Seeking Intelligence Online Competitive Research
Posted on 07 Nov 2004
by troy janisch (ideahamster)
Rated 3.05 (Ratings: 4)
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Finding online informationabout your competitors is easy - the difficult part is finding meaning.When researching the competition, you can avoid pitfalls by seeking'intelligence' instead of 'information'.
The difference between'information' and 'intelligence' is twofold: purpose and process.Having a purpose and a process for gathering information ensures thatthe results will be useful - instead of merely informative.
A well-defined purpose allowsyou to search the Internet broadly and deeply without drowningin a flood of marginal information.
The process for gathering goodcompetitive intelligence is straightforward: identify industry/markettrends and competitors; define your questions; find the answers;analyze the results; and act on them.
The process begins with a widesearch of the Internet to define trends in your industry/market andcompetitors.
Usefulresources include search engines, newspapers, business journals, andtrade press and online newsletters. Consider resources such as title="opens in a new window" href="http://www.newsisfree.com" target="popup">NewsIsFreeand other topical news 'clipping' sites. href="http://www.prnewswire.com" title="opens in a new window" target="popup">PRNewswire and title="opens in a new window" target="popup">BusinessWire can be useful sources fornews releases and competitive PR.
Beginning with a broadindustry/market search decreases the likelihood that you'll overlookpotential competitors and non-competing businesses in the industry thatmay pose as sources of benchmarking, market insight and inspiration.
Once you've identified trendsand competitors, you can identify the questions you want to answerabout your competitors. Finding competitors' identities, pricing,plans, strengths, weaknesses, suppliers and customers play a veryimportant part in formulating an effective business strategy.
Finding answers often begin ata competitor's own web site. When visiting competitors' web sites lookbeyond product/service information. You can also learn by viewing acompetitor's employment opportunities, organization chart, supplier andvendor lists, and press releases.
- Exploretheir news/press area.Often, you can download their press kit or add your personal emailaddress to their email subscription list.
- Search engines make it easytofind PowerPoint presentations, speeches and white papers. Use searchterms such as .ppt, .docand .pdf
- Topics such as InvestorRelations often include annual reports (even for private companies).
- Forms that ask "How did youhear about us?" provide a list of locations where the company isspending marketing dollars.
After you've explored acompetitor's web site, use other web sites to learn about theirorganization. Conduct keyword searches on search engines, publicrecords sites, discussion groups and blogs.
- title="opens in a new window">WayBackMachine
An Internet archive. Use this site to see historical versions of thecompany's web site. It will help determine changes in branding andofferings.
- title="opens in a new window">F***edCompany.com
A site featuring company rumors and internal memos.
- title="opens in a new window">Alexa
Obtain traffic information about the traffic ranking, page views, andreach of a competitor's web site.
- title="opens in a new window">USPatent & Trademark Office
Conduct a basic patent search on competitors
Theserepresent only a handfulof sites that are useful for gathering competitive intelligence. Basedon your industry, competitors, questions and creativity, it is possibleto find a wide selection of useful online/offline resources.
According to the title="opens in a new window">Societyof Competitive Intelligence Professionals,more than 95% of information that is required for gathering competitiveintelligence is publicly available from open sources.