5 Tips to get information on your competitors and to help paint a much clearer picture of the market that you’re in
This guest post was written by Gal Har-Zvi, CEO at Unomy and Partner at Valueshine Ventures
Almost all companies are looking for information on a daily basis. Customer information, the partners, the competing suppliers, etc. This information is used to make decisions, generate sales, identify opportunities, markets, map competition and so on.
The purpose of the current post is to introduce less familiar sources of free information and to help you better understand your business environment and its companies, save time on research, make more informed decisions and identify threats and opportunities.
The first part of the post will review sources of information to help us find those companies related to your business customers, competitors and so on. In the second part, we will review the sources of information that provide useful information about those companies. All source information will be accompanied by practical examples.
Important Note: The information sources mentioned in this post are not 100% accurate. Some are more accurate and some less, but all provide a good indication of the desired parameter
“How have I not heard of them before?”
How many times have you encountered for the first time some new customer, competitor, supplier, etc. and asked yourself, ‘how have I not heard of them before?’
This happens because we mainly rely on Google to find companies and we often use search expressions around the category name; ex. ‘CRM Software’, ‘Israeli media agencies’, ‘Forex trading company lists’, etc. Usually the results in the first few pages are the leading companies in the category, their site affiliates, reviews and buying guides.
This means that we miss a lot of other companies that are often more relevant to us than the big players.
Searching for companies by category using Linkedin’s filter also has its drawbacks because the categories are often too broad for our needs; software, Internet, finance, etc. Adding in keywords to a Linkedin search can improve the accuracy but we’re still left with a lot of irrelevant results.
So what to do?
5 Techniques for finding companies and mapping markets
1. Company Databases
Like Linkedin, these are reservoirs of information containing tens of millions of profiles of companies and allows for filtering according to parameters such as category, size, profits, location and more. Most of them provide free basic information (name, address, description, approximate turnover and number of employees) and charge a fee for more in-depth information (Contact information for the workers themselves, annual reports, etc.).
One of the leading databases is zoominfo.com
Build lists of prospects. For example, a company that sells software to manage online campaigns for small media agencies can use advanced searches and easily generate a targeted list of 2,082 media agencies with fewer than 10 employees and a turnover of under five million dollars.
2. Search similar sites
There are several tools that display similar websites to those that are fed into the search bar. Although the results are not always relevant, this is a great technique for mapping the markets quickly.
Mapping companies in a Customer Service Plan by searching similar sites to zendesk.com, one of the leaders in that category.
Note that you can sort the results by the degree of similarity, site popularity, country and language.
3. Site Reviews
Select a category that interests you and use filters to reduce the consequences.
Want to find all CRM software for a small business suite giving free trials and support for the Japanese market? Let’s see you do it in Google.
4. CrunchBase Data Export
This is one of my favorites – Download the Excel file, which is updated monthly and contains all the U.S. companies that received funding and that have entries on Crunchbase.
Create lists of prospects. For example, a media company focused on gaming can create a list of all American startups that revolve around gaming and that have raised over $0.5M in investment during the last six months.
5. Visual display of Crunchbase
A company who’s raised money can have a visual of their investment portfolio created including the people and the connections of the funds with which they’re affiliated.
Interesting data is off-site
After we’ve mapped out the market and we know who our competitors, our potential business customers and our potential partners are, It’s time to get to know them in depth.
How much depth? The answer is of course depends on your needs.
For example, salespeople look for the name and contact details of the decision makers they need to talk to, marketers want to know what a journalist wrote about their competitors, business development people want to know the payment ethic of a potential partner etc.
Usually, the information that really interests us does not appear on the site so we’ll need to use secondary sources of information. Fortunately today there are thousands of business information sources on the Internet where we can find information on nearly every relevant parameter in any organization.
I gathered for you a number of sources of information and useful tools that I particularly like (all free, comprehensive and reliable relative to other sources in their category).
Free infomation: Company Profile and contact details of employees by departments and levels (provided you join their Community Edition).
Use Case: Details of employees at Wix.com (on the right side you can choose a class on the left side there are other additional filtering possibilities).
Email-Format is another free tool that helps to intelligently guess the email address of the person you wish to contact, using a sample of email addresses from the same company and pattern recognition.
Free infomation: Company Profile and Basic Financial Statements
Examination margin of competitors as part of the research process when building a business model and financial plan. An example report .
Also, when it comes to a public company you can always easily find quarterly and annual reports available for free download on the company website or on databases carrying such reports lik: http://www.annualreports.com
Payroll, employee satisfaction, hiring process
Free information: salaries, employee reviews, interview preparation and more.
Free Information: Information technologies in which you enter each site using the search bar.
Salespeople who sell B2B SaaS products can use the information for prioritizing potential customers and improving conversion rates (ex. to contact new prospects who are still not using any competing products).
Here is an example of this kind of technological analysis using Soluto.
Links to Site
Source: Open Site Explorer
Free information: List of all webpages linking to the company
Contacting reporters who wrote about your competitors so that you can ask if they’re interested in writing about you as well and thereby increasing your SEO value.
For example, here’s a list of all the sites that link to any.do. Clicking on a link will open to a website that published a piece on them.
Who’s talking about what he thinks
Source: Social Mention
Free information: Mentions of the company across the net (news sites, blogs, social networks, and more), character references (positive, neutral, negative), and more. You can filter the information by source, sentiment and other parameters.
You can receive alerts via email whenever people talk to you or their competitors and join the conversation (A kind of Google Alerts for social networks).
Information on the movement of visitors to the site
Free information: Estimated amount of visitors, demographic, traffic sources, length of stay on the site and more.
Example usage: Revaluation popular sites
From the dawn of time:
Free Information: Most web pages are created over time.
A salesperson will be able to impress a potential customer by demonstrating their thorough knowledge of their customer’s site evolution history.
Daily monitoring after changes
Source: Change Detection
Free information: email alert whenever there’s a change on the page you chose to keep tabs on.
Your competitor is not yet Live? Follow the coming soon page and be alerted the moment there’s a change. Also, you can keep track of price changes, staff changes, etc.
Source: Plain Site
Free information: patents, trademarks, attorney representation, outstanding legal claims etc.
Before you enter into a strategic partnership with a particular company you can check whether it has been sued in the past.
All sources quoted are just examples to encourage you to seek information beyond Google and LinkedIn. Of course there are thousands of other excellent sources that can serve you according to your needs. Here is a link to download the database of more than 300 targeted information sources collected by research firm Aqute.
And finally –
The Internet is like space – sporadic, huge and full of stars.
Look for your home – Http://internet-map.net/
Photo Credit: Shutterstock/ Looking for information