Business Reviews

How to Leverage Competitor Intelligence to Drive Your Business Forward

This article is written by Olumuyiwa Elegbede

Leverage Competitor Intelligence

Staying ahead of the competition is crucial for success. One powerful tool that can give your business a competitive edge is competitor intelligence. By gathering and analysing information about your competitors, you can gain valuable insights that can inform your strategic decisions and drive your business forward.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore how you can effectively leverage competitor intelligence to propel your business to new heights.

What is competitor intelligence?

Before delving into leveraging competitor intelligence, it’s crucial to understand what it entails. Competitor intelligence refers to the process of gathering, analysing, and interpreting information about your competitors to gain strategic insights. This information can include a wide range of data such as:

  1. Competitor products and services
  2. Market share
  3. Pricing strategies
  4. Marketing tactics
  5. Strengths
  6. Weaknesses
  7. Plans

Benefits of Competitor intelligence

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Competitor intelligence enables businesses to make informed decisions, identify opportunities, anticipate threats, and stay ahead of the competition. By understanding what your competitors are doing, you can adapt your strategies to capitalize on market trends, differentiate your offerings, and ultimately drive your business forward.

There are also other benefits, which are arguably more important, but difficult to measure. Competitor intelligence helps you to: 

  • Respect that other suppliers have satisfied customers and learn the reasons why 
  • Create a recognition that the business must continually seek to improve
  • Reduce complacency and improve discipline within your own business 
  • Foster an acceptance of continuous change 

Now, let’s explore how to effectively leverage competitor intelligence to propel your business to success.

10 Major things you need to know about your competitors.

At the outset of your competitor intelligence endeavour, it’s essential to determine the specific type of competitor information your business needs. This requirement is contingent upon various factors including your business type, the nature of competition you encounter, and the specific market or industry sector in which you operate. Despite these nuances, most businesses typically require a fundamental set of information regarding their competitors.

Outlined below are 10 pivotal questions that form the cornerstone of competitor analysis for most businesses:

Who are your competitors?

Identifying your competitors entails more than a cursory glance. It involves recognizing that you may contend with diverse suppliers across different product/service categories or market segments. To recap, your competitors encompass:

All firms currently or potentially supplying your existing or prospective customers. Focus initially on gathering information about suppliers posing the most significant threats to your current customer base or sales of your products/services.

Emerging competitors. Stay vigilant for any businesses introducing new competitive products, attracting your customers, or exhibiting faster growth rates.

Entities offering substitute products/services, especially those with the potential to supplant yours. While not requiring as close monitoring, observing them remains prudent.

What do they offer?

Understanding the entirety of your competitors’ product range or service portfolio is paramount. While your primary interest lies in products/services directly competing with yours, remember that they make resource allocation decisions across their entire portfolio. Evaluate how their offerings compare with yours and consider incorporating any distinct features or benefits into your own offerings. Additionally, assess the supplementary services they provide, such as delivery, advice, or after-sales support, as these aspects contribute to customer relationships.

Who are their customers?

Analyse the customer segments your competitors serve. Are they repackaging products/services to access new customer groups economically? Are they targeting lucrative customer segments, potentially leaving you with less profitable ones? Identify individual customers served by competitors, especially major accounts, to identify potential future targets.

How do they promote themselves?

Examine how competitors attract new customers through promotional activities, advertising channels, press coverage, and sales personnel. Assess the key messages and benefits they emphasize, particularly if targeting your customer base.

What is their pricing policy?

Customers typically scrutinize product/service prices vis-à-vis competitors. However, it’s not always advantageous to offer lower prices. Evaluate whether your pricing aligns with competitors’, ensuring customers recognize and value any associated benefits.

Who are their suppliers?

Evaluate whether competitors utilize the same suppliers and assess the financial and personal terms of these relationships. Investigate the rationale behind any supplier disparities and consider exploring new suppliers.

How financially secure are they?

Analyze competitors’ financial health by scrutinizing company accounts. Look for indicators such as sales, gross profit margins, wages, assets, debts, payment periods, and capital expenditure. Additionally, monitor trends over the past few years to glean insights into their financial stability.

What kind of organizations are they?

Examine competitors’ organizational structures and operations to identify potential strategies for improvement. Assess workforce size, directorships, staff recruitment strategies, premises, and other operational aspects that may confer a competitive advantage.

What are their strengths and weaknesses?

Compile a comprehensive list of competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, focusing on their ability to meet customer needs and deliver benefits. Capitalize on areas where competitors outperform you and promote your competitive advantages.

What is their business strategy?

Utilize the gathered information to predict competitors’ likely decisions in various scenarios. By discerning competitors’ key characteristics and overarching business strategies, you can make informed deductions to inform your own strategy.

Solutions/Actions

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1.) Determine the essential competitor insights required to guide your business decisions effectively.

2.) Allocate resources for acquiring this information, initially as a one-time effort and then continuously.

3.) Identify and leverage suitable information sources, prioritizing free options initially.

Conclusion

Competitor intelligence is a powerful tool that can provide valuable insights to inform your strategic decisions and drive business growth.

 By systematically gathering, analysing, and interpreting information about your competitors, you can identify opportunities, mitigate threats, and stay ahead of the competition. 

By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can leverage competitor intelligence to unlock success and propel your business to new heights.

About the Author: Olumuyiwa Elegbede is a Google certified digital marketing expert and an associate member of The Chartered Institute of Marketing, UK.

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