Companies will go to great lengths to get the upper hand on their competition. And, in our always connected world, it is becoming easier than ever to gather information about other companies’ business practices and strategies. The first step in combating corporate espionage is to understand its methods. Here are four ways your competition may be spying on you.
Following you on social media
There are many benefits to being active on social media, and these days you’d be hard pressed to find a company that didn’t have some kind of online presence. But with all the good that can come from a robust social media strategy, there are just as many opportunities for the competition to keep tabs on not only your company, but even key executives, clients, vendors, and employees. An innocent Tweet about a new client, a congratulatory Facebook post after finishing a big project, or an updated job description on LinkedIn could all provide clues about the state of your business. Competitors may also sign up for company newsletters and email lists, so it’s important to purge them on a regular basis.
Mystery shopping is an effective way for a competitor to gauge a wide variety of important characteristics about your company, including customer experience, employee knowledge, and sales processes or techniques. By posing as a customer and interacting with your brand, competitors can gather some very important information that can be used to build strategies that may undercut your most successful business practices. Unfortunately, because mystery shoppers can be hard to spot, it’s often a difficult tactic to defend against.
Watching job boards and postings
Another way the competition may be learning about the inner workings of your organization is one most businesses might not think about right away. A lot of information can be inferred by watching the kinds of positions a company is hiring for on job boards like Indeed or Monster. For example, if a company is all of a sudden ramping up their Accounting department, it might be a sign of increased revenue or expansion into new territories. Or, if a company starts hiring for positions that seem outside their standard business model, it could indicate growth into a new industry or product line.
Recruiting former employees
Former employees are a goldmine of information for competitors. When employees leave, there’s a good chance they will be recruited by a competing company looking to level the playing field with someone who already knows your playbook. Effective employee retention practices are a great first step toward defending against this risk. Building a positive and productive work environment helps ensure your employees aren’t out considering greener pastures.
What are some ways you protect your business from the spying eyes of your competition? What are some ways you gather information about them? Let us know in the comments section below.