How do find out about rival firms, their dealings and weaknesses? It doesn’t require hiring spies or engaging in corporate espionage. It just takes time and the appropriate resources to engage in competitive intelligence (CI). It isn’t hard to do and in fact, it may be a critical component of your professional future.
The Society of Competitive swot reports Intelligence Professionals describes CI as a “systematic and ethical program for gathering, analyzing and managing external information that can affect your company’s plans, decision and operations.” So what does this mean to a law firm? It is about understanding competitive and complementary firms, potential clients and industry trends so that you can make smart marketing decisions and ensure your share of legal dollars from a client’s legal budget. Law firms need to know what is happening around them in order to bring in new client business and survive.
Know Your Competitors
Competitive intelligence does require reading between the lines, but there is an amazing amount of potentially helpful information that can be easily mined from the internet. CI can start with news and basic research and evolve from there. A researcher can discover what a rival’s strategy is by watching for news stories regarding their business.
They can unearth information from their company website, marketing materials, creating and examining lists of publications from a law firm, their charitable contributions and advertisements. From all this, you can extrapolate their business strategy.
Know Your Potential Clients
A firm can also use this information to make better decisions about romancing new clients. Beyond looking at their website and directories, you can also review state business records, SEC filing of the company if it is public, obtain news about its executives and look for complaints and settlements that pertain to the company. You will get an idea of their needs and what their management is thinking.
If a company has kept the same legal council for the last decade, they may not be a smart place to expend effort in possibly doing business. However if this same company has a new CEO, perhaps they might be positioned to look to a new firm. If you notice a certain company changes law firms with the seasons, then they may be too much of a liability to pursue. All of this information can be discovered through competitive intelligence.