In the race to capture as much of your audience as possible, it’s vital to be aware of your competitor’s movements and predict their strategies. Gathering competitive intelligence needn’t take a lot of time or resources, you just need the right method and the right tools.
Gathering Competitive Intelligence
More general forms of competitive intelligence gathering include assessing their business ads to understand their marketing messaging and visiting their social media channels and website to see what content they are producing.
A more audacious form of competitive intelligence is to act as a customer for the competition. This could include signing up for their email newsletter and signing up for their services or products. These methods can be more resource-intensive, but it allows you to get an insider view of the pros and cons of their products and services.
The problem with all these methods so far is that you don’t have a clear picture of how your competitor’s customers experience their brand, their products or their services.
With the help of just a single, comprehensive social listening tool you can listen in on what thousands of your competitors’ customers are saying, and have a full overview of their online conversations within minutes.
The Symanto Insights Platform connects to 75 online portals including review sites and social media channels and gathers text written by customers. It then automatically organises this qualitative data by topic and subtopic so that you can easily navigate and explore what your competitor’s customers talk about, and the strengths and weaknesses of your competitor from the perspective of their customers.
NOTE: Competitive intelligence gathering is NOT industrial espionage. Industrial espionage is an illegal and unethical practice of attaining information that is not publicly available. This includes hacking, using an employee as a mole, and obtaining confidential information.
Analysing Competitive Intelligence
After gathering competitive intelligence, it’s time to review it.
A popular method is to conduct a SWOT analysis.
The Symanto Insights Platform makes competitive SWOT analysis easy, as the customers do all the work for you. They tell you about the strengths and weaknesses of your competitor, and with that information, it’s much easier to infer opportunities and threats.
The Symanto Insights Platform also gives you insight into your brand’s positioning within the market. Who has the largest share of conversation online? Who has the greatest Net Sentiment?
It can also give you fascinating insight into the type of persona each of your competitors attract. The Symanto Insights Platform uses advanced Psychology AI technology to determine the psychological traits of the authors and their communication preferences.
Then it’s time to apply your findings to your sales, marketing and product development strategies.
Armed with this information your sales team will be able to have more fruitful conversations with leads. Incorporate your findings into your battlecards to help your sales team capitalise on your competitive advantage and most impactful value propositions.
Use your findings to adjust your marketing messaging to capture your competitors’ disgruntled customers.
Hone your messaging to match the communication preferences and personality traits of your desired audience and attract your ideal customer away from your competitor.
Which features of your competitor’s product are their customers raving about and how does your product hold up? Which needs are your competitors’ products not fulfilling and is there an opportunity for you to fill a gap in the market? Find the answers to these questions and apply your findings to your product development strategy.
How Often Should I Gather Competitive Intelligence?
There’s no one set answer for this. The ideal frequency depends on how competitively intensive your industry is, and your business’s susceptibility to pressure from your competition.
In a highly competitive market, a weekly competitive analysis makes sense. Within an established B2B market, an annual analysis might be enough.
Of course, that answer is very unsatisfying for someone looking for a firm answer. For those of you who want to know the standard answer: the general advice is to conduct a competitive analysis at least every quarter, but monthly is ideal.
If that seems like a lot, remember that competitive intelligence needn’t be time-consuming or resource-heavy with the right tool.
Who Should Gather and Analyse Competitive Intelligence?
Competitive intelligence gathering and analysis is the joint responsibility of your marketing, sales and product development teams. As we’ve already explored, all three benefit and all three should be involved to bring the three perspectives to the table.
Beyond Competitive Intelligence
Your direct competitors within your industry are just part of the intelligence you should gather to understand your market.
Look at the wider picture to find out what else is going on in your customers’ lives. Find forums and social media feeds that attract your customer persona and use the Symanto Insights Platform to discover what they’re talking about.
Combine competitive intelligence gathering with consumer insights analysis to find other threats and opportunities for your business.