The goals of this blog are:
1. A place to ask for advice on CI issues
2. Learn about CI trends, techniques, and events
3. Discuss CI topics
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How does your organization compete within your industry: the low price vendor, the full-service luxury vendor, or somewhere in between? Remember that you cannot be the low price, the high service, and the best product vendor simultaneously. You cannot be all things to all people. Pick a coherent strategy that matches your corporate strengths and position yourself clearly to the marketplace.
A key benefit of competitive research is gaining ideas of industry best practices that you can adopt in your organization. But many practices fit into a consistent strategy and may not support your strategic positioning. Examine potential ideas carefully before you implement them in your firm. They may not support your corporate differientiators.
Try to set up a win/loss project for your organization. You already know customers are wonderful sources of information; including lost deals will add critical information to how you are perceived in the marketplace. Many of these projects flounder on the politics between sales and corporate. Salespeople believe that they own the customer and are extremely sensitive to any interaction that does not go through them. Include them in any win/loss project development plans and structure it to benefit the salesperson as well as marketing and product development.
Most US companies have December year ends so all the financial information should be available now. Listen to any broadcasts on rivals’ websites, read their annual reports for marketing and strategy information, review the SEC filings for the financial statements and the footnotes, and search for any related articles discussing the results from last year and the competitors’ plans for 2012. You should be able to put together a compelling picture of their likely actions this year.
Low interest rates have encouraged companies to invest in capital goods such as more efficient equipment for plants. If you are checking signals for competitive capacity expansions such as employment ads or building permits, add equipment orders to the mix or you might miss advance warning of a competitive move.
Are you looking beyond your traditional competitors to watch for new emerging rivals to avoid being blindsided by a new entrant in your marketplace? Scan secondary literature periodically for announcements of potentially substitute products. Call a few salespeople to ask what they are hearing from customers. Check with marketing staff who attend trade shows to find out what information that they picked up on new competitors, in addition, of course, to the information that they gathered on existing rivals.
Selling more to an existing customer is much more profitable than acquiring a new customer. Leverage your existing relationship to take business from competitors piece by piece in your accounts. Delight your customers to create a very high barrier against your competitors.
Many organizations work with multiple vendors as they believe that competition will help them obtain concessions. Take time this holiday season to show your appreciation to your customers for their business and strengthen your relationship with them. A recent study of two large competitors in a service market showed the value of good relationships. The customers of one competitor made comments like, “We like them.” The firms that worked with the rival were lukewarm about their service provider. If you wanted to gain market share, which competitor would you attack?
Are you using software tailored specifically for CI or adopting general application software to CI? Review your software tools to see if more effective tools are available or if you should upgrade your applications for collection, analysis, or dissemination of CI.
Have you reviewed your pricing vs. the value perceived by customers and vs. the price/performance offered by competitors? If not, starting analyzing your pricing now to implement in 2012. Be selective and consider decreases as well as increases to provide the best alternative in multiple categories.