In the cult classic The Princess Bride, the villainous Vizzini repeatedly says, 'Inconceivable' each time his nefarious but poorly devised plans fail. Eventually, his frustrated henchman replies, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." The same could be said about the term, 'competitive intelligence' or 'CI.' Too often, companies focus their CI efforts on competitors. It's a reasonable assumption, after all, because both words come from the same root. But competitive intelligence goes beyond what your local or global rivals are doing. Here are three ways you can enhance the value of your competitive intelligence.
1. Broaden the scope of your research
Certainly, you need to stay abreast of the competitive landscape, and competitors are part of the equation. How do you currently track competitors? You need multiple vantage points to truly understand the threats that competitors pose or to see gaps in their offerings on which you can capitalise. Media monitoring can help you track your competitors share of voice across multiple channels—social, print and broadcast media, online news—so that you have a more comprehensive understanding of where they are winning or falling behind with audiences.
2. Focus on intelligence sources that are reliable & current
A search on the open web generates plenty of results, but you'll waste valuable time vetting sources—or worse, make decisions based on intelligence that is inaccurate or outdated. Competitive intelligence helps you develop smart strategies for today and tomorrow: Do you really want to fuel your CI on last year's news? Media monitoring helps you capture up-to-the-minute information, and further analysis of the media identifies patterns related to audience needs enabling you to make strategic moves to lead, rather than chase, emerging trends.
3. Share your Insights frequently
Competitive intelligence, when done right, can reveal some pretty hard truths that call for action, even change. And we all know how difficult it is to drive change within an organisation. One of the best ways to overcome reticence to change is to keep your colleagues and the C-suite informed. Your CI may not sink in the first time you share it, however, so be persistent. Just as consumers need to see an ad numerous times before they really "see" it, your company's decision makers need a growing body of evidence - not just one report—to build a case for change.
Ultimately, you need to capture a bigger CI picture - one that looks at more than rival brands - or you could very well end up like Vizzini, defeated by a reality that he refused to accept.
For more information on developing your competitive intelligence read our white paper "Making Competitive Intelligence Work"
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