Using CompIntel to Expand Your Brand

When is the last time you looked at your closest competitors? I mean really studied them. What makes them different? How do their prices compare? What kind of reach or distribution do they have? What do their reviews say about them? Who are they partnered with? How engaged is their social media following?

The reality today is many companies take their closest competitors for granted with informal half measures or worse, reactive positions acted upon only when a development arises. It’s time to revisit your competitive intelligence (CompIntel) practice to regain control of your brand direction and destiny.

For starters, your research, development and/or marketing team should know the competitive landscape and your top three to five competitors almost better than their own products and services.

A helpful example to define your competition is Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, which was initially used for charting information technology vendors. While the exact research methodology is proprietary to Gartner, you can take a swag at plotting your challengers, leaders, niche players and visionary competitors based on their ability to execute and completeness of vision.

There’s no shortage of research, consulting and industry analyst firms that provide in-depth qualitative and quantitative competitive insight and analysis on just about every imaginable industry.  However, many of these reports can be costly and often fly too high without providing the more detailed nuances and real-time data needed to outpace your competition.

Augment your third-party research with your own CompIntel program to track your competition’s moves in near real-time, using artificial intelligence or even simple Google alerts, hashtags, news aggregators and/or RSS feed readers.

Sample competitor metrics to monitor, include (but certainly not limited to):

  • Key investors, capital raised, latest earnings announcements and 10K if public,
  • Mergers, acquisitions, divestures, spin-offs,
  • Board and leadership team; new executive appointments,
  • Company headcount, turnover and open positions,
  • Sales by product, region and even down to sales per store and/or online channel
  • Top customers and large partnerships,
  • Distribution by channel, region, market,
  • Market share, mind share and heart share,
  • Patents, product or service features and differentiators,
  • Marketing and ad spend as a percentage of revenue,
  • SEO, SEM, keyword density, product ads, landing pages, high-value searches,
  • Website traffic, social stats, PR announcements and industry events.

CompIntel Dashboard & SWOT

Organize your CompIntel into a dashboard, which can be easily integrated into a company’s overall enterprise or business intelligence platform to help the organization make smarter, faster strategic business decisions. If you don’t have a BI platform, create a simple Excel-based file to import data.

As a matter of discipline, your teams should be reviewing competitive data regularly. The exact frequency depends upon how active and crowded your particular industry may be. At a minimum, informal competitive assessments should be done monthly.

Written executive summary reviews should be rolled up every quarter, providing the leadership team and Board with a snapshot of any competitor developments that have arisen, key insights gleaned, and action items taken as a result.

Spy Tools & SWOT

Aside from what’s available through Google, there’s a number of third-party competitive analysis tools available. For example, following are just a few sleuthing tools you can use for checking out your competitor’s ad spend and more in Facebook.

In fact, Facebook recently launched it new ad library tool , which allows you to now see:

  • All ads run since May, 2018
  • How much a page has spent on Facebook ads
  • Which pages’ ads reference a particular keyword

Another helpful competitive exercise is to conduct a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) analysis of your own company and core product(s) with that of your top three to five closest competitors. Be as brutally honest and objective as possible and include input from a cross-section of internal business leaders (and even external partners and select customers) to complete.

Turning Insight into Action

Tracking competitive data is one thing, using critical thinking and data science skills to gain a proper perspective on business pivots, gaps, opportunities and even future strategic business moves, is game-changing.

The best business leaders have a keen sense of the competitive landscape they operate in. They have developed a competitor “sixth sense” which allows them to navigate through a crowded field of like players to get ahead or stay ahead.

Start to take a more proactive approach to your CompIntel today and start leading again! Share your thoughts and comments below on additional CompIntel practices making a difference in your organization.