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Competitive intelligence, or CI, is a critical component of business strategy. It helps you understand your competitors, identify new opportunities and better predict market trends.
Competitive intelligence is an ongoing process, not a one-off document. It’s not just about the competition either. It also includes insight into your customer and their needs, which can help them get ahead of the game in their industry. You’ll be able to anticipate trends and opportunities before they happen, giving your clients a competitive edge over their competitors and allowing them to grow their business faster than those who don’t have access to this type of information.
Related: Your Business Fails Because You Have a Bad Strategy. Here are 5 hacks for the perfect business strategy
Don’t rely on what you think your customers or competitors want
We often assume that we know what our customers or competitors want – this is a mistake. It’s easy to do this when you’re working with a firm from a similar industry, but it’s important to remember that each client has unique needs and interests.
You should always start by asking questions about the business goals of your client or competitor. These questions will give you insight into what they are trying to achieve and how they hope to achieve it – information that can be invaluable when creating reports for them in the future.
Get other perspectives
There are four primary groups you need to talk to:
- Users of your product or service, including current and former users. They can tell you how they use it, why they like it or not. They can also provide insight into people who don’t like it. And if they are former users, they may have valuable information about why they left. You want as much detail as possible so you can use this data in competitive intelligence analysis later (for example, “Users say this feature is confusing.”)
- People who don’t use your product or service but would potentially be interested in using it if they knew more about what it does and how well it works. These are potential customers who may not have the opportunity to buy at the moment – they don’t know enough about your offer yet! Get them talking about their business needs so you can market effectively in the future. For example: “This company thinks our product can help them solve their problem.”
- People who are not currently using a competitor’s product or service but will potentially become a customer if offered one at an attractive price or with better features than those offered by competitors (eg “These guys love our product because we offer X at only half the price of the competition.”) If these people were already using something else – and had a good reason for it – you’d like to know if there’s anything specific about those products/services that makes them dissatisfied; if so, maybe are these deficiencies rectified through innovation work in yourself?
- People who are already using your product or service but have not yet been convinced of its value (eg “We’re working to get these guys to see the benefits of our product; we think they’ll like it when they try it.”). These are potential customers that you may need to spend more time educating on why your offering is better than your competitors’ offerings.
Related: Customer information as a revenue predictor
Fully understand your audience and their needs
It is important to understand the needs of your audience and the needs of your competitors. A comprehensive competitive intelligence program can provide a wealth of information that will help you better understand the landscape, your customers’ needs and how they are behaving against their competitors.
Understanding the needs of your audience is critical to any successful business venture. You need to know what matters to them so that you can meet those needs with an innovative solution or an innovative product. This can be as simple as knowing who they are (demographics), where they live (geography) or what they like (lifestyle). It can also mean understanding what motivates them; Why would someone buy one product over another? How many people do I need to sell my product annually to break even?
Related: 9 Ways to Meet and Understand Your Target Audience
Identify different target audience segments
Once you have identified your target audience, the next step is to segment them into different groups based on their needs. This will allow you to create a solution that meets all of these needs. For example, if you sell a product that aims to help people lose weight, one group might be people who need something simple and easy to use. Another group may be more technically savvy and want something more complex and customizable. Knowing how each audience segment views fitness products will help you see which aspects of your offering are most important to each audience type.
Related: 7 Outdated Habits That Will Paralyze Your Business
Experimentation can help to understand customers and competitors and identify new opportunities
Experimentation is an important part of the process. Experimentation can help you better understand your customers and competitors, identify new opportunities, and figure out how to make your offerings more competitive. One such example is A/B testing. This type of experiment compares two versions of a single element to see which performs better in terms of improving conversions, sales, or whatever else you’re looking for. For example, it could be an email subject line A/B test that compares “Doing these four things will help you increase your sales” to “Doing these four things will help you increase your sales by 50%.”
Make sure you are fully informed before moving forward with a new product or service
To stay ahead of the curve, you must constantly gather information from as many sources as possible. Talk to your customers and make sure you are fully informed before moving forward with a new product or service. Conduct interviews about what they think is missing in the market, and see if a void needs to be filled. View data from recent surveys, reviews or complaints your company has received. Look at what competitors are doing and take notes on what works for them and what doesn’t. Talk to people in your industry who can provide feedback on how they perceive your business and suggestions on how it can improve its services or offerings.