Do you know your enemy? - A competitive intelligence primer

Do you know your enemy? - A competitive intelligence primer
Heather Rubesch - Sun Jun 14, 2009 @ 01:19PM
Comments: 27

Spy Guys

Do you know the enemy?
Do you know your enemy?
Well gotta know the enemy.

~Green Day


I got a call this week from a friend and former colleague.  He was at an industry conference and wanted to vent some frustration.  You see he discovered after arriving that his competitor has an almost identical product to his and he was finding it difficult to differentiate “on the fly”.

After a short conversation I determined it wasn’t a failure of product development but rather of competitive intelligence that plagued my dear friend.  He wasn’t given an opportunity to Zig while the others Zagged and improve his brand position in the marketplace.  There was little I could do for him as he stood on the conference show floor but in the future I recommend:

1)      Data Mining

This isn’t rocket science.  Start with our old friend Google and type in “”.  This will tell you what websites have links to the company you are researching.  While you will likely get some basic information off the companies own website but who they are partnering with or affiliated with is of more use if they are a competitor of yours. and Hoovers are also good place to start digging up articles and information on competitors.

2)      Ask around

Chances are if this company has been a competitor for a while there is a lot of heresy information already floating around in your organization.  Email your sales force and see who came up against them in previous sales.  If you hear of a recent win against the company ask to speak to the customer who selected you.  Customers are often willing to share their internal decision spreadsheets and pro/con lists after the selection process is over.  In fact I have had customers who are more than willing to do a post mortem of the overly involved and arduous process they went through to make a purchase decision.  This data is competitive intelligence gold when preparing for the next battle.

3)      Third party street cred

Analysts, journalists, bloggers exist for almost every industry.  It pays to make friends with a few of them.  This isn’t going to be where you score super secret “inside” information but it is a good place to bounce some ideas around.  Enlisting a few friends from this community can get your products and services mentioned in more trade publications along side your competitors and cultivating those relationships can allow the competitive analysis to be done in a public and objective forum.  You have to be willing to accept that not always will your company receive the most favorable standing or mention but it gives you a measuring stick to work from.

4)      The enemy of my enemy is my friend

Did your competitor recently go through nasty breakup with a partner or vendor?  Where they in merger talks that fell apart?  It doesn’t hurt to contact that other party to see if there is mutual interest.  You might just find a match made in heaven or at the very least some insight as to why your competitor chose to go in a different direction. 

An important note:

Not all competitive intelligence is fair play.  Get acquainted with the Economic Espionage Act .  The first rule of ethical competitive intelligence is honesty.  Be honest about who you are and why you want the information you are seeking.  This article from Bnet gives some common sense rules to follow.  If in doubt the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals can be a guide for what is and isn’t inbounds.

As you can see competitive intelligence doesn’t have to be a costly or difficult part of your marketing efforts.  It does take time and attention to develop the small pieces of scattered information that you are able to gather into a library of data but at the end of the day you can make even 007 proud of your sleuthy skills.

Comments: 27


1. Stephanie Tilton  |  my website   |   Sun Jun 14, 2009 @ 02:10PM

Great tips Heather! The Internet has obviously made it easier to access information, but it's good to remind people that you can't beat interactions with those on the street or in the field.

If applicable, your friend could talk to his company's technical pre-sales engineers. These folks can often share insights into competitor strengths and weaknesses based on feedback from prospects during technical demos. If the competitor is publicly traded, he may be able to glean insights from the company's annual reports.

2. April  |  my website   |   Mon Jun 15, 2009 @ 07:57AM

Great post! I especially like #4.
Data Mining applies to social media as well and I think there's a lot to be learned from watching folks talk about your competitors in places like Twitter. It's easy to identify your competitor's happiest and unhappiest customers and you can build a list of companies to talk to as well as glean what you can about how customers are feeling from their public comments.

3. Doug Kessler  |  my website   |   Tue Jun 16, 2009 @ 02:56AM

Good one. Other sources could be Twitter searches, Googe Alerts and comment follow tools like Backtype. It's surprising how much you can find out through social media alone.

4. John Matthews  |  my website   |   Wed Dec 04, 2013 @ 05:09AM

"The enemy of my enemy is my friend" This idea works most of the times and helps you overcome your competitors. Also basics like data mining helps a lot in research.

5. Maydi   |   Wed Feb 26, 2014 @ 02:02AM Described as 'the most livable city in Europe' by the Time Magazine in the year 2004, Nantes, the capital city of the Pays de la Loire region, offers a lot to the holidaymakers visiting this place.

6. Maydi   |   Wed Feb 26, 2014 @ 02:02AM We get this question several times a week, so it's not just you. And no, it doesn't mean you're crazy - even if your friends think so, and even if law enforcement won't take your case. People's computers and phones get hacked, every day.

7. Maydi   |   Wed Feb 26, 2014 @ 02:08AM Electronic discovery is a term that is usually used to refer to the process of discovery during a civil trial, although it can also be applied in criminal proceedings as well as regulatory investigations.

8. Maydi   |   Wed Feb 26, 2014 @ 02:08AM The e-discovery connectors help to automatically move archived data from the Enterprise Vault into third-party tools. It discards all manual procedures and sets automatic preservation into action, which handles all processes from collection to production.

9. Maydi   |   Wed Feb 26, 2014 @ 02:04AM Healthcare organizations are struggling with employees, patients, and visitors that want to bring in their own equipment, yet have access to the Internet and other hospital resources.

10. Jadoo 3  |  my website   |   Sat Apr 19, 2014 @ 06:37AM

You most likely are wondering learn how to get satellite TV for nothing. It is quite possible for one to get tv for free in a computer working with proprietary PC tv software. This news flash is excellent to individuals that rely for satellite food systems to and look at more options.

11. Ally Jindal  |  my website   |   Fri Aug 08, 2014 @ 03:57AM

“Keep your friends close - hold your enemies closer” is a very good quote. Sometimes we need to keep watch on enemy activity in our business too.

12. Martin   |   Wed Aug 20, 2014 @ 04:41AM

Thanks for sharing , Great Job, I am always using and for my online shopping coupons

13. Ramya   |   Fri Aug 22, 2014 @ 11:49AM

Won wonderful blog, It s so great work, keep regular updates. i like it so much. My Blogs and

14. krishna   |   Mon Sep 01, 2014 @ 07:10AM

Thanks a lot for sharing the detailed list of Senate names of farm bill Conferees. Most of the members are new to me. This subject has interested me for quite some time. I have just started researching it on the Internet and found your post to be informative and

15. kathik   |   Fri Oct 03, 2014 @ 01:34AM

This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here keep up the good work

16. marry   |   Fri Nov 14, 2014 @ 05:51AM

Bing this site. I wanted to thank you for this special read. I definitely savored every little bit of it and I have you anine bing bookmarked to check out new stuff you post,

17. franklin   |   Wed Jun 24, 2015 @ 04:52AM
18. zimzam   |   Sat Sep 19, 2015 @ 05:41AM
19. fhggj   |   Mon Dec 28, 2015 @ 01:44AM

authentic snail snail mail obtaining make just about any plenty related to reality and will also be delivering adequate exprences combined with take into consideration
Discount vapor code
Vape mods
Vape pen
Vape eliquid

20. deay   |   Mon May 16, 2016 @ 02:52AM
21. sterlin   |   Tue Oct 18, 2016 @ 09:51AM
22. cheap reseller web hosting  |  my website   |   Thu Oct 05, 2017 @ 06:04AM

Buy cheap reseller web hosting form Certa hosting. Get online today and start selling cheap reseller web hosting.

23. private detective  |  my website   |   Thu Oct 05, 2017 @ 07:05AM

We are a London based company. Our services include, surveillance, car tracking, background reports and investigations.

24. comfortable conservatories  |  my website   |   Tue Oct 10, 2017 @ 02:47AM

A home conservatory is a great way to add some light and extra space to your home. Since a conservatory does not require any planning permission or building regulations, it is relatively easy to purchase and install. But, once you have made up your mind to get a conservatory for your home it is up to up to make sure that the conservatory is able to provide the benefits that you got it installed for in the first place. More importantly, it is important that your comfortable conservatory is used all year round.

25. Box sash windows  |  my website   |   Mon Oct 16, 2017 @ 05:51AM

These are the most traditional box sash windows with a weights system. It is our primary and most recommended product for those who desire simple construction yet a great design. Our Box Sash windows have been carefully designed to ensure that frames, meetings rails and glazing bars reproduce the traditional form as closely as possible.

26. acupuncture cupping therapy aldershot  |  my website   |   Mon Oct 23, 2017 @ 03:38AM

Pain specialist based in Aldershot, Surrey. Necks, backs, joints, migraines,menstrual - any acute or chronic painful condition treated.

27. brick effect cladding  |  my website   |   Tue Nov 14, 2017 @ 04:37AM

Real Brick Cladding are UK suppliers of extensive range of brick effect cladding.

Post a Comment

powered by Doodlekit™ Free Website Builder