To any NFL team, gathering as much information about the competition is essential to winning. The six-time Super Bowl New England Patriots got caught videotaping signals of New York Jets’ coaches during a 2007 game in an incident dubbed Spygate, which resulted in fines and sanctions. The Pats were caught again in December for videotaping the sidelines of a Cincinnati Bengals versus Cleveland Browns game for what was to be part of a web series. They faced similar penalties. Whether the profession or industry, intelligence gathering is critical to success, and brands are no different. As many brands work to recapture revenue lost because of the pandemic, standing out in the crowded field and capturing a larger market are huge challenges. Competitive intelligence gives brands a chance to gain a winning edge and is a lot more than replicating a successful competitor’s strategy.
These three steps can help:
Simple as it sounds, setting a business goal is paramount to any competitive intelligence plan. This goal is different than a monetary one but focused on what the brand hopes to derive from intelligence gathering. Is it about how to make its brand unique or the most cost-effective way to gain new customers? Or is it more about pricing strategy?
This is the heavy lifting and where CMO’s and/or their staffs need to get out into the weeds. The kind of information to be collected is central to this segment and must match up with the designated goal.
For starters, marketers need to perform a SWOT analysis of their competitors. Why does Company A have an advantage over its competition? Where does Company B have a disadvantage compared to others? Look internally. What potential does the brand have to grow faster? What future problem could endanger the brand?
For example, if the goal is to come up with a distinctive sales proposition, several important factors need to be considered, like which competitors are vying for the brand’s customers. It’s also valuable to have data on hand to understand why customers switched to the brand over the competitor’s product and what kind of unique offer might be extended to potential customers that reduce their risk.
Gather information by talking to current customers. Not only does this produce quality information, but it also provides an excellent opportunity to strengthen relations with existing customers. Social media sites are good places to discover what consumers are saying about the market. Reddit, Quora, and Twitter are excellent sources to gather unfiltered information about what consumers are saying about both the brand as well as the competition.
Surveys, website reviews, and heat maps are also valuable. A review of a competitor’s website can help validate earlier research. Heat maps offer valuable information on where customers focus their attention with attention maps and where it drops using scroll maps. Hover maps track mouse movement while click maps reveal where they’re clicking.
All this data and information gathered are valuable but must be applied as part of a strategy. A survey by competitive intelligence experts Benjamin Gilad and Leonard Fuld revealed that only 45% of companies use the intelligence data they collect.
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