June 2013

How to outwit and outmanoeuvre your competitors

Dear Reader,

Business is more competitive today than ever before. So what can you do to make sure your business stays ahead of your competitors? How can you reach new customers first? One of the keys to success is having great competitor intelligence.
When you know what your competitors are up to, you can look at ways of doing it better and getting ahead of them.

This issue of Better Insight will give you seven ways to outwit, outmanoeuvre and outflank your competitors.

Best wishes,

Martin Holliss

e: martinh@research-insight.com
t: +44 1235 812 456
m: +44 7931 376501

Seven Steps to Becoming More Competitive

Here are seven steps to follow, to help you get ahead of your competitors.

  1. Know what your competitors are up to. You probably know who your competitors are; you also need to know what they do and how they do it. What are their top selling products and services? What marketing do they use most successfully? Who are their customers? What makes them different from you?

  2. Decide what you need to know about your competitors. There are two main levels of information to consider. The first is competitor profiling, designed to give you financial, strategic and marketing information. The second is ongoing news about your competitors' activities which might be delivered to you in daily news alerts or a weekly digest.

  3. Gather information from a variety of sources. A lot of data can be collected using desk research, for example by looking at websites, articles, annual reports and bulletin boards. A word of warning: be wary of what your competitors say in their blogs, as they tend to put forward views and opinions for public consumption. What you actually need is reliable and well-triangulated facts about what your competitors are up to, not just what they are claiming publicly.

  4. Supplement desk research with targeted telephone interviews. These might be with your competitors' customers, journalists and editors of trade journals, or trade associations. We can even speak to directors and managers working for your competitors. It's amazing what people tell us when we ask them and show interest! At Research Insight, we call these ‘targeted detective style' interviews. Designed to elicit nuggets of information, they enable us to build a rich fact-based picture of the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors.

  5. Keep an eye on online activity. Search engine rankings, both sponsored and organic, reveal a lot about your competitors' strategy and tactics. For instance, identify competitors with a strong organic search engine position, find out why and apply this knowledge to your own website. Another powerful tool is regular, structured reviewing of competitor websites to identify pages that have changed. This will give you direct insight into their latest marketing and product development decisions.  Lastly, don’t forget social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter – you can learn a huge amount by monitoring your competitors’ Facebook and LinkedIn pages, and their tweets.

  6. Consider employing a specialist market research agency. Of course we'd say that and it’s because it makes business sense. You could do the work yourself, but do you know where to go for the information you need? Will your competitors tell you what you ask them, if they know who you are? Most companies will respond more positively to a call from an independent agency. Being detached from your market, it's also easier for an agency to spot opportunities that you might miss.

  7. Act on what you discover. There is little point knowing who your competitors are, and how or why they're successful, if you don’t do anything about it. You need to be prepared to change your business strategy or tactics in response to your findings. When you do, you'll be able to dramatically increase your competitive advantage.
Follow all these steps and take action on your findings and you’ll find it much easier to keep your business many steps ahead of your competitors.

How We Make Competitor Intelligence Work

One of our clients placed such a high value on gathering competitor intelligence that they asked us to provide three different strands of information:
  • Regular searches for competitor news and announcements, feeding into a weekly Competitor News Alert and a quarterly Competitor Newsletter that we send them.
  • Extensive analysis of search engine performance every two weeks, to highlight organic and sponsored positions, both for them and for several competitors, across a range of markets and keyword phrases.
  • A detailed review of every page of the websites of their main competitors, highlighting all the changes and additions.
The results gave them a clear picture of their competitors' marketing and positioning, revealing both strategic and tactical opportunities for their own business. There is no question that this competitive intelligence placed them in a stronger position and ahead of their competitors.
Other clients typically commission studies to assess their competitive position in a particular market or country, to explore competitor trends in detail, or to obtain a robust snapshot of competitors and their strategies in a new country before entering it or growing their export sales.
Competitor intelligence can take several forms, depending on the issues you are facing and the decisions you need to take.  The joy of our service is that it's flexible!


We don’t claim to have a monopoly on good ideas, so here are some other peoples’ takes on how to stay ahead of your competitors.  There’s a high degree of consistency with our own tips – well, we knew there would be since what we do works well and our clients come back for more!