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In honor of Primary Intelligence’s 15th anniversary, we’re sharing 15 of our favorite items across 15 topics.

It’s like 225 thank you gifts for you, from us.

15 Hidden Competitive Intelligence Sources

At Primary Intelligence, we know your best sources for competitive intelligence are the sales team and buyers. But, sometimes you need additional sources to alert you of upcoming activity from that fiercest competitors. So, grab your spyglass and put your thinking cap on. These sources will unravel your competition’s mystery.

Annual Report

Reading your competitor’s annual reports will give you an inside view of their business operations. Since many companies are publicly held, they are required to file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In this report, companies usually discuss ways they are helping their customers, which will help you understand how they add value to their customers. Get reports from the “Investor Relations” section of their website or AnnualReports.com.

Press Releases and Announcements

Pay attention to press releases and news submitted by your competitors. Announcements for new hires could indicate the direction the company is heading in. Companies like Versionista will alert you every time a website is updated.

Local Planning Commissions

Check the local planning commission where your competitor is headquartered as well as any satellite offices to learn if they are planning to expand their buildings or business any time soon. Then put your super sleuthing to work to find out why. To find the planning commission, type “planning commission” and [local area] in your favorite search engine.

Local News Agencies

The Wall Street Journal is a good place to stay on top of business, industry, and company news. But don’t stop there. The hidden gems can be found in the local newspapers and television news where your competitor may have a branch office. Their websites are an excellent place to start.

Trade Shows

An exhibition is the perfect place for your competitor to unveil a new product or feature and for you to get a bird’s eye view on what it is. Trade shows also help you discover the latest trends in your industry. Find trade shows to attend here.

Environmental Protection Agency

Your competitor may be required to file reports with the EPA. You may even be able to get the scoop on any compliance violations your competitor had that may impact business.

Patent and Trademark Office

What new invention did your competitor’s R&D department come up with? Find out if your competitor applied for a patent here.

Trade Journals

Stay in tune with competitors and products by subscribing to applicable trade journals in your field. Find trade journals by searching online or at bookstores.

Court Records

Comb state and federal court records to look for tax liens or legal filings. Court records can be strong indications of what’s happening inside your competitor’s walls.

Glassdoor

View employees’ and former employees’ reviews of your competitor and ratings of the CEO. Use Glassdoor to check the quality of life for employees and their mood towards it, and the hiring process and the required qualifications. You can use this knowledge when crafting sales pitches when competing against this competitor. “We only hire certified public accountants whereas Joe’s Finances employs bookkeepers.”

Social Media

Follow the competition via their social media profiles. Keep tabs on who they follow and who follows them, too. Most recent followers could indicate prospects, clients, or newly-formed partnerships.

Senior Leadership

Pay attention to what the competition’s CEO, Board of Directors, etc. are posting on Twitter and read their blog posts and see who they’re palling around with. If you start to see more frequent updates, there’s a good chance the company is getting ready to launch a new solution.

Partner Websites

Once you find out whom your competitor’s senior leadership is hanging out with, check out their websites to see if they are planning any joint ventures or tag-teaming a sales approach to buyers. While paying a visit to the competition’s partner sites, look at their announcements, press releases, and investor relations for more intel.

SpyFu.com

This is the website to download your competitor’s “most profitable” keywords and ads. In their own words, “SpyFu exposes the search marketing secret formula of your most successful competitors.” Understanding what the competition is spending money on gives you a view into their market strategy.

Government Contracts

If your competitor has a federal government contract, you can get details on the contract and possibly intel on your competitor by filing a Freedom of Information Act request. However, any information that is considered classified or proprietary will be masked.

If only Custer had some competitive intelligence.

Win Loss can prevent your last stand.