By Brett Thorne
Chances are that in the course of your daily web-surfing you’ve stopped by your competitor’s
website before. Maybe you just wanted to compare the layout of their site versus yours.
Maybe you wanted to see how recently they had updated their blog or get some information
about what sort of inventory management they use.
What many small business owners don’t realize is that there is a trove of valuable information that
can be gleaned from scouring your competitor’s site, subscribing to their social media channels and
joining mailing lists. There is a whole industry that centers around competitive intelligence, and if you
have a decently sized budget, you may want to contract some work out to one of these organizations.
Using a private investigator
These companies will send out one of their private investigators to legally scrounge for
information on your rival’s competitive practices including invoices, contracts and customer
lists. That can include everything from calling your competitor to gain information on pricing
and shipping rates to digging through the company’s trash.
If you’re not interested in hiring out that kind of help, you can do plenty from your office chair.
First of all, subscribe to your rival’s Twitter and Facebook feeds. These will give you good
information about what products and services your rival is pushing, what sort of specials they
are running and the general day to day info about the company.
Check the Free Services
Use free services like changedetection.com and femtoo.com to track changes to your
competitor’s site. This information will give you a good idea of what the company is planning
to do in the future. If they have a “Meet the Staff” page or something similar that they just
added five new salespeople to, this might indicate that they are expecting higher sales or
experiencing rapid growth.
Finally, sign up for mailing lists. This is possibly the most valuable free tool you can use.
Being on a competitor’s mailing list is like being on the inside. You’re now privileged to all
the information they want their customer base to know about. You can get a glimpse at the
company’s plans for the next month, including sales, promotions, events and new product
Legal search techniques can be very effective
These practices are completely legal and they can help you get a leg up on the competition if
you utilize them correctly. Plus, they’re a heck of a lot cleaner than digging through their trash.