Competitor Research and the 5 ways to use it

This article discusses Competitor Research and the 5 ways to use it. We explain why Competitive Intelligence is important for your Senior, HR, Marketing, Sales and Product teams. 

Introduction

To get the best from your Competitive Intelligence activities means investing some time and effort to set up and keep your process up to scratch. Vitally, you must be able to be in a position to be able to distribute the Competitor Research and Market Analysis to the people you need to know - Your organisations decision-makers. 

It also means effectively distributing the information you gain to decision-makers throughout your company, some of whom may not even realise its potential value. So we now present 5 ways your business can use Competitor Research:

1. Recruitment and HR teams

Recruitment snd HR teams are not the starting point for Competitive Intelligence. And Octopus have never worked with a recruiter, despite the sector being ripe pickings for Competitive Intelligence. 

The first thing HR can use Competitive Intelligence tools is by assessing how your company is viewed by current and former employees. You will get some up-close and personal feedback on a number of websites, like Glassdoor. Here you may find employees who have told the world how it is working for you. But some primary Intelligence (talking to people) will also reveal a great deal of information.

A word of warning to viewing Glassdoor reviews:

  • Keep your ego out of it and try and read the reviews with an open mind.
  • Take the very negative reviews from former employees in context. If you sacked them, they are not going to recommend you for the "Sunday Times top 100 companies to work for" award. But, they may have raised valid problems.
  • Fabulous reviews also need to be tempered, especially when it's obvious who wrote them. 
  • So, watch out and resist the temptation to write your reviews on your own company. They stick out like a sore thumb and you won't kid anyone. 

Look for patterns not insults

Look for the patterns and trends in what everyone is saying and the Intelligence will reveal the good and the poorer points of your company organisation and culture. Human Resources teams use Competitive Intelligence and Competitor Research to keep track of who is hiring. And what's their pay and benefits offering? Knowing this sort of information will allow your company to remain competitive in the job market. 

Competitive Intelligence techniques are also brilliant for when you are onboarding new hires. Assuming they are not breaking confidentiality clauses you could ask them about the rival they used to work for or see what they say about them on their CV. Keeping track of your competitors' recruitment activities is also an important aspect. HR will be able to determine new markets, new geographies, processes and technologies your competitors are getting into. After all, if your rival starts advertising for a new sort of engineer; they must be doing so for a reason. Then, it's up to the CI team to work out what they are up to

2. Senior management team

Having the best possible information available to the senior team is incredibly important when it comes to making high-level decisions—So it would be sensible using Competitor Research and Competitive Intelligence when building future plans for the business. It is incredible that some companies still base their future strategy on tea leave reading, past experience, guesswork and assumption. And of course the generic ad-hoc ten-month-old off the shelf reports written by prominent research companies.

How smart would it be if you Senior teams are given concise briefings containing the most relevant up to date Competitor and Market Intelligence? To know about a competitor's acquisition and be able to do something about it before it is common knowledge. Not just secondary articles and news, but what a CI professional has dug up speaking to people. Secondary sources which could be of interest include:

  • Inhouse competitor documents found legally
  • Investor presentations
  • Sales literature
  • Financial reports

3. Sales teams

Sales teams are on the front-line and regularly in contact with prospective and current customers to present their offerings to them. They deal with the objectives and counter offers from your competitors. Your sales team should be your eyes and ears for the senior, marketing and product development teams. They can provide you with great Intelligence. But you have to ask them specific questions to get specific answers.

You should also try and help them by giving them battle cards. A sucincit summary of their target customers and the competitors they are facing. Simple and to the point killer statements to get the sale or destroy a competitors USP. Competitor Research and Market analysis can also provide daily or weekly briefings, desk research on the latest market movements, support tender applications, isolate struggling competitors and new deals.

4. Marketing departments

Marketing tends to be the usual bedfellow of Competitive Intelligence. Probably due to knowing your competitors and how they go to market is very relevant to marketing teams. To understand how you differentiate yourself, tracking competitors social media activities, PR, product launches and SEO is also pertinent. Still, this sort of thing, despite what digital marketing platforms tell you, is only a fraction of what using Market and Competitor Intelligence will allow. Such as isolating new trends and patterns before they have an impact on your business.

Understanding how competitors (and non-competing companies) market their product can help you develop and distinguish your own offerings. Intelligence also allows you to look for gaps in the markets you operate in and competitor weaknesses. However, the only way this will only work is if you have up to date Competitive Insight. 

5. Product management teams

If you are a product manager, you need to stay one or two steps ahead of the competition so to ensure you are offering the best possible product or service on the market. After all, there is no point trying to develop the third-best widget on the market is there? A good product makes it an easier sell and a lousy product make it easier for a competitor to hoover up new customers and steal  yours. Competitive Intelligence is needed by product managers to stay ahead of the game and make sure they are on track in terms of new technological developments.

Also understanding when a competitor is going to announce their new product and how they are going to promote their offering is very important.  Also finding out what your competitor has failed to develop and why it has failed. Why? Well, if they have spent significant money building something that didn't work, why do you have to do the same? Learn from their costly mistakes and look at their efforts to see where they went wrong. It's almost like your competitor paying for your some of your product development.  

Summary

This article suggested 5 ways your business can use Competitor Research. We explained why Competitive Intelligence is important for your Senior, HR, Marketing, Sales and Product teams. 

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