How to Find Information About Your Competitors

  In this episode of competitive intelligence, Michael Sandman presents the best online and offline places to find some information about your competition.

Where can you
go to find information about competitors and about a marketplace that’s published? I’m Mike Sandman and we’re going to be looking at publications both in print online. So let’s start with the obvious one.

Look at Your Competitor’s Website

If you’re trying to understand what a company is doing, what a business is doing, you go to their website. What companies say about themselves on their websites can be very very useful, not just from the perspective of the concrete things that they tell you, but also from the perspective of the image that they try to present. Another place to look for publications is to go to the Internet for job postings. Competitors put jobs up on their website, particularly if they’re medium-size or larger organizations, and of course there are all sorts of job posting websites – CareerBuilder, Monster, GlassDoor, and a great many industry-specific sites. Beyond that, there are industry forums and discussion boards, and these boards are typically contributed to by people who work in companies that you may be interested in, that may compete in your marketplace, or may have a supplier or customer relationships to your competitors. The companies that these people work for really have no control over what they say.

Social Media Displays Personal Biases

Social media has become an enormously powerful way of looking at what people and businesses are saying about themselves. Social media can be a very valuable source of information, but budget your time, don’t get buried in it, and take it with a grain of salt because a lot of what people say is personal opinion and very often people in the middle people who don’t feel very strongly about an issue one way or the other don’t comment, whereas people who do have a strong opinion either positively or negatively I will make it and will hog the social media spotlight. And then trade journals, most of them are online and they cover every niche that you can imagine. So we’ve looked at all of the places that you can go for publications, both online and in print. This is an enormously powerful source of information about businesses that are in your marketplace and about competitors that you’re likely to face.

About Michael Sandman

Michael Sandman is Executive Director and founder of IFCIP, the International Fellowship of Competitive Intelligence Professionals.  Prior to forming IFCIP, he was Senior Vice President of Fuld & Company, preceded by a career of over twenty years as a senior operations manager of the composites industry, industrial textiles, and industrial process control systems. Mr. Sandman also has an extensive background in international business, including the transfer of technology to licensees and joint venture partners in the Pacific Rim, Switzerland, England, Mexico and Brazil.

Mr. Sandman started his career with a privately held composites manufacturer, and he subsequently became chief operating officer of a division of the Dexter Corporation, a multinational producer of specialty materials. At Dexter, he had responsibility for operations in North America, Europe and the Pacific Rim. He joined Fuld & Company in 1991, where he  was the managing partner until his retirement in 2014. In addition to his current role at IFCIP, he continues to do consulting in the field of competitive intelligence.

He is an adjunct faculty member at University of California-Irvine’s Paul Merage Business School and he has been a guest lecturer at Columbia University Business School’s advanced management program for senior executives, the University of Wisconsin’s Management Institute, the Boston University School of Management and Harvard Business School.  Mr. Sandman developed CI 101® and CI 202®, the courses he taught and were sponsored by the Strategic & Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP). He has served on the peer review board of the Competitor Intelligence Review, and he is the author of the chapter on competitive intelligence analysis for Millennium Intelligence, edited by Professor Jerry Miller and published in 2000. He was elected to be a Fellow of the Strategic & Competitive Intelligence Professionals and received the prestigious Society’s Faye Brill Award in 2012.

Mr. Sandman received his B.S. (Economics) from Clark University in Worcester, MA and a M.B.A. from the Johnson School of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.