Competitor Research in a World of Uncertainty
(Or, How Not to Get Bit in the Butt by Competitive Realities)
Investment or Expense?
Many companies do not have a budget for market research or competitive intelligence. When these companies are encountered with difficult competitors and begin to lose business against them, they are suddenly faced with the need to conduct research and, unfortunately, instead of accepting the need to pay for the research, they begin to look for reasons not to conduct the research – because they see it as an expense and not an investment in the company’s future success.
This decision not to invest in research may appear a smart decision in the short term, but it can literally sink the company in the long term.
Competitor Research or Competitive Intelligence – whatever term you prefer to use – is a key investment in the company’s success especially in times of economic uncertainty, because it will help the company get through tough times and prepare it to take advantage of economic upswings.
Before launching a competitor research project, whether it is done in-house or through a vendor, a great deal of careful planning is required. The result of this planning is a Project Description or Statement of Work that describes in detail the objectives and expected outcomes of the project. It will also describe the reasons behind the project and how the insights derived from the research and analysis will be used to meet the objectives of the company.
The main segments of the project description are:
- Project Leads
- Purpose of the project, objectives, and reasons for the project
- How the research findings will be used and by whom
- Primary deliverables – what will success look like
- Secondary deliverables – the nice to haves
- How will research be conducted, methodologies,
- Who will conduct the field work, analysis
- Data points
- Internal and external resources
The purpose of this article is to assist companies prepare for competitor research, to give them the opportunity to better understand how it can benefit their sales and marketing efforts, and to see market research as an investment for – and contributor to – their long-term success in an ever-changing competitive environment. I hope these helpful tips will help encourage the use of market research in a tech-savvy economy.