Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Moving Time - Shipping our blog

All of you loyal fans and readers out there, and there are a LOT of you, please take note:

[FIND] Investigations is shedding the .blogspot.com domain for a new service.

We've boxed up all of our bow ties and seersucker posts, folded up our recipes on cocktail napkins, and sorted our business blogs. We're about to haul the whole truckload of wit and wisdom just down the road to a new service.

So, in the next week or so, we'll get an email out tho the throngs, our faithful readers, with our new blog address. Likely it'll be something like www.findinvestigations.com/blog, but we'll see.



Monday, October 10, 2011

Five More Tips to Trump the Competition

1. Hang: Most offices have a place where the work staff hangs out: a favorite diner for lunch, the "company" bar, etc. Do a bit of research and find out where the competition's team spends their free time. People love to complain about work, hash out projects, and talk about the bosses. Sit. Listen.

Sometimes you can even engage. I once took a business intelligence trip to Arizona. The target company was a very large player in the hospitality industry. I stayed in the same hotel. Struck up a conversation at the bar with one of the execs, an attractive 50-ish year old female who loved to down martinis. I asked her why she was in town. She told me...For five hours, she told me. An hour into the conversation, her team showed up, introductions made all around, and they told me...My client was able to put together an entire proposal based on our conversation. Bar tab - $60.00, Hourly fees - $500, first-hand intelligence - Priceless.

2. Find the Ex: Tap into the rumor-mill and find out who's just left the competitor's ranks. (There are several industry specific news outlets that actually post revolving-door news items.) Find past employees. Ask them to dinner. Ask them questions: What does XYZ Co. do really well? How are they better than us? In which areas are they weak? Do not ask people to violate non-disclosure agreements.

3. Buy: Become a customer. Use their services. Find out, first hand, what the competition does better than you.

4. Buy (part 2): Buy stock. Seriously, buy a couple shares of the competition's stock. Now you have the right to learn anything that other shareholders know. Worth a shot.

5. Conference Hound: Go to the same trade shows. People love to brag. Let them.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Five Tips to Trump the Competition

Everyday Corporate Intelligence Tricks:

  1. Shift that Paradigm: Typically the sales department and marketing team view competition with a degree of contempt. Fear and ignorance lead to bad decision making. Digging for dirt and trying to discredit the competition often (almost always) leads to a myopic view and bad intelligence. Step back and have a look at your competition from the perspective of a new client. View them through the eyes of a prospect, a regular player in the market with generally positive expectations. Ask what they do well. Where do they excel? How could they solve my problems? You might be surprised to learn that the competition is actually better at some things than you are. Know your competition, don’t just sling mud.

  1. Read: Set up an RSS feed that provides you with any stories in the media about your competition. Are stories being written about them? Are they being quoted as experts? Learn what they have to say. Google Alerts is an easy way to do this. Pay close attention to help-wanted ads. If you’ve been paying attention for some time, you’ll start to notice when the competition is staffing up for a huge new project.

  1. Gather Web Intelligence: Scour their corporate web site, read every bit. Download pages. Study the material. What products do they sell? What services do they provide? We actually set up a notebook for each company we’re tracking. There are several sections to these three ring binders, but the first and easiest to get is the entire content from the competition’s own web site. Review the competitions web site as if you were a new customer (see No. 1).

  1. Build a Network of Human Intelligence: This will take some finesse and will definitely take an investment in time, but countless people come through your office on a daily basis who can provide you with valuable, valuable information. Talk to them. UPS, FedEx, the guy who services copy machines, even the water delivery service, all fantastic sources of information. Build rapport, engage, and over time slip in some comments and questions about the competition. You’ll be surprised how much the water guy knows.

  1. Ask: How about this for a crazy idea: Ask the competition directly. Simple really.

Next week we’ll dig a little deeper into some more ideas for gathering intelligence on the competition.