Military-Grade Competitive Intelligence:
How to Uncover the Competition’s Secrets
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And here’s your host, Matt Hardy.
Today I want to talk about getting competitive intelligence.
The better title is: “Military-Grade Competitive Intelligence: How to Uncover the Competition’s Secrets.”
Years ago, I used to work in a hockey store.
Yup – doesn’t get any more stereotypical Canadian than that.
But for a long time, we were the only hockey store on our side of town.
Then a used sporting goods store opened about 2 blocks down from us – and they happened to sell some used hockey equipment, along with just about everything else you can think of.
Wanting to know what was going on, my boss at the time would send the youngest member of the staff to go and walk through their store to get some information on what was going on.
It sounds more professional and stealth than it was.
It was basically a young kid getting to waste some time walking around in a different store – out of the ever watchful eye of the boss.
The most exciting part of the whole trip was the walk there and back, as the surrounding area had a lot of abandoned buildings, drugs and homeless people.
So you were walking in and through the back alleys watching out for dirty needles and sketchy looking drug dealers.
Most of the time the worst that would happen is that someone might ask you if you had any spare change.
But gathering some competitive intelligence to stay on top of what others were doing was important – even in the small town I worked in at the time.
And the same thing is true today.
You’ve got to keep one ear to the ground to stay on top of the different changes in your industry as well as what your competitors are doing.
Sure, you can use this information to react to what your competition is doing – or you could take a macro look at what is happening and use the information you gather to create a unique edge or advantage for your business.
You can take what the competition has done and build it out or tweak it to take things to the next level.
The great Pablo Picasso famously said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.”
Wilson Mizner is quoted as saying “If you steal from one author, it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many, it’s research.”
Don’t like the sound of that?
Well, it happens all the time.
If you’d like an example of this, just look at the music industry.
Every now and then you hear reports pop up in the news about a musician or the musician’s family suing someone for using their music in their own song.
Just the other day, I was watching TV and there was a Nissan ad that came on.
And right at the end of the commercial a song came on.
And I recognized it from somewhere – but I couldn’t remember where it was from.
Being somewhat OCD it bugged me enough that I had to figure it out.
So I took some time to take some internal inventory and reached way back into some of the deepest and darkest parts of my brain.
I had to go back.
Back to 1993 – a time where lowered jeans and lowered Cadillacs were where it was at.
And it finally came to me – the song was based on Cypress Hill’s “Insane in the Brain.”
Just so you know exactly what I’m talking about, I’ll leave links to both songs on the Biz Dev Shots Dot Com website.
But it was some vintage stuff.
And that’s just one example of how some people use the competition to further their own business.
But wait – what if you aren’t a musician that can rip-off – ahhhhh, I mean re-purpose – the competition’s stuff for your own means?
How can you gather some competitive intelligence to stay a leader in your industry?
Glad you asked!!
Let’s look at a couple quick ways to gather competitive intelligence.
Technique Number 1 – Monitor the News
This one may seem obvious, but staying on top of what’s happening in your industry can be as easy as getting a magazine subscription to a few of the top magazines in your industries or doing a quick search in Twitter or Google News using words that are commonly used in your industry.
But as we’re mainly concerned with getting results as fast as humanly possible with as little effort as possible, I’ve got a quick hack to help you stay on top of this stuff.
No – this isn’t the lazy way – it’s the SMART way.
All you have to do is setup alerts using Google News, and Google will send you an email if anything happens on the old Interwebs that involves your search term.
I’ll post a video on how to do this on Biz Dev Shots Dot Com.
Best of all – it’s FREE with no FEE!
Technique Number 2 – Get Copies of Your Competitor’s Ads
If your competitor’s think something is important enough to advertise, chances are it contains some of their best moves.
At the very least – it can give you an idea of where they and the industry are headed in terms of products, pricing or overall sales technique trends.
And there are a few easy ways you can do this beyond seeing the ads they put in those industry magazines I recommended you get:
First, you could buy a competitor’s product in order to get put on their mailing list. Once you’ve done this, you’ll see any and all mailing they do to their customers.
Second, you could sign up for their email list. Most companies have a website and if they’re on their game at all, they will be trying to collect emails on their website.
Third, you could sign up for some spy tools to see if they are doing any sort of online advertising. These services track different online ads and sort them by keyword, industry and ad type.
By using a service like this, you can get specific examples of what and how others are advertising online.
In a couple seconds, you’ll be able to see the text ads, banner ads & media buys on different networks like Bing, Google that other companies are using.
I’ll leave a couple links to these services on Biz Dev shots.com
If you are an online company and aren’t using some sort of spy service, you are probably missing out on a lot of what your competitors are up to.
Technique Number 3 – Physically Drop in On the Competition
The final option we’ll look at for competitive intelligence is to actually, physically visit your competitor’s location if they are a bricks and mortar operation.
You could go in yourself, or you could go covert and send in your own spies (like my former boss used to do).
But what if you can’t or don’t want to do this?
That’s ok – I’ve got you covered!
You can get a drone.
That way you can fly overtop of their operation and gain some REAL military-grade competitive analysis.
Now, while it’s not exactly stealth-mode as most drones sound like you’re flying a Chinook cargo helicopter overhead, chances are they won’t be able to connect the drone back to you and your intelligence gathering mission.
Unless of course you take a selfie of yourself and post it on Facebook with the caption that reads, “Ha ha XYZ Corp’s Secrets are Mine! World domination is eminent!”
Word may get out if you do that.
So there you have it – 3 quick ways you can stay on top of your industry by gathering competitive intelligence.
One last point – remember, you’re gathering this information to help formulate your own unique strategy – not to blatantly rip off what your competition is doing.
You’re using the info you gather as a starting point to which you can add your own unique genius so you can stand out from the crowd.
Here’s to knowing what the competition is up to and being one step ahead!
Want more customers, more sales, and more business? If you need to grow and develop your business, we have the answer. Visit BizDevShots.com now and click on the Biz Growth Solutions tab at the top of the page to find your solution.
I hope you got something out of this podcast.
An idea you can use.
A different thought or viewpoint.
Or maybe you found it mildly amusing.
At any rate, can you refer this podcast to one other person you think might find it entertaining or useful?
Because I want to help as many people as I can, in as short a time as possible.
Here’s something to listen to while you think about it…
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