27 items tagged "competitive intelligence"

  • 15 Questions helping you plan Competitive Intelligence for 2020

    15 Questions helping you plan Competitive Intelligence for 2020

    The new year is right around the corner and, with that, 2020 planning is kicking off. For the competitive intelligence (CI) professionals out there, how are you adjusting your CI program plans? How are you prioritizing the many ways you can support competitive strategies across the company? How are you aligning your CI initiatives with the business’s key goals for the coming year? When it comes to building your competitive intelligence program plan for the new year, these 15 questions will help you establish the foundation of a winning competitive intelligence plan.

    Part 1: Competitive shifts from the past year

    The first step in establishing your 2020 CI plan is to review the competitive shifts from the past year. This will provide a backdrop to understand where the market is going and how the company has fared in the changing marketplace. In this section, answer the following questions:

    • What were the major competitive events from the last year, and what impact did they have on the market? 
      • Recap events such as acquisitions, product launches, or leadership changes from both your company and your competitors. What impact did it have on market share, brand perception, revenue, or other KPIs? What was the feedback from the market on each of these events, and how did that affect your success against your competitors?
    • Which competitors grew in prominence, and which new competitors emerged? 
      • In other words, how did the actual players change over the course of the year? Are there new competitors that are now contenders, while other competitors closed down or merged?
    • What direction are your competitors going? 
      • Based on the competitive shifts from the last year, where are your competitors going? Are they investing in new verticals, new technology, or other areas to get an edge? Look to signals like a series of product investments, recent hires, or new messaging rolled out on their website.
    • How did our competitive strategy perform? 
      • Throughout the year, your company made many decisions aimed at winning in a competitive market. How effective was that strategy? What were the key activities completed, and how did they perform? What investments were made, and how great was the return?

    Part 2: SWOT Analysis

    The next step is to analyze the competitive landscape expected for the coming year. Leveraging a SWOT analysis allows you to identify opportunities and threats, while also articulating your company’s strengths and weaknesses. Here are the questions to address in your SWOT analysis:

    • What are your company’s strengths? 
      • Identify your company’s unique strengths that allow you to compete and win in your market. Strengths can touch on product advantages, brand strengths, or even operational processes that give you a leg up in the market.
    • What are your company’s weaknesses? 
      • Identify your company’s gaps that impact your success in the market. Being honest about these weaknesses allows you to address gaps, make necessary investments, or even change the rules of the game to favor your strengths instead of your weaknesses.
    • What are the new opportunities for the coming year? 
      • Based on recent and anticipated market shifts, determine potential opportunities for business growth. Perhaps there’s a competitor losing market share whose customers are ripe for the taking. Or perhaps there’s new technology that can open up unique functionality. Outlining these opportunities will set up a productive conversation for where and how to invest CI efforts.
    • What potential threats exist going into the new year? 
      • Once again, based on recent and anticipated market shifts, determine threats to your position in the market. This could include an emerging competitor gaining traction or a set of competitors moving in on your differentiated product features. Outlining these threats will allow you to plan ahead and determine what competitive strategies are needed.

    Part 3: Resources to support CI goals

    Once you have an understanding of the competitive landscape in the last year and where there are opportunities going forward, it’s time to determine the resources needed to achieve your CI goals. Dig into the following questions in this section of your plan:

    • What people are needed to get on board? 
      • Do you need to expand your CI team to address a wider range of competitors? Do you need different skill sets on your CI team to achieve your goals?
    • What tools or technology do you need? 
      • As you invest further in your CI efforts, what can be improved with tools or technology? What technology do you want to bring on board, and why?
    • How much budget is needed to secure the above resources? 
      • What budget is needed for the necessary hires and necessary technology? Identifying these ballpark numbers can set the right expectations about the level of employees and technology needed.
    • How does the business need to support CI to be effective? 
      • What type of input or involvement do you need, and from whom, to have the maximum impact? Are there any organizational or cultural shifts that need to happen?
    • Which business investments are needed to execute a CI strategy? 
      • Are there particular investments in product, marketing, or elsewhere needed to deliver on chosen strategies to get a competitive advantage? Outline them to set expectations about the business decisions needed to follow through on your competitive strategy.

    Part 4: Alignment with business goals

    Building a CI program plan provides benefits to the CI team as well as those outside the CI team. Likely this plan will be shared with other stakeholders - executive leadership, key CI audiences, as well as collaborators. That’s why it’s critical to articulate how this plan aligns with overall business goals - doing so will allow other audiences to relate this work to what matters most to them. While there may not be many questions to answer in this section, they are among the most important to address:

    • What are the key performance indicators (KPIs) used to measure the CI program?
      • What metrics will you turn to in order to measure success?
    • How does the CI program support overall business KPIs? 
      • Connect the dots between CI success and business success.

    Part 5: Summary

    As you round out your CI program plan, it’s time to summarize all of the key points made throughout this presentation. This includes summarizing key competitive shifts from the past year, opportunities and threats for the coming year, key priorities and metrics aligned with them, and any resources needed to succeed. Diving into each of these areas gives both competitive intelligence professionals and their stakeholders visibility into competitive shifts and the strategies needed to win in complex markets.

    Author: Ellie Mirman

    Source: Crayon

  • 3 Reasons why competitive intelligence is key for marketing

    3 Reasons why competitive intelligence is key for marketing

    There are only so many hours in a day, and there are a lot of tasks that marketing teams tackle on a daily basis. When we think about competitive intelligence (CI), we most commonly think about its benefits for the product marketing and sales teams. But as new companies are popping up, companies are fighting for the top spot of the market leader. Brands are trying to find new ways to resonate with their target market and ultimately win more customers. Now, more than ever, marketing leaders need to prioritize CI in their marketing strategy. 

    Not only does competitive intelligence help shape business strategies and help evaluate where you need to invest resources, but it can also help solve common business challenges. With the help of competitive intelligence, you’ll be able to craft a strong marketing strategy, improve your competitive win rate, and never be blind-sided by your competition. Marketing leaders might not be responsible for conducting competitive intelligence research themselves, but they will gain immense benefits from having a pulse on every move their biggest competitors make. 

    Let’s dive into three reasons why marketing leaders should prioritize competitive intelligence.

    Spend more time on what matters

    As a marketing leader, you have a team to manage, budgets to build, strategy to plan, and competitors to keep watch for. With the saved time and resources of an automated CI program, you’ll be able to focus more on executing your strategy. With the support of an excellent marketing team, product marketing team, and a competitive intelligence solution, marketing leaders can focus their time on the work that matters most.

    Historically, gathering competitive intelligence data has been manual and time-consuming. Now, competitive intelligence data collection is made easy. It’s often powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, which means the data presented to you is filtered for what’s highly valuable. Depending on what you’re looking for in a competitive intelligence solution, you’re able to drill down in the data to get as specific as you need to get the results you’re looking for. Regardless of who on the marketing team is responsible for competitive intelligence, automating competitive intelligence will help your team spend less time gathering CI, and more time turning the insights into action. 

    A robust marketing strategy won’t be complete without leveraging competitive intelligence data. Whether it’s refocusing budget, redesigning a website, or figuring out which projects to focus on, none of it can be done effectively unless you have a look into your competitive landscape. CI will give you insight into your competitors’ strategies — where they’re investing resources and money, what updates they’re making to their messaging, and which companies they’re choosing to partner with. If marketing leaders have a pulse on that, you’ll be able to build out a strategy that rivals that of your competitors. 

    Better enable your sales team

    As marketers, you want to offer our sales team the right support so that they can win as many deals as possible. You especially want them to win more deals against competitors. So, you want to provide your sales team with the most impactful collateral, materials, and training that will help them sell more effectively.

    One way to make your sales enablement material more effective is by integrating competitive intelligence data. Sure, you’re conducting demo training, providing your team with product one-pagers, and arming them with case studies. But, by integrating competitive intelligence data into your sales enablement materials, you’ll be able to provide your team with all of the information they need to handle competitive objections and win those tough deals. With the help of these materials, like competitive battlecards, your sales reps will never be caught off guard by a competitive objection again.

    If you have an automated competitive intelligence solution, and you integrate your CI solution with your competitive battlecards, you’re better able to keep battlecards up-to-date. And, you’re able to provide your sales team with the most relevant data, at all times, rather than crowding them with too much, potentially irrelevant data. You’re also able to effectively track usage of your sales enablement materials and get feedback from your sales team about what works and what doesn’t. This will ultimately allow you to track marketing impact by analyzing usage and engagement on your battlecards. As time goes on, you’ll also be able to measure the impact of competitive sales enablement on win rates and revenue won from competitive deals.

    Competitive intelligence will help you build more effective sales enablement materials. CI will open up a new avenue of analysis so that you can better understand what works and what doesn’t when it comes to your team winning more deals.

    Keep everyone informed on your competitive landscape

    With an automated solution, competitive insights can be captured and shared quickly, almost immediately, so marketing leaders can be proactive rather than reactive to a competitor shift. Not only are you able to arm your sales team with up-to-date competitive intel through battlecards, but you’re able to keep your colleagues informed on major competitive shifts.

    Once your CI program is automated, you’re able to build deliverables to share key points and compare your current performance to your competitors. This data is highly important for leaders of all departments to stay on top of. Maybe you present high-level competitive updates to the rest of your executive team, or you have your product marketers and/or CI specialists prepare specific competitive intelligence deliverables for each executive. Even better — your automated competitive intelligence solution alerts your team when a major competitive insight is captured. CI data is critical for all departments to have insight into, as it impacts everything from funding to product roadmaps to customer retention, and everything in between.

    If you automate your competitive intelligence, you can save time, and focus on building out and executing on a successful marketing strategy. Because, with an automated solution, your team will be able to deliver important insights, rather than having to wade through hundreds of data points. So, your team will have more bandwidth to focus on bigger projects that will benefit your organization.

    When your sales team is winning, marketing leaders are winning. Not only will competitive intelligence help marketing provide sales support, but it will also make sure that your team is never blind-sided by competitors. Altogether, an automated competitive intelligence program will make a measurable impact on the business results that matter most. Competitive intelligence goes beyond the immediate needs of your sales and product teams, and is a valuable asset for your whole organization.

    Author: Emily Dumas

    Source: Crayon

  • 3 Things we have learned about CI during the time of COVID-19

    3 Things we have learned about CI during the time of COVID-19

    There is no adequate way to express the effect COVID-19 has had on society. It’s changed the way we live and the way we work. Competitive intelligence (CI) might seem like an 'extra' in the time of COVID, but it’s more crucial to your bottom-line now more than ever. 

    Here are three lessons we’ve learned about competitive intelligence for businesses in the era of COVID-19.

    1: Every single deal matters and good competitive intel equals more revenue

    CI is about driving action. It’s not enough to simply push CI to stakeholders and have no action being taken as a result. This causes competitive intelligence to become a nice-to-have at best and a cost-center at worst. When CI is used to drive decision making and action, it becomes critical to revenue generation.

    The current scarcity of deals increases the likelihood of a competitor being present in a deal, so you need to ensure that you're setting up your CI to be easily leveraged by your sales team.

    Here are a few ways you can use CI to help sales win deals:

    • Battlecards: Provide your sales team with competitive battlecards. Making sure battlecards are easily accessible and up-to-date with the most current CI will enable your sales team to knock competitors out of deals quickly.
    • Deep dive competitive training: Take time to sit with sales and do a deep dive into one of your chief competitors. Add role-playing into the training so sales can get practice on selling against that specific competitor.

    • Leverage field intel: Your reps spend all day talking to prospects, and in doing so, they gather excellent intel on your competition. Give sales the ability to share great field intel so they can help their fellow reps win more deals.

    2: There are more competitive signals being put out there than ever before

    While sales have been declining, marketing engagements have increased significantly, specifically marketing email open rates and website visits. Meaning, buyers might not be ready to sign a check quite yet, but they are certainly looking to educate themselves with content and virtual events in the meantime.

    This means that your competitors’ marketing teams are likely putting out more content and campaigns than ever before, both on and off their website. Tracking and analyzing these signals is crucial to understanding your competitors’ strategies, and since there is more of an emphasis on engaging and educating prospects, there are now more competitive signals to glean intelligence from.

    Here are some competitive signals you should be keeping an eye out for:

    • Messaging changes: Track your competitors’ homepages and other website pages for any changes in messaging, it will signal how they are adjusting their strategy during the COVID era. 

    • Employer reviews: Find out what former and current employees of your competitors’ are saying about them. Employee reviews can give you visibility into competitor strategy like what investments (or lack thereof) are being made. Glassdoor now lets you filter reviews by “COVID-19” so you can see how your competitors are handling the crisis internally.

    • Marketing campaigns: Marketing teams are putting out more content than ever to educate and engage buyers. Keep track of your competitors’ social media campaigns, content initiatives, and virtual events to see how they are currently engaging the market.

    3: Optimal distribution is key to getting stakeholders to take action on CI

    Remote work is the new reality, and with that comes certain challenges. You may feel like competitive intelligence is being ignored if you aren’t interacting with your stakeholders in-person, or that some context is being lost. 

    The key to getting others to take action on CI is to deliver it to them in a format that is optimal for their consumption. Stakeholders all have different needs: sales needs to win more deals, executives need guidance on strategy, marketing needs to understand messaging and campaigns, and product needs to understand the competitor roadmap. In addition to having different needs, your stakeholders consume information differently. Tailor your information and communication method for each stakeholder. 

    Here are examples of how you can distribute competitive intelligence to different stakeholders:

    Stakeholder

    Goal

    Intelligence Types

    CI Format

    Executive Team

    Guidance on strategy

    Team changes, financial data (SEC filings, etc.), messaging changes, new customers and partners

    Dashboards, weekly CI digests, periodic CI updates via remote meetings

    Sales

    Win more deals

    Pricing changes, messaging changes, positive/negative product reviews, employee reviews

    Battlecards, intel updates via chat (Slack, etc.), competitor trainings

    Marketing

    Run better campaigns

    Website changes, messaging changes, marketing campaigns, social media activity

    Weekly CI digests, alerts of high priority shifts

    Product

    Roadmap guidance

    Team changes, new customers and partners, positive/negative product reviews, product updates, pricing and packaging changes

    Dashboards, weekly CI digests, alerts for high priority shifts

    Embracing the new way of working

    No one can predict the future, but we all must adapt to our present reality. There will likely be more changes coming down the road for businesses, and the best you can is do your best to be cognizant of trends and continue to enable your teams and serve your customers.

    Author: Lauren Kersanske

    Source: Crayon

  • 4 Ways social media posts can provide competitive intelligence

    4 Ways social media posts can provide competitive intelligence

    Over the past decade, social media has transformed the way businesses promote themselves by opening up new, direct lines of communication with current and potential customers. Unlike traditional advertising, social media is interactive and immediate, and the content is often more diverse and in-depth than what you’d find in an ad.

    With all that in mind, keeping track of what your competitors are posting can provide valuable insights. If you’re starting a social media monitoring process, here are four types of posts you’ll definitely want to capture:

     

    • Industry relationships: It’s always useful to know who’s rubbing elbows with your biggest competitors, and many businesses use their social media accounts to actively promote their relationships with other businesses. Keep an eye on who your competition is retweeting, reposting, and tagging on social media, particularly on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, for a glimpse at what companies they’re talking to and, potentially, partnering with.

     

    • Events & webinars: Conferences and expos great opportunities to find out what other businesses are offering, and knowing which events your competition will be attending can give you an edge in terms of deciding which events are worth your time and money. Many businesses use social media to advertise the events they plan to attend, as well as the events and webinars they plan to host in the near future.

       

    • Customer complaints: It’s easy to find out what your competitors’ view as their strengths, just check out their advertising campaigns. But very few companies are upfront about their products’ weaknesses. To find out what’s not working for them, look for customer complaints and questions directed at the competition’s social media accounts. Many customers turn to Twitter for an immediate response when they have a customer service issue, and those public posts are a great source of insight into the problems the company is dealing with, as well as how they’re handling the complaints.

     

    • Sponsored or employee-generated content:Native advertising, or ads that blend in with the publication’s non-sponsored content, have blown up over the past decade. Companies are jumping at the chance to engage potential customers through sponsored or employee-authored articles, and the content they produce is often full of useful tidbits. Watch your competition’s social media accounts for posts promoting articles or guest blogs written by employees of the company. Chances are, even if it doesn’t look like an advertisement, it still promotes the business’s products and perspectives.

    Source: CI Radar

  • 5 best practices on collecting competitive intelligence data

    5 best practices on collecting competitive intelligence data

    Competitive intelligence data collection is a challenge. In fact, according to our survey of more than 1,000 CI professionals, it’s the toughest part of the job. On average, it takes up one-third of all time spent on the CI process (the other two parts of the process being analysis and activation).

    A consistent stream of sound competitive data—i.e., data that’s up-to-date, reliable, and actionable—is foundational to your long-term success in a crowded market. In the absence of sound data, your CI program will not only prove ineffective—it may even prove detrimental.

    By the time you’re done reading, you’ll have an answer to each of the following:

    • Why is gathering competitive intelligence difficult?
    • What needs to be done before gathering competitive intelligence?
    • How can you gather competitive intelligence successfully?

    Let’s begin!

    Why is gathering competitive intelligence difficult?

    It’s worth taking a minute to consider why gathering intel is the biggest roadblock encountered by CI pros today. At the risk of oversimplifying, we’ll quickly discuss two explanations (which are closely related to one another): bandwidth and volume.

    Bandwidth

    CI headcount is growing with each passing year, but roughly 30% of teams consist of two or fewer dedicated professionals. 7% of teams consist of half a person—meaning a single employee spends some of their time on CI—and another 6% of businesses have no CI headcount at all.

    When the responsibility of gathering intel falls on the shoulders of just one or two people—who may very well have full-time jobs on top of CI—data collection is going to prove difficult. For now, bandwidth limitations help to explain why the initial part of the CI process poses such a significant challenge.

    Volume

    With the modern internet age has come an explosion in competitive data. Businesses’ digital footprints are far bigger than they were just a few years ago; there’s never been more opportunity for competitive research and analysis.

    Although this is an unambiguously good thing—case in point: it’s opened the door for democratized, software-driven competitive intelligence—there’s no denying that the sheer volume of intel makes it difficult to gather everything you need. And, obviously, the challenges of ballooning data are going to be compounded by the challenges of limited bandwidth.

    Key steps before gathering competitive intelligence

    Admittedly, referring to the collection of intel as the initial part of the CI process is slightly misleading. Before you dedicate hours of your time to visiting competitors’ websites, scrutinizing online reviews, reviewing sales calls, and the like, it’s imperative that you establish priorities.

    What do you and your stakeholders hope to achieve as a result of your efforts? Who are your competitors, and which ones are more or less important? What kinds of data do you want to collect, and which ones are more or less important?

    Nailing down answers to these questions—and others like them—is a critical prerequisite to gathering competitive intelligence.

    Setting goals with your CI stakeholders

    The competitors you track and the types of intel you gather will be determined, in part, by the specific CI goals towards which you and your stakeholders are working.

    Although it’s true that, at the end of the day, practically everyone is working towards a healthier bottom line and greater market share, different stakeholders have different ways of contributing to those common objectives. It follows, then, that different stakeholders have different needs from a competitive intelligence perspective.

    Generally speaking:

    • Sales reps want to win competitive deals.
    • Marketers want to create differentiated positioning.
    • Product managers want to create differentiated roadmaps.
    • Customer support reps want to improve retention against competitors.
    • Executive leaders want to mitigate risk and build long-term competitive advantage.

    Depending on the size of your organization and the maturity of your CI program, it may not be possible to serve each stakeholder to the same extent simultaneously. Before you gather any intel, you’ll need to determine which stakeholders and goals you’ll be focusing on.

    Segmenting & prioritizing your competitors

    With a clear sense of your immediate goals, it’s time to segment your competitive landscape and figure out which competitors are most important for the time being.

    Segmenting your competitive landscape is the two-part job of (1) identifying your competitors and (2) assigning each one to a category. The method you use to segment your competitive landscape is entirely up to you. There’s a number of popular options to choose from, and they can even be layered on top of one another. They include:

    • Direct vs. indirect vs. perceived vs. aspirational competitors
    • Sales competitiveness tiers
    • Company growth stage tiers

    We’ll stick with the first option for now. Whereas a direct competitor is one with which you go head-to-head for sales, an indirect competitor is one that sells a similar product to a different market or a tangential product to the same market. And whereas a perceived competitor is one that—unbeknownst to prospects—offers something completely different from you, an aspirational competitor is one that you admire for the work they’re doing in a related field.

    Once you’ve categorized your competitors, consider your immediate goals and ask yourself, “Given what we’re trying to do here, which competitors require the most attention?” The number of competitors you prioritize largely depends on the breadth of your competitive landscape.

    Identifying & prioritizing types of intel

    One final thing before we discuss best practices for gathering intel: You need to determine the specific types of intel that are required to help your stakeholders achieve their goals.

    To put it plainly, the types of intel you need to help sales reps win deals are not necessarily the same types of intel you need to help product managers create differentiated roadmaps. Will there be overlap across stakeholders? Almost certainly. But whereas a sales rep may want two sentences about a specific competitor’s pricing model, a product manager may want a more general perspective on the use cases that are and are not being addressed by other players in the market. In terms of gathering intel, these two situations demand two different approaches.

    It’s also important to recognize the trial-and-error component of this process; it’ll take time to get into a groove with each of your stakeholders. Hopefully, their ongoing feedback will enable you to do a better and better job of collecting the data they need. The more communicative everyone is, the more quickly you’ll get to a place where competitive intelligence is regularly making an impact across the organization.

    5 best practices for gathering competitive intelligence

    Now that we’ve covered all our bases, the rest of today’s guide is dedicated to exploring five best practices for gathering competitive intelligence in a successful, repeatable manner.

    1. Monitor changes to your competitors’ websites

    [According to the State of CI Report, 99% of CI professionals consider their competitors’ websites to be valuable sources of intel. 35% say they’re extremely valuable.]

    You can make extraordinary discoveries by simply monitoring changes on your competitors’ websites. Edits to homepage copy can indicate a change in marketing strategy (e.g., doubling down on a certain audience). Edits to careers page copy can indicate a change in product strategy (e.g., looking for experts in a certain type of engineering). Edits to customer logos can indicate opportunities for your sales team (e.g., when a competitor appears to have lost a valuable account).

    The examples are virtually endless. No matter which specific stakeholders and goals you’re focused on, frequenting your competitors’ websites is a time-tested tactic for gathering intel.

    2. Conduct win/loss analysis

    [According to the State of CI Report, 96% of CI professionals consider win/loss analysis to be a valuable source of intel. 38% say it’s extremely valuable.]

    Although win/loss analysis—the process of determining why deals are won or lost—is a discipline in its own right, it’s often a gold mine of competitive intelligence. The most effective method of collecting win/loss data is interviewing customers (to find out why they bought your solution) and prospects (to find out why they didn’t buy your solution). You’ll find that these conversations naturally yield competitive insights—a customer mentions that your solution is superior in this respect, a prospect mentions that your solution is inferior in that respect, etc.

    Through the aggregation and analysis of your customers’ and prospects’ feedback, you’ll be able to capitalize on some tremendously valuable intel.

    3. Embrace internal knowledge

    [According to the State of CI Report, 99% of CI professionals consider internal knowledge to be a valuable source of intel. 52% say it’s extremely valuable.]

    This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s true: Your stakeholders themselves are amazing sources of competitive intelligence. In fact, as you read above, more than half of CI pros say internal knowledge (a.k.a. field intelligence) is an extremely valuable resource. 

    Sales reps are often speaking with prospects, and marketers, customer support reps, and product managers are often speaking with customers. Across these conversations with external folks, your colleagues learn about your competitors in all kinds of useful ways—product features, pricing models, roadmap priorities, sales tactics, and so on.

    Some of the best ways to gather internal knowledge include listening to calls with prospects and customers, reviewing emails and chat messages, and combing through CRM notes.

    4. Find out what your competitors’ customers are saying

    [According to the State of CI Report, 94% of CI professionals consider their competitors’ customers’ reviews to be valuable sources of intel. 24% say they’re extremely valuable.]

    If you found yourself wondering how one might fill in the gaps between pieces of internal knowledge, look no further: By reading reviews written by your competitors’ customers, you can uncover tons of previously unknown intel.

    And if your initial instinct is to head straight for the scathing reviews, make no mistake—there’s just as much to learn from your competitors’ happy customers as there is from their unhappy customers. Let’s say, for example, that nearly every single positive review for one of your competitors makes mention of a specific feature. This is a critical piece of intel; as long as you’re lacking in this area, your rival will boast a concrete point of differentiation.

    5. Keep your eye on the news

    [According to the State of CI Report, 96% of CI professionals consider news to be a valuable source of intel. 38% say it’s extremely valuable.]

    Product launches, strategic partnerships, industry awards—there’s no shortage of occasions that may land your competitors in the news. Typically, media coverage is the result of a press release and/or other public relations tactics, but that may not always be the case. (In certain industries, media coverage is very common—whether it’s solicited or not.)

    Regardless of why a competitor is in the news, it’s almost always an opportunity to gather intel. In the case of a product or feature launch, you can learn about the positioning they’re trying to establish. In the case of a partnership, you can learn about the kinds of prospects they’re trying to connect with. And in the case of an award, you can learn about the ways in which they’re trying to present themselves to prospects.

    Author: Conor Bond

    Source: Crayon

  • 5 Tips to improve your user experience analysis

    5 Tips to improve your user experience analysis

    Whatever kind of business you're in, having intelligence about user experience of your customer base is very valuable. Let's say you’re building your designs around actual user research, but you need more information. You need to know how your competitors stack up to your user experience. Where do you stand? Are you missing out on opportunities in your industry? If you’re doing competitive analysis you’re already on the right track. Here are 5 tips to give you a little boost.

    Always go back to your user research

    You spent all this time (and resources!) putting together journey maps and user personas, why would you just toss it out the window because you found a feature that you like? Remember: at the end of the day, user experience is about solving problems and improving quality for the user. What’s right for some users and businesses might not be right for you.

    Don’t be afraid to analyze other industries

    To that point, what is right for another might also be right for you. That’s why we do competitive analysis and benchmarking. We want to see how we measure up to other companies in terms of usability. With that said, don’t forget that a user = a user = a user. Of course different industries will have different needs, you could find an inspiring solution to a problem in your industry be looking at how someone else has solved it. Is your B2B tech software highly customizable? Could you find solutions from a B2C automotive site? Why not?

    Categorize your findings with standards

    When analyzing user experience for websites for instance, it’s easy to measure things like cost per lead or click through rate, but how do you measure the things that you like about other sites? The Nielsen Norman Group has some great suggestions on quality metrics including success rate, time to complete the task, and error rate. But don’t shy away from more qualitative metrics. Your team can get a lot out of in-house evaluation on a 1-7 scale. Just be sure that you’re measuring using the same yardstick.

    Know/explore your limits

    In comparing the usability of your product to other products, you have to be clear about the data that you can actually glean from a user experience competitive analysis. There is some information that is simply not available. This kind of information would include everything from the why of your competitor (Why did they include this/that feature?) to the specific information about traffic (to evaluate if a specific call-to-action is getting the desired conversion for example). Offering a product that works for your user is important. You have to keep testing. And while you won’t necessarily know what is working for your competitor, you can deduce that if it’s been in place for a while, it’s working.

    Dedicate sufficient time

    Competitive analysis can be super time consuming. Especially if you don’t have tools that will automate parts of the process for you. Taking screenshots and compiling them into a collection of meaning observations for your team could take anywhere from a few days to a few months. It just depends on how thorough the audit is.

    If you're looking for an expert analysis on user experience for your brand or product executed by a specialized Market Intelligence company, contact Hammer Market Intelligence to gain access to your customer base via their international platform.

    Source: Kompyte

     

  • 6 signals that help you recognize the failure of competitors

    6 signals that help you recognize the failure of competitors

    On August 5, 2018, retail giant Toys R Us officially closed its doors after 70 years of business. The company’s financial troubles were already well known, having filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September of 2017, but the decision to close its remaining 807 brick-and-mortar locations still shocked many who are familiar with the toy industry. Other retailers, like Payless, Wet Seal, and RadioShack, had managed to successfully exit bankruptcy during the same year, and many believed Toys R Us was on the right track. Still, there were indications that Toys R Us wasn’t going to recover its losses, long before the decision to shut down was made public.

    Knowing in advance that a competitor is failing can provide numerous opportunities for your business to grow. On the other hand, getting caught off guard puts your company at a disadvantage, making it harder to move quickly and fill the void left behind.

    These are 6 warning signs that your competition might be going under: 

    1. CFO turnover: 

    According to a study by recruiting firm Korn/Ferry International with 1,000 companies surveyed, only 4% of businesses saw their new CFO leave within a year of taking the job. Only 15% lost a CFO within 2 years of hiring. The main reasons CFOs cited for leaving were operational problems and a fear of harming their own careers if/when the company went under on their watch. So, if a company can’t seem to hang on to a CFO, it could stem from bigger problems behind the scenes.

    2. Insider sales: 

    In a similar vein, insider selling at public companies can indicate that the company’s future isn’t looking bright. Executives sell stock all the time, often for reasons unrelated to the company’s performance. But when multiple executives dump their stock at the same time, it’s worth investigating why.

    3. Slashing budgets: 

    At Toys R Us, workers across the county reported that cleanings, remodels, and repairs were being overlooked. Sometimes indefinitely, months before the retailer went under. While that information may be hard to obtain, you can identify when expenses, such as marketing budgets, have been slashed. Are they missing from tradeshows? Have their Google pay-per-click ads stopping showing up? Has their display advertising dried up? These are only some of the signals that marketing budgets took a cut.

    4. Unpublicized website changes: 

    Failing companies may quietly update their websites to reflect internal changes that they don't want the public to notice. If you’re tracking your competitors’ websites, keep an eye out for missing product pages, removed executive profiles, and dropped partnerships. Even a general decrease in press releases, events, and everyday communication can signal that problems are mounting inside the company.

    5. Unexpected pivots: 

    To attract customers and appease investors, failing companies may try to switch up their offerings when the end seems nigh. In 2017, Toys R Us started positioning itself as an interactive playground where kids could test out new toys, in an effort to distinguish itself from competitors like Amazon, Target, and Walmart. Borders, the defunct book chain, took the opposite approach by rolling out an ebook service a year prior to closing, in a last-ditch attempt to keep up with Amazon’s Kindle. Both companies made dramatic shifts away from their core businesses in their final days, with equally unsuccessful results.

    6. Layoffs and buyouts: 

    Companies struggling to stay afloat may try to cut expenses by cutting staff. Layoffs are a pretty obvious signal that a business can’t pay its workers, but executive buyouts can also be an overlooked sign of trouble. Senior managers and executives are usually highly compensated and cutting a few of those high salaries and generous penchants might indicate that a company is looking to scale back expenditures at the cost of long-term stability and leadership.

    Conclusion

    When analyzing your competition, it is always important to keep in mind what developments for competitors mean to your business. Do you notice one or more of the 5 signals that mentioned above that a competitor is failing? Maybe this poses opportunities for your business. But it can also mean that your competitor is failing because of something that  is also a threat to your business. 

    Always keep your competitive intelligence up to date in order to grasp opportunities or defend your company against potential threat. Having knowledge about your competition helps you to stay ahead of your competition.

    Source: CI Radar

     

  • Adapting businesses are always ahead of their competition

    Adapting businesses are always ahead of their competition

    Firms need a new formula for success to stay competitive in the age of the customer, agility alone is not enough. We see many CIOs and their teams doubling down on agility as a means to cope with the accelerating pace of business. This is a result of people and technology evolving in complex upward spirals.

    While being agile is a good delivery strategy within a set business model, research finds that to stay ahead of technology-human loops, businesses must proactively rethink themselves and adapt or risk getting left behind.

    These firms, which we call 'adaptive businesses', will likely dominate firms that only deliver with agility. Adaptive businesses will win by identifying future opportunities and proactively reconfiguring themselves. Forrester’s 2019 North American Online Innovation Survey shows that advanced adaptive companies have 3.2 times greater revenue growth compared to industry averages, while beginning firms are not growing at all.

    Agility is a foundation, but to achieve this level of growth and future market leadership, adaptive businesses firms must become more adaptive by doing several things better. Here are three main ones:

    • Acting on insights. An adaptive business alters its business concept based on insights that improve the company’s odds of fulfilling future customer demand. For example, CVS understood the customer trend toward self-service and clinic-based healthcare far ahead of its competitors in its pivot from beauty supplies to prescriptions and through its acquisition of MinuteClinic. It is carrying that conviction forward by transforming itself into a healthcare powerhouse through further acquisitions such as Aetna.
    • Leveraging platforms to deliver new value. Technological advancements lower the barriers to change, so companies that are more technologically sophisticated will more easily transition to new business models. Mastercard was far ahead of its competition in building a big data analytics platform. Today, it has leveraged its technology platform to extend its core business with fraud solutions, B2B payments, and business optimization services like Mastercard Track.
    • Building a culture that embraces change. Adaptive businesses adopt new business models more quickly and thus require employees to have more mental flexibility and less fear of change. While the industry has overused Netflix as a platform example, we think is culture as expressed by its now famous “five rules” established a culture of adaptability. By inspiring employees, the company has evolved from an antiquated mailing service to streaming pioneers, to original content production.

    The idea of business adaptiveness is a core theme of research that draws together two research streams: technology-driven innovation and the future of work, as well as many other of the most important research ideas on insights, digital platforms, and agile delivery. It is an advanced concept that we are holding up as the bar for future business excellence.

    Is your bsuiness becoming 'adaptive'? We hope so.

    Author: Brian Hopkins

    Source: Inofrmation-management

  • Applying Market Intelligence in six steps

    Applying Market Intelligence in six steps

    A marketing intelligence process is like the third-eye which allows you to see all that is happening in the market. It’ll allow you to reach your target audience, learn new business tactics, understand why market leaders succeed and what they do that makes them successful, in addition to identifying trends, even the ones which aren’t so obvious. Here’s how you build a market intelligence process in 6 steps.

    1. Identify your competitors

    This seems like a simple enough step, but all is not as it seems. You likely have a good grasp on who your direct competitors are, but do you know who your indirect competitors are? Your direct competitors sell or market the same products as your business, and while indirect competitors might not do that, they still compete with your business. For example, let’s say your product is an energy drink, then your direct competitors are other organizations that sell energy drinks. However, your customer might just as easily choose a carbonated beverage instead of an energy drink, which makes the organization producing that beverage your indirect competitor. You can identify direct and indirect competitors through some market research, customer feedback, and monitoring online portals. And, of course, you can (and should) use market intelligence to do that. Once you’ve identified both your direct and indirect competitors, you can move on to deciding the metrics you wish to measure.

    2. Choose the metrics you wish to measure

    The metrics an organization chooses to measure depend on their goals, and the strategies they deploy to achieve that goal. Organizations generally fall in two categories - ones that are brand-focused, and others that are performance-focused. Brand-focused organizations give more weightage to the aspects of their brand, their category, and their competitors. Performance-focused organizations, on the other hand, give more weightage to demand generation, and their sales efforts. Naturally, it is these respective metrics that they should focus on to gain a competitive advantage.

    Brand-focused organizations should measure and pay attention to metrics such as brand advocacy, affinity, appeal, association, awareness, loyalty, perception, personality, reputation, recall, preference, strength, sentiment, salience, trust, usage and of course, competitors’ performance & tactics. Pay special attention to the kind of content your audience likes. They should use market intelligence to continuously collect information pertaining to these metrics, and deliver them to their marketing teams in the form of daily alerts and weekly or monthly reports.

    Performance-focused organizations should measure and pay attention to critical sales metrics such as their competitors’ annual recurring revenue, sales budget, average revenue per user, win rates, conversion rates, acquisition channels, sales tactics, and the like. A market intelligence process that allows your sales team to constantly be aware of these metrics should be put in place. Integrating your sales enablement tool to your market intelligence system is a great way to streamline things in this case.

    3. Understand how to use market intelligence effectively

    In 2021, almost every business uses market intelligence in some form or another. From a small company that does basic or unstructured research using the internet on their target market and competitors, to huge enterprises that pay millions of dollars for data on their competitors and the markets. Neither of these organizations is using market intelligence effectively. In fact, 50% of organizations don’t know how to use M&CI properly in decision-making. When an organization creates a market intelligence process, there are 3 things they should look out for to ascertain its ROI.

    - Data costs

    - Labor costs

    - Cost of poor decisions

    Now, the company that does basic research has no data cost, as surfing the internet costs nothing. Little to no labor costs are incurred, as there’s no team of analysts decoding data that is fetched. However, the cost of poor decisions is probably immense, which is why this company is still a small company even after being in the market for a long time.

    On the other hand, the enterprise-sized organization is paying through their noses for data, labor costs to analyze that data are probably high too, as the organization likely has teams of analysts for this specific job. However, their cost of poor decisions is really low, which explains why they are an enterprise-sized business. They do, however, hemorrhage money in labor and data which could be saved with a more effective MI process.

    A balanced approach would be to use a market intelligence software, which will incur moderate data costs, incur moderate labor costs as a modest amount of analysis is required, while saving you from the cost of poor decisions entirely.

    4. Perform a market and competitive analysis

    The next step would be to perform a market and competitive analysis. Using the insights gleaned from your MI process, design a market and competitive analysis that can be shared with your organization’s stakeholders for easy interpretation. Bear these things in mind when doing so:

    - Provide a context
    Not everyone in your organization may be used to understanding how numbers and visual representations in the analysis work. Next to every statistic in the analysis, provide some context about what these insights mean for the organization, whether good or bad. Adding a benchmark to measure statistics would be a good idea too.

    - Provide recommended actions
    Statistics in themselves are no good if you or your stakeholders don’t know what to do with them. Every statistic is either an opportunity or a threat that must be taken advantage of or dealt with. Describe a plan of action as to what should be the appropriate response to every statistic you put in your analysis.

    - Provide Proof
    Although your stakeholders are not going to doubt the information you put in the analysis, it is always better to furnish them with specific resources for better understanding. Also, they might have to explain it to a customer, client, or another stakeholder in the future, so an attached resource to any statistic or a methodology on how you reached a conclusion is a must.

    - Keep it short
    The stakeholders in your organization, particularly the leadership, are busy people who have a schedule to stick to. Lengthy analyses that take hours to comprehend will waste their valuable time, and more likely not be paid adequate attention to. So skip the granular details, and provide information that can be quickly consumed and understood.

    Keeping these things in mind when designing a market and competitive analysis will ensure your organization makes the most of it.

    5. Deliver market intelligence throughout the organization

    To ensure that market intelligence is utilized effectively throughout the organization, certain things need to be taken into consideration.

    - It gets to the right stakeholders

    - It gets to them in a timely manner

    - It is easy to understand

    Doing all of this requires figuring out an appropriate delivery process. Doing this manually is labor-intensive and prone to faults, even if you use a CMS. Markets are highly-dynamic, and the number of insights you get each day, each week and each month can be overwhelming. Then there’s the question of turning them into daily insights as well as weekly, monthly, and/or quarterly reports for the stakeholders to understand the trends better. Finally, you need to send them to the right stakeholders. Not difficult, but laborious.

    6. Transform insights into action

    The goal of market intelligence is for a business to be able to make smart and strategic decisions with the information it provides. This generally means more sales, better products or services, a larger market share, more customers, more brand awareness within the target audience, in addition to other business objectives the organization might have. For this to happen, intelligence, strategy and action need to have a direct link, in order to be defined as a process. Organizations need to establish this link on their own, as market intelligence is just one piece of the puzzle. The process should ideally look like this:

    - The market intelligence process provides insights

    - Those insights are given a context by your market intelligence team, if you have one, or by the stakeholders themselves in case you don’t

    - The information is translated into specific business questions, that need to be answered with strategies

    - Strategies should be formulated after determining the best course of action in the present and future market landscape

    - These strategies should be communicated to everyone involved in their execution

    - Actions should be taken based on these strategies

    If you follow this process from insight to action accurately, the results will speak for themselves.

    Conclusion

    Today’s world is data-driven, and organizations that use a market intelligence process are able to take full advantage of it. Similarly, an inefficient market intelligence process, or worse no process at all, can quickly become a burden on an organization. The market intelligence process described above will hopefully give you some ideas on how to set up a similar system for your own organization, and enable you to be more competitive. Another option that can prove be invaluable, is hiring an external Market Intelligence team specialized in the ins and outs of the MI process.

    Author: Malay Mehrotra

    Source: Contify

  • B2B and B2C: Challenging the traditional paradigm

    We often - and quite rightly - talk about the very real distinctions between B2B and B2C markets, buyers and decisions. However, the traditional paradigm of ‘B2B as rational’ and ‘B2C as emotional’ is being challenged by an increasingly strong undercurrent of discussion about the thoughts, feelings and emotions of B2B buyers and decision makers as individuals – not just as representatives of the corporations they work for.

    A B2B buyer is not solely an agent of the business they work for, and they do not exist in a vacuum. They are a human being with emotions, preferences, and a life that exists outside of their workplace. And, outside of work, they are a consumer. It is inevitable that our expectations as B2B buyers are shaped, to some degree, by our experiences as consumers in the B2C world. Therefore, in addition to the space that is being carved out for the ‘human’ in B2B decision making, much can be gained by recognising the ‘consumer’ as an additional influence.

    The consumer, as I’m sure we can all recognise, is faced with an overwhelming choice of products and services; able to order for next day delivery, at the click of a button; familiar with the ‘personalities’ of our favourite brands through prolific social media presence. These three elements of the consumer experience – access to a wider than ever range of options, ability to quickly and easily acquire products, and exposure to a strong social media presence – are all relatively recent phenomena, but have become so prevalent that many of us can’t imagine our daily lives and purchasing experiences in any other way. As the bar has been continually raised by B2C companies in terms of the choice, access and exposure they offer – so too have our expectations as consumers risen exponentially. For many of us, these high expectations will be translated into our lives at work, influencing our expectations as buyers in a B2B context.

    In her article ‘Too Much Choice’, Eva Krockow uses the example of a coffee shop to illustrate the overwhelming amount of choice available to consumers – Starbucks, she says, offers a choice of 80,000 different drinks combinations. Disadvantages of such abundant options aside (decision paralysis, disappointment or self blame) freedom of choice and maximum product variety is still very much expected by consumers, due to the liberal belief that making our own decisions will lead to increased happiness and wellbeing. Taking into account the aforementioned importance of emotions in B2B buying, it makes sense that the same underlying motivation and desire for variety also applies here – particularly when buyers are used to this desire being met when they are operating as consumers, outside of work.

    Furthermore, in the consumer sphere, potential stress caused by an overload of choice is partially tackled through the use of numerous comparison and review services – usually websites – to aid the consumer in making a choice. These decision making aids are not always so readily available in B2B markets – mostly because, by definition, the target audience for products and services is much smaller. One particular area where we have noticed this in our own research is in the utilities sector. While it is very easy for consumers to compare a range of utilities offers from different suppliers on one web page, this is not always an option that is widely available to businesses. The utilities being sold are the same as in the consumer space, the suppliers are often the same, and B2B buyers are used to quick and easy comparison in their lives as consumers – it can therefore be disappointing when the expectations they have built up as consumers are not lived up to in their work interactions. The disconnect between the B2C experience and the B2B experience is apparent.

    Convenience – including next day, or even same day, delivery – may be the most important reason behind the rise in online sales. While experts tend to believe that physical shops will continue, the decline of the high street is difficult to ignore – in the first nine months of 2018, 1,000 retail businesses went into administration and 85,000 retail jobs disappeared from Britain’s high streets.

    B2B online sales are also on the rise, and are predicted to reach over $6.6 trillion globally by 2020. However, many B2B companies remain at least ten years behind where they should be in terms of digital transformation. While it’s true that running a B2B ecommerce channel is often more complex than for B2C – due to B2B’s higher value sales, wider range of payment methods, and complicated catalogues – B2B customers increasingly expect to be able to buy the products they need through multiple online channels, and for those products to be delivered more quickly than they ever have been before – just as they do in their lives as consumers. However, websites of B2B companies are often digital catalogues, containing product information but lacking the ability to actually make the purchase online. Features of successful B2B ecommerce websites include showing prices to signed-in customers who have individually negotiated terms, inclusion of a 24/7 online chat feature, and the ability for customers to save a custom order in order to easily repurchase it. Features like this allow the B2B buyer to replicate their quick and easy consumer experience when purchasing for their business, while the additional needs and challenges of B2B ecommerce are still accommodated.

    There has been a significant amount of commentary about the use of social media in B2B marketing, with a growing consensus that these channels do have a place within the strategies of B2B brands. There are numerous examples of B2C brands with successful social media strategies – one being the baking brand Greggs which has become known for its humorous Twitter feed, most recently handling the backlash to its newly-introduced vegan sausage roll. But it can be difficult for B2B companies to see a place for themselves in this playful landscape. Outside of LinkedIn, which is focussed specifically on business, many B2B companies have a relatively low social media profile. However, and especially considering the increased importance given to establishing emotional connections with B2B buyers, social media is important as it offers a forum for B2B companies to connect more closely and authentically with their target market. Examples of successful B2B social media campaigns include MarketStar’s ‘The Evolution of the “Zombie” Lead’, which uses graphics and storytelling to engage its Twitter followers. Storytelling on social media is one strategy allowing B2B brands to maintain their professional image, while engaging followers with interesting content that reflects the brand’s personality. The use of engaging visual content, particularly on image-based channels like Instagram, can also be very effective for B2B brands.

    The differences between B2C and B2B markets will always be important, but there is much to be gained from considering the similarities. All B2B decision makers have a not-so-secret double life as a consumer, and it is inevitable that experiences enjoyed in the B2C world will shape expectations of what can be achieved in a B2B context.

    Author: Lorna Finlay

    Source: B2B international

  • Communicating competitive intelligence insights in 5 steps

    Communicating competitive intelligence insights in 5 steps

    You work hard to stay on top of your competitors’ moves. You sift through big and small changes alike and analyze the data to identify trends and strategies. But then what do you do with the data? One of the biggest challenges with making use of competitive intelligence (CI) is distributing that intel to the relevant stakeholders within your organization so that your team can take action on your competitive insights. 

    The teams who are most successful at communicating competitive intelligence have identified relevant communication channels, established a regular cadence for distribution, and, of course, crafted their CI updates to deliver immense value in a compact package.

    Borrowing from the ideas of great CI updates, we’ve created a template for distributing competitive intelligence. Read on for recommendations to create your own.

    1: Tailor Deliverables to Your Stakeholders 

    The first step is to identify your competitive intelligence stakeholders. Each stakeholder within your organization has their own set of priorities. Because each team within your organization is responsible for their own objectives, the information that you will be delivering to each team will differ in type of content, deliverable type, and distribution channel. No single CI report or channel will work for every audience, so think about how you can customize your update to each group.

    Sales wants to know how to win more deals  and position your solution against alternatives. An example of a great deliverable for your sales team is a competitive battlecard, which can be updated in real-time, and lives either in your CRM or competitive intelligence platform. 

    Marketing wants to know how to create differentiated messaging, impactful content, and stand out against competitors in a crowded market. An example of a great deliverable for marketing is a competitive landscape snapshot or a competitive newsletter that highlights your competitor’s key messaging changes, market information, and latest content or campaign information. 

    Product wants to know what your competitors’ are doing to improve their own offerings and solve your market's problems. An example of a deliverable for your product team is a product sheet (or a one-pager, if you want to give a product overview). This allows your product team to gain insight into features, benefits, product updates, and even feedback from your competitor’s customers, which will then help your product team iterate on their strategy. 

    Executives don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to CI, so the simpler the deliverable, the better. An example of a great deliverable for your executive team is an executive dashboard. This is impactful for your executives to get a snapshot of major market shifts happening in real-time. Think of this as a command center for your executives to keep a pulse on the market.

    While these are just some examples of competitive intelligence deliverables, it gives you insight into how you can tailor your CI deliverables to each stakeholder within your organization

    2: Make it Digestible

    No matter which deliverable you’re creating or who you’re communicating it to, you want to ensure that you’re making the content digestible. There is a lot of competitive intelligence data out there, and it’s easy to get lost in competitive intel. That can lead to your team not having enough time to act on the intel or even worse, starting to ignore intel.

    A great way to make sure your entire organization is getting competitive intelligence delivered to them is by creating a competitive intel digest or newsletter. These newsletters should be digestible to encourage others to consistently review and evaluate the findings. Keep the digests short and focused and leverage formatting as well to keep the content skimmable. These can be sent out at whatever cadence works well for your team, whether that be daily, weekly, or monthly. 

    3: Answer “So What”

    In order for competitive intel to have an impact on your team, you need to help bridge the gap between what happened and why it matters. With every piece of intel you plan to share, ask and answer the question, “So what?” because that’s exactly what others will be thinking. Think of each piece of intel going through the following path: What Happened -> What It Means / Why It Matters -> What We Should Do About It. 

    The worst thing that happens with competitive intelligence information is that it doesn’t get used. This often happens when the “so what” goes unanswered. When you’re creating your competitive intelligence deliverables, you want to be sure that there is a purpose behind every insight you’re including. The more impact an insight has, the more likely your team is to leverage that information. 

    4: Keep up a Regular Cadence of Communication

    Competitive intelligence is like eating healthy or going to the gym - you need to do it consistently over a long period of time to see the impact. That means whatever cadence you choose for CI should be maintained. This allows you to take advantage of both short-term opportunities and long-term trends. If you’re not sure how often to leverage each method of communication, here is a simple list. 

    Email - Daily, Weekly, or Monthly 

    Meetings - Weekly or Monthly 

    Chat App / Slack - Daily 

    Wiki / Intranet - Weekly or Monthly 

    CRM or Competitive Intelligence Platform - Daily 

    5: Look at the Short-Term and Long-Term Objectives

    Competitive Intelligence isn’t a one and done type of initiative. CI is a long-term, ongoing process. While there are many short-term goals that can be accomplished with CI, there are long term wins as well. With a particular CI update cadence, you can risk boxing yourself into the intel delivered in that timeframe. Be sure to take a step back and identify longer-term trends to watch, and take a deep dive into the long-term view from time to time.

    If you want to make an impact with your competitive intelligence program, ensure that you’re effectively communicating your data across your organization. Following these suggestions, you’ll be able to tailor CI to your stakeholders, create impactful deliverables, and communicate in a timely manner. Once your entire organization has a pulse on the competition, you’ll be able to level-up your strategy and gain a strong competitive advantage. 

    Source: Crayon

    Author: Emily Dumas

     

     

  • Five fundamental topics in Commercial Due Diligence (CDD)

    Five fundamental topics in Commercial Due Diligence (CDD)

    Commercial Due Diligence (CDD) is a vital aspect of the pre-investment process for private equity firms and investors. CDD is typically conducted before buying negotiations begin, in order to allow the potential buyer to assess the risks and potential of the target company before proposing an offer. CDD is often performed alongside Financial Due Diligence and Legal Due Diligence.

    ''The purpose of CDD is to provide a holistic and comprehensive picture of the internal and external environment of the target company.''

    Acquiring a business is complex and challenging. A solid CDD process is always necessary in order to support a buying decision. It is desirable to get a clear view of the targets’ commercial attractiveness, it is even more of interest to conduct solid CDD when investors are not familiar with the market their potential target is operating in. Markets have their own dynamics and characteristics and can easily appear attractive on the outside. CDD should warn investors from targeting a company that appears attractive (based on its prior financial results and historic growth) but is actually active in a market threatened by competitive innovation, new regulations, shift in demand or other disruptive events.  

    The specific structure of a CDD report depends on the party responsible for delivery, the target company, scope of the research, timeline and available budget. Still, some fundamental topics are (almost) always present in the report:

    Target Company

    Of course, intelligence needs to be collected about the target company. It is essential to make an assessment of the achievability of their business plan; is it realistic taken into account the internal and external environment? How does the current cost structure look? Additionally, it is vital to learn more about the company’s historic and future strategy.

    Also, recent developments within the company need to be considered. Was there a recent change in management team, restructuring, capacity expansion or lawsuit? The portfolio of the target company also needs to be assessed. How is their portfolio diversified and what are makes their products or services unique? This will provide a first indication of the competitive edge of the target company. In a further stage of the analysis this information is used to create a solid understanding of the ability to compete of the target company.

    Market

    In order to provide a decent assessment of the market the target is operating in; it is of utmost importance to get insight in where the market is heading. Is the market mature? Which growth drivers and key developments do we see? Is the market susceptible for disruption? Can we identify a regulatory framework? Which substitute markets are evolving?

    Sometimes, data about a certain market is not available. In that case it is necessary to estimate or model the actual and obtainable market value to get reliable insights in market shares and market growth. All the insights combined give a clear understanding about how market developments affect the (future) value of the target company. 

    Competitors

    Competition plays a major role in assessing the commercial attractiveness of the target company. Creating a better understanding of the competitive playing field is crucial. How are market shares divided among competitors? What is the intensity of the rivalry? Can the market be seen as consolidated or fragmented? Part of this is creating competitor profiles of the key competitors and identify how the target company is positioned in the value chain.

    Next, it is necessary to estimate future competitive threats. Think about companies competing in a related market, or companies from other geographical markets with expansion drift. Depending on the level of competitive intensity within a market, new competitors will enter the playing stage. The entrance of new competitors in a market is more likely when there are high profit margins, no major entry barriers and when there is still a high future growth potential.

    Customers

    In analysis of customers of the target company, it is imperative to first define who we see as a (potential) customer. This demarcation helps to keep focus and reduce the scope. Next, customer profiles can be made with the right segmentation. Are the customers other companies or consumers? What is their purchasing behaviour? Are customers easily switching between different brands? What are they willing to spend? Also, conducting an order analysis and get understanding of the distribution channel is essential.

    A crucial element are the key buying criteria; are customers making their purchase decision based on price, quality or service, and how is the target company performing on those criteria?

    Relevant buying criteria provide context for solid competitor analysis, it enables to draw a framework in which the competitors and their products can be valued or scored. It also supports in assessing whether the target company has a strong and defendable position with respect to customers. Pinpointing the right buying criteria is a tough task, but when done right, the information is invaluable.

    Revenue and pricing

    Last but not least it is useful to take a deeper look into the balance sheet, P&L and cash flow of the target company. Where is the main revenue deriving from? Are cost and revenue projections reasonable? How much can the target company be expected to make over a set period of time? Prices can fluctuate over time; what is the forecast for prices in the future and what factors affect the price? Examining revenue and pricing structures can also be shared with activities performed in Financial Due Diligence.

    Of course this list is not complete. The exact content of a CDD report truly depends on the profile of the target company and the specific characteristics of the business environment. However, these five topics are always present and absolutely essential as building blocks for a solid CDD report.

    Author: Kees Kuiper

    Source: Hammer, market intelligence

  • How digital breadcrumbs can help to achieve the right intelligence

    How digital breadcrumbs can help to achieve the right intelligence

    The concept of a digital breadcrumb trail isn’t new. In the digital world, intentionally or unintentionally, we leave behind a trail of information that can reveal a lot about us. The web pages we visit, the links that we click on, our location, browsing history, our device, everything reveals something about us. Notice that cookie that you need to accept on a website? That’s a digital breadcrumb you’re leaving behind. These breadcrumbs are used by B2C companies like Google and Facebook to put together our consumer profile and then make billions of dollars by showing us ads off of those profiles.

    Surprisingly, B2B companies haven’t been able to leverage the power of digital breadcrumbs to develop their market and competitive intelligence strategies. Just like consumers, companies also leave behind digital breadcrumbs such as a tweet about an event, a job posting on their careers page, a blog post announcing new features, a new case study, changes on the management page, customer comments on a review site, discussion forums, press announcements, news coverage, and much more. In the context of B2B companies, the word ‘digital breadcrumbs’ was first coined by Meltwater CEO Jørn Lyseggen in his book Outside Insight.

    Digital breadcrumbs are any information that might not mean much in isolation, but reveal valuable insights when collected, organized, and analyzed in a structured manner over a period of time.

    While implementing market and competitive intelligence solutions at some of the world’s leading companies, we’ve discovered novel ways in which the smartest teams use digital breadcrumbs to gain competitive insights. Here are a few handpicked, real-life examples from our experience that illustrates this concept.

    Industrial accidents: the digital breadcrumbs that helped a company generate sales leads

    Sales teams have one of the most critical and challenging roles in the company: they bring in the money. The sales team of a safety equipment manufacturing firm often complained of missing opportunities because they did not receive the right lead from their marketing team at the right time. As a result, the company was losing revenue opportunities to the competition. The marketing team started to look for leading signals that might point to a requirement for safety equipment. Their experienced salespeople told them that it usually takes an industrial accident for the management, to realise the importance of safety and invest in the right equipment.

    This information was publicly available as such mishaps are covered by the local news. Similarly, another leading indicator of potential leads was the expansion or announcement of new projects, which results in a new facility being built or tenders announced by the government. By tracking such news reports of industrial accidents, facility openings, and tenders announced by the government, the company was able to build a sales pipeline worth $5 million in the first three months of implementing our Market and Competitive Intelligence platform.

    Negative news: the digital breadcrumbs that helped a bank avert business risk

    When a bank lends money to businesses, it often runs the risk of not getting their money back, should the business fail. Good banks are better at managing their risk exposure. Therefore, instead of just relying on voluntary disclosures by current and potential clients, a European bank, after lending money, proactively tracked negative news on these companies and monitored their filings with the United Kingdom’s Companies House for signals of potential business risks.

    These signals included publicly available information about management changes, lawsuits involving directors, litigations, fines, money laundering, liquidation, and corruption. With this intelligence practice in place, the bank reduced the time for flagging risky accounts by 80%.

    Job postings: the digital breadcrumbs that revealed competitors’ next big move

    In a hyper-competitive market, knowing where your competitors are headed is an important strategic advantage. Consider the case of a Fortune India 500 IT services major with $9 billion in annual revenues. The company was looking to focus on blockchain and wanted to ascertain which of their competitors were also focusing on this new space. By looking at the job postings of their competitors for blockchain-related roles in specific regions, their market and competitive intelligence team was able to intelligently predict specific competitors they would be up against.

    Sales signals: the digital breadcrumbs that enabled a sales team to engage with prospects

    A common strategy for B2B companies selling to large enterprises is account-based sales development (ABSD). Instead of trying to sell to everyone and spreading themselves thin, enterprise sales teams focus on a few high-value accounts to deep-dive into. The healthcare division of a Fortune 500 IT major was seeing success with its ABSD strategy but was looking to cut down on the lengthy sales cycle. They realised that account managers that were having personalised conversations with prospects and following up with them frequently were closing deals sooner than the others.

    They started tracking their key accounts for conversations starter signals such as event participation, awards, new office opening, and leadership changes. These signals,  'conversation starters', gave the opportunity to the sales teams to follow-up with the right context without being a nuisance. By scaling this activity across the sales team, they were able to get to a point where 90% of their account managers reported finding opportunities to engage with their prospects.

    So the question remains, if there is value in tracking these digital breadcrumbs, then why do companies tend to overlook them? We think it is because it’s usually easier said than done. It is overwhelming to identify such signals in the extremely noisy place like the internet without the aid of sophisticated tools that are specifically engineered for this purpose. As it turns out, the first step towards building a market-intelligent company is to define the goals of your market intelligence programme. As you might have already noticed, in all the examples above, there was a clearly defined goal which helped these companies identify and capture the right digital breadcrumbs.

    Author: Mohit Bhakuni

    Source: Contify

  • How to make a case for the importance of competitve intelligence

    How to make a case for the importance of competitve intelligence

    Whether you’re in product developmetn, sales or marketing, if you deal with competitive intelligence (CI) gathering, you already know how important it is to your business. You see how much information exists in your industry space, and you probably spend significant time and effort capturing and interpreting that data. It’s all worth it though, because the insights you uncover help keep your business on top. You know that an investment in CI is an investment in your future competitiveness.

    But when it comes to garnering executive support, the case for CI isn’t always self-explanatory. Executives often lack firsthand knowledge and context when it comes to the ins and outs of intelligence gathering. They see the end results, but they don’t see the late nights and last-minute scrambles that go into producing those results.

    In order to secure the funding and resources you need to keep your CI system running smoothly, keep these points in mind:

    Emphasize inevitability

    Competitive intelligence is more than a trend, it’s an old concept that’s been given new life by advanced web-scraping technologies, allowing businesses to gather information at an unprecedented rate. In 2015, around 17% of US businesses surveyed were using some form of data-gathering technology to inform business decisions. In 2018, that number rose to 59%. That type of expansion signals that whether it happens today, tomorrow, or next year, your business will inevitably find a reason to invest in intelligence gathering. So why wait and fall further behind the competition? Nobody wants to feel like they’re missing out on the next big technological breakthrough, and you can use that to your advantage when you’re looking for executive investment.

    Bring the numbers

    If abstract benefits aren’t enough to make your case, take a look at your company’s recent history. Find instances where intelligence gathering has had a measurable impact on your business’s finances. Better yet, find instances where overlooked information caused your company to miss out on a profitable opportunity. These anecdotes will drive home the concept that good CI is directly linked to your business’s financial health. In fact, 92% of executives surveyed in 2018 said that data gathering and analysis is 'extremely' important to their companies’ successes. It’s no longer a luxury, it’s an investment your business can’t afford not to make.

    Think ‘better, stronger, faster’

    Once you have the c-suite’s attention, it’s time to talk potential. Whatever your current CI process looks like, chances are it could be improved. Whether you proactively skim the competition’s social media or play catch-up after major announcements, you’re probably not grabbing as much data as you could be, or distributing it as efficiently as you could with a competitive intelligence service. In a 2018 Grid report, businesses already using an intelligence platform achieve on average a 51% adoption rate among users. If 49% of your workforce is left out of the CI process, you’re undoubtedly missing out on the valuable insights those employees might be able to offer.

    Building out your CI process means ensuring that you’re capturing, organizing, and distributing information to the stakeholders who need it, in a timely and efficient manner. If you don’t have a full-time staff member or team devoted to it, developing and implementing this type of process can be a daunting task. That’s why more and more businesses are choosing to outsource their CI gathering needs.

    Source: CI Radar

  • Ken je concurrenten: het belang voor product managers en marketeers

    Schermafbeelding 2018 06 12 om 16.26.15Staand voor het Retail schap maakt de consument in recordtempo een veelheid aan afwegingen. Krijg ik waar voor mijn geld? Hoe is de prijs? Wat koop ik echt? Is het gezond? Hoe weet ik dat het ene product gezonder is dan het andere? Een complex samenspel van afwegingen dat leidt tot het wel óf niet plaatsen van het product in het winkelmandje. Dit fenomeen doet zich niet alleen voor in de supermarkt maar ook bij klanten in allerlei andere (online) verkoop omgevingen.

    Leveranciers ‘helpen’ de consument door op de verpakking te vertellen wat er in zit: bijvoorbeeld ‘vol met gezonde plantsterolen’ of ‘verlaagt de bloeddruk’. De klassieker ‘goed voor hart en bloedvaten’ is misschien wel de bekendste voedingsclaim aller tijden. 

    De klant lijkt met deze informatie geholpen. Lijkt! Want is dit ook echt zo? Natuurlijk, in eerste instantie wel. Maar als zij even langer doordenkt roept de marketing claim natuurlijk nieuwe vragen op (zoals informatie altijd leidt tot nieuwe vragen: dat is hèt kenmerk van informatieprocessen). Nieuwe vragen zijn: Hoe gezond zijn die sterolen nu eigenlijk? Hoeveel zitten er in de alternatieve producten die er niet over reppen? Wat doet een plantsterool voor mij? 

    Conclusie: Product gerelateerde informatieverstrekking via claims is al snel aan erosie onderhevig bij een steeds slimmer wordende consument. Dat betekent dat naarmate de tijd voortschrijdt steeds meer of specifiekere informatie moet worden toegevoegd. Daarmee worden data en informatie een intrinsiek onderdeel van het product!

    Deze ontwikkeling is natuurlijk prima voor de consument maar stelt nieuwe eisen aan de product manager en marketeer. Deze moet zorgen voor steeds specifiekere en valide productinformatie die aangeeft hoe het product zich onderscheidt van andere producten.

    Dit betekent dat de product manager de concurrentie zo goed moet kennen dat hij of zij op eigenschap- of ingrediënt niveau kan vertellen hoe het product zich onderscheidt van andere producten. Alleen dan kunnen slimme en valide claims worden gekozen en zo helder mogelijk aan de klant worden gecommuniceerd.

    In een markt die steeds kennisintensiever wordt, speelt competitive intelligence (CI) een steeds belangrijkere rol in product management en marketing communicatie. Operationele CI is effectief toe te passen in drie stappen.

    1. Data gedreven ontleden van concurrerende producten

    Het maken van slimme claims vereist dataverzameling over concurrerende producten. Langs voor de doelgroep relevante dimensies moeten concurrerende producten worden geïdentificeerd en in kaart worden gebracht om tot een adequate productvergelijking te komen. 

    Databeschikbaarheid maakt het inventariseren van producteigenschappen meer of minder makkelijk. Dit verschilt per product. Van levensmiddelen is vaak data beschikbaar via productdeclaraties die op de verpakking te vinden zijn. Daarnaast zijn er (vaak dure) databases waarin deze producten zijn terug te vinden. Niet voor ieder product zijn de eigenschappen eenvoudig te achterhalen. Soms zijn daar creatieve datacollectie methoden voor nodig. 

    2. Analyse van producteigenschappen op relevante dimensies

    Om tot zinvolle inzichten te komen moet de verzamelde data worden geïnterpreteerd langs voor de doelgroep relevante dimensies. In het voorbeeld van het levensmiddel kunnen deze dimensies bijvoorbeeld zijn ‘voorzien in energiebehoefte’, ‘mate van verzadiging’, ‘bijdrage aan spieropbouw’, ‘calorie rijkheid’, etc., etc. 

    Producten kunnen goed of minder goed op deze dimensies scoren. Voor diverse claims is het van belang te begrijpen hoe deze assen zich tot elkaar verhouden. Als een product claimt bij te dragen aan gewichtsvermindering is de as ‘rijkheid aan calorieën’ maar ook ‘mate van verzadiging’ van belang. De aanwezigheid van een bepaald ingrediënt kan op de ene as een hoge score opleveren terwijl het juist op de andere as tot een lagere score leidt. Om tot een valide claim te komen niet onbelangrijke informatie! Een sprekend voorbeeld is het ‘light’ product wat in zichzelf misschien wel ‘light’ is, maar tot weinig verzadiging leidt waardoor men daarna weer snel andere producten tot zich gaat nemen. Een voor de doelgroep relevante interpretatie van de verzamelde data staat in deze stap van operationele CI centraal. 

    3. Inzichten concreet maken door mogelijke acties te benoemen

    Tenslotte is de proof of de pudding natuurlijk in de eating. Welke claim kan legitiem en valide gemaakt worden? De met CI geproduceerde inzichten leveren in deze fase niet de formulering van de winnende claim op. De inzichten vertellen wel welke claims valide kunnen worden gemaakt, op welke scores de claims zijn gebaseerd en hoe het product zich qua scores verhoudt ten opzichte van de concurrerende producten. Behalve competitief inzicht en input voor marketing levert deze fase van de aanpak ook onderzoeksvragen op voor productontwikkeling en research. De productmanager of marketeer die een met CI opgebouwde kennisvoorsprong weet te behouden is in een kennisintensieve samenleving spekkoper.

    Auteur: Egbert Philips

    Bron: http://www.hammer-intel.com/nl/portfolio/

  • Key competitive intelligence actions to take in 2021 according to experts

    Key competitive intelligence actions to take in 2021 according to experts

    As we head into the New Year, many of us are deep in planning, strategy brainstorm sessions, and goal-setting. For competitive intelligence (CI) practitioners, there are many elements to building your annual plan. CI pros have their own roles and KPIs to think about, but the impact of their work felt across the entire organization. 

    The Crayon team connected with many CI practitioners to gain insight into plans for the New Year. Some of these experts are sales leaders, some are product marketers, and some are competitive intelligence analysts. While all of these priorities and goals center around competitive intelligence, every expert we spoke to had a different action plan and goal in mind for how they wanted to focus their priorities in 2021. Some want to help specific teams do their jobs better with the help of competitive intel, while others want to hone in on specific skills. Let’s look at what these competitive intelligence practitioners are going to be focused on in 2021. 

    Incorporate competitive intelligence early on in the sales cycle

    Competitive intelligence data can make or break a competitive deal. When your sales team has the right information in front of them at the right stage of the sales process, they have a better chance of winning a competitive deal. Ultimately, you want to increase competitive win rate, which can be achieved by improving how CI is leveraged throughout the sales cycle. 

    “I’d say for our team, it’s to improve our ability to track competition throughout the sales cycle and leverage our data to be more strategic in how we focus our CI efforts (versus creating positioning or collateral as sales reps request it). This will ultimately allow us to improve win rates and increase market share.” - Christine Friscic, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Gainsight 

    Build a stronger partnership with customer success

    Competitive Intelligence can’t be done in a vacuum. Your action items, as well as your desired outcomes, are all related to the overall success of your business. That means you often need to work very closely with other teams to work toward one common goal. 

    Take a look at how Alex McDonnell at InVision is tackling customer churn:

    “It's all about partnering with our Customer Success team to improve our understanding of customer health. That will allow us to prioritize accounts where we face risk and intervene earlier."Alex McDonnell, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Market Intelligence, InVision 

    Become a better storyteller

    When you work at a very technical company, it might fall under your responsibility to turn the technical language into language that can be used to attract your customers. Working on this translation can be great for your team to better position your product and better tell your product story to bring in more business. 

    “Translate technical differentiators into value propositions / use cases and drive the behavior to be better storytellers.” - Kimberly Bauer, Senior Competitive Intelligence Analyst, VMware Carbon Black

    Apply competitive intelligence to more initiatives 

    You can apply competitive intelligence to many activities and initiatives across your organization. You can support sales with sales enablement materials, apply CI to your go-to-market strategy, and more. As the CI expert at your company, you might find yourself doing a little bit of everything in the New Year. 

    “I’m focused on creating more enablement content; establish a more regular communications cadence around CI and about applying CI to our GTM activities.” - Matt Powell, Product Marketing Manager, Docebo 

    Elevate competitive intelligence across the whole organization 

    If you’ve been conducting competitive intelligence as a manual and fractured process over the years, the New Year might signal it’s time to elevate your strategy. Combining existing methods of tracking your competition and centralizing everything, ideally within a competitive intelligence platform, can give your organization a fresh start for CI. 

    “In the next two quarters, our primary focus is taking our competitive strategy to the next level. We have too many competitors, and too few people to manage the workload. We have many eyes on us, and the pressure to meet our internal stakeholder expectations have grown large as we continue to grow. That requires us mining our existing ecosystem of disparate sources (eg Confluence Wiki, Google Drive, Email, Slack) for competitive insights, centralizing our competitive content into Crayon (eg battlecards, playbooks, talk tracks), and sunsetting the archaic means of disseminating competitive intel to the field (it's fractured). Phase 1... stabilizing our broken processes and tooling, and building it around Crayon.” - Adam Crown, Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) Researcher, Okta, Inc

    Build a competitive strategy to drive actionable outcomes in the market 

    "Given the market dynamics in the region, I would aim to focus on two sectors, 1) Exhibitions & 2) Start-Ups. Utilizing my MI/CI skills and experience to navigate the gaps in terms of building competitive strategy and enabling teams with actionable insights. I believe these two sectors will drive business & tourism impact within the region in the next couple of years.  From  a personal agenda, I also have plans to enhance my skills & get certified further in CI, including Product Marketing space." - Sunanda Thumati, Strategist at Think Curate Intelligence

    Centralize and communicate competitive intelligence data 

    Ensuring that everyone in your organization has access to your competitive intelligence information is critical to success. As we’ve mentioned, CI touches the entire organization, so you want to make sure your findings are in one centralized location and benefiting everyone across your organization. 

    “As we look towards 2021, Amplicare wants to ensure it remains a viable option for community pharmacies. One of our main goals for next year will be to organize our internal resources by implementing standard documentation of all the intelligence gathered. These documents are living, of course, constantly changing with new information. From there, it’s important to package the intelligence for the appropriate audience: The C-suite for making key strategic decisions, the product team’s roadmap, the marketing team for content creation and targeting, and the sales team’s need to infuse timely, byte size information into their conversations.” - Marvin Guardado, Strategic Partnerships, Amplicare 

    Setting goals for any initiative is the key to success, especially when it comes to competitive intelligence. No matter what your goal is for 2021, with the right competitive intelligence strategy in place you’ll be better prepared to beat the competition in the New Year.

    Author: Emily Dumas

    Source: Crayon

  • Maximizing the value obtained from competitive intel

    Maximizing the value obtained from competitive intel

    Now more than ever, companies are growing their revenue by tracking, analyzing, and acting on their competitors’ movements.

    This raises an important question: How?

    If you were to look at all the companies that are yielding returns on their competitive intelligence investments, what commonalities would you observe?

    Two obvious commonalities come to mind: big teams and big budgets. Compared to companies with small CI teams (2-5 people), those with large CI teams (11+ people) are 31% more likely to report direct revenue impact as a result of competitive intelligence.

    And compared to companies with CI budgets in the $25,001-$100,000 range, those with CI budgets in the $500,001-$1M range are 22% more likely to report direct revenue impact.

    Interesting? Sure. Actionable? Not quite. Sadly, neither headcount nor budget is magically falling out of the sky any time soon. But here’s the good news: Amongst companies yielding returns on their CI investments, big teams and big budgets are far from the only commonalities.

    After carefully reviewing the data, we’ve compiled a list of five steps you and your colleagues can take to get more value out of competitive intelligence. To be clear, this is not a list of silver bullets; we are not suggesting that these action items will yield the same magnitude of impact as, say, a 400% increase in budget.

    Here’s what we are suggesting: Even with no additional budget and no additional headcount, you have the power to level up your CI program. It’s a matter of executing the right tactics.

    Without further ado, here are five data-backed ways to get more value out of CI.

    1. Establish KPIs

    Trying to optimize your CI process without key performance indicators (KPIs) is like trying to do a cross-country road trip without Google Maps. You might luck into a correct turn every now and then, but at the end of the day, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

    KPIs are essential because they enable you to determine which decisions are successful and which ones are not. Let’s say you’re about to launch some kind of competitive initiative with the primary objective of helping your sales team win more deals. Without any way to measure the change in your win rates, you’ll have no idea whether your initiative was effective.

    You can’t level up your CI program unless you consistently make good decisions, and you can’t consistently make good decisions unless you establish KPIs.

    Here’s the data to back it up: Compared to companies without competitive intelligence KPIs, companies with KPIs are four times more likely to report direct revenue impact as a result of CI.

    And if you’re wondering which KPIs to use, think in terms of specific goals. If you’re trying to win more deals, you should measure win rates. If you’re trying to build a better product, you should measure retention and ARR. The list goes on and on.

    2. Establish quantitative KPIs

    KPI is a pretty broad term — we should be more specific. Whereas a qualitative KPI is based on subjective inputs, a quantitative KPI is based on numbers.

    Sales team confidence (via survey) is an example of a qualitative KPI. You could share statistics based on the survey responses — e.g., 18% of our sales reps say they feel “very confident” — but the responses themselves are inherently subjective.

    Win rate, on the other hand, is a quantitative KPI. If your win rate increases by 11% YoY, that’s an objective measure of the impact you’ve made.

    KPIs in general are powerful, but quantitative KPIs in particular are extraordinarily powerful.

    Intuitively, this makes sense. Let’s say it’s been three months since you refreshed your sales reps’ email templates in order to better leverage competitive intel. Which of the following insights would be a more convincing indicator of success?

    • Sales team confidence is up 16%.
    • Our win rate against Competitor XYZ is up 28%.

    Although the former is a nice soundbite, the latter is the superior insight — an unambiguous sign that your email initiative has been effective.

    Again, we’ve got the data to back it up. Compared to companies using qualitative KPIs, companies using quantitative KPIs are 13% more likely to report direct revenue impact as a result of CI.

    3. Drive battlecard adoption

    While we’re on the topic of sales enablement, let’s take a moment to focus on battlecards.

    As you probably know, a battlecard is a piece of content designed to make it easier for your sales reps to position your solution against that of a competitor. For obvious reasons, the battlecard is one of the most common outputs of the competitive intelligence process.

    Unfortunately — and for a number of reasons — it’s not a guarantee that each of your reps will automatically adopt a new (or refreshed) battlecard as soon as it’s published. If, in other words, you don’t proactively take steps to drive battlecard adoption, there’s a chance your competitive insights will be put to use far less often than they should be.

    And if you’re thinking the consequences of weak battlecard adoption are marginal, you’ve got another thing coming: Compared to companies that are unhappy with current levels of battlecard adoption, companies with strong adoption are more than twice as likely to report direct revenue impact as a result of CI.

    Pro tip: One surefire way to improve battlecard adoption is to set aside time with your reps for in-depth, highly tactical training sessions.

    4. Share CI on a weekly (if not daily) basis

    We opened this blog post with the assertion that, now more than ever, companies are growing their revenue by tracking, analyzing, and acting on their competitors’ movements.

    We’ve emphasized the final phase of the process — activation — for a reason: It’s absolutely critical, and yet it’s not always executed to the extent that’s necessary for satisfactory ROI. It sounds painfully obvious, but it needs to be said: Failure to act on competitive intelligence renders useless all the time you spend on research and analysis (dozens of hours per week).

    Of course, those who gather and analyze competitive intel are far from the only ones who act on it. Across the average B2B organization, everyone from sales and marketing to product and CS is a stakeholder in the CI process. Getting these stakeholders to take action is a key step towards succeeding with CI.

    Catalyzing action across your company is a subject for another post, but here’s something you can internalize right now: Those who share CI frequently — i.e., at least on a weekly basis — are the ones who tend to see results.

    More specifically, compared to companies that share CI on a monthly basis, companies that share CI on a weekly basis are 31% more likely to report direct revenue impact.

    5. Embrace technology

    The negative impact of spending too much time conducting manual research is twofold:

    1. You have less time to take action — train sales reps on the ins and outs of battlecards, communicate insights to key stakeholders, etc. — which, in turn, reduces ROI.
    2. You’re at greater risk of analyzing and acting on insights that are no longer relevant, which further reduces ROI.

    Only by embracing competitive intelligence technology can you both (1) give yourself and your colleagues more time to initiate action and (2) capitalize on real-time insights. Note that we’re not suggesting that buying a solution means putting your CI program on autopilot; it means improving the quality of your intel while enabling your team to get more value out of that intel.

    If you can find a way to reallocate existing budget towards CI technology, chances are you’ll see positive returns. And if you’re not convinced, consider this: Between last year and this year, we can observe a 13% jump in the amount of time spent communicating competitive insights as well as a 17% jump in the number of businesses yielding ROI from their CI programs.

    Coincidence? We think not.

    Author: Conor Bond

    Source: Crayon

  • Resisting the inefficiency of data silos

    Resisting the inefficiency of data silos

    The dreaded data silo: it lurks inside unsuspecting businesses, dragging down efficiency and stifling interdepartmental collaboration.

    If you haven’t encountered one in the wild yet, a data silo is essentially an isolated database or data storage unit that’s not integrated with the rest of the organization’s information system. Silos often develop within departments or business units, where information is stored in a way that’s inaccessible to other departments. Even when those departments have a shared need for said info. This can result from the use of incompatible software systems, interdepartmental competition, or a simple lack of consideration for the value information might have if it was widely available. Silos can also lead to incorrect or outdated information being circulated, when teams aren’t working from the latest available data, because it hasn’t been shared yet.

    In the competitive intelligence field, gathering information is only half the battle. Ensuring that information makes it into the right hands in a timely manner is equally critical. A data silo can have a devastating impact on your competitive intelligence process, leaving valuable information on the table until it’s no longer actionable.

    And when you’re paying for that information, either with your team’s time and effort or through an external service, letting information languish in someone’s inbox or desk drawer is a huge waste of money. Quick, effective dispersal is vital.

    The solution? Use a common information collection and distribution platform, instead of relying on 100 different tools being used by 100 different people across various departments. With one centralized platform, accurate, up-to-date information is always available, which will help your business uncover valuable, time-sensitive insights and opportunities.

    CI Radar, for example, provides an e-mail briefing service for its clients which ensures that users are kept in the loop on the latest competitive intelligence available. E-mail briefings can be scheduled to go out daily, weekly, or several times per day, depending on the subscriber’s preferences, and each briefing’s contents can be customized depending on what topics or competitors the subscriber finds relevant. This cuts down on the amount of irrelevant information each team is expected to wade through, saving time and energy. This system prevents data silos from forming by quickly and simultaneously dispersing competitive insights to each department.

    Source: CI Radar

  • Taking advantage of automation technology in competitive intelligence

    Taking advantage of automation technology in competitive intelligence

    If you’re a market or product researcher, or an intelligence specialist, you’re probably already aware of the extent to which technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have altered the business landscape over the past decade. But many professionals still view AI with suspicion, even mistrust, after being over-sold on its capabilities and underinformed about its limitations.

    If you’re one of those people, it’s time to give AI another (cautious) chance.

    Hybrid solutions, sometimes called smart workflows, combine automation technology with human analysis in order to improve the efficiency and accuracy of a business process. Smart workflows automate repetitive, tedious, and time-consuming tasks, and freeing up time for humans to handle more the complex, strategic tasks that machines still struggle to execute. If you’re reluctant to trust a computer to conduct important research, smart workflows allow you to build in human checks and balances wherever you see fit.

    Here are three ways automation technology can save you time at different stages of your competitive intelligence process.

    Data collection 

    A competitive intelligence process is only as thorough as its data collection method. If you’re missing information during the initial intelligence gathering stage, none of your hard work afterwards can correct that deficit, you’ll always be left with an incomplete set of facts. That’s why automated intelligence gathering is growing in popularity, even among small-to-midsized businesses. By allowing a machine to do the first-line data collection, you remove the potential for human error in terms of overlooking relevant company names, keywords, or phrases. With ongoing maintenance, an automated data collection system can drastically reduce the number of manhours spent searching for information.

    Classification

    When you’re dealing with a high volume of information, an automated classification system can give structure to the raw intelligence data, breaking it down into more manageable chunks for researchers and analysts to work with. Even if the information is particularly complication, a human curator can clean up pre-sorted data much more quickly than a raw, unorganized feed. The combination of machine power and human intelligence saves time and reduces employee burnout.

    Distribution

    Managing your competitive intelligence distribution process can be a time-consuming job in its own right, especially if you’re doing it all manually. Instead, many businesses are switching to an automated report model that takes your pre-classified intelligence data and distributes it to the intelligence users who need to see it, and have the right data skills to use it. Users can generally control what type of news they receive and when they receive it, without burdening the intelligence team with dozens, or even hundreds of unique schedules and content requests.

    Source: CI Radar

  • The growing importance of Market & Competitive Intelligence

    The growing importance of Market & Competitive Intelligence

    Market & Competitive Intelligence is becoming more and more important and it is today seen as one of the few sustainable competitive advantages for many companies. To be distinguished today is increasingly difficult, with many vendors producing similar products and services, selling them for sharp prices, delivering excellent after sales services, but often lacking unique selling points. 

    Differentiation does not only imply exclusivity of products and services, but also the ability to see and understand shifts and drivers in the market. Questions that need to be answered include:

    • What would customers like to buy from you?
    • What are the likely strategic moves of your competitors?
    • How fast is the market growing?
    • What are the disruptive market trends?

    Asking and answering these questions is the role of a Market & Competitive Intelligence team.

    Looking forward

    An important shift in intelligence roles and activities is the move towards forward looking intelligence. While in the past many intelligence teams focused on the current situation (competitive position, number of happy customers, revenue, profit, etc.)  or measuring past performance to understand patterns, share and progress, today intelligence teams try to understand what will happen in the future by doing predictive analytics, modelling, scenario planning, competitor simulation and so forth.  Forward thinking is what will help a company anticipate, be proactive, be smarter than competition and grow faster than the market.

    This means that the role of market intelligence is becoming more important, and the better a team’s capacity to answer the above-mentioned questions, the stronger the company’s sustainable competitive advantages.

    It is therefore important to know how well intelligence teams are developing, how they are organized within a company, how big the team is, what budget they have and where they are positioned on the global intelligence scale.

    Author: Joost Drieman

    Source M-Brain

  • The types of news stories around your competitors you should monitor

    The types of news stories around your competitors you should monitor

    There’s an old saying 'the news never sleeps'. And it’s never been more true than it is in today's media-saturated world. Internet news sites and the 24-hour TV news cycle have combined to create a non-stop news environment that churns out stories faster than any human being can possibly read them.

    For professionals charged with collecting competitive intelligence, this constant news output creates an unending deluge of articles waiting to be skimmed, sorted, and distributed. Where an automated competitive intelligence process used to be a luxury, it’s rapidly becoming a must-have for businesses that are serious about capturing high-quality, timely information.

    Here are six types of news stories that a well-calibrated CI process will always capture:

    Product launches

    When the competition releases a new product, service, or solution, it’s helpful to know the 'what', 'why', and 'where', behind their new offering as soon as possible. If there’s a launch day event, press release, or management statement, a good competitive intelligence process will bring them to your business’s attention.

    Upgrades

    As exciting as new products are, when the competition tweaks an existing product, it can have important implications. An upgrade may not receive as much publicity as a new product, but it will often garner a mention in a blog and social media post.

    Industry reports

    Whether released by a competitor or an independent organization, industry reports can provide insight into where other businesses stand within the industry space. Reports released by competitors often contain valuable research, while external reports tend to offer a broader picture of where your competition ranks according to various criteria.

    Sales wins

    Attracting new business isn’t a zero-sum game, but there are still plenty of reasons to take note when a competing company scores a new client or sale. Many companies will toast their wins publicly, via press releases and blog posts. On the other hand, if your competition doesn’t advertise its wins, a thorough CI process can still alert you, via news articles and industry news sites.

    Testimonials

    If you want to do comptetitor analysis in order to find out on what your competition can really offer its customers, testimonials generally offer the most in-depth, concrete information. CI should capture testimonials and case studies written by your competitors, as well as external reports from customers, partners, and industry review sites.

    Awards

    Awards aren’t everything, but when your competitors win big, they’re receiving free publicity and fostering a sense of prestige within the industry. If your competitor is presenting the award, it can be indicative of an underlying relationship with the winning company. Your CI process should keep up with awards being given to and by your competitors.

    Source: CI Radar

  • The use of competitive intelligence for five different business units explained

    The use of competitive intelligence for five different business units explained

    Getting the most out of your competitive intelligence system means investing the time and effort necessary to set-up and maintain your CI process. It also means effectively distributing the information you gain to decision makers throughout your company, some of whom may not even realize its potential value. Here are five key areas where your hard-earned competitive intelligence data can be put to good use:

    Executives

    Getting executives invested in competitive intelligence can be daunting for a number of reasons, but when it comes to making high-level, strategic planning, having good information to work with is key. Competitive intelligence is one several tools successful executives use to stay informed. Yet, some business leaders still rely on ad-hoc briefings and reports to keep them up to date.

    Reviewing industry trends and news may not be a high priority on a day-to-day basis, but you can still create an ongoing process that will keep them up to date and ensure that they’re ready to make the big decisions when they arise. This means created targeted briefings that include only the most vital information your CI team digs up. Competitor mergers and acquisitions, for example, can signal a potential shift in the competitive landscape, even if they don’t make front page news. Making sure your leadership team knows about possible industry-changing moves is a critical function of your CI process.

    Competitor documents can also offer insight into a business’s overarching goals and strategy. Investor presentations, sales decks, and financial reports provide different perspectives on how your competition presents itself to investors and potential customers. Compiling and distributing these resources in an organized, easy to digest format will go a long way towards ensuring executives are invested in your CI output.

    Sales

    Sales teams play a critical role in translating product development and marketing efforts into actual paying customers. Your sales people are on the front lines when it comes to presenting and defending your products. Perhaps more than any other department, they need up-to-date info about what other companies are offering. Sales meetings move quickly, and there’s rarely time for sales people to pause and research a competitor before reacting when another company comes up during a conversation with a potential customer. A good competitive intelligence process can compile that information in advance, allowing your sales team to build thoughtful, tactically advantageous responses that place you company in the best possible position.

    CI for sales can be translated into daily or weekly briefings, background research, or more interactive tools like sales battlecards. Competitive intelligence data can also bring to light potential customers by flagging failing competitors, unrenewed competitor contracts, and Requests For Proposal documents.

    Marketing

    Marketing is responsible for promoting and positioning your brand so that it stands out, no matter how saturated your industry space happens to be. Marketing teams benefit from competitive intelligence in a few ways. Knowing how and when your competitors advertise their products or services can give you insight into their strategy. To that end, tracking competitors on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram will give your marketing team an edge. Blog posts, product announcements, and other press releases can also be good sources of marketing information. Gathering this type of CI on a regular basis will give your team a complete, current picture of the competitive landscape, and allow them to spot trends and potential changes in the market before they affect business.

    Understanding how other companies market their products can also help you to refine your own brand and identify ways to distinguish it from the pack. One way to do so is by identifying content gaps, areas where your competitors aren’t providing the type or volume of content customers want. Identifying these gaps offers your business with an opportunity to generate content that is both distinct and in-demand, further differentiating your brand. Overall, your marketing team crafts your brand image, and their work can have an impact on potential customers long before they make contact with a sales person. It’s critical that your marketing efforts are backed by the best, most up-to-date information available on your competitors.

    Hiring and Training

    When most people think of competitive intelligence, they think about applying it to external challenges—generating sales, developing products, planning a marketing campaign, etc. While these are some of the most classic uses of CI, many companies have discovered the value of applying their hard-earned CI data in as many areas as possible. That means looking at processes that are normally handled “in-house” through a competitive lens.

    HR departments are using competitive intelligence data to track hiring and benefit trends across your industry. This ensures that your company stays competitive in terms of salary, benefits, and other “perks” that are increasingly in-demand among high-value employees. CI can also illuminate how your company is viewed by former, and potentially future, employees, by tracking sites like Glassdoor and TeamBlind. These forums offer anonymous employee feedback, so it is important to take individual posts with a grain of salt. However, if you notice a particular complaint or issue popping up across several posts, take it as an opportunity to address a potential source of talent-drain. Beyond hiring, onboarding teams often use competitive intelligence to acclimate new hires to the industry space and company culture. Background research on primary competitors, recent news, and product trends are all helpful, especially for employees who are new to your industry.

    Product Development

    Product development is all about staying ahead of the competition to provide the best, most advanced solutions on the market. When product developers achieve this goal, they make things easy for marketing and sales team. When they fail, they create an opportunity for competitors to siphon away current and potential customers with their superior offerings. All product teams need competitive intelligence in order to stay ahead of the latest trends and technological developments. Along with product announcements and advertisements, product teams can benefit from competitor documents like product brochures, solution overviews, manuals, user guides, and technical notes.

    Hiring trends are another potential indicator of competitors’ product roadmap. Tracking job postings over time can help you spot spikes in hiring that might correspond with new product developments—like a sudden hiring spree in a competitor’s engineering department. Beyond developing new products, competitive intelligence can give your product team a better understanding of how customers use and feel about your solutions. Reviews, industry sites, and social media discussions can all be tapped for insight. This gives your product team an opportunity to offer support and updates when a product or feature is struggling, and build on successful features in future releases.

    Source: CI Radar

  • What do you want to achieve with CI? Summarizing 5 specific goals

    What do you want to achieve with CI? Summarizing 5 specific goals

    Businesses have never been more agile than they are right now. Bringing a product to market, releasing a new feature, launching an ad campaign — these initiatives, though they will never be easy by any means, are not as daunting as they once were.

    As markets become more crowded and pivots become more frequent, investments in competitive intelligence (CI) are growing like never before.

    This makes sense; as the intensity of competition climbs, businesses increase their CI investments in order to … remain competitive. That, of course, is the overarching goal.

    But what are the specific goals of competitive intelligence? In what specific ways does an investment in CI enable you to succeed?

    If these questions are on your mind, you’ve come to the right place.

    5 major goals of competitive intelligence

    The following non-exhaustive list was written in alignment with the five major competitive intelligence stakeholders: sales, marketing, product management, customer success, and executive leadership. Today, we’ll discuss one goal per stakeholder.

    With that being said, please note that there is plenty of overlap between stakeholders. Improved market positioning can translate into more deals, and an improved product roadmap can translate into higher rates of customer retention. We’ve aligned each goal with a unique stakeholder in order to emphasize the breadth of the impact of CI, but this is not to suggest that each stakeholder cares about one thing and one thing only.

    1. Win deals

    Getting a prospective buyer to choose your product or service over a laundry list of alternatives is no easy task. In order to make it happen — and make it happen consistently — sales reps need to be well-versed in the art of communicating differentiated value — i.e., they need to routinely convince prospects that your solution brings something truly unique to the table (assuming that is, in fact, the case).

    That’s impossible in the absence of competitive intelligence. If you know next to nothing about your competitors’ products or services, how are you supposed to convincingly argue that yours is the best option?

    By empowering your reps with the insights they need to consistently win deals, competitive intelligence can help your business succeed.

    2. Improve market positioning

    Let’s take a step back for a moment. Before one of your reps can have the opportunity to seriously engage with a prospective buyer, that prospect needs to feel as if there’s a legitimate reason to evaluate your solution. Unless they’re extraordinarily bored, no prospect is going to give a salesperson the time of day until they see something in your company.

    That something is, in large part, the product of your marketing team. Much like sales reps, marketers are responsible (among other things) for convincing prospects that your solution brings something truly unique to the table. A key difference, of course, is that your marketing team tends to touch a wider range of funnel stages than your sales team does.

    It’s through positioning that marketers — specifically product marketers — establish the differentiated value of your solution. Again, competitive intelligence is essential; when you’re unfamiliar with your competitors, you’re ill-equipped to earn the attention of your prospects.

    By empowering your marketers with the insights they need to improve market positioning, competitive intelligence can help your business succeed.

    3. Optimize product roadmaps

    Up until this point, we’ve been focused on the communication of value — a business function handled primarily by your sales and marketing teams.

    But what about the creation of value? Who’s in charge of making sure that your reps and marketers are telling the truth when they advertise your solution as the best in the industry?

    That would be your product management team — the folks responsible for (1) figuring out what to build and (2) building it. More precisely, product managers are tasked with creating and executing a product roadmap that differentiates your solution from its alternatives — i.e., ensuring that your solution actually brings something unique to the table.

    You already know what I’m going to say, right? Product managers cannot do their jobs properly in the absence of competitive intelligence. When you’re unfamiliar with your competitors, you’re ill-equipped to create something that stands out from the pack.

    By empowering your product managers with the insights they need to optimize your product roadmap, competitive intelligence can help your business succeed.

    4. Retain customers

    When you’re in a competitive market, the acquisition of a new customer is cause for celebration. Between sales, marketing, and — albeit indirectly — product management, it takes a tremendous team effort to create and close a deal in the context of intensifying competition.

    But just because you’ve acquired a customer does not mean you’ve insulated them from your competitors. That you’ve secured a yearlong or even a multi-year contract means little to the other companies in your market — they still want that customer’s business. It may not happen immediately, but you better believe that new customer of yours will be hearing from at least one of your competitors in the not-so-distant future.

    This, of course, is why you have a customer success team — to ensure that your customers continue to be your customers. Among many other things, customer success reps need to be prepared to respond in an effective manner when one of their accounts voices an interest in exploring alternative solutions in the market.

    Competitive intelligence plays a critical role in these situations. CS reps with a strong understanding of your competitive landscape are well-equipped to prove to their accounts that your solution is still the best available option.

    By empowering your CS reps with the insights they need to retain customers, competitive intelligence can help your business succeed.

    5. Inform long-term business strategy

    All the while — as sales reps win deals, marketers improve positioning, product managers optimize roadmaps, and CS reps retain customers — executive leaders work to produce and implement long-term business strategy.

    Note that this responsibility extends far beyond the scope of product strategy (although that is the primary focus for someone in the position of VP Engineering or Chief Product Officer). In addition to helping their direct reports do their jobs as effectively as possible, executive leaders work to answer questions like these:

    • How are we going to continuously grow revenue and market share over the long term?
    • Are there adjacent markets we can break into? If so, what do those markets look like?
    • In what ways are we at risk? What can we do to shield ourselves from those factors?

    The role of competitive intelligence in answering these questions may not be obvious, but it is undeniable. You can’t make a plan to grow market share without understanding who your competitors are and how they’ve positioned themselves in the eyes of prospective buyers. Similarly, you can’t make a plan to break into an adjacent market without understanding who your competitors would be. And finally, you can’t make a plan to mitigate risks without understanding the ways in which your competitors are poised to exploit your weaknesses.

    By empowering your executive leaders with the insights they need to produce and implement long-term strategy, competitive intelligence can help your business succeed.

    Revenue is the ultimate goal of competitive intelligence

    Competitive intelligence is an investment, and just like any other investment, it’s only worthwhile insofar as it yields a return. Through each of the five avenues we’ve explored here today, CI does, in fact, yield a return — and we’ve got the data to back it up.

    According to the latest edition of the State of Competitive Intelligence Report, 61% of businesses have seen revenue growth as a direct result of their investment in CI. Amongst businesses with advanced CI programs — that is, businesses that are fully capitalizing on the potential of CI — that figure jumps to 83%.

    The takeaway is clear: Embrace competitive intelligence and you’ll be rewarded with positive results on the bottom line.

    Author: Conor Bond

    Source: Crayon

     

  • Which questions to ask when analyzing a competitor? A constructive overview

    Which questions to ask when analyzing a competitor? A constructive overview

    Many businesses are hiring a competitive intelligence agency for the first time. They need to scope out the research and it can be helpful to have a ready-made starting point. What questions should frame a research proposal? What is it possible to discover about competitors? What is a good structure?

    Below are some the questions that typically go into a competitor profile. These lean towards analyzing a technology company, but can be easily adapted across industries.

    Corporate background

    • What is their funding history?

    • What is their revenue history?

      • How are their revenues split by global regions?

      • How are their revenues split by client size?

      • How are their revenues split by industry?

    • How many employees?

      • How many engineers?

      • How many sales employees?

      • How many marketing employees?

     

    Customers

    • What do customers like and dislike?

    • Why do customers buy from the competitor?

    • For prospects who did not convert, why did they turn down the competitor?

    • Who are some of the competitor’s customers?

     

    Product strategy and capabilities

    • What is their range of products?

    • What are the key product features?

    • What are their capabilities for mobile?

    • What are their analytics and reporting capabilities?

    • What is their product roadmap?

    • Is the product localized? What languages are available?

    • How easy is the product to customize?

    • Do they have a professional services team?

    • What is the implementation effort required? How long does implementation take? What resources do they offer? What resources must the client provide?

     

    Pricing

    • How much does the product cost?

    • What are the pricing tiers? What modules are an additional cost?

    • What are typical discount levels for multi-year contracts, for volume and for competitive wins?

    • How much is a typical deal?

     

    Sales pitch

    • What is their go-to-market messaging?

    • How do they position themselves against competitors? Whom do they consider their primary competitors? How do they pitch against us?

    • What are their proof points that they can successfully drive engagement and ROI?

     

    Partners and developer ecosystem

    • What percentage of revenue is from resellers and similar partners?

    • Who are their significant partners? How much revenue do they generate?

    • How successful is their developer ecosystem?

    • How do they recruit and motivate developers?

    • What tools and SDKs do they provide developers?

     

    Of course, you might be more interested in some of these questions more than others. And provided insights might need more or less detail depending on context, but this list can be very helpful if you want to start a competitive intelligence project and you have little experience. If you are interested in a professional competitive intelligence or market intelligence partner, contact Hammer!

    Source: Aqute Intelligence

  • Why B2B marketers shouldn't neglect B2C data

    Why B2B marketers shouldn't neglect B2C data

    Companies don’t buy goods and services, people do. And people buy for emotional reasons first. So, understanding what motivates people to buy is at the heart of learning why and how they consume. If you are focusing solely on B2B data, then you’re missing a critical piece of the equation.

    In the “age of the customer” where customers are in control, B2B marketers need to understand their prospects in new, sophisticated ways. This requires utilizing data about your buyers at work, but also outside of work.

    Typically, B2B data focuses on role and firmographic information. While B2C data can reveal information providing clues to the emotional reasons and process your customers use when making buying decisions. By combining B2C and B2B data, marketers can develop more relevant content and experiences that meet individual buyer needs. This is proven to increase the ability to contact and engage B2B buyers.

    ‘Integrated’ customer journey

    Customers know when they are being targeted, and often they don’t like it. Let’s say you have an insect problem, and you mention it to a neighbor. Next day a pest control salesman shows up at your door. While it’s convenient that the product arrived right when you needed it, you are naturally skeptical. You feel targeted. Modern day targeting strategy must be natural and non-intrusive. And data-led insight and context is required to achieve that.

    Meeting B2B sales objectives requires thinking big picture, beyond the business, to consider what’s happening in your customer’s life. Real people shift personas and uniforms throughout their day. From 9-5, B2B buyers assume their work persona. From 5-9 they assume their home, friends, family, and general B2C persona. Despite these shifts they are all integrated. What motivates and inspires, but also what scares a customer is essentially the same across work and personal life personas.

    How and why someone buys a specific car, house, vacation or clothing brand is directly related to how a person will acquire a server, services, or consulting.

    Let’s say your customer is passionate about a certain sports car brand. This could indicate that they have a more adventurous and aggressive attitude, which often translates to the same attitude at work. These insights can help B2B marketers craft messaging and offers that connect with these attitudes and leverage them toward their product.

    Cybersecurity for example may not seem like an exciting topic, but marketing it in a clever way can show the more adventurous consumers (who also make B2B decisions) that it’s worthwhile. HP’s campaign of movie shorts parodying the TV show Mr. Robot starred Christian Slater educating people about the importance of cybersecurity. It was a bold move that brought a lot of attention.

    Combining B2B and B2C data attributes are key to understanding the emotional and philosophical nature of your customers. When this is accomplished, messaging and creative and entices buyers to act can be created.

    Data-driven marketing

    Modern customers interacting with a company through different channels (store, website, social media, app) want it to be personal. Marketers who accomplish this across platforms will increase loyalty and trust.

    Data about your costumers must inform what you do. It’s not about applying B2C techniques to B2B marketing. It’s about using more data to become a better, more relevant marketer.

    Combining predictive analytics and machine-learning models with the millions of B2B and B2C data attributes we can collect about prospects nowadays provides the tools to connect 1:1 on a human level. Even better, we can use this data to increase B2B marketer’s ability to expand their reach.

    Connecting with customers is more complicated than ever and reaching them in a modern omni-channel world can be challenging. If you’re a B2B marketer, the first step is to use data to create a 360 degree view of your customer. When you manage to do so, you can reach more buyers with more relevant content and messaging in more mediums.

    Steve Jobs was probably right with this quote: “You’ve got to start with customer experience and work back toward the technology, not the other way around.” Incorporating B2C data attributes in B2B marketing gets to the heart of understanding your customer, creating tailored customer experiences and reaching them in more relevant media. And that’s definitely a good thing to keep in mind as you strive to improve ROI.

    Author: Collin Dayley

    Source: Insidebigdata

  • Why CI should cover the entire competitive landscape, not just the players

    Why CI should cover the entire competitive landscape, not just the players

    In April 2010, Mars, one of the world’s largest privately owned businesses, embarked on a breakthrough initiative. For the next year, Jessica Eliasi, then the director of Competitive Intelligence at Mars Chocolate, travelled the world running 'competitive simulation' games with local market teams from Russia to Mexico to Turkey to England.

    These simulations were not some computer-based hypothetical games. They were intense, intelligence-based, role-playing immersion workshops that got leaders to see the market from a different and unfamiliar perspectives.

    Such games have become more popular among leading edge corporations. But Jessica’s approach was still unique. While large consulting firms push expensive 'war games' at the leadership level, Jessica ran cheap and quick local games based on local market dynamics. She then fed the results as market intelligence input into a senior leadership competitive game. The workshops brought the 'voice of the markets' to Mars’ leadership’s doorstep.

    By connecting the dots across a series of markets, brands and competitors, Jessica identified the key global insights that provided both risks and opportunities for the global firm.  She brought her on-the-ground experiences to life through a 'game' that was played with the business unit’s top management team, pressure-testing some closely held beliefs. The insights and the workshops have since influenced how Mars assesses risks and opportunities and develops strategy.

    This is just one example of how Mars is trying to create and sustaining agility through competitive intelligence (CI).

    Simply and clearly put, CI is a perspective on changing market conditions. This means identifying risks and opportunities early enough to allow the company to adapt its strategy or in extreme cases, change it. That simple definition forcefully delineates it from all other information, data, and research services. Information alone is not a perspective on change, information does not automatically lead to insight. Yet the vast majority of companies and executives confuse these two to the detriment of their performance.

    The popular literature is filled with definitions and images of competitive intelligence taken from the realm of the government and the military. These cause more damage to the discipline than if management was simply ignorant. They focus the discipline on competitors ('the enemy' in military parlance) instead of the market as a whole, the entire competitive arena. They talk about intelligence 'collection', as if more searches are the essence of perspective. In recent years with the big data craze, collecting digital data has replaced strategic intelligence. Many companies either waste millions on massive databases or research projects that don’t yield useful insight, or throw the first available junior marketing or information specialist at the job and push it down to tactical product level, missing out on the true value of competitive intelligence as a purveyor of strategic change.

    Used properly, CI leads to greater strategic agility: the ability to adapt to changing market circumstances. To become more agile, start by rethinking your competitive intelligence process. That means having a clear definition of scope and role, as well as following a few simple steps such as mandating intelligence reviews at critical decision stages, ensuring the CI analyst has direct access to and input into strategic meetings and reviews, and smartly tapping an informal internal community of practice.

    The essence of the competitive intelligence perspective is the view of the competitive set as a whole. Consider the example of Pratt and Whitney, a United Technology company. The commercial engine division, under the leadership of Stephen Heath (since retired) and Todd Kallman spent two intensive days in 2006 'war gaming' P&W’s strategy as its two bigger rivals, GE and Rolls Royce, divided the market between them. Looking at the market dynamic between Airbus, Boeing, GE, and Rolls Royce led to P&W deploying a breakthrough strategy for their new Geared Turbofan (GTF) engine. Looking at each competitor separately would have made it so much harder to translate the collected information into actionable insights.

    If you want your company to become more agile, start by rethinking the design of your intelligence process. Focus on building a strategic early warning capability so you don’t miss the big picture.

    Author: Benjamin Gilad

    Source: Harvard Business Review

  • Why competitive benchmarking is key to successful competitive intelligence

    Why competitive benchmarking is key to successful competitive intelligence

    Most businesses know their own strategy through and through, and recently, more companies than ever before are investing in competitive intelligence. The real secret to success is combining those two knowledge sources – monitoring your own strategy alongside that of your competitors. This brings us to a concept called competitive benchmarking, which is critical to competitive analysis success. Keep reading to learn how to benchmark your company against your competition for a successful competitive analysis. 

    What is competitive benchmarking? 

    Let’s start with the basics. Chances are, you have transparency across your organization, so you have insight into what product is working on, which campaigns marketing is launching, and how your revenue is performing. As you conduct a competitive analysis, you’re gathering similar information on your competition. You’re gathering product information, revenue information, marketing campaign information, and more about your competitors.

    Now, you need to know how you compare to your competitors. Where do you stand within the market? This is called competitive benchmarking – comparing your company performance against your competition to measure how you stack up. You can then identify gaps, similarities, and adjust your strategy accordingly. Let’s dive into how you can gather your competitive intelligence data and benchmark your own company alongside your competition. 

    Monitor your competitive landscape 

    It’s great to know every move your competitors make, if possible, even before they make a move. But we’re not psychics, right? So how are we going to know what our competitors are going to do before they make a move? You need to pick up on smaller signals, or breadcrumbs, to gain insight into what their next major move may be. 

    In order to best analyze your competitive landscape, you should look for relative changes in investment. It’s common practice that companies will ramp up certain strategies such as content, social media, or campaigns when they have a big announcement coming up. Are they posting a lot of content around a specific product feature? Are they targeting a certain persona more than another? Which positions are they recruiting for? Discovering the answers to these questions, and similar questions are great tactics for gaining competitive insight. These small competitive insights can give you insight into your competitor’s overall strategy. Based on where your competitors are investing, you can make predictions as to where they’re heading next. 

    In addition to monitoring what your competitors are doing, it’s important to monitor what your competitors’ customers are saying about the solutions they use. There’s a lot we can learn from our competitors’ customers, including what they like and dislike about the product they’re using.

    Take note of the positives and negatives highlighted in the customer feedback. This information can be compared to what your customers are saying about your own company. Where are you struggling where your competitors are excelling? You can use the positive feedback from your competitors’ customers to learn, and you can use the negative reviews to better align yourself with the needs of your market. This information is valuable for all teams within your company. Not only is it beneficial to product managers, because they can develop your product accordingly, but it’s beneficial for account executives and marketers alike. 

    Leveraging third-party reviews is a great way to gain insight into your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. This piece of your analysis can help you measure where you need to improve and where you lead the charge within your industry. 

    Break into untapped opportunities 

    Now that you’ve monitored your competitive landscape and gathered competitive insights, you need to insert your own company into the analysis. Measure your company performance in the same way you measure your competition. That way, you can see where you crush the competition, and identify where there is room for you to break into untapped opportunities. If your competitor is excelling in a specific area, it may be harder to knock them out of their top spot right away. However, filling the gaps in the market will help you gain the competitive edge you’re looking for. 

    The great part about tracking yourself alongside your competitors is that you can identify where gaps are in the market. If you can find the gaps within your market, you can break into that space and serve an unmet need. This also gives you the opportunity to lead the charge in new areas within your market. This is a great way to grab the leads and opportunities that your competitors are missing out on. You’re now offering your target audience something of value that they’re unable to get from your competitors, giving you a unique competitive advantage. 

    Make sure your competitive analysis is actionable 

    Conducting competitive intelligence research is time-consuming, especially when you’re also putting together a formal competitive analysis. To get the most out of your efforts, you want to ensure that you’re turning insights into action. 

    The important thing to remember about competitive intelligence is that it’s not only about what your competitors are doing; it’s about how you compare to your competitors, and how you can turn your insights into action to best serve your market. The key to a successful competitive analysis is benchmarking yourself alongside your competitors, and identifying the gaps in your market to showcase your solution and position yourself as a market leader. 

    Author: Emily Dumas

    Source: Crayon

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