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ShiftCentral / How to start using market intelligence

How to start using market intelligence

Market Intelligence. You’ve heard about it. You - or perhaps your boss - think you probably should have it. You have no idea where to begin.

If you work in marketing and have found yourself thrust in to the role of “accidental” MI analyst, you are not alone. As small and medium-sized businesses attempt to adapt to changing business climates, many haphazardly decide to implement a market intelligence program. For you, this means being asked to take on this additional role without much guidance – after all, you are the marketing department.

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

There are some basic steps you can begin with to help make your life easier.

Learn the fundamentals of competitive intelligence and develop a plan. 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. The clearer the picture you have of this, the easier you can filter and disseminate this information. It is helpful to develop an intelligence map outlining Key Intelligence Topics (KITs) and sub-topics. KITS allow you to triage your mountain of data quickly and effectively.

Identify technology and/or an MI vendor that could be useful to you. Identify them and learn how they work before committing to one over the other. Often, a newsletter 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.

Leverage social media for your intelligence purposes. It 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.

Lastly, become engaged with groups such as Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP). These groups are teaming with knowledgeable individuals, happy to share their wealth of experience and knowledge with you. Visit their forums, get involved in discussions and don’t be afraid to ask questions.