Not expecting any competition in the marketplace is very rare, especially if you’re a startup firm selling something that plenty of people are interested in. But if it were the case, then your company would have had 100% of the market share by now. In truth, every firm deal with competition, even if it’s indirect like online sales, in-house services, economy, etc.
Once you realize you have to compete with other firms in the industry, don’t assume that you should focus on only one firm because if you do, a third may take advantage of the situation and beat both of you out. This is exactly the kind of mistake Coke and Pepsi made when they failed to account for Red Bull while they were competing with themselves.
It’s one thing to be wary of your competitors, but it’s another to be obsessed in bizarre rivalries where you stop caring for your products, services and customers. That’s why you should focus on gathering data on your rivals while also ensuring your business continues to roll. This practice is called competitive intelligence.
The information you collect on your competitors will further open your eyes to the marketplace so you can brand yourself better to your target audience. To help your startup stand out from your more professional rivals, here are some of the best ways to collect competitive intelligence and how you can use it to your advantage.
What Makes for Successful Competitive Intelligence
If you’re going to start gathering crucial data about your competitors, you should be aware of the types of information that are sought. Some of the main aspects of successful CI gathering are:
- Accuracy: CI lets businesses know of the serious financial consequences that come with their strategy and investment decisions. But if companies are to make excellent decisions then CI has to be accurate.
- Speed: A good company has to react quickly to changes in priorities as well as gather information for the senior staff to act on whether they use an external or in-house team.
- Ethics: If CI isn’t collected ethically, then it could leave a bad impression on your firm as a whole and can lead to legal action.
- Breadth: Competitive intelligence needs to be gathered through interviews, digital research, market analysis and other ethical means to get the big picture.
How Competitive Intelligence is gathered
Some of the most common sources to collect competitive intelligence are:
- Government Records: government records offer a sea of information for market intelligence collectors and private investigators. If and when you know your way around, you can find plenty of data on new products, business finances, business relationships, lobbying activities and more.
- Market Analysis: It is essential to analyze the marketplace to collect competitive intelligence. Aside from knowing your competitors, CI should also provide you with insights on forthcoming mergers and acquisitions, possible changes in laws and regulations, prices of raw materials, changes in consumer tastes, etc.
- Trade Shows: Attend trade shows to observe competitors, interview potential consumers and analyze products.
- Industry Standard Databases: Investigators can access specialized databases, which they can use to research businesses in detail like their associates, financial relationships and more.
- Customer Interviews: By interviewing customers, you can determine changing tastes and preferences.
- News Outlets: Probing news outlets can keep you informed of market shifts.
- Stakeholder Information: investigators can access semi-private information on stakeholders that provide them with insights into competitors’ financial decisions and relationships.
- Industry Conferences: Like trade shows, industry conferences can also provide crucial information on competitors.
Due to the global marketplace constantly evolving or changing partly due to the internet, e-commerce, startups and global trade, no business should ever take it easy no matter what their accolades are. As a result, both consumers and businesses have a variety of options when it concerns choosing a product or a service. That is why in order to weather the harsh challenging market environment, businesses must utilize as much competitive intelligence as they can find.