Most successful brands worldwide can consistently and reliably tap into their niche and industry. They are aware of what their competitors do, the current state of the industry, and its projected future.
It takes work to gather competitive Intelligence. An excellent competitive intelligence strategy should be a constant stream of information that covers many aspects of your business and examines it from different angles.
How can you become a competitive intelligence professional? There’s no one way to start, but we will cover the most critical points and strategies.
What is competitive Intelligence?
Competitive Intelligence systematically collects and analyzes data specific to an industry. These data may include your competitors’ brand positioning, social media presence, product catalogs, pricing, or customer service. By combining and interpreting all of these data points, competitive Intelligence can provide a comprehensive picture of your competitors’ strategies.
Regardless of size or sector, all businesses use competitive intelligence programs to keep up with the competition. These companies can make better strategic decisions by keeping a keen eye on the competition in their field.
Why is competitive Intelligence so important?
At any time, there are endless data points. You can gain valuable knowledge by leveraging them strategically.
Following best practices in strategic Intelligence can bring you many benefits.
Improve your understanding of the market
You can rely on your gut instinct. You can also use cold, complex numbers. You can use a competitive intelligence platform to determine if your competitors use similar marketing and operational strategies and see how they perform.
You’re much more likely to succeed when you base your decisions on data rather than assumptions. Businesses fail for various reasons, including their decision-making process: How they choose their next steps, and the direction they take. Competitive analysis can inform your decisions and help shape the trajectory of your business.
More accurate performance metrics
You can better decide where to spend your time and money by using the examples of your competitors. You might discover that your main competitor is very successful on Instagram but not so much on Facebook. If your top competitors are more successful on Instagram but less so on Facebook, this could indicate that you should focus more of your marketing budget on Instagram.
Competitive Intelligence research
There are many competitive intelligence best practices. Each business has its unique process that works best. Here are some essential tips that will help you create your own.
Find out your top competitors
It’s only possible to gain an edge in the market by knowing who your competitors are. Start by identifying your two or three top competitors. It’s also a good idea if you have other competitors to keep track of them. It is best to keep the data streams small and manageable when just starting.
Consider which companies your ideal clients would shop with if you weren’t selling to them. These are businesses in the same niche with similar products or identical brands.
Once you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve, it will be easier to select the right tools, processes, and strategies to help you. Set goals according to the SMART model.
A SMART goal could be “We want our Instagram following to double from 1,000 to 2,000 in the next six months”. This goal meets all five SMART criteria, as you know exactly what you’re trying to achieve and when. It is also a realistic goal.
You can then use your competitive intelligence data to achieve these goals.
You might also get ideas for promotional activities, such as contests or partnerships with influencers and other brands. You may also find inspiration for promotional campaigns, such as contests and partnerships between brands or influencers.
Collect market intelligence sources
You can get data for competitive intelligence programs from almost anywhere. Here are the top data sources you should add to your plan.
Comparing websites to determine overall strategy, audience information, pricing, messaging, and branding
Topic ideas for social media posts and how to identify winning (or failing) strategies that will engage your audience
Social media forums and groups such as Facebook groups, LinkedIn Groups, and Reddit activity
Press releases on new products and business developments of competitors
Job postings online could indicate that the company is expanding or changing its strategy
Brand information aggregators such as Hoover’s Online and Dun & Bradstreet
Semrush, Similarweb Ahrefs Market Explorer Kompyte, and other competitive intelligence tools.
People are also a great resource. Your sales team, for example, might find out about your competitors by using their own sales processes, such as independent research or calls with prospects and leads.
Integrate it into the culture of your company
The foundations of a business strategy are built on this mindset and process. This is not just a bunch of quarterly reports: It’s information you use to inform all departments in your company, influencing how you work and what you are working towards. It’s embedded in the culture of your business–your company values, attitudes, goals, behaviors, beliefs, and business metrics.
Solid competitor intelligence can often influence businesses to change their plans and work towards newer, more promising data-driven ones. As you build your market data database, you’ll feel a push in a different direction.
Collect, analyze, apply, and repeat
Most effective competitive intelligence programs don’t involve a single-step process. They continually gather and analyze data, draw conclusions, and create action plans based on those findings. Then, they apply these plans and keep track of their progress.
The cycle is continuous, with the same strategies being used and the others being tweaked. The business environment is constantly changing. Your competitive process should also change.
Remember that everything is a process. You will be flawed right from the beginning. It’s essential to keep moving, learning, and growing.