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Four key steps for using competitive intelligence to improve your business – Hersch

by: Benson Hersch, CEO of the Association of Short Term Lenders (ASTL)
  • 02/05/2019
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Four key steps for using competitive intelligence to improve your business – Hersch
In the current environment of uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to ensure your business is equipped to handle whatever challenges are thrown at it.


This means you need to have the right approach to gathering and acting upon competitive intelligence.

Harvard Business Review describes competitive intelligence as a perspective on changing market conditions, helping you to identify risks and opportunities early enough to allow your business to adapt its strategy.

Competitive intelligence includes tracking your emerging and existing competitors, but this is just one element and the real focus should be on customers and continuing to meet their changing needs.


Do not forget your customers

A White Paper by Lexis Nexis on competitive intelligence provides a good example of how too much focus on the competition can be ultimately damaging.

In 2008, there were two daily newspapers in Denver, Colorado – Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post.

One year later, Rocky Mountain News announced its closure, ending the publication’s 150-year reign as the oldest daily in the state.

Following the demise of the newspaper it emerged that its editors often held back on publishing breaking news to its website for fear that the Denver Post would steal the story.

In reality, the fear that they might give their competitor an edge, only resulted in alienating readers who only saw that the News was consistently being scooped by the Post.

The Rocky Mountain News was more focused on its competitor than on its customers.

Here are four tips to help ensure that your business makes the most of competitive intelligence, to help it thrive in changing times:


Keep it current
Historical data is useful, but make sure you have access to timely information.


Trust your sources
Information is freely and widely available, but not all of it is correct. Make sure you trust your sources to be accurate.


Understand your markets
The world is becoming increasingly interconnected, so don’t be too narrow in your focus. Work to gain an understanding of adjacent markets as trends in these may impact your business before you realise.


Prepare for the unknown
The future is unknown for everyone, but you can prepare a plan with a comprehensive understanding of existing conditions. You also need to be prepared to drop any preconceptions if the future turns out to be very different to what you expect. This is as true of businesses as it is for sporting teams.


The importance of accurate and comprehensive competitive intelligence is one of the motivations behind our annual conference at the ASTL in November.

Knowledge is power, so in this environment it’s vital that you take every opportunity to build your own personal, professional and institutional knowledge.

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