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Product marketers, growth marketers, digital marketers, and demand generation marketers must define their priorities (and keep adjusting them) to keep their plans and campaigns current and effective—all the while ensuring alignment with the business so that they can ensure their priorities are also company priorities.
When marketing leaders think about goals and budgets, they have to consider initiatives that launch successful campaigns and execute the product road map. Competitive intelligence (CI) is invaluable for generating actionable insights and driving revenue, but CI initiatives or programs too often get pushed out or deprioritized.
A thorough competitive analysis doesn't happen overnight, and it requires consistency to drive results. Much like other marketing programs, there are several challenges with building and running a CI effort.
However, competitive analysis is most useful when planning a product road map or marketing strategy, as it can provide key industry insights that can help increase your market share.
Through automation and AI technology, you can reduce the number of hours spent tracking and updating spreadsheets and shift from a reactive to a proactive state of competition—what we like to call "competing intelligently."
Best Ways to Make Your Case
Though there are many benefits to having a CI program or tool, there are often objections from leaders.
Namely, "the why." CI is not merely a tool for robust companies that have money to throw at studying the competition. It's an agile way for organizations of any size to optimize the time and effort spent on developing opportunities.
Over the course of 2019, we spoke to many different product, digital, and growth marketers about the challenges of CI and gaining buy-in from their leadership. From there, we wanted to share the top insights and how you can build your case for prioritizing your CI initiatives in 2020.
Getting anything to the top of the priority list can be a challenge. You're collaborating and competing with your peers to get funding for the projects you need.
1. Prioritizing Competition
The competition never rests. Whether your company is a leader or an emerging company, the market will change rapidly and you won't be able to keep up if you don't keep an eye on what's happening. Although you can watch the news or create automated Google alerts, those changes you see are the ones your competition wants to share. What about the secret updates or pivots in messaging?
When pitching a CI program, it's about more than keeping an eye on what company A or B is doing; it's identifying the opportunity gaps. You shift from being reactive to proactive in your execution.
2. Providing Data
Marketing is a data-driven organization. The days of gut instinct and "that worked in the past" are far behind us. Manual research is a time-intensive activity. Several companies using CI have shared their stories of success, from enabling Sales to increase win-rates or using AI-collected insights to update a campaign to increase conversion by X%. Find case studies that align with your objectives, and use that information to make a case for improving your performance.
3. Partnering With Your Peers or Stakeholders
Marketing programs have many stakeholders, and each relies on some form of competitive intelligence, whether it's a formal process or ad hoc. Getting stakeholders involved from the onset will help make your case when leadership is setting the budget and 2020 goals.
Competitive analysis can be used in a variety of ways. Leadership teams are more likely to take a CI request seriously if they can see and understand the broader impact it will have on your organization. Getting other stakeholders involved and making it easy for them to vote for a tool to improve their execution will make you look like a rock star.
4. Understanding the Objections Your Leadership Might Have
Objection-handling is a key business skill. To increase your likelihood of getting your CI initiative to the top of the list, think as if you were the one who had to say "no." You might not be able to predict all the questions your manager might have, but here are some questions we often hear:
- What's wrong with the process we have now? There's nothing wrong, but ask yourself whether the process could be improved. If so, have you done everything you can or should do—with the resources that exist?
- Do we need another martech tool? As marketers, we understand: There are a lot of tools out there that could be made to work, with some tweaks here and there and extra hours. However, you need to decide whether those tools can actually be used and whether the time you spend trying to make them work will end in disappointment and another instance of manually researching competitors.
- Why don't we just hire another analyst to do this? Depending on the level of experience you'd be hiring, competitive intelligence analyst salaries, according to Glassdoor range from $50,000 to $114,709. That does not include the cost of the equipment or tools they'll need for the job. Hiring another analyst isn't the most cost-effective way to get your CI initiatives underway, and it could potentially be an even bigger obstacle to getting CI to the top of the list.
- We don't have the budget for another tool. Simply put, there is more money lost because of a lack of competitive intel, than the money spent on CI campaigns.
- We're already winning market share. Remaining the leader in the market isn't as hard as falling behind and having to grow exponentially to catch up. Those who think they're untouchable lack foresight into what's working for their competitors and are more likely to fall into the trap of thinking they'll always stay on top. For instance, Airbnb, Uber, Netflix were all technology disruptors; the reigning leaders in the market didn't think they needed to have sight into what emerging competitors were doing, but now they're the ones left behind.
Gaining or Keeping Your Competitive Edge
It's important to keep the end goal in mind as you lobby for your CI program to make it to the top of the priorities list. With the tips outlined in this article, you'll be able to implement automation to reduce time spent capturing data that could be used as insights to...
- Eliminate budget padding and potential waste in 2020
- Delight customers and increase retention rates, decreasing acquisition costs
- Improve the sales process to close more deals
With a data-driven approach to pitching your program, you'll be able to show proof that, with the right support, it can be a runaway success.
To learn more about how organizations across 20+ industries are using AI and machine-learning competitive intelligence to make strategic decisions, get a free trial of Kompyte, a real-time competitive analytics platform for product marketing, growth marketing, and sales enablement professionals.
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