Sure, marketing consultants are a dime a dozen. In that sense, yes, I have competitors.
And if you want to do-your-own marketing, you can easily buy marketing info in your local bookstore. So books are my competitors, too.
And so are digital product producers, and copywriters, and market researchers, and strategists and so on.
Only they’re not really competitors.
Competitors Are My Friends
The thing is, every potential competitor is my potential friend and colleague, too. I know a lot, but certainly not everything. By collaborating with others in my field who can add their experiences and share their processes, I only add to the value I provide my clients.
And it’s not just about added value. Every business needs backup sometimes. If you’ve already established a trusting working relationship with others who share your professional outlook, you’ve got backup when you need it.
In my own working life, I forged a great working relationship many years ago with an excellent writer/journalist/pr expert. When I was overloaded with work, she could pick up the slack. When she was in need of a break, I would take over. We gratefully and conscientiously saw each other through several maternity leaves. We owe each other millions for the advice, encouragement and incredible brainstorming ideas we each received from the other. It all balanced out in the end.
Trust Your Competitors
I’m a great believer in friendly competitors. But cementing that friendship takes time. And so does building the necessary trust. After all, you’re not going to entrust (there’s that trust thing again!) your clients to just anyone, are you?
So how do you start to build trust?
First of all make a list of possible candidates for friendly competitors. Then do some due diligence. Check out their references, their work standards, their reputations, and anything else you can think of.
Once you have your shortlist, establish contact – but don’t ask for anything. Instead, share something of value. Do you know of a great supplier that could help them out? Have you read an article that would be of use? Is there a professional meeting they should know about?
Start out slowly and offer your expertise and knowledge along the way.
Gradually, you’ll find which of your potential friendly competitors are a good fit.
And if you’re as fortunate as I have been, your friendly competitors will also become simply your friends.
What would it take to have a friendly competitor in your business? Let me know what you think by commenting on this post.