All industries have become more competitive, making it harder for brands to stand out. The average business has 29 competitors, up 16% from 2019. This is according to a 2020 survey. Marketing campaigns targeting specific audiences, persuasive sales forces, and competitive pricing strategies are all used by small and large companies to capture the attention of consumers.
In an era when new companies appear every day, how can a brand remain competitive? Competitor intelligence (CI) is one solution for driving revenue and staying ahead of the competition. We will talk about what CI is and what it isn’t, along with how brands can leverage it.
Why competitive intelligence
The purpose of competitive intelligence services is to monitor, gather, and analyze data legally and ethically about your competitor’s industry and determine who is performing better than you. Brands can use it to identify and fill strategy gaps and find new growth opportunities.
Future of competitive intelligence
In the past, companies with the resources to invest in CI tended to be enterprise-level companies, but that is changing. According to 2017, only 37% of companies had dedicated CI employees 2017. Those numbers are expected to grow by 20% by 2022. Since so much information is now available online, it’s now easier for small businesses to implement CI tactics without spending a lot of resources.
Competitive intelligence also offers insights that aren’t exclusive to senior executives. Sales teams are better collected through CI. Sales teams can address objections and gather them through CI. Marketing can target their messaging to reach their target audiences more effectively. The pricing and packaging of competitors can be better understood by the product.
Lesson to the marketer about competitive intelligence (CI)
To be successful, the work must be taken step by step, and CI is no different. There is a chance that these techniques may work for you if you go through the proper channels.
- Competitor analysis
CI treats your industry as a game, while your competitors are your opponents. In order to determine your next move, you should leverage insights gleaned from their plays. You will have a much harder time gathering information about your competitors if you know who your competitors are. Narrow down your top direct competitors first. Identical products and services from similar brands target the same consumer demographic.
Compile a second list of indirect competitors. You may still reach your target audience, even if they provide a different product or service. Instead of focusing on competitive advantage, focus on inspiration. Sort them by threat level once you have your list.
- Set Goals
Set your research objectives before you begin. You will be able to decide which avenues to pursue and which sources to focus on based on how you answer the following question: “What do we want to learn?”
Imagine Amore, a high-end handbag company, wants to understand its competitors’ marketing strategies, including their messaging, campaigns, and promotions. You have provided your CI team with a very clear direction here. A plan can then be devised to locate the data based on that information.
- Determine data collection strategies
The data collection tools can now be set up once the CI team knows the end goal.
The intel team will likely examine websites, landing pages, blog posts, and downloadable offers as part of Amore’s goal of understanding its competitors’ marketing strategies.
Amore’s competitors’ content and how consumers react to it will also be evaluated by social monitoring and social listening. A plan of action for data collection keeps CI teams on track. It can be difficult knowing where to begin when you cast a net too wide.
- Analyze the Collecting data
Now that you have identified your competitors, your goals, and your research plans, it is time to get to work. You may need to gather data for weeks or months, depending on your objectives. By utilizing a CI tool as you compile your data, you will be able to categorize it for later analysis.
As soon as you have enough information, things start to get interesting. When you look for patterns, you can identify the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors.
- Provide insights to stakeholder
The first step in the process is to identify themes in your research. Next, you must present your findings to key stakeholders. By harnessing this information, they can increase revenue and grow the business.
To keep in mind, you are the storyteller just as you are for any data analysis. It is not only your task to analyze the data, but also to frame it so that it is obvious why it matters. It is difficult to determine the next steps without that important component.
Reports should also be tailored to the team. Salespeople may prefer battle cards, whereas marketing teams may prefer a visual breakdown of their reports. Don’t hesitate to go straight to the source if you don’t know what would work best. Communicate your findings in collaboration with your teams.
What powers you up during competitive intelligence?
These things will help you more if you’re moving towards the CI and want to do this job in the future.
- Make sure everything is legal
The term competitive intelligence consultants may not seem obvious, but it can give the wrong impression.
You must adhere to the law when doing any type of CI work. In order to access information illegally, such as via hacking or phone tapping, it is considered “spying.”.
Consult with your legal team if you have any doubts about CI. Reach out to a corporate lawyer who can offer some insights on how to proceed if you don’t have an internal team.
- Be ethical
You shouldn’t just do something because it is legal. Suppose your team discovers a former competitor employee has recently quit and has key information on the company’s five-year strategy.
Reaching out to an employee may not be illegal, but it may be unethical as the employee may reveal sensitive information. Use your judgment. Do not reach out to an employee if you do not feel it is appropriate.
- Share insights
According to a study by Crayon, companies that share customer information at least once a week experience twice as much revenue growth as those that do not. Therefore, sharing insights should be frequent and frequent. CI is not a one-and-done tactic, but an ongoing process. In order to keep up with the competition, you’ll need to keep your company growing.
Last but not least
This article is written to help anyone interested in entering the field of competitive intelligence or marketing keep in mind the best practices. We will be happy to answer any questions related to competitive intelligence or competitive intelligence marketing flow.