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Information about competition

How do I find information about my competition? 
It's detective work. Slip on your gumshoes and play slooth:

- Public documents. If your competition includes publicly traded companies, the law requires publication of a great deal of specific information.

- Media coverage. Search news sites and industry trade publications for articles on them or the category.

- Web sites. Scour their sites.

- Marketing information. Read their catalogs, advertising materials, products and other public information.

- Store visits. If your competition has a physical location, visit and watch, talk and ask. Talk to customers, peers and others in the marketplace. Use a mystery shopper.

- Industry trade groups. These "insiders" are also an excellent source of categorical information. 
Brain Trust contributor: Author of Hurdle: The Book on Business Planning President, Palo Alto Software
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