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What are Business Signals and How to Track Them?

Article by Malay Mehrotra 3 min read

Businesses nowadays operate in an increasingly competitive landscape. In addition, disruptions caused by technological innovation are decreasing the lifespan of companies, which has reduced from around 35 years to just 20-22 years and is projected to decline even further, as illustrated by the chart below.

Average Company Lifespan
Source: Innosight

What separates successful businesses from not-so-successful ones is their ability to spot these disruptions early, prepare for them before their competition, and respond in a timely and effective manner. Winners anticipate change and prepare for it while losers react to it.

So, how do you anticipate changes in your market and competitive environment? And, how do you stay ahead of your competitors? The answer: Business signals!

What are business signals?

Business Signals

Business signals, also known as trigger events or business triggers, are events that signify a change or noteworthy trend in the operating environment. If these signals are tracked and spotted on time, they present an opportunity to the businesses to prepare for the changes in advance and build a competitive advantage.

When capturing a business signal, timing is everything. A business signal is of no use if you get to know about it along with everyone else in your market, i.e. along with your competitors. Or worst, after your competitors.

What are the different types of business signals and how to track them?

What Are The Different Types Of Business Signals

Here are some examples of effective business signals/trigger events and the suggested approaches on how to track them, based on our experience.

1. Key Personnel Changes

Importance

- Indicates which specific functions or capabilities the company is investing in and the strategic intent behind getting in or getting out a new senior executive on board.

- If the hiring organization is a prospect, personalize your outreach and beat your competition to the deal.

- If hired by a competitor, a new executive arrival may indicate new company priorities, a shift in strategic intent, a new strategic initiative, or a shift in focus for the function.

How to Track?

- Company’s press releases

- “Our Team”, “Leadership”, or “About Us” page

- LinkedIn

- Trade publications

- Stock

- Exchange/ Regulatory filings

- Business News

- Social media updates

- Information databases like Crunchbase

2. Business Expansion/HQ Relocation

Importance

- Company expansion and/or relocation signals rapid business growth.

- An expansion could happen for many reasons such as to attract new customers, create economies of scale, cost reduction, risk reduction, increase market presence, improve brand visibility, or simply business diversification.

- The aim of relocation is usually to gain better access to the talent pool, move closer to customers, or better cost economics.

How to Track?

- Company’s press release

- “Contact Us” page

- Social media updates by the company

- Key executive interviews or quotes

- Stock exchange/ Regulatory filings

- Business News

- LinkedIn (workforce distribution/ HQ)

- Case studies (new geography mentions)

3. Product Launch/Enhancement

Importance

- A competitor’s product launch/enhancement can provide strong signals around specific customer needs they are targeting and/ or there are trying to plug any gaps in their product/service.

- Share the details with your product team, who will make required adjustments to your product development roadmap. Update your marketing material around your new offering to highlight your weak spots or strengthen your value proposition.

- A prospect’s product launch is good news and a great reach-out opportunity as they are likely to be looking for potential vendors and partners to support them.

How to Track?

- Changes in the product pages on company websites
- Changes in the customer support or help documentation
- Product brochures
- Product updates newsletters
- Company’s press release page
- Social media updates by the company
- Analyst reports
- Trade publications
- Annual reports/ Earning calls
- Customer review sites - G2, Capterra, etc.
- Webinars/Events/Podcasts
- Case-studies
- Community pages
- Blogs
- Business News

4. Mergers and acquisitions/Joint ventures/Spin-offs/Alliances

Importance

- An M&A/JV/Spin-off/Alliance is not only a route to drive inorganic growth but also provides signals around strategic choices that others may be made to enable further strengthening of their economic and competitive moat.
- Possible responses can include either an M&A of their own, retreating to their core market, turning to innovation and focused investments, or performing small acquisitions to gradually build a counterposition.
- In case an existing customer/ prospect is a part of an M&A, it may be the right time to reactivate conversations aimed at protecting/spreading your turf or getting an initial foot in the door during a time of new beginnings.

How to Track?

- Press release pages of either party’s website
- Annual reports/ Earning calls
- Stock exchange/ Regulatory filings
- Company press releases
- Social media updates by the company
- Key executive interviews or quotes
- Trade publications
- Business news
- Information databases like Dealogic, CapIQ, Pitchbook, etc.

5. Funding/IPOs/SPACs

Importance

- These corporate developments are not only a sign of growth but also a clear indicator of access to a bigger pool of resources which often may translate to renewed aggression.

- In the case of prospects and customers, these events signal that they now have the resources to purchase your product or services or buy more of them, and it may be the right time to cash in.

- Even a competitor's IPO or additional funding can present opportunities for non-listed competitors to re-imagine their storytelling.

- Such events often dramatically increase media, buy-side, and sell-side interest in related sectors and business models, providing strong signals to press the accelerator.

How to Track?

- Company press releases
- Information databases like Crunchbase
- Social media updates by the company
- Company news
- Trade publications
- PE/VC/Investment banking companies' websites
- Stock exchange/ Regulatory filings
- Business news
- Investor reports
- Analyst reports
- Quarterly earning calls/reports

6. Termination of Contract with a Competitor

Importance

- In case a company (your prospect) terminates its contract with one of your competitors, it may turn out to be a great opportunity.
- It may be the most opportune time to initiate the reach out with a well-crafted message before another of your competitors gets a foot in the door.

How to Track?

- Trade publications
- Customer review sites such as G2
- Analyst reports
- Business news
- Customer's press release

7. Hiring/Layoffs/Job postings

Importance

- Hiring of employees in a particular function or with specific skill sets or capabilities likely indicates an increased focus in that particular direction.
- Layoffs may signal a company struggling financially or in that particular function specifically. It could also mean cost-cutting, staff reduction, relocation, and brewing dissatisfaction from recent corporate events such as buyouts or mergers.

How to Track?

- Job postings on career pages
- Review websites like Glassdoor
- Trade publications
- Press release pages
- Company headcount growth/decline on LinkedIn
- Annual reports/ Earning calls
- “Our Team”, “Leadership”, or “About Us” page
- Business news
- Key executive interviews or quotes
- Employee posts on LinkedIn
- Job search websites like Indeed.com

8. Events Participation (Marketing Communication/Branding)

Importance

- Tracking competitor and customer/prospects events can help you better understand their approach to the market, strategic priorities, and focus areas. - Understand what channels they use for such events, which guest speakers they’re calling, and what they are saying at such events for additional clues. It can even help identify routes to gain a foot in the door at a prospect you are targeting.

How to Track?

- Social media updates by the company
- Company press releases
- Trade publications
- Company website’s events page
- Business news
- Industry associations
- Industry event publications/ magazines

9. Regulatory/Legislative Changes

Importance

- Federal rules and regulations, as well as local and state business regulations, are prone to changes. When they do, these legal or regulatory changes may affect businesses significantly.
- For example, when governments worldwide recently imposed windfall gain tax such as taxes on the export of petrol, diesel, and jet fuel amid a surge in global crude prices, businesses had to go back to the drawing board and redraw their strategic and investment plan.
- Tracking and spotting signals around such developments help companies prepare better and respond to these changes more effectively.

How to Track?

- Regulator’s website
- Government websites
- Trade publications
- Analyst reports
- Business news
- Stock exchange/Regulatory filings
- Blogs

10. Pricing Change/Changes in the Availability of Essential Inputs

Importance

- Pricing change by your competitor should initiate your own pricing review. They shouldn’t give any competitive advantage to your competitors because of their pricing strategy.
- Some businesses may depend on select raw materials or components that are central to their product or service. If such inputs suddenly become unavailable or witness a sudden price surge, they may impact the company's growth and profitability significantly.
- In such a case catching the signals of an upcoming supply-side challenge or price shock can save companies thousands and millions of dollars.
- If spotted early, it can help companies not just minimize the impact of such shocks but also help them leap ahead of competitors in troubled times.

How to Track?

- Pricing page on the company’s website
- Trade publications
- Business news
- Analyst reports
- Stock exchange/ Regulatory filings
- Product brochures
- Customer review sites - G2, Capterra, etc
-Blogs

Challenges in tracking business signals

Challenges In Tracking Business Signals

Your competitors leave business signals, their digital breadcrumbs, wherever they are present on the internet. This happens when they make changes on their websites, make press announcements, are covered by news journalists, post on their social media, post on job boards, get mentioned on review sites, etc. Unfortunately, most strategic business signals are buried under the noise of irrelevant or duplicate information. We have to separate the signal from the noise to gain a competitive advantage.

Monitoring such business signals that have strategic value, in real-time, on a large scale, analyzing and predicting what your competitors or customers will do next, and understanding their long-term strategy is very challenging.

Most important: sourcing, analyzing, and distributing data on business signals are of no value unless it drives informed actions from the stakeholders. Therefore, the team responsible for sharing competitive insights should add the company’s perspective and context to the business signals. It should explain why the signal is important (so what) and what should we do now (what now). This is the real value a Market & Competitive Intelligence professional adds to an organization. The other parts should be outsourced to software.

But how? Fortunately, there are purpose-built solutions that are being adopted increasingly by organizations to facilitate the tracking, sourcing, analysis, and distribution of business signals-led insights - market and competitive intelligence software like Contify.

How Contify helps track business signals

Contify Helps Track Business Signals

Contify is an AI-powered Competitive & Market Intelligence Platform designed for all business functions to track information on competitors, customers, prospects, industries, and topics of interest.

Information is aggregated from over 500,000 sources, including news websites, press release agencies, company websites, social media, regulatory portals, review websites, job boards, and more. You can also add your own custom sources.

When it comes to tracking business signals, Contify can track the following:

- Management Changes
- Business Expansion
- Partnerships and Alliances
- M&A Activities
- Regulatory and Legal
- Funding Activities
- Operational Challenges
- Financial and Business Performance
- Awards and Recognitions
- Bankruptcy and Restructuring
- New Offerings
- Cost Cutting
- Procurement and Sales
- Events
- Corporate Restructuring
- Negative News

Click here to review the complete list of pre-configured topics and industries in Contify.

What’s even better, you can configure your own custom business signals and get intelligence updates according to your strategic priorities.

Get in touch with the Contify team to understand how our platform can help you with your market and competitive intelligence needs.

OR

See Contify in action for yourself: Start a 7-day free trial of Contify.

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