10 Tips to Find Competitive Intelligence Online

Yesterday I listened to a most engaging and informative AIIP webinar presentation by Arthur Weiss of CEO of Aware. I have taken many of Arthur’s Internet tippers especially to beef up Google Chrome searching and connection to improve my specialty,  primary research, that is finding information by talking to people. In a spirit of cooperative intelligence, I share these tippers which will help you both locate better information and identify relevant people more expeditiously.

The 10 Tips

1. Know What You are Looking For. Switch your perspective and look at the target company as though you were them, their competitor or a customer.

2. Create a Collection Plan. Identify sources: Why will the information be available? Where will you find it? How can you find it ethically?

3. Use Advanced Search Techniques. Start with the search engines & take advantage of the innuendos of key word searching, advanced search techniques and language translation. I like Wonder Wheel which visually mindmaps your Google search, which I didn’t realize was so easy to enable through Google Chrome. Arthur also reminded us to search Amazon for sources and to take advantage of the Even More features of Google and Google Labs. One Google Chrome extension I like in particular, is the Augment Search feature, which allows you to add/change search engines to your search.

4. Search the Deep Web. Arthur shared numerous Deep Web sites. Some of my favorites are NorthernLight, Deep Dyve, Biznar, Highbeam Research and Silobreaker.

5. Don’t Ignore Competitor websites. Aside from reading them thoroughly, don’t forget Domain Tools and Open Site Explorer since sites linked to your target company can be very telling, and may also provide you people to talk to. Don’t forget to search cache memory for some history of the website over time on Archive.org.

6. investigate Social Media. Aside from Twitter, LinkedIn, Xing, Facebook and industry Nings, don’t forget Slideshare, YouTube and Glassdoor. One of my favorite takeaways was the Rockmelt browser, a one stop access to all your social networks! Talk about a time saver!

7. It’s the people that make the difference! In addition to the common social media connections, Arthur recommends Quora. Other people search tools include Jigsaw, Yasni, Wink, Spokeo. Arthur wasn’t as keen on Zoominfo, since they have converted to fee based mostly. Be aware that these sources all need to be cross-checked. Look at your own profile and note the errors.

8. Remember the Quality of Paid Databases. Many of us at AIIP take advantage of the discounted rates from these service providers such as Dialog, Factiva, Skyminder, Morningstar and Lexis Nexis to name a few.

9. Keep Up-to-Date! I particularly valued Arthur’s tipper to follow industry and competitive intelligence experts on Twitter. This is so easy and you can clump their Tweets so easily in a Tweet Deck column. I also like to stay current with CI Ning, SCIP, AIIP and IntelCollab.

10. Think Differently. Look for things that are odd or out of place. If something doesn’t look right, feel right, or sound right, find out why.  Be a critical thinker.

This is just a smattering of what Arthur shared! These webinars are one of the key benefits of AIIP membership. They are all taped so you can listen to them anytime, and AIIP members can download a copy of the slides as well.

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2 Responses

  1. Thank you Ellen.

    If I had to name a key point it would be number 2. (It has to come after number 1 – but that is often not set by you, the researcher, but by the end-user).

    If you can think why information will be available, it will lead you to where it can be found, whether this is from secondary sources or primary sources. It will also save massive amounts of time – as you are more likely to go to the source rather than try and try and try again different approaches, in the hope of finding something.

    As a trivial example – you need to phone somebody in the UK and you don’t have their mobile (cellphone) number. They have no landline number. In the UK (not sure about the US) mobile numbers are not listed in telephone directories.

    You can spend hours trying to find this unlisted number online and will probably fail, unless they are stupid enough to have a public Facebook page (or similar) without privacy restrictions and including personal details such as their phone number.

    Another (better) approach would be to think why will this information be available? (Especially after you’ve checked out whether they do have privacy switched on, on their FB pages, etc.).

    One reason would be because their friends need to be able to call the person. So rather than waste hours trying to find that unlisted number, try finding the person’s friends and call them and ask for the number. You’ll need a good reason, but if you haven’t got a good reason, why do you need to call them in the first place.

  2. Hi Arthur,

    Fun example…actually I often ask myself “Who else cares about the information I am seeking?”

    That gets to your example about the unlisted phone number as well. Saves a lot of time.

    Happy Weekend and GREAT job on the AIIP webinar!

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