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Competitors

Marathons rule! How to outlive your competitors

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Ever noticed how many companies claim to be number one in their sector? So frequently has the term ‘market-leading’ been bandied around it’s actually lost all meaning.

Here’s why. Not everyone can be number one. Rules change over time and things never stay the same. This is abundantly clear when you look at the companies on the FTSE100 now compared to 10 years ago – there are major differences and some notable disappearances.

So if being first in your sector now has little cache, perhaps a better goal is not to beat your competitors, but instead to outlast them. After all, being first at the 400 metre mark of a marathon won’t necessarily help you win the race. Go too quickly and you’re more likely to hit the wall.

Solution: maintain your resources

Outlasting your competitors brings your strategic direction to the fore. A good starting point is to look at the activities which could damage your ability to outlast your competitors.

A good example is your pricing, and not dropping your prices just because your competitor has. Lower prices may be damaging. They may be unsustainable. Most of all, they may be unnecessary. If you understand why your competitors are doing what they’re doing, you don’t need to react to their every move.

So while your competitors may be doing some great things, you should only look to better what they are doing if they do not damage what you stand for and your most valuable tool, your resources.

Protect your ethics, and you can outlast your competitors, without the distraction of artificially leading them.

Thank you www.octopusintelligence.co.uk

Be powerful! Get intelligence by monitoring competitors

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Here’s a story that perfectly demonstrates the value of monitoring your competitors.

During the cold war, the Western military monitored Soviet Morse code operators. It may seem a little pointless as all the important intelligence was encoded. However, as much as possible was recorded by the Western interceptors.

Then human nature took over. After all, it’s the same whichever side of the Wall you were born. The result was that Soviet operators became bored and lazy, especially in the small hours.

The Western monitors discovered every Soviet Morse operator had a certain way of using their Morse code machine. Length, weighting, accuracy and speed of all those dots and dashes became a unique signature. It was called their Fist.

This signature enabled Western Military Intelligence to get to know their habits and patterns, with direction-finding equipment revealing their location.

Soon the personalities of bored radio operators were revealed as conversations turned to the weather, girlfriends, family and football teams. One famous Soviet division in the Caucasus used to offer local football scores every Saturday.

They started to build up a great picture of someone and their team without even meeting them. Not only was breaking their call signs relatively easy but they built a picture of the people and, more importantly, when and where their units moved to another part of the Soviet Union.

Suddenly, the Western military could track troop, military exercises, meanings of code words and moves to the border. They could predict what they were going to do next and how they were going to do it. This very real early warning system certainly helped prevent war.

So what’s the significance of this for you?

octopus can do the same for your business. We can look at your competitors’ communications – PR, press releases, marketing and see what they say on Linkedin, social media, CVs and adverts – to find their habits and patterns. We can see when they start a new project, move to a new office or make any other change that may affect you.

Then, if a member of your competitors’ team moves on to another rival, it is human nature to repeat what was successful at their previous company.

We can also monitor them, looking at their habits to reveal what they are likely to do next. See here for more information

Thank you www.octopusintelligence.co.uk

How to Love your competitors with intelligence

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Falling in love with your competitors

You don’t need us to tell you it’s soon Valentine’s Day. But you may be surprised to hear we believe it’s time for you to start loving your competitors.

They may take business from you. You may take customers from them. They can certainly be a major pain in the backside. So why fall in love? The truth is, your next big idea – the sort that transforms your business – may come from your competitor.

Your competitors can spark great ideas for you too

Look at it this way. They may be doing something well, but look closely and you might see what you can do differently and better. Learning from their mistakes is usually easier for you than it is for them. You can look at the situation with a clear mind, with no emotion or detail clouding your judgement.

Understanding your competitors means understanding your customers

You can progress what they’re doing into a better product or service without having to pay for the error. You can find inspiration in what is working well for them. Understand your competitors and you will have a better understanding of your market. And the more you know about your market, the better chance you have of finding better customer solutions and new opportunities.

Enter your competitors’ world

A great way to be perceived as an expert in your field is to use social media to congratulate your competitor when they have won a deal or launched a new product. It shows you have your finger on the pulse of your market, while your customers (and prospects) may think you have their best interests at heart.

Are they threatened by you?

This action develops trust and, suddenly, you are seen as industry thought leaders. All the information is already out in the open, so you are not risking much. But if they thank you, it shows they do not threaten you, and there is a good chance their customers will take a closer look at you. If on the other hand they ignore you, the market will note your kindness and their actions will also be noted. Pack your congratulatory message with keywords, and it will help you appear in Google searches.

Let’s hope they’re looking at you too

There is something worse than your competitors watching what you’re doing…when they’re not looking at you. If they don’t take a keen interest, you need to quickly understand why. Your competitors can unlock new ideas for meeting your customer’s needs, you’ve got to love them for that, haven’t you?

Any questions? Feel free to get in touch with us on hello@octopusintelligence.co.uk

How will your competitors win the war in the future?

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With a new year around the corner, it is a time when some reassessment of your position could be in order.
If competitors are consistently beating you, how much revenue have you lost?
How much has easily avoided strategic and tactical mistakes cost your company over the past 12-24 months?
If you could step around those mistakes and shut out your competition, what would that be worth?
Get to know your competitors and disruptors very well.
These questions may offer some direction:

    • How do they plan to compete with you the future and how committed are they to achieving their declared strategic objectives? Are they capable of doing what they want to do?
    • How does their management team think and act? Can they become disruptors or are they tired and reactive?
    • What is their vision? What do they tell the press or their people about their plans?
    • Do their objectives get in the way of your company?
    • What options are open to you for dealing with an ever changing competitive environment, an emergence of new “more powerful” rival or the transform of technology?
    • Where do they compete with you? In what segment and which clients and how do they differentiate themselves and their offerings?
      What makes your competitors the choice of some of your customers?
    • What, in the eyes of your customers, differentiates “them” from “you”?
    • What do their financials look like? How do your competitors make money and profits?
    • Do they make their profits from having created better products and services?
    • How much cash do they have?
    • Can they react to impacts that you might make in the marketplace?
    • How much funding have they raised to date? When was it raised? Why and have they used it well?
    • What are their future intentions? Not an easy question to answer, but it should be one of the most important questions that you try to answer.
    • Could they be acquired or are they looking to buy?
    • What could they do to achieve growth?
    • In the next three years, which segments will your competitors be targeting?

New competitors are a big risk, here is why

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It is very common to get caught out thinking you have the best products and your competitors are not a good as you. It used to be the case that companies could see disruptive innovation within their industry.

As long they were looking out for it (which was not always the case) they had the skills and strategies to migrate the risk associated with that competitor who brought out their new shiny product.

Historically companies took some notice of new competitors entering their market. These competitors started off agiler than them and gained market share by offering cheaper alternative products.These products would then improve, and they would also move into the higher end market.

There was always plenty of time for you to take action as the disruptive competitors took some time to gain market share.

Disruptors are here

New entrants to your market can now fire disruptive, innovative products into your customers using instant communication, cloud computing, mobile applications and Machine Learning.These technological developments have brought a new risk – speed.

The traditional company would always have time on their side, but with technological advances new entrants means they can become a major success (and pain in the neck) overnight. With Machine Learning and powerful supporting innovative networks time is going to become even more critical when evaluating risk.

Your current competitors next week could be gone with new ones replacing them from other industries. Machine Learning means it that it is will be even harder to see that freight train coming down the track, because the tracks don’t even exist anymore.

It is time to rethink competitive risk and understand this disruptive world.
Don’t make it easy for competitors to enter your markets.
Time is not on the disruptors side either. They may be able to offer innovative and cheaper alternatives, but it is possible that they will need to make a profit fast before their money runs out.

Collaborate with your traditional “friendly” competitors to make it harder for disruptors. Get to know the signs of market disruptions. Who is playing with what ideas? Get to know visionaries in your industry and keep speaking to your customers.

Innovations coming into the market may make some of your traditional offerings and assets worthless. Review what you are selling and which of your assets are still useful and relevant.

Think about which brand names and patents could be used to fight the disruptors and determine what potential disruptors could look like.
Above all, if you don’t have a Competitive Intelligence strategy monitoring your current business environment, what chances do you have of seeing disruptors?

As well as embracing it, companies who are going to survive the rise of Machine Learning need understand why they win or lose business and where their strengths and weaknesses are.

It is not just the hard facts like their competitor’s ROI, cost of manufacture, revenue, profit etc. Know your current and future competitors and the products/services they sell, why their customers like them and how they do things to get their product/service to their customer.

Are your competitors superior or undercutting you?

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You are offering a better service, but one of your competitors are constantly beating you into the ground by being cheaper than you?

They could be trying to buy a market share, and unless they have very deep pockets, their price cutting tactics will not last very long.

It could be that they have a significant cost advantage over you or that your cost structures are bulging at the seams. All is not lost as Competitive Intelligence can help you understand what’s going on so you can decide what you are doing to do about it.

Find out what their headcount, distribution, materials and other overheads applicable to your industry. Understand their business strategy and production process. Assess how much money do they have to play with, do they have any debt and are they able to manage it?

Who are their suppliers and are they getting a better deal than you? Are they sharing costs with other parts of their business etc? and be honest, what are they doing better than you?