Monday, April 26, 2010

Tough Times and the Competition: Making a Case for Competitive Intelligence

Tough Times and the Competition: Making a Case for Competitive Intelligence

Read this great article from my mentor and Thunderbird professor extraordinaire, Paul Kinsinger. Some very relevant insights regarding how competitive intelligence needs to be used during tough times like the present.

Monday, April 19, 2010

How to elicit competitive intelligence

Here is an interesting presentation from fellow T-Bird alum, Stephen Hernan. It is a general discussion on various tactics that can be employed when trying to elicit intelligence from the people managing the organizations that you might be following.

Discussion regarding the ethics of some of these recommendations aside, he does a good job of explaining how human interactions can be manipulated for the sake of gaining intelligence. As anyone who has spent time gathering competitive intelligence will tell you, getting actual actionable intelligence from a living, breathing human being is quite a more difficult and unpredictable challenge than just relying solely on secondary sources.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Lifting the veil and really understanding your consumer

Being "customer-centric" is one of the most overly used and lightly treated buzz words generated by executives today. It's the type of thing the CEO mentions in an annual report to make the company seem relevant and progressive. But beyond the blank commitment to the phrase, what does it mean to be truly "consumer centric"?

A recent article from the Harvard Business Review (view here) helps separate the posers from the players by outlining what some leading companies are doing in order to be truly customer oriented. And the positive results of their actions help lend credence to the notion that listening to the customer is good for business.

It specifically highlights how "Best Buy for Business" was able to distinguish itself from its competition and thrive in a difficult retail environment because it of its core commitment to responding to consumer needs. As someone who has helped lead marketing efforts for "Best Buy for Business" I can attest to how in tune they are with their various and different customers. Their genuine commitment is tangible and acknowledged by most who shop there.

One other thing regarding the use of consumer research to the benefit of marketing and product development programs. Companies need to leverage both internally led and external information sources for their efforts. Most larger companies that I work with have some sort of consumer research mechanism that queries their customer base. But you would be surprised at how few of them monitor the wider universe for what consumers are saying about their brands outside of the control of a focus group.

Social media and internet search capabilities now provide companies with an incredible ability to hear the unfiltered and unsolicited opinions of their valued consumers. This is the truest and most accurate way to measure the pulse of the brand. More and more companies are acknowledging this and developing programs to monitor these groups.

The bottom line is technology is enabling us with more and more means to connect with our customers. And companies that connect with customers are the ones that last and that case studies are written about.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Good CI resource

We are always out looking for relevant resources that can enhance our understanding of important concepts. JTHawes Consulting has a great blog that delves into matters of competitive intelligence. It's worth a look.

JTHawes Blog