff? How does this compare to your situation? What is their recruitment telling you?

10. Speak to them

Call their service and sales teams up and ask the question you need answering. Focus on the most important question, be courteous and praise them and thank them for their help. Once you have the answer, keep quiet and see if they fill the silence with more information. Do you think this would never work? It does all the time.

Finally, a warning – be careful out there

Firstly, search for market intelligence tools, competitor research tools, and you will see many adverts from SEO tools, claiming to do market intelligence. Most are good at what they do – SEO and keywords, but none of them will provide forward-looking Intelligence. Also, there are many very expensive resources to waste your money on, so if a company, platform or software is offering something too good to be true, it probably is. We have seen most of them, and nothing beats real hard work and talking to the right people.

Summary

In this article entitled 10 marketing tools to spy on your competitors, we discussed several tools to keep an eye on your competition. Tools you can start doing today. Tools include Google, patent searches, surveys and attending conferences. Also, talking to your customers, suppliers and even your competitors themselves.

Follow us on Twitter
And, get in touch here
Also, for more information on Intelligence ethics click here
Candy jars representing Competitor Intelligence Research & Market Intelligence brought to you by Octopus Competitive Intelligence problem solvers

Competitor Intelligence Research & Market Intelligence

By | Competitor Intelligence

Competitor Intelligence Research & Market Intelligence

Competitor Intelligence Research & Market Intelligence is an essential aspect of any business. However, there are a few things to take into consideration when conducting Competitor Intelligence Research & Market Intelligence.

Hazard ahead and why the concern?

Companies take Health & Safety seriously, but when was the last time you sat down to discuss what competitive threats you are going to encounter over the next five years? Which competitors concern you the most? Why is that? What you think they do better than you? Is what you know about them, right?

Get members of your team to independently complete a simple SWOT analysis on your competitors and then bring the results together. We would suggest the competitors you should be most concerned about are the ones you never see.

Mirroring

When attempting to forecast the actions of your competitor, avoid the natural tendency to assume they think and act like you. If you want to know how your competitor is going to react, try to perceive threats and opportunities as they would see them. To do this, you must get to understand their values, misconceptions, bias, assumptions and, if they are from another country, their culture.

Just the facts, please

When viewing competitors/markets articles, to create excellent analysis, make a list of what you see. Don’t link any of the information together or read anything into it. Just record what you see. After listing and untangling the facts, after each item, ask:

  • What does it mean?
  • What should be done?
  • And what are they not saying?

Nothing should be a surprise to you

Just using Competitive Intelligence so you can copy your competitors is not the answer. Most companies don’t want to be the same as their competition; they want to be better. Do you know your competitor’s real strategy, which customer segment they are focused on and how they differentiate themselves from you?

Never dismiss your findings that challenge your conclusions, opinions or experience. Please don’t throw out conclusions because initial results fail to support them. A divergence between sources information gives you an excellent opportunity to dig deeper and find better Intelligence.

Denial is the number one enemy of good Intelligence

Denial is a great tool to produce a poor strategy and encourage questionable decision making. Indeed, sometimes you can not see the wood for the trees, but by refusing to accept Intelligence, you may struggle to find the forest in the first place.  A good starting point is to ask these questions:

  • What are they planning?
  • What does your competitor do? – Not as simple and straight forward question as it seems.
  • Do their actions match their words?
  • Where do they compete, which customers and niches?
  • How are they going to fight in the future?
  • Are their strategic objectives achievable and will they clash with yours?
  • What options do we have to compete in this changing world?
  • How will you differentiate against them?
  • Can you isolate vulnerabilities to exploit?

Summary

Competitor Intelligence Research & Market Intelligence is important, and a number of things need to be taken into consideration. This article described how Market Intelligence is just as important and Health & Safety, isolate which competitors you are most concerning. And never assume they think and act like you. Also, we offered a couple of techniques and many questions to help with your Competitor Intelligence research.

Follow us on Twitter
And, get in touch here
Starting Competitive IntelligenceGirl starting a race representing How to start Competitive Intelligence to beat your competitors?

How to start competitive intelligence to beat your competitors?

By | Competitor Intelligence

How to start – It is a highly competitive and tough environment

Intelligence gives you insight into the market but how do you start?

But it is easier said than done.

When asking us to find intelligence on their competitors and markets, some of our clients struggle to determine what they really need.

The problem is that the subject can be too vast, without the parameters needed to define the scope of the research.

Because we want to build long term relationships – and because our researchers need clarity in their objectives – we suggest you consider this process next time you need some intelligence:

Competition:

Agree who you believe to be your main direct and indirect competitors.

Markets:

Answer these questions. What markets you are looking at? Are they new or existing markets? Do you know enough about them?

Engagement:

Define what you need to know and what you will do with the intelligence.
Create an Intelligence Statement, which should be no more than two lines and ideally one sentence.

Questions:

Agree on a set of Key Intelligence Questions (and associated actions) which need answering. Any more than five and you should consider splitting the project in two.

Actions:

Ask what are you going to do with the Competitive Analysis once you have it.

Any Competitive Intelligence Agency worth their salt will want to work with you on these questions to find the right Competitive Analysis.
These questions will create structure, clarification, a focus, reduced mission creep and a certainty that the relevant intelligence has (or hasn’t) been found.

In the future, you may want to introduce relevant ongoing monitoring and reporting that uses structured analytical techniques to improve the quality of your Intelligence Analysis.

Gaining such levels of intelligence will enable you to make better decisions and create sustainable and truly effective marketing campaigns.

Interested in know more? Please contact us or sign up to our daily one liner here. Follow us on Twitter.

fallinginlove 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.

How to love your competitors with intelligence

By | Competitor Intelligence

Falling in love with your competitors

You don’t need us to tell you it’s soon Valentine’s Day. But you may be surprised to hear we believe it’s time for you to start loving your competitors.

They may take business from you. You may take customers from them. They can certainly be a major pain in the backside. So why fall in love? The truth is, the next big idea. The sort that transforms your business. That may come from your competitor.

Your competitors can spark great ideas for you too

Look at it this way. They may be doing something well, but look closely and you might see what you can do differently and better. Learning from their mistakes is usually easier for you than it is for them. You can look at the situation with a clear mind, with no emotion or detail clouding your judgement.

Understanding your competitors means understanding your customers

You can progress what they’re doing into a better product or service without having to pay for the error. You can find inspiration in what is working well for them. Understand your competitors and you will have a better understanding of your market. And the more you know about your market, the better chance you have of finding better customer solutions and new opportunities.

Enter your competitors’ world

A great way to be perceived as an expert in your field is to use social media to congratulate your competitor when they have won a deal.  Or launched a new product. It shows you have your finger on the pulse of your market, while your customers (and prospects) may think you have their best interests at heart.

Are they threatened by you?

This action develops trust. Suddenly, you are seen as industry thought leaders. All the information is already out in the open, so you are not risking much. But if they thank you, it shows they do not threaten you.  And there is a good chance their customers will take a closer look at you. If on the other hand they ignore you, the market will note your kindness. Their actions will also be noted. Pack your congratulatory message with keywords, and it will help you appear in Google searches.

Let’s hope they’re looking at you too

There is something worse than your competitors watching what you’re doing. When they’re not looking at you. If they don’t take a keen interest, you need to quickly understand why. Your competitors can unlock new ideas for meeting your customer’s needs, you’ve got to love them for that, haven’t you?

Any questions? Feel free to get in touch with us on hello@octopusintelligence.co.uk

Drivers win B2B Competitor Intelligence 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.

How will your competitors win the war in the future?

By | Competitor Intelligence
With a new year around the corner, it is a time when some reassessment of your position could be in order.

If competitors are consistently beating you, how much revenue have you lost?
How much has easily avoided strategic and tactical mistakes cost your company over the past 12-24 months?

Can you shut out your competition?

If you could step around those mistakes and shut out your competition, what would that be worth?

Get to know your competitors and disruptors very well.

These questions may offer some direction:

    • How do they plan to compete with you the future and how committed are they to achieving their declared strategic objectives? Are they capable of doing what they want to do?
    • Also, how does their management team think and act? Can they become disruptors or are they tired and reactive?
    • What is their vision? What do they tell the press or their people about their plans?

      Are they getting in your way?

      • Do their objectives get in the way of your company?
      • What options are open to you for dealing with an ever changing competitive environment, an emergence of new “more powerful” rival or the transform of technology?
      • Where do they compete with you? In what segment and which clients and how do they differentiate themselves and their offerings?
        What makes your competitors the choice of some of your customers?
      • Also, what, in the eyes of your customers, differentiates “them” from “you”?
      • and what do their financials look like? How do your competitors make money and profits?
      • Do they make their profits from having created better products and services?
      • How much cash do they have?
      • Can they react to impacts that you might make in the marketplace?
      • How much funding have they raised to date? When was it raised? Why and have they used it well?
      • What are their future intentions? Not an easy question to answer, but it should be one of the most important questions that you try to answer.
      • Could they be acquired or are they looking to buy?
      • What could they do to achieve growth?
      • In the next three years, which segments will your competitors be targeting?
robots 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.

New competitors are a big risk, here is why

By | Competitor Intelligence

It is very common to get caught out thinking you have the best products and your competitors are not a good as you. It used to be the case that companies could see disruptive innovation within their industry.

As long they were looking out for it they had the skills and strategies to migrate the risk. Risks associated with that competitor who brought out their new shiny product.

Historically companies took some notice of new competitors entering their market. These competitors started off agiler than them.  Then gained market share by offering cheaper alternative products. These products would then improve, and they would also move into the higher end market.

There was always plenty of time for you to take action.  Because the disruptive competitors took some time to gain market share.

Disruptors are here

New entrants to your market can now fire disruptive, innovative products into your customers. Using weapons like instant communication, cloud computing, mobile applications and Machine Learning. These technological developments have brought a new risk – speed.

The traditional company would always have time on their side, but with technological advances new entrants means they can become a major success (and pain in the neck) overnight. With Machine Learning and powerful supporting innovative networks time is going to become even more critical when evaluating risk.

Your current competitors next week could be gone with new ones replacing them from other industries. Machine Learning means it that it is will be even harder to see that freight train coming down the track.  Because the tracks don’t even exist anymore.

It is time to rethink competitive risk and understand this disruptive world.
Don’t make it easy for competitors to enter your markets.
Time is not on the disruptors side either. They may be able to offer innovative and cheaper alternatives, but it is possible that they will need to make a profit fast before their money runs out.

Collaborate

Collaborate with your traditional “friendly” competitors to make it harder for disruptors. Get to know the signs of market disruptions. Who is playing with what ideas? Get to know visionaries in your industry and keep speaking to your customers.

Innovations coming into the market may make some of your traditional offerings and assets worthless. Review what you are selling and which of your assets are still useful and relevant.

Think about which brand names and patents could be used to fight the disruptors and determine what potential disruptors could look like.
Above all, if you don’t have a Competitive Intelligence strategy monitoring your current business environment, what chances do you have of seeing disruptors?

As well as embracing it, companies who are going to survive the rise of Machine Learning need understand why they win or lose business and where their strengths and weaknesses are.

It is not just the hard facts like their competitor’s ROI, cost of manufacture, revenue, profit etc. Know your current and future competitors and the products/services they sell, why their customers like them and how they do things to get their product/service to their customer.

Pricing Strategy Girl runner recovering hands on knees suggesting Pricing Strategy helps beat competitors. Market surprise is usually not nice but did you know Competitive Intelligence can reveals remarkable insight about the situation within their market. We isolate your problems, reduce risk and uncertainty and deliver intelligence-led answers and innovative solutions. Dedicated to help you win.

Are your competitors superior or undercutting you?

By | Competitor Intelligence

Pricing Strategy. You are offering a better service, but one of your competitors are constantly beating you into the ground by being cheaper than you?

They could be trying to buy a market share, and unless they have very deep pockets, their price cutting tactics will not last very long. Do they even have a pricing strategy?

It could be that they have a significant cost advantage over you or that your cost structures are bulging at the seams. All is not lost as Competitive Intelligence can help you understand what’s going on so you can decide what you are going to do about it.

Pricing Strategy

Find out what their headcount, distribution, materials and other overheads applicable to your industry. Understand their business strategy and production process. Assess how much money do they have to play with, do they have any debt and are they able to manage it?

Who are their suppliers and are they getting a better deal than you? Are they sharing costs with other parts of their business etc? and be honest, what are they doing better than you?

Want to know more about pricing strategy? Then get in touch here.

Follow us on Twitter