In each component of a marketing strategy plan (segmentation, messaging, channels, measurement, etc.), effective competitive intelligence is critical to shaping a company's marketing strategy, enabling it to differentiate itself from competitors and meet customer needs efficiently.
This guide simplifies the competitive intelligence process into three crucial phases of marketing strategy planning inspired by the Price-Value Model*. These phases are referred to as "Who, What, How." which means understanding the target audience, knowing their needs and requirements, and figuring out how to deliver it better.
* Read this Mckinsey article about the 1981 staff paper "Market strategy and the price-value model" by Harvey Golub and Jane Henry.
Phase 1: Who How to leverage competitive intelligence to learn about your target audience
In this initial phase, the focus is on identifying the target audience and understanding market demand dynamics. To achieve this, two invaluable competitive intelligence exercises can be employed:
Customer Requirements Evaluation. This comprehensive approach delves deep into customer needs, going beyond the basics of price, usability, convenience, and support effectiveness. It provides a nuanced understanding of customer demands, including preferences and deficiencies. Additionally, it segments the customer base, enabling precise targeting of offerings. Marketers can gain profound insights into customers' real needs, allowing for tailored solutions.
Vendors Perception Survey. Gathering customer feedback about their experiences with various vendors or suppliers in the market is a strategic move. This survey is a valuable competitive intelligence tool, revealing how shared customers perceive competitors. Marketers can use this insight to identify areas to differentiate themselves, shaping a strategy that meets customer needs and positions the company favorably against competitors.
By incorporating these services into the "Who" phase of the value delivery process model, marketers gain insights into their target audience and market dynamics. This knowledge empowers them to make informed decisions, including more accurate targeting of their marketing campaigns, and establish a sustainable competitive advantage in their respective industries.
Phase 2: What How to leverage competitive intelligence to learn about market needs
Once a company has identified its target market, the next step is creating a customer value proposition that differentiates it from competitors. In the "What" phase of the value delivery process model, competitive intelligence becomes a critical tool to gain insights into market needs and competitors' deficiencies. The best way to get an accurate analysis is to check specific companies with an Accounts Intelligence program.
Accounts Intelligence. This proactive approach involves in-depth interviews with key stakeholders, including executives, users, and procurement decision-makers within specific accounts. The goal is to understand their requirements and uncover shortcomings in their current vendor relationships. By engaging with these stakeholders, marketers can discover hidden pain points, unmet needs, and areas where competitors may fail to deliver value. With this knowledge, companies can tailor their products or services to address these deficiencies, positioning themselves as the solution that meets market demands.
Once the marketers understand what's lacking, they can choose the right wording in their marketing messaging.
Phase 3: How How to leverage competitive intelligence to develop a better solution
In the final phase of the value delivery process model, "How," companies should strategically employ competitive intelligence to address the needs of their target audience and develop solutions that surpass existing offerings or complement them. The main two targets of a Product Intelligence program are to identify vendors' technological deficiencies and their reveal product roadmaps.
Competitive Product Intelligence. This phase involves interviews with ex-employees of various vendors, with a specific focus on technology. These engagements yield critical insights into competitor products, their strengths, weaknesses, and underlying technologies. By tapping into the expertise of former employees, companies can gain valuable information about technology stacks, development processes, and areas where competitors may have limitations.
With insider knowledge, companies can make informed decisions about pointing out the benefits of their technology, emphasizing its superiority over other solutions. They can identify opportunities for innovation, whether improving existing technologies or developing complementary features that fill gaps left by competitors.