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Beat the Competition

How to Use Competitive Intelligence to Develop Winning Business Strategies

(Basil Blackwell/John Wiley & Sons, Oxford, UK, ISBN 0631159916), English and Spanish. 

Beat the Competition Beat the Competition is a foundation book in the practice of competitive intelligence and the use of this intelligence for business advantage.  At a time when the words competitive intelligence were not in general use, Beat the Competition was among the first books to describe why competitive intelligence could add business value and specifically how to conduct competitive intelligence.  While market research explores demand-side issues, competitive intelligence as discussed in this book assesses the supply landscape and the key factors that determine competitive success before exploring individual competitors and how to beat them.

The book defines competitive intelligence as the process of obtaining and analyzing publicly available information to achieve the objectives of an organization by facilitating organizational learning and improvement, differentiation and competitor targeting. Detailed tools in the conduct of competitive intelligence are discussed as well as interesting examples that have landed some companies in hot water.

One of the first books on competitive intelligence in the first to place competitive intelligence in strategic context, Beat the Competition provides detail on the establishment and management of a competitive intelligence department, what the role of competitive intelligence should comprise, how to conduct competitive intelligence while keeping practices above board, and how to gain strategic insight.

Importantly, the book notes that competitive intelligence is the process of finding answers to thoughtful questions and not simply securing a wide variety of information about competitors.

Table of Contents

The following is the Table of Contents for the book, Beat the Competition: How to Use Competitive Intelligence to Develop Winning Business Strategies:

About the Author
Chapter 1 - Introduction       
1.1         Evolution of the competitive era        
1.2         Characteristics of today's competitive markets
1.3         Needed - a new way of thinking about competition
1.4         Definitions
1.5         Relationship between market share and profitability
1.6         Relationship between competitive intelligence and marketing and strategic planning
1.7         Customers' needs - the key battleground    
1.8         Information for a competitive advantage     
1.9         Shadow marketing      
1.10       Keeping practices ethical - competitive intelligence vs. industrial espionage  

Chapter 2 - The Process of Competitive Intelligence   
2.1         The objective of competitive intelligence     
2.2         Defining the competition        
2.3         Establishing a roadmap for the process      
2.4         Securing management and staff support    
2.5         Required budget and resources       
2.6         Staffing the competitive intelligence function        
2.7         Inputs, outputs and sequence of activities 
2.8         Understanding critical success factors for market share transfer           
2.9         Understanding your own firm - a necessary first step       

Chapter 3 - Gathering Competitive Intelligence
3.1         How many competitors should be monitored and analyzed?      
3.2         Distinguishing relevant from irrelevant information          
3.3         Sources of competitive information  
3.4         Government filings and the Freedom of Information Act 
3.5         How to gather published information           
3.6         How to search on-line databases     
3.7         Conducting telephone interviews    
3.8         Conducting personal interviews       
3.9         Gathering information at trade shows          
3.10       Involving your own employees in the intelligence program        
3.11       Validating information and confirming its accuracy          
3.12       Keeping your secrets secret  

Chapter 4 - Organizing Competitive Information          
4.1         The competitive intelligence system
4.2         The industry review     
4.3         The competitor profile 
4.4         The "shadow" marketing plan           
4.5         Benchmarking performance relative to competitors          
4.6         Benchmarking vs. excellent non-competitors        
4.7         Benchmarking in the minds of customers  

Chapter 5 - Analyzing Competitive Intelligence
5.1         Competitors' objectives           
5.2         Competitors' employees         
5.3         Stakeholders' expectations and changing needs 
5.4         Financial and market performance  
5.5         Financing structure as a competitive advantage   
5.6         Resource availability and deployment         
5.7         Industry and competitor capacity utilization

Chapter 6 - Developing Winning Competitive Strategies        
6.1         Choosing the Competitive Arena     
6.2         Waging a Business War         
6.3         Planning to Win Tomorrow's War     
6.4         Towards Long Term Dominance       
6.5         Steps to Take When You Complete This Book - a Checklist

1.           Understanding your own company
2.           Bibliography
3.           Data sources: U.S.
4.           Data sources: Canada
5.           Data sources: United Kingdom
6.           Data sources: Japan

Comments and endorsements

This book provides the key to implementing successful competitive intelligence in a company

Ross F. Dainty
Vice President, Marketing Services
Nortel/Northern Telecom Canada Ltd.

An excellent primer for learning how to do competitive analysis.  The approach is practical and very useful.  The book also provides a good compendium of real life sources. 

Tom Cusack
Manager, Business Development and Strategy
General Electric Company

The ideas in this book are exceptionally tough and useful.  Any CEO and marketing manager should read it.  The “shadow marketing” method is alone well worth the price of the book.

Bill Reddin, Ph.D.
Author of Managerial Effectiveness and of 20 other management books

The author offers marketers sensible advice on how to collect needed data internally and through external sources -- without stepping into the unseemly sphere of industrial espionage.

Tom Eisenhart
Business Marketing