vSente is a marketing consultancy. We help challenger enterprises wage and win battles for market shares.

Disciplines - Advertising | Marketing | Sales
Competency - Challenge | Defend
Deliverable - Profitable Market Share
Audience - CEO's | Marketing | Sales
Scale - Small | Medium-sized Enterprise
Services - Campaigns | Workshops
Location - San Francisco | London


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If you're responsible for sales or marketing in a small or medium-sized enterprise, then I'd like to invite you to join vSente's Campaigner list. This list is composed of marketers interested in learning more about accountable and effective marketing campaigning techniques.

Weekly we send via plain text email a short description of a competitive marketing tool or technique along with a link to a resource you can download and use. These resources come from vSente's Armory and consist of wizards, manuals, white papers, planners all focused on helping marketing managers battle larger competitors.

The content and resources are free to members of the campaigner list. But should you find yourself engaged in a tough battle for market share against a larger competitor then you will likely gain value from paying for a monthly subscription to vSente's Armory, booking our two-day workshop or engaging us to help with your campaign.

This community is not for all marketers. If you're looking for basic marketing techniques, like trade show tips, writing press releases, designing a flyer, optimizing landing pages, etc. this is not the list for you. On the other hand if you're interested in exploring the underlying dynamics of competitive advantage, then the topics discussed on this list will be of help.

Submit your name and email address above and the link for the planner will be sent immediately to the email address you used to sign up. Then look for a plain text email from vSente weekly.

Dr. Worth Wade: Legal And Ethical Business Intelligence vs. Illegal And Unethical Industrial Espionage

Where is the line? When is it legal and ethical competition and when does it turn into illegal and unethical industrial espionage? Some of the more challenging aspects we deal with when executing a campaign are unethical competitors and ethically-challenged adversaries.

I recently came across a paper written by Mikael Simovits and Tomas Forsberg of Simovits Consulting, a Swedish IT consulting group, titled Information Warfare and Business Intelligence on the Internet. You can download the paper at their web site, and it is also one of several hundred papers available in vSente's Armory. Simovits and Forsberg address the conflict resulting when a competitor resorts to unethical or illegal tactics. This from the paper:

The way a company, in one country, acts toward a competitor is determined by that companys and that country's ethical values. An action may be regarded as industrial espionage or terrorism in one country, while in other countries the same action may be regarded as a common way to gain information or gain market share. Industrial espionage falls under the collective term Business Intelligence. Business Intelligence is defined as an activity to overview the external environment of a company, with the intention of finding information that can be incorporated in the management process of the company[3]. Some state that BI does not incorporate any illegal activities, and that it is a passive method of getting information. It is difficult to draw a line between Business Intelligence and what is regarded as illegal industrial espionage[4]. The law and ethical values decide where the line is drawn regarding retrieval and use of information. The following table is a graduation of the means a company might use to get information about competing companies[5]:

The authors use a list first published in 1966 by Dr. Worth Wade, called The Wade System of Graduation of Sources of Information. The list describes in descending order the ethicality of tactics and sources used to generate business intelligence. This is Dr. Wade's list:

1. Published material, and public documents such as court records.
2. Disclosures made by competitors employees, and obtained without subterfuge.
3. Market surveys and consultants reports.
4. Financial reports, and brokers research surveys.
5. Trade fairs, exhibits, and competitors brochures.
6. Analysis of competitors products.
7. Reports of salesmen and purchasing agents.
8. Legitimate employment interviews with people who worked for competitor.
9. Camouflaged questioning and drawing out of competitors employees at technical
10. Direct observation under secret conditions.
11. False job interviews with competitors employees (i.e. where there is no real intent to hire).
12. False negotiations with competitor for license.
13. Hiring professional investigators to obtain a specific piece of information.
14. Hiring an employee away from the competitor, to get specific know-how.
15. Trespassing on competitors property.
16. Bribing competitors supplier or employee.
17. Planting your agent on competitors payroll.
18. Eavesdropping on competitors (e.g. via wire-tapping)
19. Theft of drawings, samples, documents and similar property.
20. Blackmail and extortion.

According to Dr. Wade the first seven methods are usually ethical and legal and the remaining thirteen are in a descending order of ethics or legality. The authors go on to note that in some countries the entire list is regarded as a usual means of gaining information.

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