Do You Know What Your Competition Is Doing?
Jan 15, 2018
A lot of lip service is paid to competitive intelligence (CI), but my experience is that when it comes right down to it, many organizations “talk the talk,” but don’t “walk the walk.” Most organizations set aside little or no money for competitive intelligence. If they do conduct it, much of it seems to be focused on pricing and what the competition is doing on social media and web activity. That’s wonderful, but that’s a small part of competitive intelligence/analysis.
Being competitive and winning in today’s business world means more than having the lowest price or a social media presence. It means understanding a whole range of factors about your competitors, how your organization, your products and services match up to and relate to those factors, and the overall competitive environment. It means looking at product, service, people, pricing, manufacturing, distribution and more.
When we ask prospects whether or not they use competitive intelligence, we get a range of what I consider unexpected reactions. I say unexpected because being concerned about what the competition is doing is one of the first things I learned when I entered the business world. Today, I’m sad to say that the reactions range from “what is it, and why should I care;” to “It’s not my job;” to “We can’t afford it;” to “I know we should do it, but don’t.” What scares me is that these reactions come from marketing people or people responsible for marketing in their organizations.
On the other end of the spectrum, we find that when businesses actually do have a competitive intelligence program, they lack a systematic approach. There’s often a lot of collecting of data, but then doing the analysis and applying the results of that analysis fall by the wayside. I’ve been conducting competitive analysis for large and small businesses for decades and almost universally those analyses once completed have been put on the shelf, ignored and not acted upon by management.
You need to follow a systematic approach to CI. Do you have a data system for inputting, storing, and analyzing the information? Is that system available to all of the areas in your organization that either work with the customer or have an impact on product and service development?
We preach the gospel about competitive intelligence as part of the strategic and even tactical planning processes, but most of it falls on deaf ears. And, it’s not a one industry or one size of business phenomena. It seems to be almost universal. It seems that management is just too busy to focus on what the competition is doing and then develop plans to stay ahead of or surpass them. Worse yet is when management doesn’t believe they have any “serious” competition. And, CI budgets when they do exist are generally the first to be cut when the business starts having revenue/profit generation issues.
As believers in the importance of competitive intelligence we have developed many tools and software applications for collecting, storing, analyzing and then communicating that information to all of the people in the organization who need to have an understanding of the competitive environment, including management, sales and the marketing organizations, as well as such areas as customer service, R&D, distribution and manufacturing. We offer not only complete competitive analysis and intelligence services, but also the software which can make tracking a competitor’s activities a lot easier.
To find out how well your organization is doing in developing and executing its competitive intelligence and analysis programs, take our quick 56 point competitive intelligence self-assessment. (Takes less than 15-minutes.)
The assessment addresses key aspects of competitive intelligence and analysis. It will help you determine the current state of your competitive intelligence and analysis practices and processes from collecting, storing, collating and then analyzing and finally applying the results of the analysis. Your answers will indicate specific areas where you may benefit from improvements. And, it will also help guide your decisions about your future competitive intelligence and analysis needs and investments.
Here are just some of the tools we offer for those serious about CI:
Get serious about CI, if you're a leader in your industry/sector, it will keep you the leader. And, if you're not a leader in your business sector, it can help you become one and it might also save your business.
Patrick McGraw is VP of Higher Educaton Marketing Services and has more than 25 years experience in market research, competitive intelligence, business intelligence including database marketing and CRM, strategic planning, brand development and management as well as operations/campaign management. His work has consistently helped his clients and employers develop and implement more efficient ways to attract and retain profitable customers, enter new markets and launch new products. His areas of focus include the education, hospitality, travel and tourism, hi-tech, telecommunications, financial services, and retail industries on both the agency and customer sides.