Marketing intelligence

* The calculations use the average data for the World

Insider and current commercial information about a competitor or its lack can sometimes lead to serious problems or, conversely, to significant success in business. This article will talk about intelligence.

Do you often need information about a competing company? Perhaps there can be no definite answer “yes” or “no”. However, the author was faced with situations where information about the competitor was more useful than ever when making important strategic decisions.

Imagine this situation. There is a large Russian producer of food products, which in a certain region is represented by two dealers. These dealers share the regional market, for example, 50 to 50% of the total share and ... one competitor, for a number of reasons, is not able to service it in the near future. In other words, he is bankrupt. You know about this or accidentally found out, while the share of the regional market of a competitor is 8-10 million rubles.

Having such information, it certainly came to your mind to explain the “situation” to the manufacturer and to drag the entire competitor’s accumulated clientele over yourself, thereby increasing your sales, market presence, and, naturally, your profit.

And if fortune smiles at you, if you prove to the manufacturer that you have all the necessary resources (storage facilities, vehicles, financial and human resources) for the successful implementation of this idea, if you find mutual understanding, it is possible that the manufacturer will not look for “spare option ”and entrust the entire regional market to you.

I think we should not focus on the fact that in addition to headaches and other organizational issues, the described development of events can bring significant dividends. How do you like this situation?

I would like to immediately note that the above example is only a special case. One of the many that constantly enter both our life and the life of your business. I think that almost all "practicing" businessmen have faced similar situations. Situations when, as in the well-known saying: "information is everything." Well, if not all, then a lot.

You can give another example from the wonderful American movie “Wall Street”, when the main character, the stock market shark Gordon Gekko tells his young but promising employee Bad Fox: “stop bringing me information, learn how to get it.”

But, before becoming an "information hunter", it is necessary to clearly and clearly define which particular information array you are interested in. What information, in what form and volume, is necessary for you to make this or that managerial decision. Is it necessary at all?

And one more very subtle point: you need to know firmly where the line is that distinguishes competitive intelligence from industrial espionage. This line sets the law. Here is what Elena Larina writes in her book, Practical Competitive Intelligence. Introductory course ":

“Working with primary sources, which we will write about in this part, is a much more subtle and ambiguous subject. Primary sources are information carriers. And if it’s very simple - people. And when receiving information from a person, one must firmly know where the line that distinguishes competitive intelligence from industrial espionage passes. This line sets the law. Competitive intelligence complies with the law, industrial espionage - no. By the way, in recent years, several major studies have been conducted on competitive intelligence and industrial espionage. The result was staggering numbers. The pluses include the fact that more than a third of companies use competitive intelligence methods to one degree or another. But what should be alarming - more than four fifths of the managers surveyed said they considered industrial espionage an effective method of competition. And more than half of the workers, which did not include workers and technical specialists, are ready to sell information related to trade secrets for money. Such are the realities of Russian business. ”

The main law that sets the line between competitive intelligence and industrial espionage is the Trade Secrets Act. The key in the Law is clause 1.2 of Article 3, where it is determined what relates to trade secrets. Trade secret means “confidential information that allows its holder, in existing or possible circumstances, to increase revenues, avoid unjustified expenses, maintain a position in the market for goods, services, work or receive other commercial benefits”. According to experts, in fact, any information about the enterprise may fall under this sign.

In clause 2 of Article 3, the concept of trade secret is specified. “It includes scientific, technical, technological, industrial, financial, economic or other information, including those constituting production secrets or know-how, which has actual or potential commercial value due to its unknown to third parties, to which there is no free legal access and in respect of which the owner of such information introduced a trade secret regime. ”

I want to note right away that far from all enterprises operating in the market are interested in a fresh information stream. But, as the author’s experience shows, if there are at least 10% of those, then this is already not enough. Some enterprises are just coming to this idea, and some, already several years ago, created analytical or information departments and "puzzled" their employees to perform specific tasks. The Russian market is so dynamic that it constantly brings “fresh trickles” from abroad and the capital. And the "saddling" of the information flow: the collection, systematization and analysis of the information you are interested in can be a powerful tool for researching the market, competitors and the external environment.

What do we collect and how much does it cost

The collection, systematization and analysis of information is a cost. Can a company go for them? It all depends on the particular company and on the tasks that performers are facing. Some Russian companies spend from these thousands to several tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for these purposes, but not every enterprise is ready to make such expenses. To talk about the budget, it is necessary to very clearly, without illusions, determine the following:

  • For what purpose, and for what needs is information collected and analyzed?

  • What will be the final "information product"?

  • Who is it created for?

The solution to this problem is a huge step forward!

How to collect information

The method of collecting information is a good question that cannot be answered unequivocally. In most cases, to collect specific information, you can use completely legal methods that do not contradict the current legislation.

As a rule, each research methodology is developed. The main thing is to correctly formulate goals and objectives. For example, you need to know certain information about a manufacturing enterprise (food production). You are interested in how solvent the company is and whether it pays on time for its obligations.

If you have never “worked” with this company, if you see yourself as a potential supplier, then these two questions will surely concern you in the first place.

The author of these lines quite successfully solved such problems. How? This is a different conversation, but ... let's think logically. We need to answer only two simple questions. In this regard, it can be assumed that if the company operates successfully, then ...

  1. It must fully and on time pay salaries to its employees.

  2. Production should work.

  3. Products must be shipped.

And where products are shipped, people usually hustle around: drivers, movers, purchasing / shipment managers. Sometimes they are bored and have no one to talk to. It happens that an individual entrepreneur will be sad in the queue, and then he knows exactly how to pay him (if he is a supplier). So it turns out that not even in a confidential conversation you can get information not only about the financial and economic situation of the enterprise, but also about the intimate details of the life of the chief engineer or head of the personnel department.

Technologies of telephone conversations, communication with junior and middle managers, in which you can get the information you need using absolutely unrelated questions. In the end, journalists can be “seduced” under this case. It’s not a secret that the majority of international journalists working abroad in the “pre-perestroika” times were “a little scouts”.

In addition to “direct communication”, there are other sources of information, as well as technology for its production.

One of the ways, the simplest, is through the system of professional analysis of markets and Spark companies. As stated on their website, you can access the following information:

  • Company details, information on registration with registration authorities, licenses;

  • Company structure, co-owners, subsidiaries, branch network, management;

  • Financial statements of companies adapted for fundamental analysis;

  • Financial and estimated ratios, including industry ratios, information on audits;

  • Scoring assessments, including credit risks and the company's unreliability risk;

  • Description of the company’s activities, plans for its development;

  • Headcount data;

  • Significant events, announcements of corporate events;

  • Information on securities issues, calendar of events on stocks and bonds, quotes, registrar information;

  • Analyst recommendations, analytical reviews and comments;

  • Database of bankruptcies and decisions of arbitration courts;

  • Patents and trademarks;

  • Media reports, public information;

  • Information about the obligations of the company;

  • Information about participation in the gospider;

  • Company domain data.

However, one must be aware that official financial information does not always adequately reflect the true picture in the enterprise, but as an object for analysis, especially in dynamics, it is quite suitable.

In the end, I would like to dwell on the former employees of the commercial structure you are interested in, especially if the separation from them was, in their opinion, “unfair”. In some cases, they can simply be an information storehouse.

The seemingly scattered information collected in this way bit by bit can be systematized, analyzed in a certain way and be of considerable interest to the interested party ...

Allaverdyan Vladimir Vladimirovich,

Leading expert at

Investment Advisor. Business analyst. Contact an expert.

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