Competitive Intelligence Step 1: Identify the Competition and Gather the Right Data
Gathering actionable information from rivals first requires identifying the right competitors. In some cases, this might be a local company offering similar products or a corporation with a larger customer base. Your list of competitors will fall into one of the following categories (we suggest finding between 5-10 companies for each category):
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The easiest way to figure out the competition is to create a list of companies in your industry that attract the same customers as you.
On a daily basis, your brand is up against these direct competitors offering similar products or services at varying prices and quality. The information you gather from your competitive intelligence strategy can help you find major differentiators to stand out in your market.
Sometimes you’ll have businesses in the same industry as yours but you both attract different clientele. One example of this is fast-food chains and Michelin-star establishments. They’re both in the restaurant industry but serve different types of diners.
Despite the different types of customers it’s important to keep tabs on these indirect competitors. Their tactics for maintaining a great online reputation and a successful customer acquisition strategy can vary in scale and scope yet still work for your company. Taking note of their methodology and finding the foundational key to their success can work wonders for your organization.
Competitive Intelligence Step 2: Gather the Right Data
Now that you have an idea of your competition, you can begin to conduct competitive intelligence research to analyze and present to stakeholders.
There are plenty of sources that contain information about your competitors, but you’ll need to narrow your scope to filter the noise and extract the pertinent data. Specifically, there are three major sources that are easily accessible and provide plenty of valuable information.
Being on social media is one of the easiest ways to gain knowledge on your competitor’s strategies. Findings from Hootsuite show that more than 40% of consumers use social media to conduct research on new brands, and companies are using these platforms to meet demands. Specifically, businesses utilize between four to ten social media accounts, and 77% of brands foresee their use of social media to increase in the future.
Look out for posts on upcoming products or features, or watch how brands engage with customers on various platforms. Monitoring these trends can provide insights on an organization’s overall direction and the current state of their social media reputation management efforts, both of which can dictate the current customer sentiment.
In some situations, a company’s own website contains a treasure trove of information. Make sure your team is asking the following questions during research:
- What is the type of audience your competitors want to attract?
- Which products or services are they highly promoting and why?
- Do they have any major differentiators that help them stand out from other companies in the same industry?
Specifically, have your team look at competing product pages. Read the copy to see how they position their product or service to customers. Pages with pricing information are also worth investigating to see if your company can provide a better product or service at a lower cost.
Perhaps one of the best ways to learn about your competitors is through their own customers, specifically their reviews in place like their Google business listing. Customer reviews research shows that 63% of customers check Google before visiting a business.
Find out what customers liked about their experience with the competing brand and see if you can find ways to emulate or improve it for your own strategy. It’s also worth noting to see if the company engages with customers through reviews. Taking the time to properly address issues or thanking customers for their feedback is a factor in customer acquisition and retention.
Competitive Intelligence Step 3: Analyze the Data and Present to Stakeholders
With enough competitive intelligence data at your disposal, your team needs to properly analyze and present it in a way that everyone who sees it gets the most out of your research. When analyzing data, keep these questions in the back of your mind to make your findings more meaningful to key stakeholders:
- How can this competitive intelligence research influence my marketing and sales strategies?
- What insights can our product team gain from the way our competitors position their own offerings?
- Do customer reviews reveal different ways for us to better stand out from the competition?
Before presenting, make sure that decision-makers walk away with a clear idea of the research data and how to use it to improve the company’s offerings, exposure, and online reputation. The worst thing to happen in these presentations is that your stakeholders are confused about the findings and don’t leverage it to improve the brand.
Make sure to also update the competitive intelligence research on a regular basis. The data gathered today might not be relevant in a few weeks or months, and outdated information could derail your efforts. The time spent can yield revenue benefits. Crayon’s 2020 State of Competitive Intelligence Report shows that 71% of teams that shared competitive intelligence daily saw an increase in revenue as a result of their efforts.