I attended a fantastic presentation yesterday at the Austin Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association. The speaker was Suzanne Donnels, the CMO at Allen Matkins, and one of the legal industry's leading experts on the application of competitive intelligence. Her program, on the importance of competitive intelligence (what you know about your competition) and business intelligence (what you know about yourself), made me spend the rest of the day pondering why gathering information is important.
Regardless of your industry, you have competition. If you don't, you are either fortunate or living in the clouds. Companies often dismiss their competition as either too far ahead of them (we can never be like them, so why care what they do?) or too far behind (they are second tier, we need not be concerned). However, you can learn a lot from what your competitors are doing and advance your success by poaching their best people, practices and clients.
This is where having quality market research is important. The good news is that it is easier than ever to discover what your clients are doing (can you say "Google"). The bad news is that it takes time to do research and even more time to compile all the information into a usable format. If your company is not making this a priority, you are not doing all you can to succeed.
Equally paramount is internal business intelligence. How much do you know about your own firm? Your strengths, weaknesses, and position in the marketplace? ....and how much do you know about yourself? Honesty is the best policy in this area. Do not just pat yourself on the back for what you do well ....really look at where you come up short. If you know the areas you do not excel in, then you can position yourself around what you do best. And knowing how you stack up in the marketplace means you will be realistic when talking with clients and prospects (just because your mom thinks you are the best on the planet does not make it a fact).
Suzanne did a great job with her presentation, if you compete against her firm, watch out. They know every move you make!!!
Have A Great Day