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How to start using market intelligence

Quick start guide to MI & CI

January 14, 2021

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Market intelligence. You’ve heard about it, and the upsides it can deliver for your business. You – or perhaps your boss – think you probably should have it. You have no idea where to begin.

If you work in marketing, business development or knowledge management and have found yourself thrust into the role of “accidental” market (MI) or competitive intelligence (CI) analyst, you are not alone. As organizations attempt to adapt to changing business climates, many haphazardly decide to implement an MI program. For you, this means being asked to take on this additional role without much guidance – after all, you had a great deal on your plate already.

Where do I begin?

Perhaps you begin by using Google Alerts, website monitoring tools, social listening, and even automated news and data feeds. Suddenly you are drowning in a sea of data with no idea what to do with it.

These are some basic steps you can start with to help make your job easier.

  1. Learn the fundamentals of MI/CI and develop a plan. The foundation of all intelligence is knowing the right questions to answer, and how they relate to protecting and growing your business. Conduct a proper needs analysis with the stakeholders in your business to pinpoint what it is they want to know, what is the ultimate goal/purpose of the data you collect, and how will this affect the company’s future growth plans.
  2. Create an intelligence map. With a clear set of questions and understanding of what form the answers should take, you can find, filter and disseminate essential information. It is helpful to develop an intelligence map outlining Key Intelligence Topics (KITs) and subtopics. KITS allow you to triage your mountain of data quickly and effectively.
  3. Find the right intelligence tools or partners. Technology can be very useful, but also a source of confusion and frustration. But you don’t need to go at it alone. Identify a technology and/or an MI vendor that could be useful to you. Learn how they work before committing to one over the other. Often, a newsletter, dashboard or custom feed generated by a computer algorithm is not going to eliminate the influx of data. The tools you choose should empower and enable your decision making, not hinder it.
  4. Make sure you are covering all your bases. Some of your best sources might not be covered by the typical scans and news sources. For example, social media provides access to user-driven content in various formats. Social media can contain content that is not indexed by major search tools and it has also become an integral part of online branding strategies of many companies.
  5. Join professional intelligence groups. Become engaged with groups such as the Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP) organization to learn best practices and policy guidelines. These groups are teaming with knowledgeable individuals, happy to share their wealth of experience and insights with you. Visit their forums, get involved in discussions and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Merrell Moorhead

Merrell Moorhead

Merrell leads LAC Group's intelligence products and services team, including an extended group of talented and dedicated analysts. He works with clients across multiple industry, nonprofit and public service sectors to deliver insights and custom content to support strategy development, operational excellence and business growth.
Merrell Moorhead
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