What is Competitive Intelligence?

Marketers use Competitive Intelligence to look at their market environment, seeking out market trends, future competitor developments.  And then plan a strategy to maximise opportunities and reduce uncertainty and risk. Competitive Intelligence is the process where tactical and analysis of markets, competitors and industries. To allow decision-makers to make informed long and short term decisions. Take advantage of gaps in the market and exploit competitor strengths and weaknesses. Put simply; it allows you to avoid surprises, think more moves ahead of your rivals and minimise uncertainty when you make business decisions. Firms that use Competitive Intelligence tend to be less surprised by competitor’s actions. So reducing uncertainty.

Why do you need Competitive Intelligence?

It will be no surprise that you do not operate in an isolated market. And you are not the only company to offer what you do. You may not be the sole investor looking at the company or the only company in your industry looking to grow or sell up.  You clearly feel you have something better to offer. But other companies are targeting the same avenues as you. And there is only so much of the pie to go around. It is effortless to think your new product is the best thing in the market. If you can gather sufficient information. 

Understand your rivals/prospective acquisition targets business model. Isolate and take advantage of your rival’s strengths and weaknesses, you will stay ahead of the game. You need to know what your rivals are doing and most importantly, why they are doing it and why your customers are attracted to your business and what sort of track record they have. Using CI will transform your own thinking and how you do things and deliver a better strategic direction to your own company.

Awareness of yourself and competition

It can also improve your own productivity by allowing you to focus on winnable activities and or pitches and reducing the influence of rumour and industry experience. It can be disheartening for either party listening or presenting a pitch to uninterested parties. Awareness of the competition and opportunities will improve cross-functional relationships bringing teams together getting everyone involved in the information collection and strategic analysis. It can give you early warning of competitive threats allowing you to make strategic decisions and actions based on valuable Intelligence, not the latest article in the local business press. It offers unbiased news, views, truth and relevant analysis for your strategic and operational decision making. 

Moreover, making an important decision is better based on Intelligence than a rumour and gossip. Or the word of a salesperson. So, be aware that CI will challenge some of your beliefs, create awareness of your business environment. And offer the senior management team undiluted content where it could traditionally be the case that this sort of news was filtered for them.  That’s the beauty of good CI. It offers an unbiased and unaltered viewpoints.

Marketers’ guide to Competitive Intelligence

Now, you may think this is not relevant to your business, but nothing can be further from the truth. Looking outside your company is essential to ensure they are heading in the right direction and they are not going to come up with nasty surprises.  So, our marketers’ guide to competitive Intelligence will focus on the following three aspects. Your market sectors, your competitor and of course, your customers. So, when you develop a deeper understanding of these three factors, you should discover what it takes to be a success in each aspect and build your competitive edge. 

However, marketers should see Competitive Intelligence as their best friend and secret weapon as it helps keep them on their toes. And be informed, open to innovation and stay fresh in the industry. Competitive Intelligence helps marketers create value propositions in new and exciting ways to set their firm apart from their competitors. It is no good having a great understanding of what your customer wants but completely ignore what your competitor’s are doing. Also, they could be bringing out the same product as you. But, its better, cheaper and ready sooner than yours. Your competitors could inspire a different take on the same idea.

Team game

Competitive Intelligence is a team game and should not be down to just the marketing team to produce the goods. All departments need to collaborate throughout the business, sharing information and all the relevant news they hear.  Some marketers use outside help to keep it impartial, critical and focused. And to save them time and money. Also, outside agencies can talk to people, reduce the chances of data silos and gaps in knowledge developing within your organisation.  And Competitive Intelligence also assesses the alternative marketing channels your competitors are using to market their product. And highlights how effective their channels are. As well as how you can improve them. 

Summary

In our marketers’ guide to Competitive Intelligence, we aimed to show marketers how to use Competitive Intelligence to look at their market environment and seeking out market trends. Also, future competitor developments and then plan a strategy to maximise opportunities and reduce uncertainty and risk.

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And here are some case studies too. Also, for more information on ethics within Competitive Intelligence from SCIP
 
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