In the business world, one could say with confidence that everyone is spying on everyone else. It’s a given and possibly more popular within certain industries. Competitive Intelligence initiatives in business is almost critical for the business owner. Whether the company is small, medium, or large, this type of intelligence gathering is important. Now with open source research options, it is so much more detailed than ever before. Let’s start with the basics.
What Is Competitive Intelligence?
Competitive intelligence, sometimes referred to as corporate intelligence, refers to the ability to gather, analyze, and use information collected on competitors, customers, and other market factors that contribute to a business’s competitive advantage. Competitive intelligence is important because it helps businesses understand their competitive environment and the opportunities and challenges it presents. Businesses analyze the information to create effective and efficient business practices. (Investopedia.com)
Types of Investigations
- Marketing : One of the key reasons to conduct competitive intelligence is to gain a marketing advantage. One of the best ways is to use social media listening, which identifies the company’s online reputation. What do employees say about the company? What about customers? There are multiple software platforms out there that do exactly this as an ongoing part of their marketing plan. They can identify the effectiveness of the company’s digital and social media marketing, as you can see in the image above from Sprout Social. Sprinklr is another good example of this type of software. Another excellent option is to use mystery shopping. Our parent company, Ann Michaels & Associates, has conducted this type of research many times over the years. With a data base of over 300,000 evaluators we are able to find just the right person to perform the research. The shopper poses as a business looking for pricing on a service or product from the company’s competitor. This allows for a very up close and personal look at the competition’s sales techniques, customer service levels and pricing.
- Mergers and Acquisitions: Research is key when looking at a company to purchase or merge with. Investigating their reputation, online and off is important. We have conducted open source research on not only the company, but also on individual stakeholders. This allows for a good overall impression.
This can be a good source of income for the Private Investigator. Be sure to list it on your website and talk to clients about it.