It’s not just the major multinational businesses that buy in competitive intelligence. Knowing your competition is an advantage, whatever your size or stage in the business lifecycle. Indeed, having an in-depth knowledge of the competition from day one is of great benefit, as many startups have discovered.
Let’s have a closer look at how buying in competitive intelligence can help both startups and SMBs.
How startups use competitive intelligence
We work with a number of startups. Typically, they are B2B companies buying intelligence about what their competitors are selling, how they are selling it, and for what price. Winning new contracts is far too important for a finger-in-the-air approach.
We’re not making the assumption that a startup is a naive organisation, as of course, it’s unlikely that anyone would start a business in a field they had absolutely no idea about. However, if you are a startup going into a sales pitch, it is reassuring to have the back-up of thorough research and understanding.
How can a startup best make use of competitive intelligence? It is about turning broad knowledge of the industry into detailed intelligence. And if you are from a startup, just think what a real advantage it is to do this from the beginning, as it can help inform your earliest strategies, as well as making sure that your first product/service launch is on the money. Literally. Find out what your competitors are selling, for how much, and to whom they are selling. How do they communicate with their customers? Indeed, who are their customers?
Can a new business afford to buy competitive intelligence? If you are pitching for a significant contract, knowing how competitors are likely to prepare their own bids will give you an advantage; it will help define what product features to highlight and how, how to price your own bid and what claims may be being made about you that you should deflect. Cost-wise, it is a fairly easy decision to make for a B2B startup – if the cost of buying competitive intelligence wins just one more contract, it is worth it.
Do SMBs use competitive intelligence?
It may be harder for an established but small business to justify competitive intelligence than for a startup. With limited budgets and resources, and existing knowledge of the industry and competition, competitive intelligence may be deemed “nice to have” rather than a business essential. An SMB may try and source their own intelligence (and Aqute has plenty of free resources to help); however this approach always falls down when strong primary research is required.
SMBs have limited resources: as a smaller organisation, it is less likely that there’ll be someone with the free time to undertake competitive intelligence. And employees will have less flexibility in terms of the type of research that they can conduct than an external agency.
A small business has many of the same needs as a larger one when it comes to competition: what is the competition selling, for how much, and to whom? If the SMB is selling B2B, it is very hard to find out a lot of this information without it becoming horribly anecdotal.
A wise investment
You do not have to be Pfizer to see the benefits of competitive intelligence. Yes, we have got some pretty big names on our website, but that does not mean we do not provide the same service for smaller and newer companies. It is just a question of scale. And after all, even IBM had to start somewhere...
If you are a startup or a small organisation wanting to gain competitive advantage, call us. All businesses need competitive intelligence.