For many years, competitive intelligence has been used by large organizations capable of paying expensive specialist that would mine various sets of data in order to find that elusive piece of information that would help the Fortune 1000 beat their competitors. What used to be a luxury for the most fortunate companies is now something that is at the reach of any company – even the smallest ones.
There is a proliferation of information out there that is just begging to be mined by any individuals who wants to be better informed. There is no shortage of data you can find on your competitors and even your own business — from news feeds, to freely accessible company databases, web and social media metrics, to SEO and Pay per click (PPC) analytics all the way to publicly available information about employees, job posting, trademarks and patents.
No matter how big your company is, you are constantly required to have a good understanding of the competitive landscape — from direct competitors, to indirect competitors to keeping a close look at potential new entrants in the market. The more you know about your competition, the better you are positioned to identify and define a competitive advantage for your business. Competitive intelligence can be valuable for many roles in your company:
As the CEO, business partner or owner, competitive intelligence is a must if you don’t want anyone else to eat your lunch. We often talk about having a vision of the future, but this is not possible if you cannot foresee what your competitors will do. Competitive intelligence gives business owners a better method to react faster to changing market conditions and prevents you from being caught off guard if one of your investors starts asking hard questions about stuff they learned about your competitors.
We often say that the Product Manager is the CEO of the product. Not only do you need to make sure that your product or service is meeting the customers needs but you also need to know what your competitors are doing – such as what direction they are taking with their own solutions. As your competitors release new products, you need to make sure that your own roadmap takes into consideration any change in user demand that can be caused by actions taken by other companies. You cannot afford not to be the first one who learns about anything changing in your competitive landscape.
Your entire sales organization relies on you to deliver the right message to the market and bring enough leads for them to achieve or surpass their sales targets. You need to make sure that your message is superior to that of your competitors’. You always have to be one step ahead of them. Nobody wants to play catch-up or start losing market shares. You also need to provide competitors reports to your sales team and always have a good answer for any competition related questions your customers might have.
Sales & Business Development Managers
There is nothing worse than being in a meeting while unaware of the latest news or changes that have impacted your key customer or partner. One of the biggest challenges in sales or business development is to build trust with your key contacts. Unless you are constantly aware of what’s going on, you are at risk of missing key information that will help you close or secure that important partnership your company needs to get.
Once someone is convinced of the value of continually doing competitive intelligence, the biggest challenge is to find the right content sources and finding the time to do it. In addition, you need to make sure you can do this cost effectively in regards to your company. Luckily, there are many new companies out there that are looking to do just that: to provide an affordable solution that will allow any business professional to capture competitive data and keep it up to date for you – removing a lot of the pain related to doing competitive intelligence.