The Thinker, Rodin (1880)Image by radiospike photography via Flickr

I'm busy doing a couple of useful little competitive intelligence projects at the moment and it always strikes me how some companies actively use it well in a proactive fashion, while others resent paying any money on what they see as a pointless exercise. 

It doesn't really matter how you go about gathering the information, after all this could be focused internet research, telephone interviews, face to face meetings, social media monitoring etc, the important thing is how valuable is the intelligence that was gleaned?  After all, if you don’t have the information, imagine how valuable it would be to your competitors? 

Intelligence is really another form of gathering customer insights that add value to your business.  Used well and judiciously, it will actually save you money in the long run and save you a lot of pain in very competitive market places. 

Oncology, for example, is becoming increasingly very competitive in some tumour types as more targeted therapies enter the market and many others are competing for patients in clinical trials.  This will inevitably lead to winners and losers.  Being ahead of the game means a smarter strategy and often faster, smarter execution.

What about big markets with many treatment options such as depression?  Being 20th to market means that you are either going to have to be significantly better than the competition, a game changing breakthrough if you like, or smarter in your approach by using more granular patient segmentation and competitive intelligence to better differentiate your product.  There are thankfully new methods of achieving this now, but it means marketing and market research directors need to think outside the box and do things differently.  That makes them uncomfortable.  They start focusing on the potential negatives and noise, rather than how the tools can help them make better decisions.

Innovation is scary sometimes, but the rewards in terms of smarter and more timely intelligence can far outweigh stepping outside ones comfort zone.

Do you want to boldly define your market or have the market define your brand for you?

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