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How to Run a Competitor Analysis - focusing on online competitors buff.ly/2ibiNeB
An ongoing analysis of what your competitors are up to is essential if you want to stay ahead. Leaving it for when your bank or an investor asks for information on the market is not enough. You need to stay up to date on your direct and indirect competitors and what is changing - ideally offline as well as online. (This article includes a free guide that can be downloaded, focusing on online competitors).
Discover where #competitors are beating you online: how to understand your online marketplace & #competition
Every company has competitors. In fact, a competitive marketplace is a critical component of our free enterprise system, driving our economy, innovation and the continuous cycle of ever improving quality of products and services.
But do you really know how your company compares to your competitors?
Traditional competitive analyses are applied from either a business plan standpoint or as a component of the annual marketing plan, and they tend to focus primarily on areas such as; Researching your competitors’ corporation, determining your competitors’ goals and objectives, identifying your competitors’ strategies (product, pricing, positioning and place), and conducting a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats).
While there are countless variations of the traditional competitive analysis, it typically lacks a clear assessment from a digital inbound marketing perspective. Companies tend to know their competitors based upon who they compete with on the street, in their local marketplace, or based upon the sales opportunities of what they have won or lost.
Little awareness or recognition is given to their online competitors. ... See MoreSee Less
How to Start a Competitive Analysis: 57 Questions You Need to Ask
A good introductory guide to competitor analysis - showing areas that need to be looked at, especially when the competitors are online. (There's lots more, of course, that can be looked at - and uncovering competitor strategy and future intentions is not easy - which is why engaging experts is often money well-spent. However much of what is needed to get started can and should be done in-house so a guide like this is well worth following). Includes a download template for looking at online competition - promoting Alexa. (Alexa is a great service that allows you to monitor competitor activity online). ... See MoreSee Less
Although this is a promotional page (with a pop-up that asks you to download the e-book) the 21 tips are good - starting with number 1 & 2: you don't have to be 100% perfect. (Human beings aren't robots. We make mistakes. Your audience is more likely to warm to you if they see you as human). Number 3 - about not relying on PowerPoint is also important. Powerpoint can be a crutch. Who wants to walk about with a crutch. If you use PowerPoint (and there are pros to using it) it should be as a tool to make the presentation interesting. However it is what YOU say that is important - not the content of the slides. So you really need to know your topic inside out - and be passionate about it.
My favourite tip is actually the last. If you want your presentation to sound wooden, fake and boring, then spend time learning the script by heart and practicing it non-stop. Unless you are a professional actor, doing this will not make the presentation good. It will make it dry and artificial. Instead, know your subject so that you can answer any questions - including those not asked directly by the audience but intimated in their body language. Look at the audience - and gauge how they are feeling about what you are saying and be prepared to tailor your words to these emotions. (If you have a completely prepared script you can't do this as you won't be able to "go off piste" when necessary). Know your subject so well that if using PowerPoint you don't need the slides to speak. You speak - and the slides support what you are saying - and NOT the other way around. ... See MoreSee Less
#WeChat is China's most popular #SocialMedia channel - but only recently overtook the lesser known but still important QQ.
Significantly both are products of Tencent - and show how keeping up-to-date with market changes is crucial for strategic success, especially in fast-moving technology areas. The lessons from WeChat's success and QQ's fall are also relevant for social media elsewhere - and #strategy overall. It's better to cannibalise your own products than let competitors do it for you
Technological innovations occur in cycles with each development having 3 phases: 1) Discovery & installation - mostly funded by speculative investment chasing fast returns. This leads to a bubble and 2) A turning point - where the technology has been adopted and grown - leading to inequalities and problems, and social and economic turbulence, with the burst of the bubble and a financial crisis. This gets sorted, leading to the final 3rd phase. 3) Deployment - where the technology spreads and leads to a "golden age" where the technology is not only established but benefits all.
Since the industrial revolution, we've been through a number of such cycles - steam & railways - electricity / heavy engineering - Oil, automation, mass production. We are now in an era of IT, Information & telecommunication - and the financial crisis of 2007 was the turning point.
Although the idea sounds good, the article doesn't mention AI (artificial intelligence) - which, along with biotech initiatives and DNA as an information storage (plus nanotechnology) may be heralding a new age that will replace the current IT/telecom one.
If a scientific conspiracy theory is funny, that doesn’t mean it’s a joke.
Recently, a conspiracy idea that the earth is flat and not a sphere has grown in popularity - partly due to being pushed by a rap music star. A search on Google for "Flat earth" gives bit.ly/2yVj5t7 as the third link showing how this has become "acceptable" to many. A key question is why and how conspiracy theories spread and get believed. The use of social media and platforms such as Reddit, etc. can lead to nonsense ideas spreading - as seen in the flat earth example.
A lesson for all involved in #strategy is that if something is spread enough times it can become acceptable. Peer pressure, various biases and the ignorance of truth (plus a reluctance to accept ignorance or even to check for the truth) can lead to crazy ideas getting adopted. The article focuses on the flat earth idea. There are many more: the anti-vaxx movement, Holocaust Denial, the 911 truthers (who claim the twin towers were deliberately bought down by the US Government and/or Israel), and several others - including many management fads and ideas on "strategy". . ... See MoreSee Less
Choosing a new strategic direction is hard - especially when the market is changing rapidly. A core assumption in much of strategic management research is that more accurate forecasts of future competitive actions or the future value of certain business capabilities will lead to strategic success.
Executives have long been exhorted to conduct analyses of internal and external environments and construct scenarios of the future. However, seeing strategy in this way has some serious weaknesses. It assumes that accuracy can be achieved through rigorous analysis and conscientious efforts to overcome individual biases in perception. It also assumes that the process will be relatively frictionless and primarily analytical.
Because the future is essentially unknowable, leaders must rely on the past for information and insight. Moreover, given that the future is unknown, there are likely to be differences and conflicts within the organization about what that future might hold. Such conflicts can impede progress on the development and execution of new strategies — especially innovative strategies that depart significantly from a company’s current approach to the market.
Rethinking the past and present can help managers reimagine the future and so construct a strategic narrative that can enable innovation. ... See MoreSee Less
There's a new Chrome & Firefox browser extension that's potentially very useful for #OSINT searching. It works for in-context searches - although seems still to be in development - as the extension on the bookmark bar includes dead links and is has two blank sections. However the in-context option (right click and highlight the search term) works well.
Of course, as with any extension, there's the risk of passing data on searches back - so that's a risk you need to consider. Nevertheless for many searches it may be a boon - especially for areas such as competitive intelligence, etc.
The extension uses links as described by Michael Bazzell - a guru on OSINT searching (and I really recommend his book on the subject). ... See MoreSee Less
Michael Porter - the Competitive Strategy & Intelligence Guru wrote: "Strategy is about making choices, trade-offs; it's about deliberately choosing to be different."
This article from the London Business School is saying something similar. It looks at a few industries (consulting, hotels and banking).
In the case of the hotel industry, lots of people have commented on how AirBnB is changing the industry. The article doesn't even mention AirBnB. Instead it focuses on the traditional industry and how one company - through clever targeting - shows how being different can succeed. And it is correct! Not everybody will want to stay in an AirBnB. Many want a traditional hotel for multiple reasons - and there is still scope for innovation, even in "old-school" type, low-tech industries.
The examples for banking and consulting are similar. Competitive Strategy is about being different. It doesn't have to mean being technologically different. It just means finding a customer group that you can serve better than anybody else.
Fake news is insidious. It often starts simply - with something small and innocuous. But if the news is convincing enough or spread sufficiently, more and more people believe it until it turns into a full blown conspiracy theory. It then becomes very difficult to disprove - as the numbers of people claiming the item is true make it harder to show the story was false in the first place.
Scott Adams has captured this in this week's Dilbert Cartoons which are worth thinking about.
Boss: Why did you move the server rack? Dilbert: I didn't. Boss: You must be lying because I heard you did. Dilbert: Isn't it more likely you're wrong? Boss: Considering all the options, I like the on...
We've all had the tech-support scam cold-call. Most of us just put the phone down. In this Podcast (with related transcript) journalist Alex Goldman users elicitation, #OSINT research skills, and more to find out one company behind these calls, and uncovers their location, their employees, motivations and more.
It's a great example of how good research (and enough time) can find out about even really hard to find intelligence. ... See MoreSee Less
The Difference Between Open-Minded and Close-Minded People.
Being able to change your mind - even if you don't like the change is crucial to learning. For any research or intelligence role this is essential as new ideas or evidence can mean that strategies need to change.
This is the case even if you instinctively dislike the change. So you need to be able to challenge ideas rather than fight challenging ideas. Ask questions rather than give opinions. Keep quiet and listen. Accept you may be wrong - with a unconditional "Full stop" rather than a conditional "but".
Finally open mindedness requires humility and the willingness to accept multiple ideas.
How to Gather Competitive Intelligence Even if You’re Small or have a tiny budget buff.ly/2x9Fkhu
10 ways you can get information on your competition:
1) Look at competitor websites for a big jumpstart 2) Sign up for Google Alerts for the latest news 3) Read social media feeds and look at their followers and interactions 4) Look at their advertising, which often reveals targeting and positioning 5) Attend conferences and industry events where your competitors are present 6) Sign up for their newsletters and get on their email lists 7) Conduct keyword research to determine their priorities, strengths and weaknesses 8) Ask customers about their experiences with your competition, or create a digital survey to send to your list 9) Call your competitor or their customer service department and ask away 10) If you can swing it, become a customer and get first-hand experience with them
Use these 10 tactics to find competitive weaknesses and gaps. Address target audiences that your competitors are neglecting. Find an angle to paint your business as a superior alternative. Think about alternative pricing models and service delivery. I think the most important is number 8 - ask customers. Numbers 9 and 10 need to be considered carefully as it is essential to remain ethical and NOT to lie about who you are! ... See MoreSee Less
Find out as much as possible about the interviewees and the topic using secondary research tools. Google them. Look them up on LinkedIn. Are they in the news?
The aim is to be relaxed and in command of the topic so they don’t blindside you with anything. If they do, you are cool about it and don’t need to sound unprepared by asking for an explanation.
3. Know the law
Can you record any interview? Do you need to tell interviewees that you are recording?
Respect confidentialities – those of your client and of your interviewees: Should they say “oops – shouldn’t have told you that, it’s confidential” you cannot pass the information on.
4. Think about how your interviewees will react
What is their persona? Do they want to be helpful? If so, ask for their help. Do they think they are the world expert in the topic? If so, praise them and say you are calling because they are known as the world expert on xyz.
What can get them to talk to you? Naïveté? Sometimes that’s the best approach. At other times, you may need to be seen as a colleague to confide in.
Also consider when to call … how do you like getting calls for help at 8.55am on a Monday or 4.55pm on a Friday?
5. You are asking for information
That means you need interviewees to talk.
So don’t blow your own trumpet.
Again – think about what will encourage them to talk. Essentially, you are a blank page they are writing on. Suspend your own ego to let them express theirs.
6. Be ethical
Never misrepresent yourself or lie about who you are. At the same time, keep client confidentiality – that usually means you cannot divulge that name or the full reasons for calling. ... See MoreSee Less
What IS #information? Claude Shannon's work transformed our understanding of data & how we communicate. His work is still relevant - for anybody working as an information professional.
Shannon, along with Warren Weaver (in "The Mathematical Theory of Communication") devised the Shannon-Weaver communication model that explains how people communicate and why some fail to get their message across. The Shannon Information Theory that underpins can explain success or failure in communicating the results of business research, marketing & competitive intelligence, and more. ... See MoreSee Less
On July 21st 1906, Marshall McLuhan was born - 111 years ago today.
McLuhan who died in 31 December 1980 is remembered for coining the expression "the medium is the message" and the term global village in 1962! He also predicted the World Wide Web almost 30 years before it was invented. "The next medium, whatever it is—it may be the extension of consciousness—will include television as its content, not as its environment, and will transform television into an art form. A computer as a research and communication instrument could enhance retrieval, obsolesce mass library organization, retrieve the individual's encyclopedic function and flip into a private line to speedily tailored data of a saleable kind." (The Gutenberg Galaxy - 1962).
McLuhan appears in an iconic scene in Woody Allen's Annie Hall - showing how he traversed the worlds of academia and was relevant even in popular culture.
Today we take for granted many of the things McLuhan predicted - and the inter-connectedness of the world through media such as Facebook and LinkedIn, the information retrieval using Google, the merger of television with electronic media via YouTube, the internationalisation of trade.... We do now live in a Global village.
Too often, we are scared to admit we don't know something - so when asked a question, we bluff and try and give an answer, rather than admit the truth. "I don't know".
Don't bluff. People can spot a bluffer. Instead admit you don't know. Follow it up with "I don't know - but I'll aim to find out for you" or "I don't know - we should do some more work on that". It is honest and doesn't hide ignorance (and nobody can be expected to know everything). More importantly it opens out discussion - and you may get the answer from somebody else who does know. (And in those circumstances, bluffing would quickly expose you as a fool). ... See MoreSee Less
Boost Your Marketing Returns by Improving Email readability buff.ly/2u24sVb I recently mentioned an email I'd received that was packed with buzzwords & jargon. (bit.ly/2tybPQX) It's a shame the author hadn't read this article which gives tips on writing promotional emails that work.
People have a short attention span. They'll spend only seconds skim-reading before deciding on whether or not to delete a promotional email. Clear, concise content is essential if your potential customers are going to act on your emails. Calculating and then improving readability is a skill all marketers need. ... See MoreSee Less
Which social media platform should my business be on?
Social media is part of everyday life – Twitter hacks become major news stories, and video bloggers top the bestseller charts. Despite this, it is still often hard to know how social media can benefit your business. In this guide, take a look at all the major social networks along with examples of how SME businesses are using them to boost their profile. ... See MoreSee Less
"Our 2017 theme will center on Developing & Engaging the Modern Workforce: Thriving in an Increasingly Complex Business Environment. It is mission critical for today’s organization to focus on collaborating with both internal and external communities with strategic and tactical approaches. This is a time of great change and uncertainty in Europe, and a successful model requires critical knowledge of disruptive forces and industry drivers as well as a better understanding of corporate stake holders and objectives. The 2017 European Summit will center on the rise of a community-based intelligence structure that harnesses collaboration in order to enhance efficiency, effectiveness, and impact."
I've removed two words that would make it very easy to guess the organisation - even if you don't them from the phrasing.
The Harvard University Professor, Richard Rumelt, gave a number of ways to identify a bad strategy in his (well-worth-reading) book "Good Strategy / Bad Strategy". One way to recognise a bad strategy is the over-use of fluff - "Sunday" words that have little real meaning.
Rumelt summarised key points in the book in a June 2011 issue of the McKinsey Quarterly saying: "A final hallmark of mediocrity and bad strategy is superficial abstraction—a flurry of fluff—designed to mask the absence of thought. Fluff is a restatement of the obvious, combined with a generous sprinkling of buzzwords that masquerade as expertise."
The quoted paragraph from the email was perhaps the worst example although the email included other nonsense: "very unique opportunity" (and later: "two unique opportunities" - unique means "ONE" so if there are two opportunities, they cannot be unique).
If your strategy can't be quickly understood as the wording lacks clarity, then the chances are the thought processes behind the strategy also lack clarity. That is the reason such strategies tend to be bad. The same applies to writing an email aimed at persuading the recipient to take action and sign up to participate in the 2017 European Summit.