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Hien Phan
Director of Product Marketing at Amplitude November 14

Currently, I am building a CI from scratch. Honestly, I have started with a goals document, which outlines what is a CI at Mode. My goals document included -

(1) Crowdsourcing - which is a Slack channel. This has already existed at Mode, but I applied some rules of engagement to make it more insightful and actionable 

(2) Feature by feature comparison, including any services like support and customer service 

(3) Positioning and messaging intel and even web traffic or SEO if possible 

(4) What are the strategies set by competition against us 

(5) Feedback on review websites  

Three major deliverables will come out. 

An executive report that goes to the management team outlining where we stand. (I think of it as an equity analyst report with a marketing lens) 

A subreport for my product team to influence the product roadmap and timeline 

And a competitive program for sales enablement, which goes beyond battle cards. 

Mike Flouton
VP, Product at Barracuda Networks August 11

From scratch, start with a slack channel and encourage everyone in the company to be submitting bits of intel. Most of your competitive intel at this stage will come from sales engineers and former employees of competitors. If you've got an indirect channel, partners will often share intel as well, including pricing. 


As you get bigger, you can invest in dedicated resources to do teardowns and shootouts, but that typically doesn't come until you're much bigger. Until then, CI is everyone's job and as a PMM it's your job to quarterback the effort. 

Madelyn Newman
Director of Product and Customer Marketing at CallRail June 16

I've built our CI program from scratch here at CallRail, and there's definitely been some things I've learned along the way over the last two years:

  • Like Derek said, make sure the documents are hosted somewhere everyone can easily access. And as a follow-up to that, let EVERYONE know when you've made an update. I spent a lot of time updating documents only to find out that people had printed out older competitive battlecards and were not working off of the latest and greatest intel. We now document the date all our docs were last updated. Like Mike said as well, this should be an ongoing communal effort once you get things kicked off.
  • Get feedback from and align with sales. You might have gathered something from blogs, press releases, review sites, etc. but the reps might be hearing something completely different on the phones. You need to find a way to marry that information as best as possible. It's pretty awful to hear reps not trusting all your documented hard work because they hear something different from a prospect - your docs should be the living, breathing source of truth.
  • Slack is awesome just for ongoing updates once you've done the hard hitting research. We've got a channel with ongoing twitter feeds and google alerts from our competitors, and I encourage stakeholders from multiple departments to join and follow along so we can discuss.
  • Set boundaries for secret shopping. If you're not doing this the right way it can definitely err on the side of illegal, and you don't want to find people in your organization going about things in a way you aren't comfortable with. Having a document that points out what is and what isn't allowed in terms of researching competitors is extremely helpful for every department to be on board.
Derek Frome
Vice President Marketing at Ouster September 6

At a previous company, we started by maintaining a wiki page for competitive intel that was the "single point of truth" for the sales team. Mike is correct when he says that at an early stage, CI is everyone's job and the PMM's job to QB the effort. I would suggest that a solid level of competitive intel is necessary in order to truly understand your differentiation and sell effectively. Think about structuring your CI program in terms of structured and unstructured data. Side by side feature comparisons, competitive takeout stories and quotes, and so on need to be codified and hosted somewhere that everyone can access easily. Then you have the more "tribal knowledge" - rumors of something happening at a competitor, fuel for FUD, and so on. Until you are well along in the CI program, it's best to have something like a slack channel but not try to manage that information too closely. 

Ellie Mirman
Chief Marketing Officer at Crayon July 6

Full disclosure, I work for Crayon, a market & competitive intelligence company. Here are some initial thoughts based on my experience building a CI program here and at previous companies, as well as what I've learned from our customers.

  • Start with the goals you want to accomplish with this new program - why does the business need this now? This can really help with focusing early efforts and making small but measured steps towards an impactful program.
  • Include a healthy mix of proactive, self-serve, and custom services. The proactive component is the "push" side of the CI program - proactively sharing news, analyses, etc. with relevant audiences. Self-serve = what others have described in terms of having a central place where updated competitive overviews and other materials can be found. Custom = make it known that other teams like sales and product can come to you to ask a question, such as "how do we stack up against Competitor A in the Education vertical?"
  • Take a holistic approach to your CI efforts - capturing key moves and analyzing the impact across every area of the business. So many CI programs focus on major news for sales enablement but miss the deep dive product intel in support articles or customer reviews, the strategic intel in job postings and employee feedback, the positioning intel in landing page or product page changes, and so much more. CI can and should inform everyone from sales to marketing to product to the executive leadership team, and I think the focus of intel programs often holds teams back from having that type of impact.