How to Start Competitive Intelligence

This article explains how to start Competitive Intelligence. Intelligence gives you an insight into the market but how do you start? It is easier said than done. When asking us to find intelligence on their competitors and markets, some of our clients struggle to determine what they really need.

It is a highly competitive and tough environment

The problem is that the subject can be too vast without the parameters needed to define the scope of the research it’s unlikely to be a successful exercise.  Because we want to build long term relationships – and because our researchers need clarity in their objectives – we suggest considering following this process next time you need some intelligence:


Agree who you believe to be your main direct and indirect competitors. Are there any substitute competitors that make life difficult for you?


Answer these questions:

  • What markets you are looking at?
  • Are they new or existing markets?
  • Do you know enough about them?


Define what you need to know and what you will do with the intelligence.
Create an Intelligence Statement, which should be no more than two lines and ideally one sentence.


Agree on a set of Key Intelligence Questions (and associated actions) which require answering. Any more than five and you should consider splitting the project in two.


Ask what are you going to do with the Competitive Analysis once you have it. Any Competitive Intelligence Agency worth their salt will want to work with you on these questions to find the right Competitive Analysis. However, these questions will create structure, clarification, a focus, reduced mission creep and a certainty that the relevant intelligence has (or hasn’t) been found.

In the future, you may want to introduce relevant ongoing monitoring and reporting that uses structured analytical techniques to improve the quality of your Intelligence Analysis. Gaining such levels of intelligence will enable you to make better decisions and create sustainable and truly effective marketing campaigns.

Interested in know more?

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What is competitive intelligence?

Competitive intelligence is the finding & critical analysis of information to make sense of what’s happening & why. Predict what’s going to happen & give the options to control the outcome. The insight to create more certainty & competitive advantage.

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