Tips and Advice for Performing Competitive Intelligence

Starting or managing a successful business is no mean feat and requires a lot of hard-work, dedication and even some luck along the way. But whether you’re an independent sole trader or manager of a large corporation, the business is bound to have some industry rivals.

This is where competitive intelligence comes in. This practice of collecting, collating and analysing accessible information about your trading rivals is nothing new in the world of business, but in recent years competitive intelligence has become even more important.

Market conditions are now harder since the global economic downturn, while profit margins are increasingly difficult to improve. But rather than creep around your rival’s office and go through the bins, there are completely legal and much more sophisticated ways of gathering competitive intelligence data. Whether you want to look over annual reports or perform a webcheck of a specific company, benefits of sourcing relevant information includes:

  • Greater understanding of the market
  • Recognise what the customer wants and needs
  • Ability to anticipate competitor’s next move
  • Fill gaps in the market where rivals are falling short
  • Identify areas that require improvement
  • Plan for the future

But before you jump in headfirst and find out everything there is to know about the opposition, bear the following tips in mind.

Determine what you’re looking for

Like many other aspects of business, competitive intelligence requires a fair bit of planning, so know what you are looking for and perhaps more importantly, think about why you need this information.

Questions could relate to your competitor’s customers or suppliers, the current state of the market or industry, how they are marketing or promoting products, and what are their plans for the future.

Choose your sources wisely

From specialist search engines and company websites to social networks and people directories, you’ll be amazed at the amount of information that is out there in the public domain. What’s more, the majority of these sources are free.

Some search engines will provide very broad results, as they have been found to index as little as 10 per cent of the web. Therefore, consider using advanced options like Google’s Wonder Wheel.

Social media is an incredibly powerful tool when it comes to gauging public opinion. This can also be a way of monitoring and analysing your competitor’s marketing strategy.

However, there will be a limit on the quality of information you can find without paying. Companies that specialise in competitive intelligence are able to procure data from a variety of different sources and will undoubtedly deliver comprehensive, authoritative and accurate information.

Stay the right side of the law

There is nothing illegal about using the Internet, online databases, social networks and people directories to unearth information about competitors. However, if you misrepresent yourself, target or ‘tap up’ rival employees and hack telephones, this will be considered as espionage.

Relevant and useful information or data can easily be collected from sources in the public domain in today’s online world, so there really is no reason not to investigate your competitors and your marketplace, and maximise your company’s potential.

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One comment

  1. It seems like competitive intelligence would be a great way to help you identify ways to improve your business if you were stuck. Even just getting a better understanding of the market would be helpful for your business. I’m going to have to remember this for the future! I’m sure it will come in handy sometime soon.

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