5 Competitive Intelligence Mistakes You Don’t Need to Make

We suggest in this article the 5 Competitive Intelligence mistakes you don’t need to make. Competitive Intelligence is one of the most important activities you can do. After all, your customers are bombarded every day will alternative options to you. You don’t have a choice but to keep them very happy. Here are 5 Competitive Intelligence mistakes you don’t need to make:

1. Too small to make a difference

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is dismissing competitors as too small to make a difference. Massive brands have made and will continue to make this mistake now and in the future. Think Blockbuster, Kodak (debatable), Woolworths, Staples, Office World and many others. 

Many learn the hard way by ignoring small up and coming brands as irrelevant or a fad. Uber, Apple, Airbnb, and Amazon. And the others are still being planned in a bedsit off Old Street, London or Singapore or Abuja.

It doesn’t matter how big you are, how cool your brand is or how niche you are in the future. Without Competitive Intelligence, you will be caught by the right hook. And then followed up with a left elbow to the throat. 

The right hook is a lean, mean fighting machine competitor who will disrupt your sector.

The left elbow will be the follow up where you could have struck back by moving forward with the new idea yourself but didn’t. Still stunned, someone else did it, and you are now floundering, gasping for air. 

The reason you could be open to an attack is that big blindfold of assumption. 

If you feel content and everything is going smoothly, then you are not looking hard enough. Always be on the lookout. They will likely be looking at you. If there aren’t? Then why aren’t they? Could this tell you something?

If you are not on your toes looking and monitoring your market sector, you will not see the attack coming. Ideally, by using Competitive Intelligence, you will be nowhere near the fights. Or even better ambushing them on the way to sector success. But on your terms.

2. It’s the right picture, not the big picture

Having run out of fighting analogies, we move on. Competitive Intelligence is about looking for the right picture. Not just looking at the big picture. 

It’s not reacting to everything you find about a competitor. Or change direction to every customer opinion. It’s crucial that you have defined what really matters to your success. Competitive Intelligence does this by creating Key Intelligence Topics. Which, in turn, builds your Key Intelligence Questions. Topics and questions to reduce the chances of acting on something that doesn’t matter.

The key areas you must look out for are the future trends and movements in your market. These tend to be driven by new technology and what your customers are demanding. The demands they really care about. Where their pain is. What they are talking about to your competitors, academics and within social media. 

Competitive Intelligence must create action. Otherwise, it is a complete waste of time and a box-ticking exercise. Use Competitive Intelligence to create a compelling competitive strategy based on: 

  • What your current customers really want?
  • What do your competitor’s customers really want?
  • Is what they wish to achievable? 
  • Is what they want really what they want?
  • Are they any solutions out there already? 
  • What about answers in other industries?

Use Competitive Intelligence to answer the question. Should you make changes to your products/services to meet the emerging market?

3. Gentlemen don’t read each other’s mail – Henry Stimson

The biggest and fatal mistake to make is not doing Competitive Intelligence at all. Claiming that it’s just spying or a pointless waste of time is wrong. 

To understand your customers, it’s essential to know how they will respond to things. This includes how they will react to your competitors’ special offer or new service. Competitive Intelligence shows you if competitors are having success somewhere. And, just as important, struggling on another front. 

4. Getting your message out

Competitive Intelligence is so much more than stealing excellent ideas. Or finding examples of poor customer service by a competitor.

You may be presenting an excellent message to your customers, and your brand is doing well. However, your message is undermined if customers aren’t reading or reacting to them.

Competitive Intelligence monitoring ensures you view the entire competitive environment. So the message gets everywhere. Early isolation of new routes makes the most of previously unknown fertile categories.

5. Learn from their mistakes

Competitive Intelligence saves time and money by not creating something that’s already failed. Making sure you are on the lookout for competitive failure will save you much trouble. Almost like your competitors becoming your R&D department. A testing ground for new products, services, features, messages and uses of technology. And that’s a mistake that they make. Their damaged reputation, poor sales techniques and poor customer service. And then you come along with an improved version of their idea. Or you leave well alone. 

At the very least, you need to understand why a competitors idea failed. The first people to ask are your customers. But if you are not looking in the first place, you will miss out. 

5 Competitive Intelligence mistakes you don’t need to make

We introduced the 5 Competitive Intelligence mistakes you don’t need to make. Put simply, don’t put limits on yourself by not looking at your external environment. There are easier ways to beat your competitors than being blindfolded with your chin up. Invest in Competitive Intelligence to isolate actionable insights. So you and your competitors’ customers (your future customers) will benefit. 

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