The key to successfully executing a CI study is careful planning, easy-to-follow action steps and continuously asking yourself, “What else should I be doing to ensure results are thorough, meaningful and accurate?”
Let’s first address what the critical steps are in planning your CI study:
First, have the client fill out a CI brief by answering the following questions:
- What must this investigation achieve?
- Who will be using the results?
- What decisions will be made with the results?
- What will your role be in this assignment?
- Which competitor(s) are to be investigated?
- Why do you think they pose a threat?
- What must know questions do you need answered? (e.g. “When do they plan to enter the markets?” “What will their launch entail?” “Do you know what will their sales message be?”)
- What internal information can you share with us?
- When do you require the report?
- What other comments do you have?
Assess how readily each “must know” question can be answered, and what returns they will bring. In other words do “intelligence” on the intelligence you require by identifying potential glitches to resolve.
Keep in mind that:
- First, CI must be balanced between how much information to collect and the risks in doing so. The more you collect and assess, the greater the chance for generating a) misinformation, b) findings that are not relevant, c) results that are not measurable and for tipping off the competitor.
- Finally, while you l need buy-in from your stakeholders, the results must be adapted to and used by sales and other support staff. In other words CI should “find its way” into helping to improve sales presentations, customer support and other line functions.
Review the completed brief with your client to ensure you have captured the critical gaps to fill and clarified any ambiguities.