How have you garnered insights from customers of competitors? Have you used panel providers, network connections or outsourced research services?

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CISO in Software, 501 - 1,000 employees
We do an annual survey of IT decision-makers in the market to get their perspectives on the state of cyber security and to understand their issues. We use a company to help us with that research, but our experts look over the data to come up with the themes. It helps us in many ways. 1) to understand the market, 2) it provides content for us to develop articles around and to pitch into media or post of social, 3) our customers find it useful to put in their businesses cases to justify services, 4) we are perceived as though leaders.
Director in Manufacturing, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
Whenever we participate in trade shows we always do a number of things.
1. always ask any visitors to the booth what they like/dislike about our competitors
2. attend some of the presentations where competitors are on the panel or presenting, and attend the Q&A at the end for insights
3. Visit the competitors, with our vendor badges on, and just see if they or others would like to have a discussion, on anything..... product features, why they are better or worse.  

We rarely use outsourced providers for information other than broad market trends to see if product volumes, customer demand etc line up or are far out of line with our forecasts.
Chief Technology Officer in Services (non-Government), 2 - 10 employees
Keyword Topic Research can provide Niche sub topics, search volumes, top 10 competitors and customer questions. 

Your Domain Analysis can show who your closest competitors are online in terms of keywords. 

Competitor Domain Analysis can show organic traffic levels, paid traffic levels, ranking keywords, ranking paid keywords, indexed web pages, backlinks, referring domains, ad text samples.

Run Analysis for your top 10 competitors. Where is your business placed. Can you model what your competitors are doing? Can you build better/more copy? Can you gain backlinks from the same sources. 

Vice President - Information Technology in Retail, 201 - 500 employees

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