Competitive Intelligence and 6 Tips for Its Effective Use

June 6, 2015
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It is an exciting time to market a business. Modern competitive intelligence and monitoring analytics techniques allow for more advanced business initiatives than ever before. People have always tried to better understand the market they are selling to in order to increase income, but without the proper technology, it has been an ineffectual effort. Not so anymore.

It is an exciting time to market a business. Modern competitive intelligence and monitoring analytics techniques allow for more advanced business initiatives than ever before. People have always tried to better understand the market they are selling to in order to increase income, but without the proper technology, it has been an ineffectual effort. Not so anymore.

What is Competitive Intelligence?

Essentially, competitive intelligence is the practice of collecting information about the customers and the competition in the field you work in. This often takes the form of software or performance monitors that track data automatically, but it also involves surveys and human interaction. The point, however, is always the same. You need to understand the market so you can make better decisions and take advantage of opportunities before the competition does. It sounds simple, but the effects of making more informed decisions are profound.

Modern Data Collection

In the past, the amount of information that could be collected was limited. Without computers and modern technology, only small sample sizes and slices of the demographic could be recorded. From these small amounts of information, a great deal of analysis was attempted to be pulled. A lot of assumptions were made, many poor decisions came about, and ultimately, businesses suffered for it. Now, this process is almost completely mirrored. A great deal of information is collected. From here, you are able to narrow your analysis, instead of expanding it. From this unambiguous information, very precise and goal oriented decisions can be made. Instead of getting more general, think of it as becoming more specific, which is the most effective way to make decisions in business. Additionally, keep in mind that this process has three steps: data collection, analysis, and action, in that order.

Tips for More Effective Competitive Intelligence

Understanding how the process works is only half the battle. Being able to perform on this information effectively is as important. Take some of these tips into account when planning your data collection strategy.

  1. Use a System – Being methodical in your collection will allow it to be accurately compared, as well as keeping you sane.
  2. Find the Right Service – There are many options for competitive intelligence, each with unique advantages.
  3. Continual Collection – It is all about staying up to date. Do not think you have ever “finished” collecting market information.
  4. Look for the Right Information – Not all data you can collect will be useful. Think about what aspects you specifically want to look into.
  5. Have Analysis in Mind – Think about what can be extrapolated later when deciding what data to collect.
  6. Have a Unique Strategy – One of the biggest reasons to use competitive intelligence is to find angles your competition misses. You cannot find these opportunities by searching for the exact same information.

Competitive intelligence is a very important part of marketing. It requires a lot of thinking outside the box and unique approaches to stand out from the competition. If it is done correctly, the payoffs can be extraordinary. Hopefully these tips are enough to get you started on your way to a very successful business initiative.