Competitive intelligence might appear to be more of a task on a to-do list than a critical business function. You may read analyst reports, go through some CRM data, and even have a look at the websites of your rivals as well.
You could even go so far as to make battle cards for the sales staff, which you could refresh once a year if necessary. However, obtaining significant competitive marketing intelligence–the type that will have an influence on marketing and communications strategy for years to come–requires more than simply checking a few boxes.
Competitive intelligence must be ingrained in your company’s culture if it is to have an influence on the bottom line. Every person in your firm, across all divisions, should act as a competitive analysis detective, continuously on the lookout for clues about what’s going on in the industry as a whole.
However, they will require the assistance of a centralised team of specialists with whom to exchange such hints. If gathering competitive data is everyone’s responsibility, then it is no one’s responsibility.
A team of high-achieving analysts that are well immersed in their sector is required in order to establish a competitive marketing intelligence culture that will last for years.
But first and foremost, what exactly is competitive intelligence?
Competitive intelligence is the collection of information on what is going on in your industry as a whole. What you’re looking for might be anything from your rivals’ social media presence to their brand positioning to pricing strategy to product tiers and even their latest job listings. A distinct picture emerges from these individual data pieces, depicting who your rivals are, where they’re heading, and how your organisation should respond.
Putting together a competitive intelligence team: Choosing the right people
I worked in public relations for five years before transitioning into the field of competitive intelligence strategy. The most intriguing aspect of this sector is that a diverse group of people may come together to form a stronger team. The idea is to seek for a few fundamental characteristics.
Researchers who are unyielding
Data that is competitive in nature is difficult to come by. A common misconception is that all of your competitor’s important information would be easily visible on the first page of Google search results. This is not the case. Every member of your team must be a little too interested, and they must be prepared to go deep into the backlinks in order to uncover the information they want.
Communicators who are conscious of their actions
It’s much simpler than you may imagine to become obsessed with one particular piece of information about a competitor–especially if you have a strong suspicion that it could be a game-changer. However, competitive intelligence strategy is a long-term proposition.
Your staff must be comfortable with the idea of withholding information until they get the complete picture. You require individuals who are meticulous and who will not leap to conclusions based on a single delicious piece of information.
He is a jack of all crafts.
Because competitive analysis affects the whole organisation, you’ll need team members that can communicate effectively with everyone. Each member of the team must be just dangerous enough to understand everyone’s role—whether it’s in product development, sales, marketing, or customer success—as well as what knowledge could be relevant to them at any given time.
They must be familiar with the fundamental competences, objectives, and requirements of the teams with whom they collaborate.
Distilleries with a high level of expertise
Simply simply, you require competent writers. If you’re building a successful competitive intelligence system, you can end up with 100 little bits of information that together convey a broader story about your company. It is critical that your staff is capable of condensing enormous volumes of information into a concise letter for a time-pressed CEO. All of your research will be for naught if you are unable to communicate it effectively.
Identifying the most reliable sources of competitive intelligence
Once you’ve assembled your team, it’s time to begin accumulating information on your competitors. While it may be tempting to chose every competition in your field, you will get greater results by narrowing your focus. Pay close attention to your top two or three competitors, and ignore the others. This is especially important when you’re initially starting out and developing your programme. Once you’ve determined your targets, there are a variety of sites you may turn to in order to begin assembling your library of competitive analysis resources.
Your customer relationship management system
Setting up your CRM to record who your brand competes with is an excellent approach to measure your performance against your rivals’ performance. At Sprout, we record which competitors’ goods prospects are now using as well as who else they are considering. When we win a contract, we are certain that we are competitive with both their previous system and the other rivals in the contract we have won. Keeping score is an excellent approach to gauge your progress and demonstrate the value of your competitive intelligence team’s efforts.
Your sales crew is a great asset.
Sales conversations may be a goldmine of information about how your prospects see your rivals, especially if you listen carefully. You may get a clear picture of how customers feel about certain product features, brand positioning, and price structures as compared to your competitors by listening closely to recordings of their conversations. Additionally, you can obtain some excellent pull quotes for use in internal briefings.
Social networking is becoming increasingly popular.
Due to the fact that social media occurs in real time, it is an excellent resource for finding out what your rivals (and consumers) are most interested in. Examining your rivals’ approach and engagement metrics may provide you with a significant competitive advantage and help you identify new prospects. You may obtain thorough information on how well your content is resonating if you combine your manual search abilities with a service like Sprout Listening.
Creating a competitive intelligence culture is essential.
As soon as you’ve put together your team and begun building your library of competitive research, you’ll be ready to start cultivating an organisational culture that lives on competitive data. You may use this information to train your teams to consider how your business can outperform the competition in every choice they make as a result of this knowledge.
Competitive analysis is a long-term investment that continues to produce dividends. Your company will be better positioned to win in every department if it has a strong competitive data foundation in place.
This is only the beginning of what competition analysis can accomplish for your company’s bottom line and overall success. Read on to learn more about how social listening might assist you in taking your approach even further.