Market and competitor analysis are core activities for many client-side market researchers – activities which demand continuous fact-gathering and observation of the market and competitors, plus a variety of analyses. Using a software tool makes this easier and can help build a permanent market and competitor database. To this end, the Steinbeis Transfer Center for Business Development at Pforzheim University has developed a software tool called Management Monitor. The new version offers an even greater range of functions.
Management Monitor provides business analysts with a centralized market and competitor database which is accessible via intranet or on a Software-as-a-Service basis. As well as setting up market profiles and evaluations, users can also prepare competitor profiles and conduct detailed competitor analyses. They can even analyze a competitor’s marketing mix. Detailed product comparisons let companies contrast their products with those of competitors – then simply add sales arguments to the results to create a “battle card.” The product analysis results can then flow straight into the sales process, giving the company a competitive advantage in sales pitches.
Many companies rely on leveraging internal experts’ knowledge by involving and consulting their staff. This gives country managers a feel for the current status quo, developments in their local market, and competitors’ positioning. By talking to customers, sales staff also stay abreast of news concerning competitors. The workflow module in Management Monitor lets employees enter such data on the fly – thereby providing access to the whole company via a central database. A variety of methods can be used to collect this data, including direct entry via the intranet and surveying staff via e-mail. As only a small number of internal experts tend to have this expertise, market researchers using Management Monitor can view individual figures and calculate and highlight averages and thresholds. The results can be summarized in reports for use in regular marketing meetings or annual planning – because employees will only be happy to supply data if they see it is actually used.
The new version of Management Monitor is able to display market and competitor data – such as turnover figures, market sizes, competition intensity, and production sites in national markets – on a map. Summarizing the data in this accessible way makes it easier to analyze and in- terpret. Because the system allows users to manage maps and data within the same environment, data of any kind can be shown on a dynamic map.
Monitoring competitor activity and comparing this to the company’s own campaigns is just one step away from corporate marketing planning. So Management Monitor is not just useful for business analysts, but also as a comprehensive marketing dashboard for all departments with close links to marketing. Marketing activities can be systematically planned, budgeted and scheduled, while taking strategic marketing goals into account. The inbuilt campaign planner helps marketing teams with planning by clearly assigning responsibilities, approvals and workflow processes by individual market and product segment. Continuous monitoring of the current state of activities makes it easy to keep an eye on budgets. And by augmenting its marketing planning with information on different media campaigns and the results of advertising effectiveness studies, the company can create a knowledge database that helps marketers identify best-practice campaigns and the most efficient communication channels. As serving consumer markets becomes ever more complex, this integrated process means the company stays well informed and keeps learning. The company can also correctly assess key factors relating to the business environment and the competition – and subsequently respond with targeted activities.