Many of the research projects we do for our clients involve competitive intelligence. Some typical CI projects have included:
- Finding legal work done for specific clients by other firms, or competitor firms working in specific practice areas or doing particular regulatory work.
- Tracking a main competitor’s product line and delivering findings via regular reports and presentations.
- Creating competitive intelligence matrices that compare and contrast competing products to educate sales teams and other staff.
And something many of our business and legal clients want to know is:
Who are the customers of my key competitors?
Getting that information with depth, breadth and detail requires professional research skills and specific information resources based on the situation, yet we have identified five good ways any business or law firm can find out more about their competitor’s customers.
1. Social Media Connections
Beyond social media content and conversations, you can ascertain a lot by seeing who your competitors’ fans, followers and connections are, since they are sure to include some customers. And don’t forget to turn it around – check out the people and organizations your competitors follow, because you may be able to identify additional customers or targeted prospects. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ are all about reciprocity!
2. Conferences and Conventions
Participating in your industry trade shows and meetings can bring all kinds of benefits, including competitive intelligence gathering. Even if you don’t become an exhibitor or sponsor, sending people with the right skills, savvy and strategies can uncover a lot. Send them to competitor booths, have them attend any breakout sessions that include competitors or companies within your target market, and make sure they participate in all the networking or social activities like golf or cocktail hour. Above all, send people who are good at mingling, chatting and asking questions.
3. Associations and Trade Groups
If you’re not convinced or otherwise able to participate in events, you should at least invest in membership of your industry trade group or professional association. You will gain access to member-only information that includes comings, goings and happenings within your industry, including the latest on your competitors and what customers in your markets are doing and buying.
4. Press Releases and Media Coverage
Many businesses use press releases to announce new customers, and law firms to announce new practice areas or successful client outcomes, which is why it’s important to monitor the media coverage and press releases of your key competitors. You can learn more about current clients, as well as getting a heads up on potential new clients or markets they may be pursuing because of new product rollouts, new office openings or key new hires. Also keep an eye out for competitor coverage in newspapers, trade journals, websites and other media.
5. Partners and Resellers
If your competition sells through third party retailers, distributors or resellers of any kind, you should monitor those organizations too. They are extensions of your competitor’s sales organization, making some or all of their customers your competitor’s customers. They may feature different client testimonials, or announce smaller deals or reveal other interesting customer information that your competitor does not make known.