Monitoring changes and trends in the industry will help you develop new strategies based on competitors' actions. Implementing competitive intelligence is essential for any company looking to stay ahead of the curve in today's competitive market. Try starting with a limited number of competitors—perhaps your five most important competitors—and start collecting their data. If you can, choose one person or a small team to gather the information you need (and be very specific about the information you're looking for).
You can't gain a competitive advantage without knowing your competitors. Identify your two or three main competitors to start keeping track of them. If you have more, it might be a good idea to list them as well and keep a less close eye on them. However, when you're just starting out, you want to keep your data flows smaller and more manageable.
Clearly identifying your competitors is the first step in creating a cohesive competitive landscape. Depending on your industry, you may have a large number of competitors or just a few. Gathering competitive information is another way of describing how to gain insider information about competitors, customers, and the industry. The practice may seem suspicious, but this type of investigation is completely legal and a common practice in many companies, even those that are starting up.
It can help you make better decisions about what products or services to offer, where to allocate resources, and how to respond to competitive threats. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the competition, you can determine what products and services to offer and gain a competitive advantage in the market. It will be easier and more effective to choose your competitive intelligence tools, processes, and strategies once you know what you're trying to achieve. A solid competitive intelligence strategy is like a continuous flow of information, covering various aspects of the business you're in and examining them from many different angles.
It's all right to tell employees that the competition has hired a new vice president of sales, but sharing that vice president's background, the sectors in which they've worked, where they've excelled, and the size of the customers they tend to attract, begins to show how that hiring can reveal the future strategy of the competition. The importance of competitive intelligence and analysis in marketing lies in the connection between companies and customers. By following these competitive intelligence best practices, companies can gain a competitive advantage by staying informed about their industry and the activities of their competitors. And as more companies begin to take competitive intelligence seriously, those that don't are left at a disadvantage.
While some companies make large investments in collecting and analyzing intelligence, small and medium-sized businesses can also benefit. The New York City Ballet is an unlikely example of competitive analysis, but an artistic organization has to fight for public attention like any other business. It can help you understand your competition and how it's affecting your business, so that you can make better decisions about the products and services you offer, where to allocate resources, and how to respond to competitive threats. Learn about the latest business technologies and learn how industries are harnessing them to transform their businesses.
Competitive intelligence provides a complete picture of your competitors' strategies by consolidating and interpreting these individual data points. However, more often than not, a successful competitive intelligence program will help you make well-informed decisions for all aspects of your business based on data such as what your customers say and the customers of your competitors.