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How to Conduct Competitive Research for Product Development

Published: Nov 10, 2017

It's no secret that competitive research is a challenge for product teams who already have more than enough to do every day. But in order to develop successful products, it's important to keep track of who your competitors are, what they're doing and how they're doing it.

Although it may sound daunting at first, this process doesn't have to be complicated, time-consuming or expensive to be well-worth your time. Just think about the amount of time and effort you put into developing and marketing a new product. By conducting consistent competitive research, you know before committing to a new product whether it has any market value as a differentiated offering. Given the opportunity to learn best practices and avoid making the same mistakes as your competitors, wouldn't you take it?

Here are three tips on how to conduct competitive research for product development in just a few hours a week. 

1. Automate Data Collection

When it comes to online research, it's easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole only to come up with a few bits of useful information. Instead of wasting time on dead-end searches, find ways to automate as much of the data collection process as possible. You can do this with help from online tools that deliver curated competitive intelligence. There are also options to automate basic research tasks by creating simple algorithms using robotic process automation.

In addition to automating research, there are also plenty of tools available that automate the delivery of competitive briefings and reports. Instead of manually sending out curated email briefings to executives and stakeholders, you can keep them in the loop on key competitor and market activities without any work required on your part.

Click here to learn more about all the ways you can use automation in your research process.

2. Source Intel from Everywhere

In modern organizations, everyone can (and should) contribute to competitive research. Between the sales, marketing and account management teams alone you have access to a treasure trove of customer and competitor insights. Sales and marketing are always attending networking events, trade shows and conferences where they have access to competitors' employees and customers. Account managers and sales reps also receive direct feedback from prospects and customers every day.

By actively funneling information from these sources on a consistent basis, you get the information you need without having to go out looking for it. The key to getting the most out of these sources is to save all of the information they share in a shared portal where your entire team can access it. This can be within competitor profiles in your CRM or a custom research portal where information is curated and archived.

3. Measure & Optimize

To ensure that your competitive intel is consistently delivering value for your organization, it's important to perform self-checks on your progress throughout each stage of the research cycle. Be sure that you and your team are using all resources available to them and aren't wasting time on unnecessary efforts. It's important to ask yourselves if these efforts are helping you gain better understanding of your core market and informing better product decisions. Ultimately, your competitive research and analysis needs to show you the differentiated advantage a product can offer customers in your target market, and help you deliver on it.

The primary goal of conducting this kind of research is to serve your market with the best products and fuel business growth. If at any point you find that these efforts are creating more work than value, it's time to identify the weaknesses and improve your process to optimize results. 

If you're looking for tools and resources to streamline competitive research for your product team, we may be able to help! Contact us today to learn more about our solutions and find out if we're the right fit for your organization.