As the business world becomes increasingly competitive, companies are realizing the importance of gathering and analyzing information about their competitors.
Competitive intelligence, the practice of collecting and analyzing data about competitors’ activities and strategies, has become a critical component of business strategy.
In this article, we will explore the importance of competitive intelligence and provide tips on effectively gathering and using this valuable information to gain a competitive advantage.
Competitive Intelligence Definition
Competitive Intelligence is the process of building and maintaining a deep understanding of your competitors. This way, you can better understand their strategy and predict their next actions, making smarter decisions for your organization.
Competitive Intelligence, also called CI, is at the heart of every high-performing organization. The main goal of competitive Intelligence is to ensure that you are one or more steps ahead of your competitors.
Not knowing what to do with your competitor’s analytics is as bad as doing nothing. One way to facilitate competition information while saving time and resources is to have a designated person or group perform this assessment.
The most important thing is to always look at what is changing and what is not and how it affects your business.
It’s never too late to start building your competitive advantage, regardless of your business. Take a step back to assess and evaluate the situation to help your business in the long run.
You will benefit your company in the long run when you take the time to develop the right competitiveness.
What is Competitive Intelligence?
Competitive Intelligence is an ever-evolving process that uses real-time data and insights to make consistent strategic decisions. This is not an exercise; This requires a team of competitive intelligence analysts with the right combination of experience, time, and resources.
It involved a coordinated competitive intelligence program and the central collection of information from various sources.
By proactively responding to market trends or competitive actions, they can ensure superior performance in their competitive field.
Knowing what your competitors are doing is not enough to do business.
For example, unexpected events in your industry may reduce your financial profits this quarter.
Here, competitive information acts as a more informed business decision-making process that reduces the uncertainty of external events. CI can also help:
- Get more income.
- Look for growth opportunities from the start.
- Be confident in anticipating market shifts.
- Develop a strategy to counteract each of your competitors.
- Compare yourself to your competition to identify areas for improvement.
- Determine how your customers see your brand.
- Bring products to market more quickly.
Difference between Competitive Intelligence vs. Market Intelligence vs. Business Intelligence
Competitive Intelligence, marketing intelligence, and business intelligence form the strategic triangle. Together, these three activities allow companies to overview their operational landscape comprehensively.
The role of CI, MI, and BI can also be considered using the analogy of a sea ship. Business intelligence provides information about your fleet.
Business BI focuses on the core competencies, resources, financial condition, personnel, and other internal factors that determine the success of a business. Competitive Intelligence means knowing what your competitors are doing.
Companies use CI to analyze competitive threats. CI also helps to mitigate these risks, exploit competitive weaknesses, and develop strategies that provide a competitive advantage.
Marketing information is focused on the environment in which the ship sails.
Consider the external environment in which the company operates – factors such as market trends, economic conditions, regulations, and many others are important here.
What Is The Right Way To Report The Competition?
An effective approach to competitive analysis can be divided into three phases: synthesis, discovery, and collaboration.
It focuses on attempts to identify, assemble, and process competing information that may yield valuable information.
At this stage, companies are often overwhelmed and struggle to identify appropriate data sources, organize datasets, and find time for analysis.
A better approach is technology to automatically collect, organize, and label reliable information from reliable sources.
It is part of the process by which professional intelligence agencies analyze competitive Intelligence and obtain valuable insights.
At this stage, the priority is to separate the signal from the noise and identify areas of interest for analysis.
Many CI organizations increasingly use AI-based tools to support this process and allow their analysts to spend as much time generating valuable insights as possible.
It refers to the process of sharing knowledge and information with organizational stakeholders. The purpose of a competitive analysis is to best guide the organization in making strategic decisions, so high-quality CI information must be effectively shared with the right audience.
Consider creating a centralized dashboard that displays key information in real time and is accessible throughout the organization.
Where To Gather Competitive Intelligence
As with any system, the quality of the data entered into a CI program indicates its success.
Ultimately, your goal is to profile your competitor fully. Here are some sources of competitive Intelligence you can use today:
Your competitor’s website
Unsurprisingly, a good place to start gathering information about your competitors is to look at your competitors’ websites. Be aware of the following:
- Location and message changes
- Solution and on the right
- Update products
First, go to the main website and all the marketing pages. Did they change the slogan? Do they display customer logos? Who are the target customers?
These signals tell you how your competitors want to be seen in customers’ minds and what industries they are targeting.
Second, go to the pages related to the product, especially the pricing page. But not just because of the price. Dig deep. Learn about trial periods, pricing models, access fees, and more.
Customer reviews, whether testimonials or case studies, prove a company’s value. They are perhaps the most reliable source of external competitive Intelligence. Note the following.
- B2B evaluation platform
- Analyst report
- Request a platform
B2B review platforms like Capterra, G2, and Trustradius are a great starting point to see what customers your competitor is selling to, customer journeys, pain points, and satisfaction scores.
You want to pay special attention to any negative reviews you encounter in the context of sales. Finally, question platforms like Quora and Reddit are a great way to discover your competitors’ top customer concerns and buying patterns.
You can also search and ask an unfamiliar question about your business to find out what people think about marketing.
Your competitor’s content is a wealth of information that tells you what customers are looking for and where they want to develop thought leadership. Be aware of the following:
- Content type and format
- Frequency of messages
- Keywords and SEO
- Global CTA
The real challenge is to identify knowledge from your content. You can use and develop informative content for keywords your competitors are not targeting to improve your search rankings.
For example, posting four case studies in a row clearly shows your priorities when looking for clients. However, post frequency can be used as an indicator to develop a strong content strategy.
Another valuable source of competition is social networks. Although the posts and discussions are sometimes overwhelming, they help highlight competing campaign models. Note the following.
- How to earn your money
- Frequency of messages
- How does it work?
Social media ROI is difficult to measure and depends on the platform. The United States, for example, is the powerful inventor of Twitter and its mantle.
So if you’re competitive, equip your suppliers with this information and ask them questions that lead prospects to this weakness.
Your customers and partners
Finally, it’s time to talk about the most accessible source of internal knowledge: your customers and partners.
Before choosing your company, your clients go through several preliminary rounds to test other competitors.
This lets you know what problems your competitors are trying to solve and what does and doesn’t work in their industry, saving you valuable research time. One way to get this information is to get it directly from customers through interviews or surveys.
The second is communication with colleagues. Check each chapter for new information to share with you.
Sales can discuss common complaints. Support has an overview of major recurring issues, the product knows all the feature differences, and marketing can advise which security has the highest priority. Your goal is to carefully analyze the data and pick out the most important points.
An easily accessible way to conduct competitive research is to review company news, events, and press releases. Note the following.
- Press release
- Report financial results
A company’s news page is a simple indicator of its overall direction, whether it is raising new funding, trying to enter new markets, or gaining market leadership. Some also include general financial reports that allow you to respond proactively to changes in the market.
The newsletter is only one part of the puzzle. You can search for publishers who already cover your competitors but not your business. Build relationships with them. And who knows what? You have access to a great platform to publish your product.
Some even sponsor events to reinforce their brand to a specific clientele. This will give you an idea of what events to put together and what messages to use to build brand awareness.
Suppliers are just as important to CI as customer reviews and analyst reports, especially since they come from brokers working on your competitor’s behalf. Be aware of the following:
- Pricing structures
- Conditions of Resale
- Free plugins
Marketers sell your competitors’ products and help you analyze the market to sell better. Once you build a relationship with them, you can access these reports and your competitor’s sales strategy.
For example, competitors may be overcharging their business customers with warehousing costs. Or that prices are raised every year at renewal.
Also, check what extras each package offers. You can match your competitors’ offers and add additional services to make your product more attractive.
Does Your Company Need To Provide Competitive Information?
Building a Competitive Intelligence function is ideal for long-term investments in building an organization. Any organization that does not implement CI is at the mercy of the market and vulnerable to unexpected disruptions and serious consequences.
In highly competitive industries, keeping up with market trends and staying ahead is important. Competitive Intelligence is the best way to do this.
An effective and well-equipped CI function enables organizations to make decisions with greater confidence, predict competitor actions before they happen, and ensure that they always meet the needs of their customers.
How to Build a Competitive Intelligence Program
A competitive intelligence program must be robust enough to provide employees with the right information and processes for their roles.
In general, it’s just talking about C-level executives but also salespeople, marketers, and engineers who use these insights to handle objections better, reach new audiences, and drive product launches.
So, without further ado, here are the key steps to building an effective CI program:
- Identify your direct competitors:You may think you have no competition. But if you’re solving a problem, someone else has already figured it out. However, which participants are essential for a CI program’s success is not clear. So let’s start with some expressions:
- Direct competitors operate in the same market as you with the same products. Be a fan of zero volume: If other customers don’t buy, they will.
- Indirect competitors operate in the same market but sell different products that meet the same need. Imagine Burger King Vs. KFC. Com. Both are fast food restaurants with different hunger pangs.
Now that the types of competitors are clear, you can add a list of 5-10 direct and five indirect competitors.
Define key goals and metrics for each stakeholder group.
Once you’ve mapped your direct competitors, it’s time to set your goals and key metrics. A good place to start is to ask C-level executives what competitive threats keep them up at night.
This document does not justify the need for a CI program but points to parties who can do something about it. Let’s look at the most common CI actors and their purpose:
- Sellers: Increase your win rate against competing bids
- Marketing: Create useful battle cards
- Tech: We do make a difference
- Customer Success/Support – Customer retention
- C-Level Executive – Analyze neighboring EMEA markets for compliance
This does not mean that the goals do not overlap. Conversely, better positioning can generate more leads and increase customer retention for a popular product.
You’ve identified your direct competition, determined your CI goals and metrics, and probably spent some time gathering data about your competitors.
Raw data is then transformed into actual results and disseminated to relevant stakeholders. Although there is no secret recipe for creating battle cards, the activity should include the following:
- Create your competitor’s profile
- Quick finish to take opponents out early
- Guess why you won and why you lost
- Action response to the objections
- My list of topics that will put your competitor in a bad light
- How much you can afford depends on your marketing team’s size and budget. But that’s only half the story. How and when to deliver is just as important.
Types Of Competitive Intelligence
There are several types of competitive intelligence that companies can gather and analyze to gain insights into their competitors’ activities and strategies. Some of the most common types include:
- Strategic Intelligence: This type of intelligence focuses on understanding the overall strategic direction of a competitor, including their long-term goals, initiatives, and investments.
- Tactical Intelligence: Tactical intelligence focuses on a competitor’s day-to-day operations and tactics, such as their pricing strategies, product development plans, and marketing campaigns.
- Technical Intelligence: Technical intelligence involves gathering information on a competitor’s technical capabilities, including their research and development initiatives, patent filings, and technological innovations.
- Financial Intelligence: Financial intelligence focuses on a competitor’s financial performance, including revenue, profits, and market share.
- Customer Intelligence: Customer intelligence involves gathering information on a competitor’s customer base, including their demographics, preferences, and buying behaviors.
By gathering and analyzing these different types of competitive intelligence, companies can understand their competitors’ activities and strategies and use this information to develop effective business strategies and gain a competitive advantage.
Competitive Intelligence Examples
Competitive intelligence can provide valuable insights into a competitor’s activities and strategies, which can help companies make informed decisions and gain a competitive advantage.
Here are some examples of how companies can use competitive intelligence:
- Pricing Strategies: By gathering information on a competitor’s pricing strategies, a company can adjust its own prices to remain competitive and attract customers.
- Product Development: Competitive intelligence can help a company understand a competitor’s product development plans and strategies, which can inform its own product development initiatives.
- Marketing Campaigns: By analyzing a competitor’s marketing campaigns, a company can gain insights into effective marketing strategies and use this information to develop its own marketing campaigns.
- Mergers and Acquisitions: Competitive intelligence can help a company identify potential acquisition targets or merger opportunities and evaluate the potential impact on the market.
- Technological Innovations: By monitoring a competitor’s technological innovations and patent filings, a company can identify potential market threats and opportunities and adjust its technological initiatives accordingly.
Overall, competitive intelligence provides companies with valuable insights into the competitive landscape and can inform strategic decision-making, product development, and marketing initiatives.
Sample Competitive Intelligence Report
Here is an example of a competitive intelligence report:
Executive Summary: This report comprehensively analyzes the competitive landscape in the mobile phone industry.
Our research focused on gathering and analyzing information on the top five mobile phone manufacturers, including Apple, Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, and Oppo.
The report provides insights into each company’s market share, financial performance, product offerings, and marketing strategies.
Our analysis provides recommendations for companies looking to gain a competitive advantage in the mobile phone industry.
Market Share Analysis: Apple currently holds the largest market share in the mobile phone industry, with 23% of the market. Samsung is a close second with a 20% market share, followed by Huawei with 17%. Xiaomi and Oppo have 11% and 9% market shares, respectively.
Financial Performance: Apple and Samsung have the strongest financial performance, with revenue of $274.5 billion and $197 billion, respectively. Huawei has the third-highest revenue with $136.7 billion, followed by Xiaomi with $44.4 billion and Oppo with $30.6 billion.
Product Offerings: Apple and Samsung have a broad range of product offerings, including premium, mid-range, and budget phones. Huawei focuses on mid-range and premium phones, while Xiaomi and Oppo have a strong focus on budget and mid-range phones.
Marketing Strategies: Apple and Samsung have the strongest brand recognition and marketing budgets. Huawei has recently focused on marketing its premium phone offerings, while Xiaomi and Oppo have focused on innovative marketing campaigns to target younger consumers.
Recommendations: We recommend focusing on product differentiation and targeting niche markets to gain a competitive advantage in the mobile phone industry.
Companies should also consider investing in innovative marketing campaigns to reach younger consumers.
Additionally, strategic partnerships with other companies in the industry can help companies expand their product offerings and reach new markets.
Overall, the mobile phone industry is highly competitive, with several strong players vying for market share. Companies that can differentiate their products and effectively reach their target markets are likely to succeed in this dynamic and fast-paced industry.
Competitive Intelligence is the answer to keeping your business down. Interestingly, it’s not all data collection. Instead, it’s also about achieving success for the entire team through an effective iterative process.
Competitive Intelligence means building and maintaining a deep understanding of competitors to understand their strategies better and predict future moves.
It revolves around three main factors: market, customers, and competitors. By applying competitive analysis, organizations can stay ahead of the competition, improve business performance, and ensure long-term sustainable success.
- Beginner’s Guide For Time Management In 2023
- Most Effective and Proven Time Management Tips, Techniques & Strategies
- Why Your Time Management Fails: Everything You Must Know
- 30 Best Time Management Games And Activities (How To Play)
- Guide On How To Be Professional In Doing Time Management
Carol T. Mahaffey is a certified American Author And a creator of Theleaderboy. Carol is a Self-Taught Marketer with 10+ Years of Experience. She brings her decade of experience to her current role, where she is dedicated to writing books, blogs, and articles, inspiring the world on how to become a better Leader.