Weekly Winning Competitive Strategies

A collection of winning competitive strategies for everyone to improve their competitive advantage. Updated weekly, every Saturday.

15th June 2024

Creating Your Next Business Move With Competitive Intelligence

Generating new ideas for your next business move can be a daunting task. Especially when trying to align these ideas with market demands and competitive landscapes. Worse still, when you base your thinking on guesswork, hunches and wild stabs in the dark. Competitive intelligence provides a strategic advantage. It does this by offering insights into: 

  • Your competitors’ actions
  • Where the market is headed
  • What customers really want 

Here’s how to use competitive intelligence to generate actionable ideas and determine your next move.

The Problem With Brainstorming In Isolation

Most people start on their own, staring at a screen and trying to create something unique. They make lists, mind maps, and whiteboard outlines for days. This may occasionally surface as a good idea. It often leads to overthinking, frustration, and ideas disconnected from the market’s wants or needs. In my experience, this approach is not a recipe for success. Neither is convening a meeting with your peers and telling them to think of a new idea.

Common Advice That Falls Short

You’ve probably heard advice like, “Just follow your passion!” or “You’ll know it when you see it.” While following your passion is important, there needs to be more complete picture. Some passions aren’t profitable. Waiting for a ‘Eureka’ moment is like playing the lottery, hoping to get a deposit for your first home. It’s not a reliable strategy. Or remember Tony Robins telling us there was no such thing as problems? They were issues. No, mate, face it. A problem is a problem. Face it and deal with it. 

A Smarter Approach To Competitive Intelligence For Your Next Business Move

The best ideas come from deliberate research, experimentation, and incremental iteration processes. Here’s a three-step framework for generating profitable business ideas through competitive intelligence:

Understanding Competitive Intelligence

Competitive intelligence is gathering, analysing, and applying information about competitors, industries, and markets. It should go well beyond basic market research and offer a comprehensive view of the external factors influencing your business.

Step 1: Identify Your Information Needs

Before diving into competitive intelligence, knowing what you need to find out is essential. This step involves defining the specific questions you need answers to, such as:

  • What are the latest industry trends?
  • What strategies are competitors using?
  • What are the unmet needs of the target market?
  • What tech advancements are emerging?

Step 2: Gather Data From Many Sources

Use various sources to collect data. Take a single source piece with a large pinch of salt. This might include:

  • Industry Reports: Get insights from market analysis reports and industry publications. Everyone else has this access, though.
  • Competitor Analysis: Monitor competitors’ websites, social media, press releases, and financial reports. Again, everyone else can see this, but how many actually read it? (Very few)
  • Customer Feedback: Gather reviews, comments, and feedback from forums, social media, and surveys.
  • Trade Shows and Conferences: Attend events to network and learn about the latest industry trends and innovations. Talk to people
  • Online Tools: SEMrush, Ahrefs, or SimilarWeb analyse competitor traffic, keywords, and marketing strategies.
  • Talk to people: Talk to industry experts, futurists, and companies with an Octopus in their name. Former competitors’ employees and maybe current employees. Get the stuff others won’t have.

Step 3: Analyse And Interpret The Data

Once you have collected the data, analyse it to identify patterns, trends, and opportunities. Look for:

  • Trends: What are the emerging trends in your industry? Are there any shifts in consumer behaviour?
  • Competitor Strengths and Weaknesses: What are your competitors doing well? Where are they falling short? Ask why they are doing well or badly.
  • Gaps in the Market: Are current solutions not meeting needs? Can you identify any underserved segments?
  • Innovative Strategies: What innovative strategies are being adopted by leaders in your industry? What strategies are disruptors partaking in? Not just in your industry, of course. Look at other diverse sectors.

Step 4: Generate Ideas Based On Insights

Use the insights gained from your analysis to brainstorm new business ideas. Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Differentiate: Based on their weaknesses, create or improve your offering to fill a market gap. Look at their strengths as sometimes they can be weaknesses too.
  • Emerging Trends: Create offerings to align with emerging market trends and consumer preferences.
  • Target New Segments: Identify and target underserved or overlooked market segments.
  • Customer Experience: Use customer feedback to improve customer service, product features, or user experience.

Step 5: Test And Validate Your Ideas

Before fully committing to any new idea, it’s crucial to test and validate it:

  • Minimum Viable Product: Build a simple version of your product/service to test in the market.
  • Customer Feedback: Collect feedback from your target audience to refine and improve your offering.
  • Pilot Programs: Run pilot programs or beta tests to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of your idea.

Step 6: Implement And Monitor

Once validated, implement your idea and monitor its performance. Use competitive intelligence to keep an eye on market changes and competitor moves. This will allow you to stay agile and adapt as needed.

Action Plan For Your Next Business Move

Here’s how you can start using competitive intelligence to generate your next business idea:

  1. Define Your Goals: Determine what information you need and why.
  2. Collect Data: Use a mix of sources to gather relevant information.
  3. Analyse Insights: Identify trends, gaps, and opportunities.
  4. Brainstorm Ideas: Generate ideas based on your findings.
  5. Validate Concepts: Test your ideas with a minimum viable product and gather feedback.
  6. Execute: Implement your validated idea and monitor its performance.

Your Next Business Move With Competitive Intelligence

Competitive intelligence offers a structured and strategic approach to idea generation. It ensures that your business decisions are informed, timely, and aligned with market demands. Using competitive intelligence, you stay ahead of the curve, innovate, and make confident business moves.

8th June 2024

Mastering The Thrill Of Competition By Identifying, Analysing, And Outmaneuvering Them

Embrace the thrill of competition. It has to be a thrill; otherwise, rather than being a game of cat and mouse, it all becomes rather depressing. You can win them all, but you can win some. Or more than them. Before you can beat your competitors, there’s one thing you need to do first. You need to identify your competitors. Then, understand your market landscape and craft a winning strategy. The first step is to understand who your competitors are.

Direct Competitors

These are those who offer products or services like yours and are also in your target market. They are the most obvious and immediate threat. But even then, if you have not studied the market for a while, they may not be the most obvious ones. Not the companies with the biggest stand at the annual industry exhibition. So that’s those with Product similarity. Those are the companies that sell the same product type. And the market overlaps brands. Those who are targeting the same customer demographics as you.

Indirect Competitors

These are the companies that offer something different, but that can replace yours. They cater to the same needs but in a different way. These can be substitute products, meaning different solutions to the same problem. And those with alternative technologies: Innovations that could render your offering obsolete. I hear AI is this year’s hyped offer, with the usual snake oil salesmen selling some crap and putting AI on the end of it or offering the best AI course the world has ever seen. However, the trouble is that indirect competitors using AI smartly can come along. Smart enough to creep up on your hidden by the AI hype. So you always need your eye on things.

New Entrants

Startups or companies from other sectors are considering entering your market. They might still need to compete directly but are still gearing up. Watch out for emerging trends and gain new technologies or business models. To understand who your competitors are also look at adjacent markets with business expanding their reach into your domain.

Market Leaders

To understand who your competitors are, you need to also look at the dominant players in your industry and set the benchmarks. Analysing them helps you understand the highest standards and the strategic moves that lead to market dominance. It can also show you how getting too big makes you complacent. Terrible customer service, lazy salespeople, poor messaging and average products. The stuff you can nibble at their ankles until their customer comes knocking. When looking for market leaders, look for Market Share. Who has the biggest slice of the market pie? Analyse their current and, more likely, past innovations and patents. Are you leading the way in new developments or resting on past successes?

Customer Preferences

Sometimes, your biggest competition is the choice customers make without realising it. This could be the Status Quo Bias—not a preference for adult-oriented rock but customers sticking with familiar brands. And, of course, DIY Solutions—customers thinking they can solve problems on their own.

Conducting A Competitor Analysis

To get a comprehensive view of your competitive landscape:

  • Market analysis: Use surveys, focus groups, and industry reports.
  • SEO tools: Platforms like SEMrush, Ahrefs, and SimilarWeb.
  • SWOT analysis: Identify Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
  • Competitor analysis: Look at your competitors, talk to them, and discover who they know. Study them, ask, “So what?” and “What’s next?” Look at who they recruit and what they say to the market, customers, and candidates.

Understand Who Your Competitors Are

Competitor analysis isn’t a one-time task but an ongoing process. Keep updating your knowledge of competitors’ strategies and market moves. Keep getting customer feedback to ensure you stay ahead. Understanding competitors isn’t about knowing who they are but learning from them. It’s about using their successes and failures to differentiate yourself. Keep tweaking until you find your unique value proposition in the market, then tweaking more to stay there. So now go one and take another look and understand who your competitors are.

1st June 2024

Competitive Intelligence Objectives For Businesses Like Yours

Competitive intelligence isn’t about amassing mountains of competitor data. Or having access to the best CI platform. It’s about gathering targeted, actionable insights that empower you to make winning decisions. It’s about competitive intelligence objectives for enterprises like yours.

1. Define A Clear Objective

The core of effective competitive intelligence is a well-defined objective. You can’t try to gather all possible information about competitors. You must focus on specific, actionable insights addressing your strategic decisions. A clear objective streamlines intelligence efforts, making your work more precise and valuable.

Before diving into Google, you need to define your strategic goals. What critical decisions need to be made? How can competitive intelligence help inform these choices? Think about:

  • What are the specific strategic decisions we need to make?
  • How can competitive intelligence inform these decisions?
  • Which aspects of our strategy need the most refinement?

2. After Competitive Intelligence Objectives It’s Isolating Great Questions

Take the time to define great questions. Otherwise, you will end up with poor answers. The value of your competitive intelligence is proportional to question quality. Great questions guide your research. They ensure that you gather the most relevant and actionable insights. Not wasting your time on the obvious, easy-to-find stuff with little actionable insight. Ask:

  • What do we currently not know about our competitors that is critical?
  • Which competitor strategies or market trends demand our attention?
  • What unknown factors could significantly impact our strategic decisions?

3. Identify Relevant Competitors

Not all competitors are equal. After setting a clear objective, identify which competitors are most relevant to you. This prioritisation ensures your intelligence efforts are targeted and efficient. Ask your sales teams and customers what they think. Then, spend time researching to determine which competitors need deeper scrutiny. Ask yourself:

  • What do we currently not know about our competitors that is important?
  • Are there specific competitor activities or market trends we need insight into?
  • What unknowns could significantly impact our strategic decisions?
  • Which competitors are directly affecting our market position?
  • What segments of the market are most influenced by our competitors?
  • How do specific competitors’ strategies differ from ours?
  • Who are the key competitors in your market? Is this thinking blinding you from competitors creeping up behind you? A competitor that could give you the killer blow?

4. Integrate Intelligence With Business Operations And Planning

Competitive intelligence has to integrate into your operation and strategic planning. And no, we said strategic planning shouldn’t be done yearly. Just to support the annual report or the annual strategy sessions. Intelligence should inform and drive continuous business improvements and strategic adjustments.

Moving beyond static reports and embedding insights into all your decision-making processes. After all, if you don’t know what’s going on and what’s going to happen, why would you dare make important decisions?

See, it’s all about competitive intelligence Objectives, good questions and planning. And then keep looking. Basically, competitive intelligence and competitor analysis projects should never be a one-off.

5. Monitor And Adapt To Market Changes

So, competitive intelligence is not a one-time hit but an ongoing process. Watch the competitive landscape and adapt strategies to market changes. You will have more chance of remaining agile and responsive to threats and opportunities.

6. Confirm Strategic Decisions And Investments

Use competitive intelligence to validate your strategic decisions and investments. Understand where competitors invest resources and how they are positioning themselves.

Then, you can benchmark your strategies and gain confidence in your own investment decisions. This external validation also checks against internal biases and assumptions. And you are infested by them. And experience blinds them to you. More questions to ask:

  • What insights will directly influence our strategic choices?
  • How can we adapt successful competitor strategies to our context?
  • Which competitor actions pose the most immediate threat or opportunity?
  • How have recent market changes affected our intelligence needs?
  • Are there new competitors or trends we need to consider?
  • How can we improve our intelligence processes based on past outcomes?

Competitive Intelligence Objectives For Businesses Of All Sizes

Focus on these key objectives. To make competitive intelligence a powerful, useful tool.

To inform and transform your business strategy. Ensuring you stay ahead in the competitive landscape.

Ensuring you have a competitive advantage over your competitors for years to come. It’s all about competitive intelligence Objectives, good questions and planning.

25th May 2024

Start Winning With Competitive Intelligence: Weekly Winning Strategies

Listen up. Your competitors are NOT your friends. They’re out there plotting to eat your lunch, and you’re busy playing nice? Cut that out now. Dominate the game. Start winning with competitive intelligence.

Research Like A Pro

Get into the trenches. Dive into your competitors’ social media, websites, and customer reviews. Understand their strategies, weaknesses, and strengths. Knowledge is power! You can effectively anticipate and counteract their next steps by analysing their moves.

Leverage Data Or Get Left Behind

Data isn’t just numbers; it’s insight! Use tools to track market trends, consumer behaviour, and competitor performance. Talk to people who know your competitors. Make decisions based on real insight, not gut feelings. Every bit of insight is a piece of the puzzle to reveal the bigger picture of your competitive landscape.

Innovate Relentlessly

Don’t copy; disrupt. Bring something new to the table that competitors can’t match. Innovate or disappear. There’s no middle ground. Push the envelope with new products, unique services, or groundbreaking technologies. New markets, geographies and new ways of doing things

Build An Unbeatable Brand

Your brand is a fortress. Make it so strong that no one could dream of breaking through. Use consistency, authenticity, and relentless brand messaging to keep you ahead. Your brand should be known for trust, quality, and innovation.

Adapt Or Die

The market changes fast. If you’re not agile, you’re dead. Stay ahead by constantly evolving and adapting to new challenges and opportunities. Flexibility in strategy and execution is crucial for long-term success.

Confidence Is Key

Here’s the kicker. Most businesses need more confidence to make bold moves. They stick to what’s safe and predictable, which is exactly why they lose. Competitive intelligence reduces uncertainty and boosts confidence. You can make informed decisions with a clear understanding of the competitive landscape. Bold decisions without the anxiety of the unknown.

Play To Win

This isn’t a friendly game; it’s war. Either you’re the hunter, or you’re the prey. What’s it going to be? The biggest brands out there didn’t get to the top by following the rules. They broke them. They redefined their industries and set new standards. And guess what? You can do the same. But only if you’re willing to stop playing nice and start playing to win.

Stop Playing Nice And Start Winning With Competitive Intelligence

Embrace the competitive spirit, leverage every tool at your disposal, and make bold moves. Victory belongs to those who dare to outthink, outmanoeuvre, and outperform their competition. So Stop Playing Nice and Start Winning with Competitive Intelligence.

17th May 2024

Simplifying Competitive Intelligence for Effective Market Insights without the Complexity

There’s a common oversight among those striving to use competitive intelligence. They believe delving into complex thinking, specialised databases, and fancy platforms is the key to competitive intelligence. However, this approach might not be as effective as they think.

Those new to competitive intelligence constitute a significant portion of the market. This presents a substantial opportunity to generate simple intelligence reports that provide basic yet crucial insights. These reports can serve as a first step into understanding market dynamics and competitor behaviours, offering readers just enough to get started without overwhelming them or smashing their budgets before a single piece of intelligence is revealed. Even the more experienced in competitive intelligence need to simplify things. And SCIP, the one-time voice of competitive / market intelligence, is not helping.

When crafting content to release the analysis, simplicity is paramount. Here’s why and how you can avoid common mistakes in creating intelligence reports for beginners:

Mistake 1: Overcomplicating the Information

Using too much jargon or complex terminology can turn off your audience. Consider the impact of a report filled with dense industry-specific terms. Compare it to one that uses clear, accessible language. The latter is far more likely to engage and retain interest. Helping the reader grasp fundamental market analysis concepts without frustration. A simple presentation of analysis allows the reader to understand quickly. So then ask better, more relevant questions. Then, challenge the competitive intelligence expert’s findings. That’s maybe why some do it. So they won’t ask difficult questions!

Mistake 2: Information Overload

Bombarding the reader with too much information in one go is counterproductive. They need help connecting the dots and understanding how to apply the insights practically. More likely, they need more time to think and read through the document. Instead, focus on one key insight or data point per report. This means that the content is more digestible and allows for a series of reports that can gradually build up their knowledge base. Imagine you are a CIA briefer and have a 20-minute briefing with the President of the United States. You must be to the point and present only the information they need. A 20-page PowerPoint with ten graphs doesn’t cut it. 

Mistake 3: Lack of Actionable Takeaways

Competitive intelligence beginners (and anyone else) need clear, actionable advice on how to use the information you provide. Each intelligence report should conclude with straightforward steps or recommendations. This aids in practical application and empowers your readers to make informed decisions, increasing their reliance on your reports for future learning.

Mistake 4: Don’t subscribe to that database or platform straight away

Reliance on costly competitive intelligence tools overshadows the need to ask the right questions. Use simpler resources like Google and expert conversations. Engage directly and think resourcefully, often revealing deeper insights than premium databases alone—without the hefty expense. The actual basis of the research will also bring more questions and ideas to the table. 

It is important to 

So it is important to:

Use Simple Language: Write in plain, accessible language to ensure clarity and comprehension.

One Core Insight Per Report/Chapter: Keep your focus narrow to avoid overwhelming your readers. Per chapter if it’s a multi-question report. A summary of the insight at the front of the report

Good Formatting: Use bullet points, headers, and white space to enhance readability.

Clear and Concise Conclusions: Ensure your readers know what to do with the information they’ve received.

Adopting these strategies in your reporting transforms how those new to competitive intelligence (and those not so new) perceive and interact with your content. Position yourself as a valuable resource. Foster loyalty and establish authority in your field. It’s a cornerstone in your strategy to grow your audience and influence competitive intelligence.

11th May 2024

Benchmarking Is An Important Competitive Intelligence Tool To Really Understand Competitors: Weekly Winning Strategies

We all know benchmarking is an important competitive intelligence tool. In theory, it empowers us to learn from industry best practices and avoid pitfalls by analysing competitors. However, it must be understood properly and executed, resulting in missed opportunities. So, here’s how you can implement benchmarking to elevate your competitive edge:

“Benchmarking done right isn’t about copying competitors; it’s about outshining them by defining their successes into unique strategies that align with your goals”. 

Begin With Clear Objectives

Before diving into the data, Googling and those databases establish your purpose and goals for benchmarking. Doing benchmarking without knowing why you are doing it won’t yield great results. Are you benchmarking to refine your pricing strategy? (There’s more to it than just comparing yourself with your competitors’ pricing.) Or are you aiming to improve product quality by studying their production processes? Clarifying focus allows you to collect and analyse only the most relevant data. Saving time and aligning your efforts sharply with your business objectives. 

Identify And Vet Relevant Competitors

Not every competitor’s strategy is worth studying. Look for the market leaders or those with cutting-edge strategies you aspire to adopt. Don’t select the obvious ones. The competitors you have always competed against. Look at their business models and processes to identify those who align with your goals. Do they share similar customer demographics and market dynamics? No, why not? 

Capture Both Quantitative And Qualitative Data

Quantitative data, like their revenue, customer growth, or product adoption, offers performance insights. But pay attention to qualitative data. The user reviews, customer service quality, and brand perception. Again, it’s so much more than looking at their latest G2 rating or what someone has said on Glassdoor. These provide deeper insight into the customer journey and brand loyalty. All of which will help you identify gaps in your product or service.

Contextualise The Insights

Data without any context is misleading and will lead to inaccurate conclusions. For example, a competitor’s high churn rate may be due to poor service or a frequently changing user base. It may not be seen as value for money, or the customers see something better in the market. It could be because their sales team sold them something different from reality. Before making changes, you must understand the wider market and industry trends that could impact the analysis.

Focus On Process, Not Just Outcomes

It’s tempting to fixate on the end results like profit margins or market share. Understand the processes behind those results. Like their marketing strategies or supply chain management. Benchmarking processes help you identify best practices to replicate or pitfalls to avoid in your sector. What you find out during the exercise, the pulling of the strings and answering the “Why’s that’s” are so much more important than the end result of, say, finding out their revenue figures. 

For instance, you may find that a competitor’s marketing strategy is driving their high-profit margins or how they communicate their go-to-market message rather than what they communicate. Understanding this process can help you adapt and improve your own marketing efforts, none of which you can read from a spreadsheet. 

Adapt, Don’t Copy

Every business is unique, so a direct copy-paste approach won’t work. Instead, translate the best practices of others into strategies that fit your culture and market. Adapt what works and mould it into your distinctive operational and branding strategy, giving you a unique competitive edge. It’s a chance to make changes to outshine, not keep up with your competitors. So don’t copy; look to improve on what they do. 

Monitor Continuously

Benchmarking isn’t a one-and-done activity. Regularly track your benchmarks to gauge your progress and adjust your strategy in response to market shifts. It’s about maintaining a consistent edge over your competitors rather than just catching up.

You’re Just An Afterthought.

There’s usually one aspect of benchmarking that’s often left to the end. Sometimes it’s completely ignored. Your own business needs to be put through the benchmarking exercise. Work on your own business frequently gets neglected. Why? Well, because you know your own business, dont you? But many assumptions and biases are swimming around here. So, your benchmarking needs to consider your strengths and weaknesses honestly.

So we know benchmarking is an important competitive intelligence tool to really understand competitors. So by following these steps, benchmarking can transform into a strategic advantage. It can uncover opportunities for growth and improvement that might otherwise go unnoticed. Your competitive intelligence will be less of a guessing game and more of an approach to success.

4th May 2024

Unlock The Battlefield By Mastering Competitor Analysis To Forge Your Competitive Edge

Creating a competitive advantage in today’s fast-paced world can be impossible. Impossible to unlock the battlefield.

But there’s a strategy that stands out for its effectiveness. Comprehensive competitor analysis and the insight it reveals. 

Think of competitor analysis as your business’s reconnaissance mission. It’s about gathering intelligence. Everything from their marketing strategies to their customer service approach. This knowledge empowers you to identify their strengths and weaknesses. It is important to understand not what your competitors are doing but why they’re doing it. This provides invaluable insights into market trends, unmet customer needs, and innovation areas. All to give you a strategic edge.

What if you notice a competitor has a strong presence in a certain marketing channel? Is it worth digging deeper to understand the underlying strategy? Is it their content or their engagement tactics? Or could it be their customer service that’s winning them accolades? One thing is for sure: It’s not luck or a clever founder with that magic who is so humble they are constantly telling everyone about it on Linkedin. So when you find these elements, add the best bits to your business and spot gaps in their strategy to exploit.

Beware Of Your Bias

Now, let’s add a layer of caution to this rose-tinted view of competitor analysis. Yes, understanding your competitors can yield a treasure trove of strategic insights. But it’s also rife with pitfalls. For example, there’s a substantial risk of confirmation bias. That’s seeing only what you expect in your competitors’ strategies. So reinforcing pre-existing beliefs rather than challenging them. It’s crucial to approach this analysis with a critical mindset. Questioning every assumption and seeking out disconfirming evidence. It must be said that this questioning of assumption is not common practice. 

Competitor analysis can sometimes lead to an unhealthy fixation on your rivals, often at the expense of innovation. It’s one thing to learn from the market, but it’s another to mimic or react to others’ moves constantly. This is particularly evident in pricing strategies. True competitive advantage is forged by tracking, adapting, thinking ahead, and innovating beyond the current norms. To succeed with competitor analysis, it must be integrated into a broader strategic mindset that values foresight and customer-centric innovation equally. This approach will give you the best chance of surviving and thriving in the competitive world in which we operate.

Competitor analysis isn’t just about monitoring your rivals. It’s about transforming the insights you gain into tangible strategies that set you apart. This approach, which I used to grow my business, can be a game changer for anyone seeking to establish a competitive edge in their market.

27th April 2024

Weekly Winning Strategies: Competitor Analysis Projects Should Never Be A One-Off

This week’s insight. Never underestimate the frequency of engagement needed in competitor and market analysis. Competitor Analysis Projects should never be one try and then move on.

There’s a common pitfall I see in business strategies. Especially those of smaller enterprises and solopreneurs. I don’t mean the “they don’t worry about our competitors” one. It underestimates how often they need to analyse their competitors and market.

The notion that you can set your competitive intelligence activities on autopilot is overly optimistic. Signing up for a CI platform and expecting continuous insights is overly optimistic. No matter how cool their marketing is, there is no magic intelligence button.

Dedicate 10% and 20% of your strategic planning time to conducting and updating your competitor and market analyses. This analysis should inform where you position your business in the market.

Here’s the stark difference between regular and sporadic analysis:

When you engage in competitive intelligence, you identify opportunities that lead to increased market share and revenue. You may still improve your market share even if you don’t use competitive intelligence. Throw enough mud on a wall, and some of it sticks. But competitive intelligence is about more than spotting immediate opportunities. It’s about steering your business closer to strategic superiority.

Take, for example, feedback from a business leader, “Josh Jones”. He acknowledged the benefits of continuous competitive monitoring:

Josh had been observing shifts in the competitive landscape affecting his business sector for over a year. Finally, he decided to pivot his strategy based on consistent intelligence gathering. He just needed that regular push of data to make an informed decision. (Update: His strategic pivot earned a significant competitive edge.) Monitoring should mean something other than tracking competitor press releases and website changes. It has to be so much more than that.

However, effective competitor analysis is about something other than collecting data. It’s what most miss. It’s why some researchers and, yes, some CI platforms are powering up ChatGPT to fire out even more nonsense. But so much quicker than they used to. It’s about the deeper analysis. Sorting through the noise and sifting out the valuable insights, digging around, looking for patterns and trends that reveal crucial competitor insights. The insights they might prefer to remain hidden. Such as uncovering weaknesses in their operations. Or shifting their customer base or introducing innovations that still need more development. It’s about transforming raw data into actionable intelligence to provide a tactical advantage. Regular and rigorous analysis allows you to anticipate their moves and helps craft strategies that position you as a leader. Turning potential threats into opportunities for growth

How many insights like Josh’s are out there waiting to be uncovered in your market?

20th April 2024

Weekly Winning Strategies: Simplifying Competitor Analysis With Occam’s Razor: A Strategic Approach

Clarity can be the difference between success and failure in marketing strategy. Occam’s Razor provides a surprisingly effective framework for competitor analysis. It’s an old idea, advocating simplicity in the face of complexity. It’s especially valuable in navigating the often murky waters of competition. So, we need to be always trying simplifying competitor analysis

Occam’s Razor tells us that simpler explanations are more likely to be correct than complex ones. In competitive intelligence, this translates to a streamlined approach. One that can cut through noise and confusion to reveal the heart of competitive dynamics.

Applying Occam’s Razor To Streamline Market Analysis

Competitor analysis is essential, yet it can be overwhelming with too much data. Here’s how Occam’s Razor can refine this process:

Prioritise Crucial Indicators

Instead of getting lost in data, focus on key performance indicators. That’s market share, customer engagement, and innovation rates. This approach simplifies the analysis and highlights the metrics that matter.

Home In On Distinctive Strengths

Instead of exhaustively analysing all competitor activities, identify their unique strengths. This focused strategy helps you understand critical success factors without unnecessary complications.

Spot Clear Patterns

Use Occam’s Razor to discern straightforward patterns in market behaviour and competitor strategies. Simple, repeatable trends often emerge as the most telling and actionable insights.

Opt For The Straightforward 

Complex strategies can muddle execution and dilute the focus. A simpler strategic response, aligned with core competencies, can outperform a complicated plan.

Cut Through The Clutter

To avoid the paralysis of analysis that can occur with too much information, Adopt Occam’s Razor emphasises essential data and actionable insights over speculative noise. 

The Strategic Advantage Of Simplicity

Decision-making is usually complex. Occam’s Razor is a great tool for effectively navigating competitor analysis by advocating for simplicity and ensuring that strategies are clear and focused. The result? Enhanced decision-making that is both informed and agile, keeping you one step ahead in the competitive game.

Simplifying Competitor Analysis With Occam’s Razor

Occam’s Razor in competitor analysis doesn’t just simplify processes—it sharpens them—hence the name. It enables us to cut closer to the core of what drives market success. It ensures your strategic planning is grounded in reality and focused on what matters, paving the way for clearer, more effective action.

12th April 2024

Critical Thinking in Competitive Analysis with the Power of Porter’s Five Forces to Master Market Dynamics

It’s important we shift our focus beyond traditional SWOT analysis. To dive into deeper waters of critical thinking in competitive analysis with tools like Porter’s Five Forces. Now, this is not an alternative. It’s a strategic necessity. Especially in a landscape rife with uncertainties and ever-shifting dynamics. You work in one of those, right?

Heading into the danger zone

Porter’s Five Forces is more than a tool. It’s a lens to examine the competitive battlefield. Revealing not just your adversaries but the entire war zone’s topography. This framework, a brainchild of Michael E. Porter, scrutinises five domains:

  1. The threat posed by new market entrants,
  2. The bargaining clout of suppliers,
  3. The bargaining leverage of customers,
  4. The menace of substitute products or services,
  5. The ferocity of competitive rivalry.

Understanding these forces is not optional but essential. Take the threat of new entrants. It’s not about who’s joining the fray. It’s also about what unique strategies or innovations they bring. This insight can steer you towards upgrading your offering. Ensuring you aren’t just reacting to changes but anticipating them.

It’s not about how much they cost

The framework’s real prowess lies in its panoramic perspective. It’s not peering at your direct competitors. It’s about understanding the entire ecosystem, from supplier dynamics to shifts in customer preferences.

Gauging customers’ bargaining power isn’t about adjusting prices. It’s about aligning your entire value proposition to resonate with market demands.

The Five Forces model is an example of strategic thinking playing an important role. It makes you think about your situation. You’re not box-ticking; you’re engaged in a deep, critical market landscape analysis. That’s the critical thinking in competitive analysis

Your thinking, not theirs or generative AI

Your insight into these nuances is key. Moreover, Porter’s Five Forces is not a static tool. It requires constant reassessment and reevaluation as market conditions change.

You need to question assumptions and look beyond obvious trends. It’s not about isolating the presence of these forces. It’s also about noting their magnitude and dynamics.

If you don’t want to fall off your bike, look ahead

Let’s be real: Porter’s Five Forces isn’t about identifying current market pressures. It’s a forward-looking approach that prepares you for potential shifts in market dynamics.

This could involve questioning the long-held belief that buyers have low bargaining power or even reassessing the threat of substitutes in an evolving technological landscape. In fact, cut to the chase: If you are in a high-growth SaaS company, this is exactly what it will do. Every time.

Critical Thinking in Competitive Analysis

In today’s world, this is not just helpful—it’s critical. It’s about constructing strategies that don’t survive but thrive, ensuring long-term dominance in an evolving market. This is how you build a business, not just to last but to lead.

7th April 2024

How to uncover your competitor’s go-to-market strategy

This week’s winning competitive strategies article discusses go-to-market strategies. To uncover your competitor’s go-to-market strategy, you must examine their business model in depth. This work involves analysing their marketing channels and sales processes. Their customer segmentation and product positioning. Understanding your competitor’s strategy is crucial because it provides insights into market trends. It often reveals potential gaps in your approach. It has a habit of offering you an opportunity to differentiate your product or service. And importantly, it can also reveal discourse between three things:

  • What does their marketing team tell the world what is their go-to-market strategy is
  • What the salesperson actually says what their go-to-market strategy is
  • What their customer think their go-to-market strategy is

The difference should be quite telling, revealing a few things about their culture and communications. It shows that battle cards are only worthwhile if they are based on the real world. It allows you to exploit what their customers think and what they actually want. Or what you need to say to get them to become your customers. 

So how to do it

So here’s how to do it:

Buy competitive intelligence software, press that button, and bingo, it’s all laid out for you. Maybe not. If only life were so simple. 

So again, here’s how to do it:

Basic Research

  1. Start with broad market research to understand the industry landscape.
  2. Use tools like industry reports, market surveys, and customer feedback to gather intel.
  3. Read their websites, brochures, and other stuff they produce to attract more customers. 

Digital Footprint Analysis

Look at their online presence. Assess their social media, other websites that mention them, blog content, and online advertising. This digital analysis reveals a lot about their target audience and marketing tactics.

Sales Strategy Evaluation

Analyse how they sell. Are they using direct sales, channel partners, or e-commerce platforms? Are they still using a fresh-faced, unmotivated and bored graduate to go through a demo? Or worse, another more junior graduate to determine if you are worthy of a demo? Understanding their sales channels can reveal much about their market approach. You will soon see that you can do better, and differentiating is relatively easy. 

Customer Feedback and Reviews

Check customer reviews and feedback on platforms like:

  • Google
  • Yelp
  • Glassdoor
  • Industry forums

These actions provide insights into what customers value in their offering.

Pricing and Positioning

Look at how they price and position their products or services. Is there a pricing strategy at play? Or has someone just put their finger in the air to see what sticks? Are they positioned as a premium brand or a cost leader? This can tell you about their target market segments.

Talk to them

Talk to your competitors, review their go-to-market strategy, and analyse what’s good about it and what you can learn from it. 

uncovering your competitor’s go-to-market strategy

Remember, the importance of this analysis lies in its application. It’s important to write down what you find in a simple report and compare what they do with what you do. Isolate what you think their actual go-to-market is. Try doing this before looking at what their website messaging tells you. Use these insights to refine your strategy, fill gaps in the market, and uniquely position your brand. This isn’t about copying what others do but about learning from the market to carve out your own space. And yeah, it’s about stealing their customers once they realise what a great alternative you are. 

30th March 2024

Why AI Speeds Up the Competitive Intelligence Game, but it’s never game over

In today’s changing business world, it’s not about keeping up; it’s about speeding ahead. We’re talking about a swift pace that rivals the intensity of Formula One racing. Artificial intelligence (AI) is at the forefront of this high-speed chase. It’s not only transforming the competitive intelligence game; it’s completely redesigning the race track itself.

Here’s the straightforward truth

If you still think AI is the death knell for competitive intelligence and plan to stick with your old methods, you’re not just mistaken—you’re lagging. Watch your competitors speed past you. Understanding that AI isn’t a destructive force in competitive intelligence is crucial. It’s a powerful enhancer of your competitive strategies.

It’s more complex than deploying ChatGPT or Claud to gather lots of information, and that approach could be more effective. Will it change in the future? Unlikely. Even if it does, verifying and authenticating it is the real challenge. However, blending traditional and new competitive intelligence skills is more crucial than ever. Key skills include seeking information, posing relevant questions, and employing competitive intelligence techniques to confirm, analyse, and validate sources. These remain the bedrock of effective competitive intelligence.

Utilising validation to fill knowledge gaps guarantees the integrity of our analyses. We must audit our work as we do now. Ensure our conclusions are meaningful and accurate while avoiding misinterpretation. We speed up our processes and enhance our capabilities through careful, segmented analysis. From creativity, hypothesis formation, and even doing a good old SWOT analysis. Competitive intelligence practitioners must evolve from observers to skilled users and contributors. The passive approach was ineffective, even in the so-called “stone age” of 2022 :-). So now it stands no chance.

The role of competitive intelligence includes informing, refining, and testing these AI models. AI doesn’t just save time; it kickstarts our thought processes. Crucially, the human intelligence aspect of competitive intelligence becomes more important. The increasing reliance on AI and engaging the right people in the right conversations brings deeper insights. This human-driven insight becomes very valuable as the world leans more toward AI. And it will be often overlooked.

Here’s a stark reality 

You need to leverage advantage if you’re not a lever to avoid being in your market analysis. AI can sift through massive data sets, uncover hidden patterns, and accurately predict market trends. So, what should be your strategy? It involves a three-pronged approach:

Question Everything 

In the AI era, no question is bad. Your curiosity is your guiding light. To help identify emerging market trends, shifts in consumer behaviour, or technological advancements.

Pursue Knowledge

AI is your mining tool in this information gold rush. Dig deep, and then dig deeper. The more you understand your market and competitors, the better you anticipate their moves.

Embrace Adaptability

This is more than a catchy phrase – it’s a necessity for survival. In an AI-transformed world, adaptability isn’t just a skill; it’s a lifeline. Integrate AI into your strategies and become a master of market dynamics.

Ignoring this is tantamount to accepting obsolescence. AI is reshaping the frontier of competitive intelligence, but never use it as a crutch. And avoid using AI without thinking. If we do, we spend time making decisions based on wrong information—or information your competitors also have access to—making competitive intelligence a pointless exercise.

Why AI Speeds Up the Competitive Intelligence Game

It’s time to accelerate your engines and embrace this new era. Don’t just ride the wave of change; master it. Welcome to the future of market analysis, supercharged by AI. Buckle up; it’s going to be an interesting journey!

23rd March 2024

Don’t just focus on tactical work and superficial metrics

Many within competitive intelligence focus on tactical work, like keywords, pricing, and current product specifics. The superficial metrics include how many customers perceive them as great or which quadrant they and their competitors sit in.

Some may sit for hours contemplating this or, indeed, buying the report that tells them how to think. Or what a group of fresh-faced graduates think. No offence to fresh-faced graduates. We’re just jealous 🙂

The usual questions

Then there are the common competitive intelligence questions like:

  • What strategies will increase our market share?
  • How do we outperform our competitors in key areas?
  • What moves will help us dominate in our industry?

While these questions are understandable and perfectly reasonable, they are only sometimes the most insightful for those aiming to excel in competitive intelligence. The answers are often available through thorough research.

Reflecting on common inquiries over the last few years, we realised something significant:

Most questions we receive are focused on analysing competitors. How can a company understand its competition to improve its own position? How can it surpass competitors to achieve greater success?

The Most Crucial Question

Yet, here’s a question rarely posed:

What makes your competitors’ customers so loyal?

Notice how this shifts the focus from your strategy to understanding the competitors’ customer relationships?

What makes your competitors’ customers so loyal?

That’s the key question in competitor analysis.

This unique approach focuses on understanding competitors’ customer satisfaction and strategies. This insight is critical for you—it allows you to attract and retain the right customers.

Many analysts prioritise understanding market trends first, expecting to analyse competitors later. But the actual sequence is reversed. Understanding your competitors leads to market growth and other important metrics.

Information on market trends and strategies is readily available online, but the core of successful competitor analysis lies in understanding market dynamics and customer satisfaction. Get this right, and organic growth will follow.

If you’re analysing competitors, the important questions are: What satisfies their customers? And why?

Discovering Competitors’ Success Secrets

Whether new to analysis or experienced, the most impactful task is to comprehend your ideal competitor’s customer base and identify their needs and preferences.

Talk with at least five individuals who represent these competitors’ customers. Your sales team should already be doing this. Get them to do something different rather than just asking for their business and trying to build a business relationship. Encourage them to understand their challenges, goals, struggles, and desires. Note their responses.

Inquire about their satisfaction with your competitors’ offerings. Does it meet their needs? Are they genuinely interested? If not, why not? Adjust your strategies based on this feedback. Don’t cling to preconceived notions if your ideal market indicates otherwise.

When you understand what delights these customers, you have a clear goal to aim for.

Evolving Your Strategies

Start by applying your insights to smaller groups. Let the results speak for themselves. As you assist others, word will spread.

Share your learnings and refine your approach. Utilise your media platforms to discuss how you address these challenges and achieve results.

You’ll find comfort in knowing you don’t need to chase trends. Focus on understanding and applying what attracts customers to your competitors. In our Competitor Analysis, we can delve deep into identifying the right subjects, gaining their attention, and crafting strategies based on our discoveries.

Remember, the transformation you provide through your analysis is the heart of what you do. 

So, growth ultimately stems from being useful and helpful to those seeking the offerings you and your competitors provide.

Making your customers informed.

So, your task today is to connect with at least two people who fit your ideal customer profile and schedule a discussion. If compensation is required, see it as an investment. These conversations could prevent you from pursuing ineffective strategies.

That’s all for now.

16th March 2024

How To Identify Competitors If You’re A Solopreneur Or Apple

Your business may be a unique reflection of your passions and skills. However, knowing who you’re up against is crucial in the bustling marketplace. Identifying your competitors isn’t just about knowing who they are; it’s about understanding where you stand and how to outmanoeuvre them. Here’s a step-by-step guide to sharpen your competitive edge. How to identify competitors? The following is a good start:

1: Start With A Broad Sweep

  • Online Search: Begin with the obvious—Google. Search for products or services similar to yours. Don’t just stop at page one; dig deeper—way deeper.
  • Social Media Scan: Platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter are treasure troves of competitor information. Search for hashtags and keywords related to your business.

2: Get Industry-Specific

  • Attend Trade Shows: Nothing beats face-to-face interactions. Trade shows and industry events are perfect for understanding who’s who in your field.
  • Industry Reports: Invest in industry reports. They often contain a goldmine of information about major players and market trends.

3: Look Beyond The Direct Competition

  • Indirect Competitors are businesses that are outside your niche but could satisfy your customers’ needs differently.
  • Substitute Products: Be aware of products or services that could replace yours. For instance, if you’re a personal trainer, a local yoga studio might be your indirect competitor.

4: Analyse The Competition

  • Social Media Following: How large and engaged is their audience?
  • Website and SEO: Use tools like Moz or SEMrush to see how their website performs and what keywords they target.
  • Customer Reviews and Feedback: Platforms like Yelp or Google Reviews can provide insights into their strengths and weaknesses.

5: Organise And Monitor

  • Create a Competitor Database: Keep a spreadsheet with key information about each competitor.
  • Set Up Alerts: Tools like Google Alerts or Mention can notify you when your competitors are mentioned online.

6: Reflect And Strategise

  • Identify Gaps: Look for what they’re missing and how you can fill those gaps.
  • Differentiate: Knowing your competitors allows you to highlight what makes you unique.

7: Leverage Customer Insights

  • Talk to Your Customers: Sometimes, your best resource is your existing customer base. Ask them what other products or services they considered before choosing you. This can reveal competitors you may not have identified.
  • Survey and Feedback: Use surveys or feedback forms to gather insights on what your customers value in your products and where they see room for improvement. This can highlight areas where competitors might be outperforming you.

8: Keep An Eye On New Entrants

  • Emerging Competitors: The market is always evolving, with new players entering frequently. Keep an eye on industry news, startup launches, and crowdfunding platforms to spot emerging competitors early on.
  • Adapt and Evolve: As new competitors emerge, it’s essential to adapt. This might mean updating your offerings, tweaking your marketing strategy, or redefining your target audience.

Remember, identifying your competitors isn’t a one-time task. It’s an ongoing process that keeps you sharp and informed. Your competitors might change as you grow, and staying on top of these shifts is key to staying ahead. So, dive in, do your homework, and prepare to stand out in the crowded marketplace!

9th March 2024

Identifying Competitor USPs: A Guide To Sharpen Your Market Analysis

Let’s explore the concept of identifying competitor USPs. It’s a critical aspect of market analysis.

Understanding your competitor’s USP is like deciphering a secret code – it reveals what they offer and why they succeed, guiding you to innovate and differentiate in a crowded market.

Understanding your competitors’ USPs is like having a map in an unknown forest in the entrepreneurial journey. It’s about recognising what sets them apart and leveraging that knowledge to refine your business strategy. Identifying these USPs isn’t just about knowing what your competitors are doing. It’s about understanding why they succeed in what they do.

Deep Dive into Their Offerings

Analyse your competitors’ products or services in detail. Look beyond the obvious features and delve into the benefits they offer to their customers. What problems are they solving? Often, a USP lies in the unique solution to a common problem.

Engage with Customer Feedback 

Customer reviews and testimonials can be gold mines for understanding a competitor’s USP. Pay attention to what customers are praising. Is it innovative product design, exceptional customer service, or an unmatched user experience? This feedback offers unfiltered insights into what makes them stand out.

Analyse Their Branding and Messaging

How a company brands itself can reveal a lot about its USP. Examine their marketing materials, website, and social media presence. Look for patterns in their messaging. Are they positioning themselves as the most affordable option, the premium choice, or the most user-friendly?

Study Their Market Positioning

It is crucial to understand where your competitors position themselves in the market. Are they targeting a niche segment or aiming for mass appeal? This positioning often reflects the USP they are banking on to attract their customer base.

Evaluate Their Customer Experience

Sometimes, a USP is not about the product but its surrounding experience. How do they make their customers feel? Is there an ease of purchase or a community aspect? Or an exceptional post-purchase support system that sets them apart?

Monitor Their Achievements and Milestones

Keep an eye on any awards, certifications, or milestones your competitors have achieved. These accolades can point towards areas where they excel and have gained recognition – a potential USP.

Leverage Competitive Analysis Tools

Utilise digital tools that offer insights into competitors’ online strategies. From SEO and content marketing to social media engagement. These tools can uncover strategies that are working in their favour.

Remember, identifying competitor USPs isn’t about copying them. It’s about understanding the landscape in which you operate. It’s about finding that gap or opportunity they might have missed or creating a unique blend of USPs that resonate with your target audience. Thoroughly analyse your competitors to comprehend their strengths. To anticipate market trends, helping you stay one step ahead in the game.

2nd March 2024

Mastering Market Analysis & Securing Your Position: Weekly Winning Strategies 2

This article is a weekly introduction to competitive and market intelligence. This week, mastering market analysis & securing your position.

Market Analysis: Your Blueprint for Success

Problem: Understanding and Capturing Your Market
Navigating the market might seem challenging, but it’s entirely feasible. Here’s your strategy.

Comprehend Market Dynamics

Start by understanding the market landscape. What are the prevailing trends? What do customers need and want? Which are the leading products or services, and how are they positioned? Gathering this information is invaluable.

Next, Identify The Opportunities

Where does the market fall short? What needs aren’t being met? It could be a gap in customer experience or an overlooked product innovation. Pinpoint these opportunities.

Time For Execution

Concentrate on the areas the market overlooks. Turn them into your forte. Excel in them. Become the go-to for these unique solutions.

This approach is your roadmap to success. 🗺️

Straightforward yet effective.

24th February 2024

Mastering Competitor Analysis & Gaining The Edge. Competitor Analysis Is Your Key To Winning The Market

Problem: Beating Your Competitor

It sounds tough, right? But it’s doable. Here’s how.

Understand Their Moves

First, know what they’re doing. What’s their strategy? What are their products? How do they market them? Get this intel. It’s gold.

Then, Find The Gap

What are they missing? What can you do better? Maybe it’s customer service. Perhaps it’s a unique feature of your product. Find that gap.

Now, Action

Focus on that one thing they’re not doing. Make it your strength. Excel in it. Be known for it.

That’s your winning ticket. 🎫

Simple but powerful.

Weekly Winning competitive strategies brought to you by Octopus competitive intelligence

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