By Kathleen Rake
I am not competitive in business; at least, not competitive in the traditional sense.
I don’t believe I have to beat YOU in order to win … to be successful. Rather, I like to embrace those who are considered my competition for a number of reasons.
And I think you should, too.
Scroll down to find out why.
I don’t worry about what my so-called competitors do—I am aware, but not worried. I am too busy dedicating my energy to growing my own company and serving clients.
Our company’s focus is relatively narrow, especially when you consider the huge worlds of marketing, corporate communications, and public relations.
We are writers and editors.
We string words together for commercial and industrial enterprises, non-profit and charitable organizations, public figures, and educational and government agencies and departments.
We consult on the content we deliver and help our clients fit the words into their larger marketing, public relations, or corporate communications (internal or external) strategies.
But—and this is important—we are not a full-on marketing or public relations firm. We don’t
- create graphic designs
- shoot video or record audio
- build websites or blogs
- develop and execute comprehensive marketing or public relations campaigns
- organize events
So, back to the title of this blog post and the purpose of writing it, here are the five reasons it is good business to embrace your so-called competitors.
Refer business to competitors (and keep your clients happy)
Since our clients often need services we don’t provide, I am grateful to have developed strong relationships with people and agencies who DO provide them. And yes, some of them provide writing, too, which makes them, in effect, my so-called competitors. But, I prefer to call them my strategic alliances, my colleagues, my friends.
I know their work, their character, and that I can count on them.
If a client needs graphics or a design layout, a branding package or comprehensive marketing or PR plan, an integrated digital marketing plan or event with a big PR splash, or a promotional video, I have people I can call. People with whom I’ve developed trusting professional relationships.
As I see it, when I refer my client to other professionals, when I don’t leave my client to whirl in the wind wondering who to hire to get “that other part” of the project done, my client wins. And when my client wins, he or she remembers me—in a good way.
Hire competitors directly (and keep your clients happy)
Keeping clients happy is the theme here. It makes sense because, when we keep our clients happy, our business thrives.
Sometimes, if circumstances call for it, we contract the other firm—we pay them—and manage the project for our client. Then we become the so-called competitor’s client.
And, occasionally, we need their services for our own company’s branding, marketing, or PR purposes.
Competitors pay you to do work they cannot
One of the benefits to developing relationships with these other people and firms, with our so-called competitors, is that they often get too busy to effectively generate and deliver the writing for their clients’ projects. That’s when they call on us. Three-way win, again: Them, us, and more importantly, the client.
Send work to your competitors so that you can keep your clients
What about direct competitors? Other writers?
I don’t worry about them, either. They are, in my opinion, my greatest asset. During my 25+ years as a professional writer, I developed good, strong relationships with a number of other writers. I don’t know of one who would try to steal a client or mess up another writer’s relationship with a client.
It’s worked out so that I have referred writing jobs directly to other writers, and they to me, simply because of schedules, preferred projects, and areas of expertise.
I’d rather refer a client to another professional writer for one of those projects, than lose that client altogether by saying, “Sorry, can’t do it.”
Moral and practical support
I don’t think it matters what industry you are in; you need to have some strong alliances set. Sometimes you simply need to vent, but other times it’s fabulous to be able to celebrate with someone who really knows what goes on behind the curtain.
And, what happens if you take ill? Suffer an emotional set-back? Or, [knock on wood] get hit by a bus? If you’ve set it up, you know you can count on these others to support you (read: do the work for you, without taking the credit or client) when you need it most.
I’d love to know what you think. Find me on Facebook and Twitter, too.
Kathleen Rake is founder of Click Media Works, a Fraser Valley-based hands-on communications firm where she and her team of professional writers, editors, and media specialists work to help you deliver your message to your audience, quickly and with impact. www.ClickMediaWorks.com