My corporate communications colleagues report their company's competitive environments are more crowded and dynamic than ever before. They know access to actionable intelligence about the marketplace and their competitors is mission critical in these times.

The good news is there's no shortage of data and information you can use to your advantage. Across their websites, content channels, social media accounts, marketing campaigns, partner networks, and more, your competitors are constantly growing their digital footprints (so are you). You can supplement these online resources with insights from your marketing team, sales people, customer service staff, customers, and industry players in your professional networks (so can they).

Competitive Intelligence is the process of gathering, tracking, analyzing and acting upon information about your marketplace and your competitors. It helps you accurately assess your competitors, their intentions within the competitive marketplace, gives you insights into the types of jobs are they posting and people they are hiring, as well as their technology and other capital investments.

With a clear understanding of what’s going on outside the walls of the business, your sales reps can be confident in their objection-handling abilities. The marketing team is confident in their copywriting abilities. The executive leader is confident in their long-term planning abilities. 

As you survey the key decisions you're facing in the next 12 to 18 months, what information about the marketplace and/or your competitors do you need to make a more informed decision? The key is to identify the data and information needed. The attached framework has a healthcare focus to it, but you can see the areas of interest and the type of information one healthcare system thought they needed.

Competitive Intelligence also is a valuable input for strategic planning exercises and branding campaigns. If you are going to develop a unique strategy and position in the marketplace, you need an accurate picture of the competitors in your marketplace. Competitive Intelligence also is a good tool in the mergers and acquisition work space. While the financials of the target are essential, what are the intangibles? You buy more than a balance sheet. You buy talent and reputation, local business and community partners, as well as customer and vendor relationships.

Consider these numbers from a recent survey by the Society for Competitive Intelligence:

  • 89 percent of large companies have head count devoted to Competitive Intelligence
  • 40 percent of these programs started within the last year
  • 49 percent have seen quantifiable results
  • 61 percent have seen qualitative benefits

The upshot here is that your competitors are not only becoming more numerous and agile, they are also becoming more competitively savvy.

The Strategic Communications team at Michael Best Strategies has relevant competitive intelligence expertise. We are grounded in a culture that values inquiry, proactive thinking and street-smart action. Our best practices models and smart tools make working with us easy and effective. We meet our deadlines, and we keep our promises. That's our bottom line.