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Research shows that companies with well-established CI programs enjoy greater earnings per share than companies in the same industry without CI programs.

To the degree that you uncover your competitors’ secrets and learn what they are doing in the marketplace, to that same degree you can enjoy the success coveted by every player in every niche. And you can even go on to dominate your niche. Competitive research is that important.

In 2001, BusinessWeek published an article that illustrated just how much competitive intelligence research can pay off in a recession. That was 2001, long before the real recession hit.

Of course, competitive intelligence is important any time, but companies tend to cut back on marketing when the economy slows down. Companies, however, that go against the tide do a lot better. And there are two ways to go against the tide: Spend money on competitive intelligence, and take what you learn from competitive intelligence and invest it in a solid marketing initiative. You do that when your competition is scaling back and you’ll win.

So where do you start? I’d say start with what you know. Who is your competition and what was the last thing they did? After that, it’s a matter of staying one step ahead.

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