No company and no product lives in a vacuum. With the overwhelming number of tools and resources available to us, there’s no shortage of alternatives competing for our time and attention. Whether your “competitors” are high-end software products, free online tools, expensive consulting services, or simply time spent sitting on the couch, every business has alternatives to compete against.
But those competitors can help us improve – not only by pushing us to be better than the alternatives, but also by providing data-driven insight into how we can win. Competitive intelligence – the practice of gathering, analyzing, and acting on the activities of competitors – can drive smarter decisions across the business, and especially marketing. As you get started with using competitive intelligence to improve your marketing, think about the who, what, where, when, and why of intel for marketing:
WHO: There are multiple types of competitors to track, including direct, indirect, and aspirational competitors.
WHAT: Every part of marketing can and should be informed by your competitive intelligence efforts – content marketing topics, product marketing messaging, demand gen channel focus, etc. The output should be a mix of strategic actions and tactical campaign activities.
WHERE: In order to get the most of our competitive intelligence, you need to capture your competitors’ complete digital footprints across their website, social media accounts, discussion threads, job postings, and more.
WHEN: Timeliness is critical in order to get an advantage over others in your industry with the newly found insights. Build a cadence around competitive intelligence to review and analyze intel in a timely manner.
WHY: Businesses employing CI efforts see both quantitative and qualitative benefits. Whether it’s an increase in sales win rate or an improvement in unique differentiation, CI can have a significant impact across every area of the business.
While most businesses are dedicating resources to competitive intelligence – in fact, 94% of large companies are doing some CI and 80% have whole teams dedicated to it – most businesses are still early in figuring out the best practices. Now is the best time to get ahead in your market by leveraging competitive intelligence to supercharge your marketing.
About the Author
Ellie Mirman is CMO at Crayon, the market and competitive intelligence company that provides insights and inspiration for marketers. Prior to Crayon, she built and led the marketing function at Toast, and held multiple marketing leadership positions at HubSpot during its growth from 100 customers to IPO. Ellie’s specialties lie in demand generation, inbound marketing, product marketing, and marketing analytics.