Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Understanding the Competitive Intelligence Process

In regards to competitive intelligence, most Lacuna clients are satisfied with the results and insights we provide and rarely question the details of how we go about 'making the sausage' or getting to the actionable intelligence.  Regardless, we still go to great lengths in explaining how we get to the end result.  This helps them in optimizing their business decision making while also helping to sell our services.

The following is an excellent graph shared during a recent competitive intelligence presentation hosted by the American Marketing Association (AMA). The presenters, Scott Leeb and Brady Darvin, provided a great overview of what CI is and how it can be used.  The graph comes from their slides.  It provides a great framework that can be used by organizations as they seek to collect and analyze competitive information.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Looking for a BI solution? Spend time here

As usual, Gartner does a great job outlining the Business Intelligence (BI) space in its latest 'Magic Quadrant'.  A link to the report is here. It's exciting to see that smaller companies can now capitalize on something that used to be reserved for the Fortune 500.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Drawing boundaries on what information can be shared

A lot of what happens in Washington gets hidden behind red tape, incredibly long bills, and inane babble. As a result the general public has largely tuned out its activity...to its own detriment. But these laws affect us, even those in marketing, and it is in our best interest to pay attention.

The Best Practices Act (H.R. 5777) is one of those examples. At its core, the bill seeks to place parameters around what information can and cannot be shared for things like market research. Bobby Rush, Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee put it this way, "The BEST PRACTICES Act speaks to a host of issues affecting consumer privacy, including consumers' expectations as to how their personal information should be handled, shared, and disclosed to third parties...and how to calibrate penalties and other possible legal causes of action without chilling industry incentives to innovate and grow their businesses."

Even though the bill has yet to be passed it is creating a bit of a stir within the market research community. Our friends at Quirks.com have posted a great article that represents their perspective.

We all understand how valuable data is in terms of understanding consumer behavior. We also understand the importance of maintaining privacy of certain information. A middle ground can be achieved that accomplishes both aims. It will be very interesting to see how this thing plays out. But be patient, it will probably take awhile.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The outsourcing of America...and making it work

Here's a great link from the USA Today to an article that discusses how individuals and corporations are coping with current economic realities through outsourced and contract work. And if USA Today is reporting on the matter it must be prevalent and it must already be a firmly established trend.

Lacuna was created a few years ago to capitalize on this trend. Companies, facing quarterly expectations and profit pressure, are turning to contractors and partners as a means to ensure quality but minimize cost. Marketing is one realm of business that is at the forefront of change. Initially it was graphic design work or advertising that was given to outside parties and now it has expanded to include everything from demand generation functions to overall marketing strategy. We have a client whose sole remaining marketing employee is essentially a project manager who oversees the myriad contractor relationships and ensures consistency with the brand.

This is no longer a trend to observe but a firmly entrenched reality. If you are a service provider it behooves you to understand the reasons why a company outsources its work and what areas are most likely to be outsourced. Figure out what it is you do well and differentiate yourself. Land 5-6 regular clients and, like a mutual fund, diversify your income streams and embrace the freedom that comes with the new business model.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

How "intelligent" is your intelligence?

I would venture to guess that your organization values pertinent information surrounding its industry. I would also assume that you have someone in your organization who was given the responsibility to gather and collect competitive information, likely through industry sites and tools like "Google Alerts."

So we've established that you are interested in competitive intel and that you likely have someone gathering it. What's next?

Well, what is the quality of your information? Is it fact or hearsay? The quality of your intel can drastically impact the effectiveness of your strategy....just ask Hans Blix or Collin Powell. In a perfect world every bit of information is fact and easily verifiable. In the real world you are likely required to use a little bit of your gut in determining whether or not the information is good enough to act upon.

The folks in the intelligence community have been wrestling with this issue for years. To that end they developed the Admiralty Rating Scheme. It is a code that essentially allows intelligence analysts to rate information on its reliability and credibility.

While there isn't any kind of uniform rating system in the private sector, most astute companies apply some kind of grade to the gathered intelligence. And these companies follow a similar outline. How reliable is the source of information? (Industry expert or arm chair blog hack?) And, how credible is the information. (Can it be validated elsewhere or does it make sense given everything else that you know?)

The application of a simple rating system can drastically improve your ability to turn information into intelligence that is worthy to run a strategy off of. We all know that decision making can be difficult for many companies. So when it is time for one, make sure that you are basing it on good intel.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How companies use marketing analytics

We've spent the better part of the last several years trumpeting the benefits of analytics for marketing. Yes, there are benefits....very tangible benefits that make your CFO happy and your bottom line bigger.

The wonderful folks at the Adberdeen Group recently published a white paper highlighting the best practices of leading companies in regards to marketing. It is very insightful and serves as a great sales pitch for firms, like Lacuna, that specialize in marketing analytics.

One graph stood out. It is featured below. It highlights the top priorities for leading companies in relation to marketing analysis. It can serve as a road map for those companies that are looking to get their analytical operations off the ground.

Take a look at the list below. Spend some time on it. Would the insights that these tools can create be of value to your organization? I bet they would. Now, get to work and make your efforts more effective!