Identifying Weaknesses in Your Organization’s Competitor Intelligence

A competitor analysis strategy is a crucial part of knowing how your company stacks up to others in the industry. However, even if you’ve been doing it for a while, there are almost certainly things you’ve overlooked while learning about competitors. Here are some tips that can help you find where the weaknesses lie and address them.

Conduct a SWOT Analysis as Applicable

A SWOT analysis involves looking at strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats associated with a company.

Maybe you’ve done one for your business but never thought about putting competitors under the same scrutiny. However, taking that approach could help you harness growth possibilities that your competitors have not dealt with yet.

One potential weakness in your competitive intelligence occurs if you last created a SWOT analysis for a competitor several years ago. Maybe their business model, target audience, or some other crucial factor has changed substantially since then. In that case, the SWOT analysis could be invalid and no longer useful.

Learn What Customers Think

Another possible shortcoming in your competitor analysis strategy could occur if your perception of the company and what customers think of it are drastically different. For example, maybe one of your identified weaknesses associated with a competitor is that the company does not have a website. However, customers may appreciate the lack of e-commerce presence, believing that face-to-face interactions help business representatives provide the best service.

Instead of merely assuming how customers feel about a competitor, try to get their first-hand perspectives by reading reviews. Study them to see if you could improve on what the other company’s representatives do. For example, if they take a long time to respond or don’t reply at all, that silence is a gap you could fill. Use a competitor’s weakness to your advantage by offering prompt responses when people get in touch.

See How Competitors Market Their Events

You can learn a lot about a competing company by going to its website. However, you’ll often discover even more by taking the path that a typical customer would when engaging with a company. One way you could do that is by signing up to receive information for a virtual event. They’re increasingly common now, especially due to the health and safety concerns associated by COVID-19.

Statistics indicate that 52% of organizations that ran virtual events saw the same or higher attendance at those than in-person happenings. Consider making your competitor analysis strategy stronger by signing up for a virtual event’s mailing list or even attending it. Be sure to use an email address not connected to your company, so you won’t make your intentions obvious.

Deploy a Continuous Approach

Some companies make the mistake of only analyzing their competitors once problems become apparent. For example, maybe direct feedback from customers indicates that what a competitor offers makes them go elsewhere. It’s understandable to want to take a closer look at competing companies in that case. However, the better approach is to do it all the time, and not just when problems arise.

Making your competitor analysis strategy a part of your ongoing operations equips you to respond to changes. Relatedly, ensure that you have enough team members to handle the various needs associated with learning about your competition. Assigning one person to keep tabs on seven competitors could be an overwhelming workload, meaning the employee might fail to spot some meaningful information.

Communicate Findings to the Applicable Departments

You may also find that your competitor intelligence strategy is not as strong as it could be if you don’t distribute the compiled information to the parties that can best act on it.

Your current process might be to deliver competitive intelligence tidbits straight to people in the C-suite. It’s okay to start there, but you should also inform people working in the departments directly impacted by your findings.

Perhaps you’re learning about the competition for an e-commerce retailer. You might notice that one of your biggest competitors will soon offer two-day shipping for an affordable flat rate. Sharing that information with the affected parties lets them put it into context before taking action. For example, could your warehouse team ramp up to offer faster shipping, too, or would making that change require hiring more workers first?

Take a Broad Approach When Identifying Your Competitors

A common mistake in competitive intelligence is to have an overly narrow definition of competitors. Maybe you’re a food delivery company. In that case, your first task is probably to identify other companies that also bring customers food as their primary business model. However, don’t forget to study the smaller and niche enterprises, too.

For example, maybe an organic grocery store in your area offers ready-made meals at prices much lower than yours, and it does not charge a delivery fee for people who order at least four. Perhaps that company did not initially factor into your competitor analyses. Even if it is not a major threat now, that could change unless you continue monitoring them and reacting accordingly.

Treat Your Competitor Analysis Strategy as an Evolving Process

Just as your competitors themselves change, so should your methods of evaluating them. Regularly assess your competitor analysis strategies to ensure they keep giving the results you want. Also, besides following the suggestions here, avoid being solely dependent on automated tools. They can certainly help you stay on top of things, but they’re not substitutes for the detail-oriented processes humans use to watch competitors.

Today's Author

Shannon Flynn is a technology and business improvement writer. She is the Managing Editor at ReHack.com and has written for sites like TechDayHQ, Re-Work, Innovation & Tech Today and more. Follow ReHack on Twitter to read more pieces by Shannon.

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