Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Competitive Intelligence

Every small business owner will at some point realize the need for competitive intelligence. We often get requests for lists of competitors in a given area but the real questions concerning the competition: how much of a threat they pose to the business owner is one that requires closer attention. They will likely learn a fair amount about the competition from their own clients.

Besides the typical sources of information: annual reports, corporate web sites, national and local papers; there are also job postings, legal filings, patents and interviews with people to gather the pieces that will come together into a fuller picture of the market.

Clients could take advantage of tracking services, join professional associations, and attend trade shows and network. Clipping competitors ads can help keep on top of what their offerings are. Business owners should also be aware of competitors from new corners – those with aligned products or services. Approach the competition as a customer to see how the experience compares. Trawling Internet bulletin boards and blogs may also glean customer comments and information. Here are a couple of articles on CI and a clipping service comparison site.

Know Thy Enemy: Ignorance isn't bliss when it comes to your competition.
Entrepreneur magazine - July 2003 By Rieva Lesonsky and the staff of Entrepreneur,4621,309514,00.html

The Manager
Management - Competitive Intelligence / Business Intelligence
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