You work hard to stay on top of your competitors’ moves. You sift through big and small changes alike and analyze the data to identify trends and strategies. But then what do you do with the data? One of the biggest challenges with making use of competitive intelligence (CI) is distributing that intel to the relevant stakeholders within your organization so that your team can take action on your competitive insights.
The teams who are most successful at communicating competitive intelligence have identified relevant communication channels, established a regular cadence for distribution, and, of course, crafted their CI updates to deliver immense value in a compact package.
Borrowing from the ideas of great CI updates, we’ve created a template for distributing competitive intelligence. Read on for recommendations to create your own.
#1: Tailor Deliverables to Your Stakeholders
The first step is to identify your competitive intelligence stakeholders. Each stakeholder within your organization has their own set of priorities. Because each team within your organization is responsible for their own objectives, the information that you will be delivering to each team will differ in type of content, deliverable type, and distribution channel. No single CI report or channel will work for every audience, so think about how you can customize your update to each group.
Sales wants to know how to win more deals and position your solution against alternatives. An example of a great deliverable for your sales team is a competitive battlecard, which can be updated in real-time, and lives either in your CRM or competitive intelligence platform.
Marketing wants to know how to create differentiated messaging, impactful content, and stand out against competitors in a crowded market. An example of a great deliverable for marketing is a competitive landscape snapshot or a competitive newsletter that highlights your competitor’s key messaging changes, market information, and latest content or campaign information.
Product wants to know what your competitors’ are doing to improve their own offerings and solve your market's problems. An example of a deliverable for your product team is a product sheet (or a one-pager, if you want to give a product overview). This allows your product team to gain insight into features, benefits, product updates, and even feedback from your competitor’s customers, which will then help your product team iterate on their strategy.
Executives don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to CI, so the simpler the deliverable, the better. An example of a great deliverable for your executive team is an executive dashboard. This is impactful for your executives to get a snapshot of major market shifts happening in real-time. Think of this as a command center for your executives to keep a pulse on the market.
While these are just some examples of competitive intelligence deliverables, it gives you insight into how you can tailor your CI deliverables to each stakeholder within your organization.
#2: Make it Digestible
No matter which deliverable you’re creating or who you’re communicating it to, you want to ensure that you’re making the content digestible. There is a lot of competitive intelligence data out there, and it’s easy to get lost in competitive intel. That can lead to your team not having enough time to act on the intel or even worse, starting to ignore intel.
A great way to make sure your entire organization is getting competitive intelligence delivered to them is by creating a competitive intel digest or newsletter. These newsletters should be digestible to encourage others to consistently review and evaluate the findings. Keep the digests short and focused and leverage formatting as well to keep the content skimmable. These can be sent out at whatever cadence works well for your team, whether that be daily, weekly, or monthly.
#3: Answer “So What”
In order for competitive intel to have an impact on your team, you need to help bridge the gap between what happened and why it matters. With every piece of intel you plan to share, ask and answer the question, “So what?” because that’s exactly what others will be thinking. Think of each piece of intel going through the following path: What Happened -> What It Means / Why It Matters -> What We Should Do About It.
The worst thing that happens with competitive intelligence information is that it doesn’t get used. This often happens when the “so what” goes unanswered. When you’re creating your competitive intelligence deliverables, you want to be sure that there is a purpose behind every insight you’re including. The more impact an insight has, the more likely your team is to leverage that information.
#4: Keep up a Regular Cadence of Communication
Competitive intelligence is like eating healthy or going to the gym - you need to do it consistently over a long period of time to see the impact. That means whatever cadence you choose for CI should be maintained. This allows you to take advantage of both short-term opportunities and long-term trends. If you’re not sure how often to leverage each method of communication, here is a simple list.
Email - Daily, Weekly, or Monthly
Meetings - Weekly or Monthly
Chat App / Slack - Daily
Wiki / Intranet - Weekly or Monthly
CRM or Competitive Intelligence Platform - Daily
#5: Look at the Short-Term and Long-Term Objectives
Competitive Intelligence isn’t a one and done type of initiative. CI is a long-term, ongoing process. While there are many short-term goals that can be accomplished with CI, there are long term wins as well. With a particular CI update cadence, you can risk boxing yourself into the intel delivered in that timeframe. Be sure to take a step back and identify longer-term trends to watch, and take a deep dive into the long-term view from time to time.
If you want to make an impact with your competitive intelligence program, ensure that you’re effectively communicating your data across your organization. Following these suggestions, you’ll be able to tailor CI to your stakeholders, create impactful deliverables, and communicate in a timely manner. Once your entire organization has a pulse on the competition, you’ll be able to level-up your strategy and gain a strong competitive advantage.
Originally published by Ellie Mirman on November 7, 2017. Updated by Emily Dumas on December 9, 2020.
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