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Competitive Intelligence

Competitive Intelligence
By Sharon Housley

Competitive Intelligence

Some companies compete by getting into the minds of their competitors. Competitive Intelligence is the process of collecting information about competitors in a competitive environment. These tips and tricks will help marketers better understand competitive intelligence, and how to effectively compete in their marketplace.

Individuals and companies use a variety of methods to gain information about their competitors. Some methods are controversial, and may even be considered unethical, but it is important that you are aware of them. Even if you don't want to use the questionable tactics yourself, it is important that you and your staff understand them, so you can be prepared and protected if your competitors decide to use them to learn your company strategies or secrets.

Social engineering, commonly thought of as manipulating people into taking certain actions, also includes the act of manipulating people into disclosing information that really should not be disclosed. The original computer hackers often used this type of social engineering to obtain passwords or information about a secure system. Quite often, the weakest points in a security system are the individuals behind the system. Be sure to implement a clear policy regarding what information can and cannot be disclosed, and to whom it can be disclosed. Having clear policies and security procedures in place are critical to protecting your company from competitors.

The flip-side of competitive intelligence is that you can also use competitive intelligence to improve your business and performance.

There are a number of things business owners can easily do to assess the competition, which require very little effort...

Evaluate a competitor's website and the meta data contained in it. Simply "view" the HTML source of a website to reveal the meta data. This will give you some insight into the keywords they are hoping to rank well for in the search engines. In the process, you may discover a keyword or phrase that you hadn't thought of before, but will work well for your company too.

There are also a variety of web tools that can assist in uncovering data about competing companies. For example, Webmaster Elements has a number of tools that help with competitive intelligence. You can find and review their selection of Competitive Analysis Tools at http://www.webmaster-elements.com/webmaster-tools/competitive-analysis-tools.htm .

Competitive intelligence can help influence difficult business decisions, and can often help a company gain a competitive advantage. Information is power, and your competitors can use information about your company to make decisions about their business.... and you should too.

About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll http://www.feedforall.com software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for RecordForAll http://www.recordforall.com audio recording and editing software.

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This article may be used freely in opt-in publications and websites, provided that the resource box is included and the links are active. A courtesy copy of the issue or a link to any online posting would be greatly appreciated send an email to sharon@notepage.net .

Additional articles available for publication available at http://www.small-business-software.net/free-website-content.htm

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