For many businesses, the value of competitive intelligence is often overlooked, despite the fact that CI should be a significant focus in business strategy to drive decision-making. While there may be a shortage of companies using CI in their business strategy, companies are gathering competitive intelligence at higher rates than ever.
Harvard Business Review addressed this phenomenon back in 2015:
"The paradox is that companies spend millions acquiring competitive or market “intelligence” from armies of vendors and deploy the latest technology disseminating the information internally. Some estimate the market for market research alone at $20 billion annually. Specific competitor information is another $2 billion."
The reality is, many SMEs systematically gather CI, even though they may call it something else.
Here are the 6 times you were gathering competitive intelligence and may not have realized it:
1. When you followed your competitor on social media.
Following your competitors on social gives you insight into their positioning and messaging but also provides you insight into their customer experience when you pay attention to how they engage their audience. The most CI-savvy organizations will also recognize that follow lists and fan lists are an opportunity to view the audience (and potential clients) of your competitors.
2. When you were mystery shopping.
Visiting your competitors’ locations provides an opportunity to fill in knowledge gaps that can’t be addressed online. In-person, live interaction allows you to feel the customer and sales experience first-hand and ask questions directly to the front-line team.
3. When you read your competitors' ad.
Beyond positioning and messaging, reading your competitors ads provides key information around special promotions and pricing. A long-term strategy of monitoring trends will allow you to identify potential seasonal patterns and plan accordingly.
4. When you attended an industry conference.
Conferences and trade-shows are fantastic opportunities to ensure that you're on top of the latest trends and emerging innovations in your industry. Yes, you can take this opportunity to get your hands on brochures, flyers and rate cards, but keep in mind that many organizations debut their most exciting developments at large industry events.
5. When you were chatting with your customers.
What better way to predict changing market conditions than to connect with your target market? By going deeper with your current customers and understanding their challenges, pain and desires, you are better able to predict what products and services they will be purchasing in the future. After all, today’s pain is tomorrow’s product.
6. When you were using Google Trends.
Google Trends analyzes trends as they relate to keywords. Understanding that competitive intelligence is more than just competition, the smartest organizations utilize trend data to predict what opportunities they should be most focussed on.
Ready to put this fantastic intelligence to work? Please join us for our upcoming workshop series!