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Competitive Intelligence: Tools & Techniques

Instructor: Sean Kennedy

Sean has 8 years experience as a supervisor and has an MBA with a concentration in marketing.

Competitive intelligence is the collection of information to help businesses make informed decisions and compete in their markets. In this lesson, we will discuss the benefits of using two competitive intelligence techniques: SWOT analysis and win-loss analysis.

The Importance of Competitive Intelligence

Are you a business owner looking for ways to make your business stand out among competitors? There are some practical tools and techniques that can be used to remain competitive. Competitive intelligence is the collection of information to help businesses make informed decisions and compete in their markets. After all, as a business owner, you want to be successful, combat your weaknesses, and learn to capture new ways to expand your product or services.

SWOT in Business

One of the most popular competitive intelligence tools is SWOT analysis. SWOT analysis is used to determine internal and external factors that can affect a company's success. It is useful for a company to determine what opportunities are available; also, discovering your weaknesses allows you to work on them, turn them into strengths, and make the business more secure. A SWOT analysis identifies:

  • Strengths: These help determine the advantages of your company. When looking at your strengths, you should know what your customers think are the strong assets of your company. For example, your customers may think you have excellent customer service, or think the features available for your product add extra value. Strengths may also include attributes like low employee turnover, high levels of sales, or business growth.
  • Weaknesses: These are what causes you to lose sales. You want to research weaknesses to assist in determining what you need to work on to become more competitive. Some examples of weaknesses include a lack of resources, limited growth, or failure to advance technology.
  • Opportunities: These allow a company to become involved in a trend that may benefit the business. Taking advantage of opportunities allows a company to gain a competitive edge over other companies. It is essential for a business to continue to identify opportunities to help the company grow. Examples include the possibility of entering into a new market or advancing technology.
  • Threats: These are external factors that a business cannot control and can harm business operation. Make sure to be aware of any possible problems: some examples of threats include an economic downturn, a technological change that makes your product less attractive, or an increase in supplier prices.

Imagine you are a new clothing retail business and want to learn more about your current operations and competitors. Utilizing SWOT can help you determine what strengths you possess and what needs to be fixed within your organization. For instance, you may notice bad reviews about your customer service, which is considered a weakness: this could explain low sales numbers.

Since you own a new business, there is a chance that once you increase your sales, other opportunities, such as expansion, will become available. You are positioned to enjoy significant growth in your company, which would make this fall under your strengths in SWOT analysis. One of the biggest threats would be increased competition. Using SWOT analysis allows you to gain valuable information about your business.

Win-Loss Analysis

Win-loss analysis helps a business understand sales numbers from its customers' perspective. The process consists of phone interviews with current customers or past customers who were not satisfied with the company's product or services.

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