Competitive intelligence helps you in writing a sales plan, developing email marketing strategy, and helps with other marketing strategies and tactics. CI is also used in developing an 'environmental scan' of the market. Do you operate in a perfectly competitive market?
CI is a tactic to use when building a strategic marketing plan: it helps you develop an effective competitive strategy approach.
Your success at understanding and analyzing your competition helps to build a strong marketing plan which includes a target marketing approach that focuses your marketing mix program and helps you develop strong alternative competitive strategies for price, product or service, promotion, and place or distribution.
Can you see how inter-related competitive research is to your marketing efforts?
In addition, understanding whether or not you operate in a 'perfectly competitive market' will help you to better understand your market, your competition, your customers and your business.
What is a perfectly competitive market?
In economics, it is defined as a market where no one business has real influence over the price of the product or service it sells. There are typically many buyers and sellers; low entry and exit barriers; products and services are not unique or differentiated (for example: blueberries - farming is reasonably economical and efficient, lots of buyers and sellers, low entry/exit barriers, product is similar to other products).
From the perspective of a business owner, it is better (unless there are unusual circumstances) to NOT be operating in a perfectly competitive market. It is better to operate in a highly differentiated and diverse market - you can distinguish yourself better from your competition and command a higher price, for your higher value added product.
Competitive research and competitive intelligence are the same thing: both involve structuring a research or data gathering system, then collecting data, verifying validity of the data, analyzing the data and finally, doing something with the data.
Your competitive strategy needs to consider the research gathered and use it to assess what a competitor's response might be to your expansion plans; to your new product launch; to your merger plans; to your price increase or decrease; and more. Writing a sales plan using the intelligence you've gathered will mean a better plan, and better results.
You can also use competitive research to focus your marketing efforts on offensive and defensive tactics. Your research will tell you who is vulnerable and who is not. Competition in business research needs to include a business analysis that incorporates what customers value and who they value.
By using competitive intelligence you will develop an understanding of what your customers value and be better able to develop a value based sales approach.
Use CI to discover how you and your competitors rank. Then, using that information, you need to develop your offensive and defensive tactics:
Don't get too comfortable - as the market leader you are the favorite target of competitors, it's often easy to pick off the biggest in the market.
To increase your market share you will need to employ a number of strategies:
If you are the market follower; you typically are in an industry where there is little product differentiation and both service and quality are similar amongst the market.
Use the research to develop more effective direct mail campaigns, or email marketing strategy, or guerilla marketing plans, or other tactics.
Or return to Definition of Marketing.
Marketing is a requirement for all businesses: without marketing strategies and tactics your business will struggle to survive.
Not all marketing activities are planned: you might be building your brand recognition through a social media campaign (that's marketing); you might be conducting market research to analyze your competitors and/or segment and target your potential market or to develop the most desirable features, advantages and benefits of your products or services (that's all marketing).
Marketing is pretty all–encompassing; and a challenge for many business owners. The additional challenge is recognizing that the different stages of your business life–cycle: start–up, mid–cycle, mature or late–in–life.
During start–up you need to develop your marketing strategies to grow sales; for example, you might want to use a market penetration pricing strategy to build sales quickly.
During mid–cycle, you need to grow your customer base (often through lead generation) and that need requires different marketing strategies, such as cold calling on prospective clients, email marketing, newsletter and blog sign ups and distribution (all to grow your list of prospects).
During the mature cycle, you need to build your marketing efforts around your brand; your competitive advantage can be in your reputation, history, and identity and on what differentiates your business from your competitors.
Marketing your products and services is not something that you do once (such as a marketing plan) and then never change or do again. You need to be continually researching and building your strategies and tactics to be ahead of the market, and ahead of your competition.
The market is constantly evolving; ever more rapidly with the impacts of globalization and technology. You need to invest resources into marketing to ensure that you build and sustain your business.
If you need support in your marketing efforts, or if you'd like a review of your marketing plan, contact us for more information on our marketing services.
If marketing is not your core strength, or if you don't have enough staff to commit to developing your marketing efforts (and acting on the plan), outsourcing your marketing strategy and implementation will allow you to concentrate on developing your business.
Start with a marketing plan that includes the necessary research, strategy development and implementation action plan. We provide you with the plan tactics, budget, schedule and key performance measurements.
Execute the plan yourself or have us at Voice Marketing Inc. manage the execution for you.
Once the plan is implemented, we report on the actions we've taken, the performance of the tactics employed, and on the results.
You'll feel confident that your business marketing is being effectively managed and continually evolving.
We specialize in providing services to small business owners and understand that marketing efforts must be customized for each business' unique needs.