What is Competitive Intelligence research?

Competitive Intelligence (CI) research refers to collecting data on your competitors so you can keep a step ahead.

To be clear, it is not corporate spying.

Rather, CI uses publicly available sources to keep tabs on your competition. This allows you to see what is coming into your market space, what messaging is being used, and – most critically – where opportunities lie.

For one of my clients in the healthcare tech space, I reviewed competitor websites to determine how they were presenting themselves in the marketplace. This gave me the insights needed to understand what their target market – specialty medical practices – wanted that was being overlooked. I then helped my client transition their messaging to address that need.

When do you need competitive intelligence?

When you are launching your business – or launching a new product – CI can make sure you find the untapped need in your market. If you are doing a rebrand, you will also need to keep tabs on your competitive landscape.

Sometimes unexpected crises can require you to know more about your competition. For instance, one client of mine had a member of their executive team leave without warning to start a competing patient engagement group. In order to navigate that, I needed to do a deep-dive into the offerings and marketing of my client, the new competitor, and all other competitors in their space. Once I had that data, I was able to see how best to position them as a leader in their field, despite the heavy competition.

Competitive Intelligence research is ongoing. You need to stay on top of it.

Leaders of healthcare startups often want the CI research to be a one-and-done proposition. Unfortunately, that type of thinking can be the kiss of death.

Healthcare is a constantly changing space. New regulations and new vendors are continuously coming on the scene, so the smart leaders know they are never done gathering competitive intelligence.

A better approach is to do maintenance-level CI research on an ongoing basis. That way you will find out when a new competitor comes on the market or when an old competitor switches out their messaging. If your competition is ripe for being bought out or going public, it is even more important to stay on top of it.

What are the pitfalls you should watch out for?

While CI research is incredibly useful, there are a few pitfalls to watch out for. Sometimes, healthcare execs can start focusing too much on the competition. The point of CI is to help you position your business successfully in relation to everyone else in your space, not to obsess on what your competition is doing.

This type of obsession can cause companies to lose sight of their unique value proposition, which is the opposite of the desired outcome. It can also lead executive teams to overthink and change their strategy too often.

Competitive Intelligence helps you position your business successfully. It’s not about obsessing over your competition.

When should you get help gathering Competitive Intelligence?

Competitive intelligence is time-consuming to collect and analyze. Competitors need to be monitored regularly and everyone on the team needs to be apprised of changes immediately. Many businesses simply don’t have the resources to devote to it.

If your team is small, it can be helpful to outsource your CI research. Similarly, if your team gathers competitor data but never has time to analyze it, it’s time to reconsider whether you should continue to do it in-house.

If you need help with your Competitive Intelligence research, please book a time on my calendar. I would be happy to talk and see if I can be of help.

Photo by Avinash Kumar on Unsplash.