Is Your Small Business Failing at Competitive Intelligence?

Here are five reasons why most small businesses risk getting an ‘F’ in competitive intelligence and three simple ways to fix it.

Keep your friends close and your competitors closer because if competitive intelligence (CI) were a course, most of you would fail it miserably.

A recent IBM study suggests that although 80 percent of CMOs conduct market research and competitive benchmarking to make strategic decisions, too many rely on traditional practices that only offer little insights.

Instead of knowing what consumers want and how to market those products with great content and creative ads, you need to do a better job at managing risk and showing competitors who is boss. But to do so, your marketing teams need structured goals, CI initiatives and tools to produce action-driven competitive intelligence that supports marketing strategies and investment decisions.

Here are five reasons why most small businesses risk getting an ‘F’ in competitive intelligence:


1. Marketing automation software misses the mark.

Sure! Marketing automation makes life easy for marketers. Ever since its development, marketers can sit down, put their feet up, and let software automate the process of generating reports, nurturing contacts, and scoring leads.

We all know marketing automation software like Marketo, HubSpot, or Eloqua can track a wide range of digital initiatives with beautifully colored analytics to visualize online marketing tactics. But how does this minimize risk or maximize awareness against competitor moves?

Although robust, marketing automation software often creates blind spots hiding “what’s next?” This kind of software reveals very little insight about your company’s risks, competitor tactics and market positioning strategies. Once you realize this, then and only then, will they wake up and start taking notes!


2. Competitor analysis is periodic vs. continuous.

Too many of you set-it-and-forget-it. How can one expect a competitive analysis to help drive decisions when most companies outsource competitor profiling and don’t do it regularly?

Data changes way too often and competitors always have something up their sleeves. You must leverage new tools that proactively track competitor marketing activities, potential partnerships and public relations schemes across the Internet. Without this kind of 4D tracking, competitors will slowly steal market share or capture attractive opportunities.

With so many online sources, it takes lots of time and way too many interns to process information. No wonder why your company can piecemeal competitor monitoring and call it a day.


3. Marketers worry about what is already known.

No one likes yesterday’s news! Neither should you, especially when sales reps bring in updates like new-found gold. By the time you realize that your competitors launch a competitive threat (i.e. email campaign, marketing initiative or a new product) guess what? It’s too late!

Many small business marketers fail at detecting cues that predict their next strategic move. Anticipation is a tremendous gain from conducting competitive intelligence, but it doesn’t come from monitoring things like competitor press releases or annual reports. It comes from paying attention to details such as sneaky website updates, striking price changes, or rumors of offices popping up in a new market. The human eye can’t see much of this activity without technology so it’s easy to make blurred decisions and miss attractive growth opportunities.


4. Focus is ROI instead of competitors.

To give small business marketers some credit, a recent study from Fournaise Marketing Group, that surveyed 1,200 CEOs, found that 75% of them expect their marketing group to be purely ROI focused. Focusing on ROI is great for marketers! But what about targeting segments outside your comfort zone?

Marketers tend to focus more on maintaining their existing customer base satisfied, yet they fail at going after new market share. Failing to consider competitor threats by monitoring the competition and industry; however, can limit market share tremendously, affecting growth.

Instead, you should consider using a 3-tier strategy that considers overall ROI, an increase in customer value, and continuous competitor monitoring to bring in new revenue streams.


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