According to Kettle (2009) a marketing Intelligence system Is a set of procedures and sources managers use to obtain everyday Information about developments in the marketing environment. A marketing intelligence system also facilitates accurate and confident decision making in determining market opportunity, market penetration strategy and market development metrics. Hans Helped (2010) noted that data must be integrated into the market intelligence systems through proper intelligence for corporate decision-making.
In an article by Thomas Winning (2006) he stated that the key is to gather quality information, the quality of information that a company gather will dictate the quality and success of decision, hence there are various steps a company can take to Improve the quality of its marketing Intelligence function. The various steps that should be taken by a company to Improve the quality of Its marketing Intelligence are discussed by Kettle (2009). The first step Is to train and motivate the sales force to pot and report new developments.
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It Is Imperative for companies to train Its sales group or team to collect good quality information about existing and emerging markets. They need to gather information about prices and products. There are various types of motivational sales training, for example lecturing is used orally to communicate concepts theories and ideas. This style is provided with an outline that they follow and take notes. Discussion groups are also used in motivational sales training to discuss issues and concerns and to prompt questions.
In an article by Kelley Robertson he stated that In order to motivate a sales team we need to give them the tools to succeed. He added that no team will stay motivated if they do not have the necessary tools required to do their Job this Includes equipment, internal support, inventory, marketing material and training. The Information that can be gathered by the sales team will allow the company to be aware of opportunities for new product development and whether or not there Is a requirement for Improvement.
The second step according to Kettle (2009) to improve the quality of marketing intelligence is to motivate distributors, retailers and other intermediaries to pass along important intelligence. Kettle added that companies must maintain healthier relationships with their intermediaries like distributors, retailers, dealers and partners to gather information about market intelligence. I believe with constant and effective communication companies can maintain healthy relationships with distributors and retailers to pass along important intelligence.
Specialists are hired by companies to gather marketing intelligence. Marketing Intelligence describe the set of activities that provide a company with a view of the market using existing sources of Information to understand what Is happening In a market place, what the Issues are, what the competitors are doing and what customers or consumers are doing. Specialists can identify the company’s competitors. Analyze the market These specialists usually have a nose for what they don’t see and what is missing in the data that they find.
They can often translate into hidden market gaps and opportunities. They also have a sharp sense how to use partial data such as financial reports, in order to make assessments about general performance, for example whether revenue growth is led by prices or sales growth. Many companies’ uses external resources analyst houses that provide not Just data but commentary and advice on the current market picture based on their contact with suppliers and other companies. Many of the analyst houses act as brokers between suppliers, collating information and sharing it more widely.
In some industries the analyst have very specific and large sums of data such as retail audits. Firms assess the quality of customer experience with the use of mystery shoppers. Mystery shopping also known as secret shopping, involves posing as a customer to evaluate the goods and services that a company provide which includes; how long it takes to be greeted, seed of service, cleanliness of location, compliance with company standard, that is dress code, signage etc. The third step is network externally; firms need to pay attention to its competitors.
According to the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professional, competitive intelligence (C’) is the legal and ethical collection, analysis and distribution of information regarding the competitive environment and the capabilities, vulnerabilities and intentions of business competitors. A competitive intelligence specialist can obtain information the internet, company websites offer a wide range of information in a form that is easier to access than comparable printed documents. The specialists can also gather information from online databases, for example.
PR Newswire and other sources of business announcements and news stories provide a way to keep up with competitive product development. These are available through several online databases. Government website and databases contain information about such areas as patent filings, environmental filings and management changes. Articles appearing in trade publications and Journals are often available in electronic form through online databases. Conference Proceeding is another source of information that CLC specialists use.
These conference proceedings can provide useful snapshots on how markets are developing hence they offer the opportunity to find out what the competitors are doing. Conferences are provided by professional associations or academic institutions which are excellent sources of information. Customers and vendors can be quizzed about what the competition id doing. CLC specialists can also pose as potential customers of the competition. Salespeople can leak information about forthcoming new products, including scheduling information and product specification.
Moreover, posing as a customer begins to move competitive intelligence into the realm of corporate espionage, where different techniques are used to obtain information about competing firms. These methods include using covert means and taking advantage of a competitor’s carelessness regarding data security, for example corporate spies can gather sensitive information by going through a firm’s trash and receiving draft versions of important documents that have been discarded or by eavesdropping on telephone conversations or casual conversations.
Setting up a customer advisory Channel is the fourth step, that is very intriguing to me. Managers can customer’s feedback and suggestions. Another example is many business schools set up panels consisting of alumni who provide their knowledge and expertise and help with constituting the course curriculum. In an article by Jennifer Gilbert, Praetor’s law suggests that eighty percent of any company’s revenue generally comes from twenty percent of their clients.
A customer advisory panel can solidify business relationships with those very important clients, which help generate quality business and provide insight and feedback on company strategy. According to April Donors author of “Ten Rules for running a Customer Advisory Council” The key to making a customer advisory panel an effective business tool is to remember that it is an interactive meeting among top clients and that post-meeting action is expected.
A customer Advisory Panel illustration by Jennifer Gilbert The fifth step to improve the quality of marketing intelligence is to take advantage of government data sources. Governments publish reports regarding the population trends, demographic characteristics, agricultural production and many more, for example some government data sources include; Budget, Bureau of Census, Bureau of Statistics etc. However this data can assist Companies in planning and formulating policies for the company. I believe that companies would be more efficient and effective once this data is utilized.
The sixth step is information from external suppliers. Certain Agencies sell data that can be useful to other companies, for example television channels will require information on the number or viewers, ratings of TV programs. An agency which calculates this information and generates this data will provide it to companies who need it. I would like to mention A. C Nielsen Company which is leading global information and Measurement Company that provides research, insights and data about what people watch and what they buy.
One of Nielsen best known creations is the Nielsen ratings, an audience measurement system that measures television, radio and newspaper audience. Another market research tool is the Homeless program where sample members track and report all grocery and retail purchases, allowing purchasing patterns to be related to household demographics. I believe companies should do more research on A. C. Nielsen so that they will understand how it will contribute towards improving their company’s marketing intelligence. The final step is the use of online feedback systems to collect competitive Intelligence.
Customer’s view of a product or service is very important for any company. Online chat rooms, blobs, discussion forums, customer review boards can be used to facilitate and generate feedback. In my opinion feedback allows a company to satisfy customers need and to also improve on their product or service, for example APS that are available online for Android and Blackberry handsets and tablets, you can always revisit the app after you have downloaded it and add reviews. I have noticed a lot of bad reviews on some f the APS; however, the company fixes the bugs as soon as to facilitate customer satisfaction.
Moreover, the quality of data that they would have collected can help the researchers and specialist can easily view these feedbacks thus providing company knowledge about their competitor’s weaknesses and strengths. Two leading markets the Android markets and Blackberry market are highly competitive. Blackberry can view Android’s online reviews, analyze their weak points and try to improve on their APS. Example of online ratings and customer feedback In conclusion, once companies apply the above mentioned steps, a company’s racketing Intelligence system will prove to be valuable to its effective functioning.