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How to Read a Competitor’s Documents for Competitive Intelligence

As you collect competitive intelligence data, you can often find competitor newsletters, speeches, and press releases on their corporate websites and other online sources, but these public releases are always suspect — organizations tend to release only the information they want the public to have. But who knows, you may get lucky. One of the best ways to convert public communication into meaningful intelligence is through comparisons:

  1. Gather information about a competitor from multiple sources (newsletters, press releases, speeches, trade publications, company website, and so on).

  2. Compare the information to determine whether the message is consistent.

    If the message from several sources is consistent, you can probably trust that it’s accurate. If the message is inconsistent and hints at something that may be of value, additional research can help reveal what’s really going on. Perhaps a competitor is engaging in a head fake to conceal its real plans and motives.

  3. Develop themes or patterns from the different sources. They may provide a better understanding of what a competitor really plans on doing.

Be very skeptical when reading any company’s materials. Companies have been known to release false information to throw competitors off track. Always verify information with at least one other reliable source (preferably two or more) before accepting it as fact.

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