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Now more than ever, understanding the competition is a requirement for business success. From equipping teams with intelligence that allows them to better connect with customers, to identifying the next steps your industry will take before they take them, staying one step ahead matters.
If you’re responsible for conducting, organizing and socializing competitive research, how do you feel confident in the insights you’re sharing? According to an Inc.com article on competitive research, “by monitoring competitors on an on-going basis you get to know their behavior and so can start to anticipate what they will be likely to do next.” Then you can plan your own strategies so that you keep your own customers while winning customers away from competitors.
To help you focus your efforts and get the most return, we’ve put together tips for more productive, effective competitive research.
More often than not, faulty research can be traced back to faulty content. Reliable research comes from more than Google searches and quick hits on free digital platforms. Working with a partner who invests in the vetting, curation and management of ongoing content sources is a strategic first step. First, it eliminates much of the time you would invest in finding the best sources. Secondly, it connects you to full articles and complete information, versus links or excerpts, meaning you are also connecting to the context in addition to the content.
Historical information can be powerful. Don’t fall into the trap of only focusing on the present day. While what your competitors are doing now matters, what they’ve done over time can also reveal key insights. Historical data, like investments, hires, patents, acquisitions, court cases and more can help you uncover patterns and help you predict behaviors.
Social media platforms have become a part of daily business and our daily lives. This means that they carry just as much validity as a research tool as do periodicals, newspaper articles and court case documents. What does this mean for competitive insight? It means you need to monitor social conversations about your competitors. This can give you important information on not only what they’re doing, but also what people think about them as organizations. You can gauge sentiment as well as data.
There is real value in looking both at the past for historical context and gauging present day opinions and expectations. Don’t fall into the trap of considering these research streams separately from each other. The past and present should come together to give you a holistic view. This sounds simpler than it is. Often, it can be challenging to bring long-view data together with real-time insights because if you’re working with partners, few companies specialize in both. Be sure to find a solution (or bundled solutions) that can integrate long- and short-term data for the fullest possible view of the competition.
Lastly, don’t let all your hard work go to waste. It’s important to formalize your insights into easy to access and understand reports that teams can use in their daily work. How are you connecting your information to recruitment, sales, marketing and other teams who could benefit from what you’ve worked so hard to uncover? There are several digital brands that can help you take your data and transform it into graphics and visuals with real impact. Be sure to check out visme.com, canva.com and piktochart.com, to name a few.