What Is Market Intelligence? Defining the Who, What, How, and Why of MI

Ellie Mirman
July 27, 2018

What Is Market Intelligence?

by Ellie Mirman, Chief Marketing Officer, Crayon

Ask any business leader today if they understand what marketing campaigns, sales results, or product initiatives are taking place in their organization, and they will proudly say, of course. But ask that same leader if they understand what marketing campaigns, sales results, or product initiatives are taking place outside their organization, and you’ll likely get a blank look. Internal analytics are a given for making smart business decisions, but external analytics – on the company’s market, customers, competitors, and so on – are often ignored. This market intelligence data is critical in today’s business environment and presents a huge opportunity to the companies ready to harness it.

Market Intelligence is information related to a company’s environment – including their customers, partners, competitors, and thought leaders. The practice of collecting, analyzing, and acting on market intelligence can go by many different names – from competitive intelligence to consumer insights to market research and every combination of those terms. To understand the basics of leveraging this critical data, it’s important to review the Who, What, How, and Why of market intelligence.


WHO: Market intelligence includes data on all of the key players in a given market. This includes:

Competitors: companies that you compete with either directly or indirectly for sales

Partners and aspirational competitors: companies that you cooperate with on campaigns or products, or those that have related but non-competitive products

Customers and prospects: the target market, your audience for marketing, sales, and product efforts

Thought leaders: people such as reporters and industry experts who influence and discuss market movements

In addition to the above subjects, a strong market intelligence practice involves monitoring your own company to benchmark yourself alongside these audiences.  Crayon’s State of Market Intelligence Report found that companies are very likely to monitor their direct and indirect competitors but less likely to track thought leaders and partners – audiences just as important for getting a complete view of the market.

Market Intelligence chart -- audiences tracked

WHAT: Good market intelligence requires getting a complete view of a market, from marketing campaigns to product details to hiring activities. This includes:

News: the latest announcements and mentions in the news

Team Intelligence:  including job openings, employee reviews, and key leadership changes

Product Intelligence: product and pricing details, whether from product pages, help sites, app store updates, or other sources on or off a company’s website

Discussions: unfiltered discussions and feedback from customers and prospects on solutions they’ve tried

Marketing Intelligence: including content marketing, social media campaigns, and promotions across channels

A given competitor, partner, or customer has an incredibly large digital footprint that spans corporate websites to online forums to content syndication sites to job board sites. To get the most complete market intelligence requires collecting this wide range of data.

HOW: Leveraging market intelligence requires collecting, analyzing, and acting on that intelligence data.

According to Crayon’s State of Market Intelligence Report, 43% of the time dedicated to market intelligence goes to the Research phase – tracking, seeking out, or collecting intelligence data. Analysis and Communication are key steps in translating market intelligence information into impactful decisions and campaigns for a business.

Market Intelligence activities

WHY: Why is market intelligence so critical for a business to succeed?

Market intelligence has the ability to drive both strategic and tactical actions, and have both quantitative and qualitative impact on a business. If your car had no windows, and you couldn’t see other cars on the road, nor potholes, trees, or even the road itself, how comfortable would you be driving? That’s the experience of running a business without market intelligence – ignoring your surroundings and assuming your internal knowledge is all you need.  Every employee in the business can benefit from market intelligence – from sales to marketing to product to the executive leadership and everyone in between.

Sales: sales teams can get a competitive edge by understanding the strengths and weaknesses of competitors and learning customer and market trends.

Marketing: from demand generation to PR to content marketing, marketers can improve their campaigns by differentiating from others in the market and learning best practices as well

Product Marketing: product marketers are worth calling out separately because every part of their role requires a deep understanding of the market and customers – as such, no positioning, product launch, competitive intelligence, or sales enablement program would be possible without incorporating market intelligence

Product Management: product managers can build differentiated products that truly solve consumer needs by leveraging market intelligence for more holistic data on the current state and future trends in the market

Executive Leadership: C-level leaders are best positioned to take advantage of the big opportunities discovered by market intelligence and navigate around threats identified by MI as well, to lead and maintain a company’s advantage


From global market leaders to emerging startups, companies of all sizes and industries can benefit from market intelligence.


By invitation only
By invitation only
By invitation only
About the Author  |  Ellie Mirman
Ellie Mirman, Market Intelligence Expert

Ellie Mirman is CMO at Crayon, the market and competitive intelligence company that provides insights and inspiration for marketers. Prior to Crayon, she was VP Marketing at Toast, where she built and led the marketing function across demand gen, content marketing, product marketing, branding, and customer advocacy. Previously, she held multiple marketing leadership positions at HubSpot during its growth from 100 customers to IPO. Ellie loves working at the intersection between Marketing, Sales, and Product, and building marketing from startup to scale-up.