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.

5. Small Businesses confuse CI with market research.

Many companies spend too much time on market research and aren’t necessarily conducting competitive intelligence. These terms represent two different disciplines.

Market research is mostly done when looking to identify the market need, size, and growth potential. The information is typically gathered by surveying prospects or customers in order to gather their opinion and perspectives on needs, problems, and desires.

On the other hand, competitive intelligence studies the “not so obvious” to predict market and industry trends and avoid risk against aggressive competitors. To be truly effective at CI, indicative clues must be gathered by following patent reports, competitor websites, job boards, and social media sites such as LinkedIn profiles, online discussions, etc.


How to Win at Competitive Intelligence

What can you do differently to get an ‘A’ in competitive intelligence? Here are three things every small business can begin working on:

1. Use CI software to automate competitor monitoring.

In order to create a competitive marketing and branding strategy, you must be aware of the competitions’ practices, services, products, and their position. A proactive monitoring system must keep up with every aspect of the competition and industry. It’s necessary to keep an eye on various online sources to uncover pricing strategies, branding initiatives, customers disappointments, new partnerships, along with other important competitive information.

However, as easy as it may sound, having to search, monitor, process and interpret new found information from different sources online can be overwhelming without an automatic technology.


2. Take time to analyze the details.

The more time you spend snooping around competitor’s websites, social media and other websites, the less time you have to analyze the information you’ve found. In other words, it’s a long cycle to turn information gathered into actionable intelligence. The trick is to devote your time reading and analyzing valuable competitive information to plan effective and timely initiatives.


3. Communicate competitive intelligence findings.

After obtaining competitive intelligence, consider an efficient way to continuously report and share findings. Sharing the information processed creates actionable intelligence for other stakeholders to put the information into context in their roles. This is sure to help other departments compete better everyday. Technology helps information flow throughout the organization in an easy way so that the whole organization can score an ‘A’ in competitive intelligence.


Emmanuel Trenche is VP of Marketing Communications at clearCi, a competitive intelligence software company that helps businesses compete. Emmanuel has served as Diversity Chair for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Advertising Federation, and has worked for brands like Wachovia, AT&T and Ecopetrol out of Colombia.


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