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April 4, 2002
Where The World Comes To Deal!
B) Publishers Ramblings
C) Feature Information - An Easy 4-Step System for Getting the Inside Scoop on Your Competition
E) Unsubscribe Info
Welcome to another edition of WebSmarts.
Today I am very excited to tell you about the two
articles that we have for you today (yes TWO).
You've just Gotta Read This One
The first one is an absolute must read for any serious
webpreneur. It's called "An Easy 4-Step System for
Getting the Inside Scoop on Your Competition" and is
filled with some fantastic information and amazing links.
Here's an example of what you're going to learn from it:
- how to see what a site looked like in the past
- how to cloak your IP address so that the site logs can't identify you
- how to copy a website (for research purposes only)
- how to research a company (or person) easily
- how to find out what domains a company has registered
There's a lot more too. Make sure you read this one.
I learned a lot from this report and I'm sure you will too.
You're going to want to bookmark some (or all) of these
sites and refer back to them a lot.
NOTE: The Author is a health care marketing consultant, and
has directed this report to that particular industry, but don't let
that throw you - it is very relevant to your own marketing
MLM BOOM ??
This is not an ezine specifically for the MLM industry, BUT
because the MLM industry and Online Affiliate programs
are close relatives we do watch for interesting info. I am
also aware that many of you are involved with, or at least
have been involved with, MLM programs.
The second article (really it's a research piece), is called
"The Coming MLM Boom!" This article will definitely provide
hope and inspiration to you. It is filled with many useful and
pertinent facts about the coming MLM Boom. Yup, according
to the author, Leonard Clements, we are just about to hit a
huge spike in the MLM industry. This is also backed up by a
commentary from the highly respected, John Milton Fogg.
It is much too big to publish in this ezine so it is posted
on our site. This is significant because we normally do
not publish other authors works on our site, but this one
is very timely and useful.
So, at your leisure, click over to this page and have a
good read. You might want to print this one out because
it is rather long (12 pages). I guarantee that if you are in this
industry you will be referring back to this report many times.
Oh, I almost forgot, here's the link
You may have noticed some different looks in the past few
newsletters. We are trying a few different formats and list server
options. Any feedback from you is appreciated.
Talk to Me
As most of you are aware, we have a Voice Chat Room - and
are very proud of it. LOL Soooo, drop in and have a chat with
us. We don't bite, and we don't intimidate people. :-) Heck,
you might even like us. Just click here and follow the prompts.
If we're not there (that can happen), just email me and let me
know when you might drop in for a visit - we'll try to accommodate.
Well that's it for now. Thanks for reading this.
Have a super week.
PS If this Newsletter was forwarded to you and you would
like to receive a regular copy every week simply email me
with "Subscribe WebSmarts" in the subject line.
An Easy 4-Step System for Getting the Inside Scoop on Your Competition
Kids all across America sat glued to their radios (and later
their televisions) in the 1940's and 1950's, listening to
the weekly adventure episode of Captain Midnight and his
Secret Squadron sponsored by Ovaltine.
The Captain Midnight Decoder Badge was as coveted then by
kids as it is today by adult collectors. Why, with your
decoder badge and sufficient practice, you could decipher
secret messages from the Captain and your friends that no
one else could read. Wow zee!
Those same detective skills that were practiced as a youth
now prove quite useful as you work to discover ways to
outmaneuver your business competition.
Replacing the simple decoder badge is the Internet: a
powerful tool in our discovery of competitor information.
Using the simple four-step system outlined in this article,
you'll use your detective skills to uncover bits and pieces
of vital details about your competitors.
GETTING THE SCOOP
You need business intelligence. It allows us to make more
informed decisions for our organizations. It
gives us an edge.
The Internet places new techniques and tools at our disposal
that allow us to sift through a greater amount of information
with equally great precision.
SIFTING THROUGH COMPETITIVE INFORMATION
You should know, however, that this detective work can be
time-consuming. It must be done frequently and with
regularity. But thankfully, there are many tools to
automate the gathering of information that I'll tell you about.
Now let's take a closer look at the four steps, complete
with the online techniques for accomplishing them.
STEP 1 -- MONITOR THE NEWS SOURCES
You may already be clipping newspapers for mentions of your
competitors in articles, editorials, profiles, job listings,
social announcements, and more.
Now you'll use the Internet to perform extensive searches
for information in dozens or hundreds of news sources.
What's more, information regularly appears online before it
appears in the print version of the publication.
Take note of the tone of the articles about the company.
Catalog the emphases in the articles -- fiscal
responsibility, community activities, clinical services,
patient care, research, fund-raising, administrative
announcements. Does it appear that the organization has a
well-defined plan for media placements?
Consider these tools for newsgathering:
Who's their PR Counsel? Ask O'Dwyers
Find out the name of your competitor's PR firm (sometimes
the same as their advertising firm). Use the free search
feature on the O'Dwyers site. Also check the recent news of
new client wins, campaign launches, and success statistics
that firms may be touting.
See at: http://www.odwyerpr.com
This searchable database of 150 full-text newspapers, 800
full-text magazines, and thousands of transcripts, books and
photographs offers a free two-week trial. Searching is free.
Full-text retrieval is fee-based, but the date of
publication is given so you may be able to track down the
publication text elsewhere or as a periodical in your
CyberAlert is an automated Internet monitoring and Web
clipping service. It searches a selection of Web
publications, other Web sites, message boards, and Usenet
news groups to locate mentions about a company. You can
specify how often you want the searches to run and report.
Press release distribution services
Companies may submit news releases for distribution that
never get picked up by the media. Search for them at:
Business Wire (http://www.businesswire.com/) and
PR Newswire (http://www.prnewswire.com/)
STEP 2 -- VISIT THE COMPANY
Visiting the company for information and insight takes
several forms. Perhaps you've actually walked through the
facilities of a competing hospital or medical practice
office. Maybe you've "checked them out" at a trade show or
health fair. The best online way of "visiting" the company
is perusing their Web site.
What's the look and feel of their Web site? Is it
professional? Slick? Amateurish? Patient-oriented?
"Me"-oriented? Is it a marketing vehicle? A patient
education tool? Simply a brochure? Does it change
frequently? Do they have tools or features that improve
customer service and patient care? Is it valuable for
current and prospective patients?
Here are a few techniques, tactics, and suggested tools:
Cloak your IP address
No sense tipping off your competitors that someone from your
organization is visiting their Web site. You can hide your
real identity so your company's domain name doesn't show up
on their server logs by using a tool such as Anonymizer. Go
to the anonymizer.com Web site and type in the Web address
that you want to visit. Voila! You're incognito.
Things to do at their Web site
While you're surfing on a competitor's site, there are
several additional things to watch out for. For example, do
they have publications for employees, medical staff, or
investors available? If so, take a look. Look for the
press release archives on the site. See what's important to
Look for executive profiles. See the type of executives
they recently hired. What are their strengths? Be sure to
subscribe to any and all e-mail newsletters -- using your
free e-mail address, of course (such as Yahoo or HotMail).
Search for specific file types
Using WebCopier, you can crawl a competitor's
Web site looking just for specific types of files,
such as documents. These can be PowerPoint
presentations, Adobe PDF documents, Microsoft Word
Documents, Excel spreadsheets and more.
You may find marketing materials, brochures, and a
wealth of other information that could help you get a
picture of your competitor's overall strategy and positioning.
Get WebCopier at Download.com.
What did their site look like?
Ever wonder what your competitor's site used to look like?
Has their strategy changed over time? Maybe some materials
used to be on their Web site and have now been removed.
Want to take a look at them? Well you can, thanks to The
Internet Archive -- also known as "The WayBack Machine."
The Wayback Machine makes it possible to actually surf pages
stored in the Internet Archive's web archive. Visitors to the
Wayback Machine can type in an URL, select a date, and then
Begin surfing on an archived version of the web.
What other domains have they registered?
Discovering the various domain names that your competitor
has registered can be eye opening. Maybe they've registered
a domain name on speculation for some future project or
service launch. It might also tell you where they'll soon
be putting their strategic emphasis.
In the old days of the Internet -- a couple of years ago --
this was a lot easier. But it can still be done if you're
lucky. The primary registrar of domain names used to be
Network Solutions (NetSol).
Go to their site and use the WHOIS function, which searches
the domain registration database. Type in the organization name
and select "search WHOIS by organization".
Let me share a secret with you: If you want to register a name
on speculation and keep it a secret -- then don't use NetSol!
STEP 3 -- TRACK OFFICIAL/LEGAL NOTICES
Monitoring news sources will catch certain types of official
and legal notices, such as the publication of Determination
of Need announcements, zoning regulation requests, building
permit requests, and other local news. But for trademark
registration applications, SEC filings, and Fair Disclosure
filings, you'll often need to look elsewhere.
Track SEC filings
Use FreeEDGAR or EDGAR online to search for business, financial
and competitive information derived from U.S. Securities and
Exchange Commission data. If your competition is publicly
traded, this is a great source of information. You can find
SEC filings for individual companies, summary information,
background on executives and directors, and links to analysis.
Search is free, some information is available for free, other
information is fee-based.
Search for trademarks
Similar to looking for domain names registered for future
use or speculation, searching for pending trademark
registrations is also valuable. If your competitor has
registered or started the process of trademark registration,
you'll be able to find out at the United States Patent and
Trademark Office Web site. The search engine is easy to use
once you locate it -- so the direct link to the trademark
search page is: http://tess.uspto.gov
See the main site at: http://www.uspto.gov
STEP 4 -- LISTEN TO THE GRAPEVINE
Gathering anecdotal information helps to create a more
complete picture of a competitor's situation and strategic
emphasis. Online there are several ways to discover and
observe the current state of affairs, as well as gain a
perspective on the past.
Try some of these:
Visit the competitor's online forums
The competitor's Web site may host online discussion forums
for the benefit of health consumers. Since a forum is
usually designed as sort of an online support group for
patients with common interests, it's not unusual to read
quite candid comments about an organization. As another
example, you might also read one patient's informal
reportage of some news happening at the hospital. All of
this can be a useful addition to your competitive
Search the Usenet postings
On a more global scale, you are probably familiar with
Usenet, the Internet's extensive system of discussion
groups. The content of the messages on these hundreds of
groups can be searched at Google.com (formerly located at
Want to kick it up a notch? Google also hosts the complete
20-year Usenet Archive with over 700 million messages. All
of them can be searched from the same interface. You can
search for messages that were posted by your competitor's
employees. You can also search for messages that mention
that company's name, products, services, and anything else
you can think of. It's worth a look.
Think like a job seeker
Click over to your favorite job search site to search for
job postings by your competitor. A quick search for your
competitor's name at Monster could locate a handful of
postings to staff a new function or service area.
Think like a hirer
Now search the same job banks as an employer. Look for
people who work for your competitors. Uncovering a large
number of resumes from current employees could signal a
layoff is imminent, or that an area is being downsized.
YOUR WEEKLY ASSIGNMENT... FROM CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT
Rather than simply reading about all of these techniques,
why don't you set aside 30 minutes or so and use what you've
just learned. I guarantee you'll find something of
And, oh yes, let's not forget... now that you've seen how to
ferret out competitor information, aren't you wondering what
others might discover about your company? You should be.
Make it a point to try some of these techniques and see what
your Web site and online activities tell your competitors.
Once you know what to look for, you can also better manage
what is revealed about your company.
---------------- The Author
Kevin P. Richardson is a healthcare marketing consultant,
executive coach, and writer who provides fresh perspectives
and expertise about online healthcare marketing.
Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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???????? HUMOR ????????
Teacher or Educator - you decide
According to a news report, a certain private school in Victoria
recently was faced with a unique problem.
A number of girls were beginning to use lipstick and would put
it on in the bathroom. That was fine, but after they put on their
lipstick they would press their lips to the mirror leaving dozens
of little lip prints.
Every night, the maintenance man would remove them and the
next day, the girls would put them back. Finally the principal
decided that something had to be done.
She called all the girls to the bathroom and met them there with
the maintenance man. She explained that all these lip prints were
causing a major problem for the custodian who had to clean the
mirrors every night.
To demonstrate how difficult it was to clean the mirrors, she
asked the maintenance man to clean the mirrors.
He took out a long-handled squeegee, dipped it in the toilet,
and cleaned the mirror with it.
Since then, there have been no lip prints on the mirror.
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