How To Conduct Killer Competitive Intelligence When Starting Up a Startup

competitive intelligence
There are a lot of great guides out there on conducting competitive intelligence. Unfortunately, most of these guides were written before things like social media became an integral part of our daily lives.
Competitive intelligence programs can help you better identify how to maneuver through the industry your company is in. Additionally, these programs can lead to a stronger branding strategy, improved customer experiences, and eventually, higher revenue streams.
To conduct competitive intelligence when starting up a startup, you need to know how to do these analyses in the modern era.
Dive Deep Into Competitor Websites:
When beginning a new company, many business owners take a peek at competitors’ websites and adjust their strategies accordingly. Although it’s a good idea to visit similar websites, you should be skeptical when surfing the web. Just because a company has the same buzzwords and layout on its website, doesn’t mean it’s a reflection of what they actually do, what they intend to do, or what they’re capable of doing. Rather than just clicking around on competitors’ homepages, dive deeper and gather as much information as you can on their website to get a better idea of how they are doing and how you can use this data.
Find Unhappy Customers:
A typical business only hears from 4% of its dissatisfied customers — but you can find a little more if you dig deep enough. Thanks to consumer reviews on social media and other websites, it’s easier than ever to identify customers who are unhappy with a certain company or brand. If you do a little research and gather all the complaints in a single file, you’ll be able to determine what it is your competitors are doing wrong and adjust your business plan accordingly. Additionally, thanks to LinkedIn and other sites, you can find any current or former employees, too.
Study Successful Industry Leaders:
Do your best to find out everything about leaders in your industry. Find out where they went to school. Check out all the other places they have worked. And research as much as you can to see if you can identify similarities or gather ideas for your own business.
Your best bet to set your organization up for success and effectively gather competitive intelligence and analysis is to utilize a quality competitive intelligence program. If you want to learn more about competitive intelligence programs, contact Direct Opinions today. 

How to Manage Employee Engagement this Holiday Season

Employee Engagement

Like a perfect storm, the holidays and end of year objectives all come dashing through the snow at once. As a manager or supervisor, it can be difficult to keep employees on task when shopping lists and festivities are on their brain. Don’t be a humbug, and have fun with the holidays while still having employees focused on end of the year challenges. Here are some holiday tips and tricks to have happy engagement through the festive season.

  1. Don’t Ignore the Reality.  The reality of the  season is that employees will want time off to spend with their friends and family. Anticipate this need and let employees know well in advance their days off. If you ignore that, time off or travel time will be requested, and you will either find yourself understaffed or with an office filled with resentful workers.
  2. Be Flexible. Encourage employees to take time off during the holidays and offer flexibility with their schedules. The least productive employee is the one who is sulking at their desk because they’re missing their kid’s Christmas play. Be understanding that the holidays are hectic for families and it’s better to allow employees time to decompress than chain them to the office. With this idea in mind be sure to communicate project expectations ahead of time so employees can manage their schedules and still complete work efficiently.
  3. Rally Around a Big Project or Milestone. Use the excitement surrounding the holidays to complete a big project and give your team a chance to rally together over an exciting milestone. Focus on finishing the year strong and encourage workers to think about how the hard work now will be the foundation for success in the new year.
  4. Celebrate Small Wins.  Let employees know that you appreciate their dedication during the holidays by acknowledging small wins.  Land a new client or finish a project before the deadline? Take the team out for a celebratory drink or send personal thank you notes. Also, never underestimate the power of free food.
  5. Create a Festive Environment. Make the office somewhere employees won’t dread being during the season by creating a winter wonderland. Enlist a team of interns to deck the halls with fun decorations or play some Christmas music over lunch break. Allow employees to get excited over an ugly sweater competition or holiday potluck.
  6. Give Back.  A great way to keep employees engaged through the holidays is to plan an opportunity to give back together. Give employees a day off so they can volunteer at a shelter as a team or set up a food/toy drive to participate in.
  7. Listen to Feedback.  It’s important for employees to know they’re being heard especially during a time where their personal lives are hectic. Give your crew the opportunity to express their opinions by conducting an employee engagement survey. Once you understand what employees expect during the holidays you’ll better be able to anticipate their requests. Partner with a third party provider in order to get the most actionable insights from your questions. Direct Opinions is here to help you keep employees engaged through the holidays.

Sometimes You Win When You Lose

business insights

Recently, I shared a piece of advice with someone, and she said it helped her at work and home.  With Thanksgiving next week, and knowing that family relationships can be even more complicated than those at work, I thought I would share it here, in case it might help another person. Just because you let someone win an argument does not mean you lose. You can stand to gain some valuable business insights by fighting the urge to fight.

When you are arguing with someone, consider three questions:

  1. Is being right worth it? Early in my career, I found myself arguing a lot for what I believed was right.  A wise mentor said to me “You need to pick your hills to die on.”  It was great advice.  The cost of being right meant losing credibility when it seemed I thought everything was important, along with damaged relationships.  We all are passionate about various topics and need to stand-up at times for what we believe.   However, knowing when the argument really matters and within what context is worth considering.
  2. How much of this is about me? One of my favorite aspects of qualitative research and consulting is observing emotions and dissecting language for meaning.  It has made me much more aware of how people describe their perspectives.  Are they arguing to benefit themselves, the organization or those they serve?  When you listen carefully to what people say, how they say it and what they write in their written communications, you can usually see the motive.  If my goal in winning the argument is to make myself appear smarter than someone else or protect my self-interest, it could be worth it to take some time for introspection.
  3. What is the likely outcome? I have never seen a venomous conversation on social media between two people persuade someone to the other side.  We know from psychology that our thinking narrows when faced with what we believe is a threat, so it should be no surprise that arguing is not the best way to persuade someone to change their mind.  I had someone recently want to discuss two highly controversial topics with me.  I looked at him and thought, do I want to maintain this relationship?  The answer was yes, so I decided to tell him that I didn’t have a strong opinion on the topics, but it appeared that he did, so I was interested in his thinking.  Approaching these situations in genuinely curious way allows us to learn about how people in our life think, as long as we can refrain from taking the bait of getting into an argument when the person says something counter to what we believe.  At that point, we have to decide to either have the conversation or change the subject and maintain the relationship.

Debating and discussing are important to the knowledge generation and can provide some valuable business insights.  As individuals and organizations, we cannot grow if we simply agree with what everyone tells us.  However, we also need to remember that the goal of healthy debate is not proving someone wrong, which may have high relational cost.  In the spirit of being thankful for all of the relationships we have in our life, even the challenging ones, I hope you consider that just because we let someone win, it does not mean we lose.

Related Article: Time for Strategic Planning? Why You Need Three Inputs

Interested in learning more about how you can gain business insights from partnering with an expert in the industry. Call us today! 

Where Does Your Customer’s Loyalty Lie?

brand loyalty

Every time a customer interacts with your brand is a chance to transition them from a one time consumer to a loyal brand advocate. Brand advocates return to your product or service time and time again and love to engage and actively promote your brand. Not only are they more influential than average customers, returning customers cost your company less money than attracting and gaining new ones. Loyal customers are also typically easier to work with and are less likely to stray from your brand to side with competitors. Brand advocates love to share their experience with family, friends and colleagues through referrals and recommendations. Word of mouth grows, and in return, so does business. They are authentic customers who willingly promote your brand without pay or financial gain.

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Take Ownership of Your Brand and Customers Will Follow Suit

brand ownership

We’re all quick to take ownership of positive things in our daily lives, whether that means announcing what dish you made at a family party or posting our latest accomplishments on social media. Businesses should be doing the same thing… brand ownership. While it’s easy to take responsibly or ownership of the positives, it’s important to be authentic and take ownership of anything negative as well. If you manage to successfully take ownership of your brand, you’ll find that customers will follow suit. Continue reading

Don’t Let Your Business Fail: Beware of These Common Mistakes

market trends

Running a successful company can be extremely difficult because you have to focus on so many aspects of business. Not only do you have to handle all your company’s finances, you also have to make each and every decision that impacts everything from your bottom line to your company’s future.

Here are a few costly mistakes that business owners often make that end up leading to failing companies. Avoid these mistakes at all costs. Continue reading

What Does Company Culture Mean to Employees?

company culture

Dark, cold, gray cubicle offices are failing to attract passionate and qualified employees. Today, eligible candidates desire bright, lively, open offices that easily evoke motivation and creativity from  employees. Places like Google have become the poster child for employee-centric workplaces. With limitless kitchens and dining options, bubbly staff members and sleeping pods, culture is taken to new heights. We’re not saying you need to clear out office space to make room for napping quarters, but it’s time to acknowledge that company culture matters to employees. Continue reading

Why Do People Leave… Yet Stay?

employee experience

We all have something that moves us, motivates us to do something about it. A passion we are pulled toward pursuing. My passion is helping other people find passion at work. When I see someone miserable in their job, I can’t stop myself from wanting to help. Because we know that being miserable at work negatively impacts our physical health, emotional wellbeing, everyone around us, and ultimately organizations who strive to create a positive employee experience. Continue reading

Fear this Four-Letter Word in Your Company Culture

Fear in company culture

There is a four-letter word wreaking havoc in organizations, yet also driving innovation…FEAR. Some will tell you to try to stomp it out because the negative influence can damage a company culture beyond repair. While yes, there are many ways in which fear can have negative consequences, there is a bright side to fear that sparks creativity in an organization. Here’s a quick list of how fear can impact people and ultimately organizations: Continue reading

Why You Shouldn’t Fear Customer Reviews, Even If They’re Bad

customer reviews

Sometimes we fear asking our friends or family for their opinions if we know we won’t like their answers.  While the pill may be tough to swallow, the people closest to us often know best. The same can be said for your customers, they’re the most intimate with your product,  and their opinions should be greatly valued. Even in difficult times for your business or brand, it’s important to listen to customer reviews. You should always be conducting customer reviews, even if the answers may be frightening. Continue reading

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