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How Competitive Intelligence can Improve Marketing Decisions

By Andy Nakatomi 

Competitive intelligence is many different things to different businesses at different times. It's not Pepsi running out to try to steal the secret formula for Coca Cola. What it is, is gaining actionable intelligence about the world outside your business doors in order to make your business more competitive.

Real World Examples of Competitive Intelligence

It may be something as simple as local road construction that reroutes potential new customers in front of your business. It can be gaining new understanding of new regulations that concern your method of disposing of electronic devices or the types of material machinists can use in their shops. Sometimes, it involves learning about new marketing campaigns your competitors are using -- the specific demographics their new ads target.

Putting Competitive Intelligence to Work for Your Marketing

It's not so much the intelligence part of the equation that matters. It's the actionable part of it. Putting the knowledge you gain to work for your business and your marketing can make a world of difference for the future of your business.

For instance, local road construction, depending on how long it's going on, provides new opportunities for you to target customers who do not normally pass by your doors. It's the perfect opportunity for many small businesses to take advantage of "drive by" or "impulse" shoppers. As a student, this may be a topic covered on a final exam and our Marketing 421 Final Exam is a excellent resource for this scenario. 

How do you take advantage of that?

Print eye-catching signs for your storefront windows or front walk. Let people know what you have to offer them and make today their lucky day in spite of inconvenient road construction.

New regulations about e-waste become an opportunity for your business to get ahead of the competition researching your options to discover and adapt to the most cost-effective method of electronic waste disposal or recycling before it becomes law. Then you can take to the airwaves advertising how you're the first local business in your industry to take advantage of newer greener methods of e-waste disposal because you care about the community and the planet -- but only if you manage to actually be the first.

Why is Competitive Intelligence so Important?

Businesses today need to use information they gain about all aspects of business and the world around them in order to make informed and effective marketing decisions.

Whether it's something as simple as the demographic or niche audience your competitor is targeting with advertisements or as far-reaching in scope as new regulations that impact how you operate your business, knowledge is necessary for operating your business and marketing it within your community and on the World Wide Web.