Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer…
It’s a cliche that rings true in everyday life, but more so in the cut-throat world of business. ‘Cos let’s face it, if you give your rivals an inch, they’ll take a yard, if given half the chance.
The solution? You need to keep one eye fixed firmly on their every move, anticipate their next step, and be proactive in counteracting any move they make.
Competitive intelligence is ideal for keeping market rivals at an arm’s length; dedicating time, effort, and resources to making sure it’s done right, can be the difference between dominating the market and retaining customers, or laying down and seeing your churn rates soar.
And as we all know, reactivating churned customers is no picnic.
Which got us thinking: are organizations taking competitive intelligence seriously enough? And are they putting their hands into their pockets to finance it?
So, let's kick-off by checking out why it's always important to complete competitive intelligence at your company.
Why is competitive intelligence important?
If you’re controlling the purse strings at your organization and think you can pinch a penny or two by dodging competitive intelligence, you’re taking a huge risk - if anything, investing in the process is more likely to save you money, in the long run.
Competitive intelligence tools help you and your internal teams understand the behaviors of your competitors, and any potential moves they could make in the not-so-distant future. It also gives you a platform by which you can analyze customers and regulators, in turn, unearthing new industry trends.
By removing the guesswork, you and your PMM team are left with nothing but cold, hard facts; when you’re spending less time shooting in the dark, hoping you eventually hit the target, this means you’re able to a) boost product service, and b) bring products to market with greater efficiency.
And the fun and games don’t stop there - not by a long shot. Introducing competitive intelligence tools helps you make more informed decisions, and plug any gaping holes in your business plan - it bodes well for your company now, and in the long run.
Competitive intelligence also serves as an ideal way of identifying whether the idea you've got in the pipeline will make your target market say “phwoar, I’ve never seen anything like this before”, or “meh, this isn’t pioneering or exciting - it’s yesterday’s news.” And as we all know, innovation sells. 💰
So, now we’ve harped on about why competitive intelligence is so important, you’re no doubt wondering what the best tools are to get the job done - right?
Recommended competitive intelligence tools
There are a string of competitive intelligence tools product marketing teams around the world are using to help you scope out their competition - without slipping into a ridiculous disguise. 🤡
And a whole bunch of them are right under your nose, in our PMM Tech Stack.
PMM approved? You got it. ✅ Vetted and tested? You betcha. ✅
They’re all here, and they’ll all make your life much, much easier.
Granted, competitive intelligence tools will no doubt support the execution of your CI efforts. However, speaking to people who’ve been there and done it goes a long way. 🧠
Competitive intelligence tips
When we spoke to PMMs during our research for the Competitive Intelligence Trends 2020 report, we discovered a ton of competitive intelligence tips - and because we prescribe to the view that ‘sharing’s caring’, here are some invaluable nuggets of information: 👇
“Don’t be afraid to get help from other parts of your organization. Being able to get help from a sales engineer or a developer while you’re reading technical documentation can save a ton of time and help you better understand different personas.”
Mindy Regnell, Senior Market Intelligence Officer at Postscript
“Job postings can detail info about their tech stack. For example, if they say ‘looking for an IT manager with experience in Oracle, Kronos’, then you know the company uses these tools.”
Laura Massingham, Director of Product Marketing at Tackle.io
“Make sure to leverage your entire company and look for a way to integrate information-sharing into your teams' daily tools (be it Slack, or a Sales Enablement tool, etc).
“Whenever someone new starts at Showpad, we hold a session dedicated to competitive intel and how each Showpadder plays a part in gathering and sharing that information. Our product marketing team is not big enough to do all the research ourselves so we've set up a system to source info gathered by BDRs, AEs, CSMs, etc.”
Lara Verlinden, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Showpad
“Spend time getting to know the competitor from all angles: explore their website and gated assets as if you were a prospect, but also understand from their existing customers if the true product experience matches the initial marketing.”
Megan Magee, Senior Product Marketing Manager at ServiceNow
“Start with your value proposition not mentioned by you, but by your customer. From there, understand why you don’t live up to that value proposition and where you can improve. Know your segment, know your buyer and persona.”
Hien Phan, Director of Product Marketing at Amplitude
“Social media is a goldmine of information.”
Avi Goldstein, Director of Development at Tomche Shabbos of Rockland County
“In a non-transparent market, get creative. Current clients can be great sources of information. Also, think about other players in the ecosystem that can share stories and data.”
Jill Dornan, Director of Product Marketing at HealtSparq
“Don't ignore customer reviews and prospect calls.”
Ruchita Shah, Senior Product Marketing Manager at HealthSparq
“Automate it or do frequent checks. As far as understanding your marketplace and competitors is concerned, you need to form your own opinions to roadmap.”
Benny Kuo, Product Marketing Manager at Eleven Software
How much is being spent on competitive intelligence?
Which prompts the million-dollar question: is enough money being spent on competitive intelligence?
In our follow-up report to the 2020 write-up, Competitive Intelligence Trends Report 2021, we asked our crop of PMM experts how much budget is allocated to competitive intelligence at their companies, and it was encouraging to see 62.3% of respondents indicated their orgs are setting money aside to support the function.
Chris Owen, Director of Product Management at Saviynt, explained how the company used existing data to incentivize company executives to invest in a competitive intelligence program:
“The first thing we did at Saviynt was targeted the exec team with the concept of a CI program, asking how we can stretch our competitive landscape from 1 to 40.
“By starting with the data we have in Salesforce, and broadening that to the other software areas in which we exist, we were able to predict how much we could increase our win rate by targeting certain competitors. That really incentivized them to move forward with a CI solution.”
How to improve your competitive intelligence
There’s no disputing the value competitive intelligence brings to the table, and here at Product Marketing Alliance, we're dedicated to familiarizing you with best practices.
Into the Fray - The Competitive Intelligence Podcast
Join Erik Mansur, VP of Product Marketing at Crayon, for Into the Fray - The Competitive Intelligence Podcast.
Erik welcomes a host of guests and discusses the intricacies of CI with experts who've mastered the craft.
And there's more...
Competitive Intelligence Certified
Sign up for our Competitive Intelligence Certified course and join Alex McDonnell, Competitive Enablement Manager at Airtable, as he reveals how to face competition with confidence and cut through the noise in your respective field.
This course will equip you with essential CI skills and by the end, you’ll be able to:
✅ Build a tech stack for competitive intel
✅ Conduct win/loss and primary research
✅ Visualize your competitive position with a market map
✅ Enable sales and customer success to deliver crisp competitive positioning
✅ Bring CI to the table in strategy and product decisions
Ready to equip yourself with the skills needed to oust your competition?