4 ways to maximize competitive intelligence benefits for your executive leadership

You know competitive intelligence (CI) is important to doing your job well. But you also know that your own confidence in its value isn’t enough to ensure its continued investment at your organization. Even if you already did the work to get the initial buy in from your executives, you need them to consistently see the value of competitive intelligence over time. Their opinion will decide whether you continue to have the resources you need for a CI program to pay off.

 

Keeping the C-suite Invested in Competitive Intelligence

The challenge is that they’re busy. Once they’ve given their initial approval, their attention inevitably turns to other things. To keep them invested in your CI program, you need to work out a system to ensure they continue to see the value in the months and years to come.

1. Consider their top priorities.

Part of a marketer’s job is understanding what your audience cares about. Which means you have an edge when it comes to this part. All you need to do is shift your focus from getting inside the heads of your customers, to those of your C-suite. Think about what their jobs look like, the pressures they face, and what their main priorities are.

While the specifics will be different for each executive, there are a few common things the C-suite tends to be motivated by:

    • Growing revenue – put simply, they care about how the company’s books look at the end of the year and whether they can demonstrate an increase in profitability.
    • Market share – If an executive is out to supplant a competitor, or concerned about the progress a new upstart in the space is making, they’ll be concerned about keeping what market share the company has and hopefully growing it.
    • Insider knowledge – No executive wants to be the last to know about a threat to the business. If your competitive intelligence can ensure they’re always on top of what’s happening in the industry and what competitors are up to, they’ll be able to do their jobs more effectively.

Think about how your competitive intelligence program helps accomplish those things. How can you frame what you learn in competitive research to ensure you’re hitting the beats that matter most to them?

A strong CI program provides different benefits to different parts of your organization. The information you deliver to your executives should be different from what you provide to the marketing, sales, and product development teams. So shift your focus accordingly when determining the best metrics and information to share with them.

2. Figure out the right format.

People learn differently. And every person has different channels they use for communicating and learning new information. You want to learn out what your C-suite’s preferences are for this. Do they stick with email, or prefer to learn through more visual formats? Would a well-designed PDF go further than a report that’s primarily text?

The answer here will vary at different organizations, and it’s even possible you’ll need to put your information into a few different formats to best suit the preferences of different executives. The best way to find the right format for each executive is to ask them their preferences. But if you have a hard time getting an answer, you can try out different things to see which they seem to respond to.

Yes, doing this requires more work. If you have to create unique reporting content for each executive, you’ll need to commit more time and resources to it. But considering that they’re the ones who hold the company’s purse strings, it’s time well spent if it means your organization continues its investment in competitive intelligence.

3. Include data.

While you want to provide information that’s easily digestible and puts the most important insights front and center, you need to make sure every takeaway you highlight is backed up with data.

Numbers are powerful. Your executives want to know the decisions they make are based on facts rather than conjecture. Data-backed insights are worth more than any other information you provide. Wherever possible, make sure you match the information you supply with relevant metrics that support your case.

4. Provide updates on a regular basis.

This is arguably the hardest part. It’s easy to do something once and forget to ever bother with it again, unless you intentionally make it a part of your process.

Determine the best frequency for updating your C-suite with competitive intelligence. What’s the right balance between so often they stop paying attention, and so rarely that they miss important updates? Once you’ve determined a frequency that makes sense, make a schedule to help you stick to it. Put a repeating deadline on the calendar, and make sure you leave room for the work required in your schedule.

Knowing you should do something isn’t enough to getting it done. You need to make sure the task makes its way into your regular processes, and is assigned the level of priority it deserves.

 

Keep Executives Informed and Your CI Program Funded

Taking these steps are good for you, since they increase the likelihood that you’ll continue to get the budget and resources you need to keep doing competitive research. But if you do it right, it will be just as valuable to your executives, as it will keep them knowledgeable about the larger industry and the companies you’re up against. That information is crucial to enabling them to do their jobs better. And that benefits everyone at the organization.

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