It's the chicken-and-the-egg quandary. As marketers, we don't have time for competitive intelligence because we're focused on direct marketing campaigns, trade shows and...
...anything involving creating customer interactions. However, three months later when competing in a major deal, with millions of dollars on the line, sales management wonders why marketing hasn't produced enough competitive intelligence. With tight budgets, and few resources, as marketers we obviously cannot do it all.
This leads to me to my next point. If we believe Jack Welch, that strategy is all about resource allocation, then it would make sense that if we want to win in the marketplace that we'd add significant resources to our competitive intelligence function.
Some companies track current competitors. They track market share, earnings, gross margins, operating margins, etc. But these are high-level indicators that simply show the relative health of a competitor. Tracking M&A activity, percentage of R&D spend, and examining 10-Ks for directional statements adds more to the overall picture, but again these are very high level strategic indicators and not much value to the sales teams in the field.
If you agree that part of marketing's role is sales support, then you'll probably also agree that for every dollar spent on marketing, around 20% of it should be spent on deeper competitive intelligence.
Deeper competitive intelligence means creating competitive intelligence by company, by industry, and by product or service. Deeper competitive intelligence is about helping sales complete win/loss reviews after each significant deal to get a feel for competitive sales tactics. Deeper competitive intelligence also helps sales teams in the field position strengths to competitor weaknesses, and helps raise doubts about the competencies of your toughest foes.
So if strategy is all about resource allocation, are you allocating enough resources to competitive intelligence? As a marketer, if you're on the lookout for ways to impact the business and move the sales tachometer needle, there are few better places to invest than in deeper competitive intelligence.
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