Yes, you did read that title of this blog post correctly. You actually can turn a competitor into a potential client, if you allow yourself to be open to such an idea. Does it sound like a crazy notion? Perhaps, at first maybe. However, after reading this post, you will understand how this could actually work.
As you are aware, my work primarily involves managing social media for clients as well as giving them consultations. I also have a side astrology business, which I had put on hold for a while to concentrate on other areas of my work however, it is back now and starting to get it out there again.
I am well aware that there are tonnes of other social media managers and consultants around, working on their clients’ campaigns- clients that could have been mine if there were less social media managers around. However, I refuse to think that way. I am glad they exist because it shows there is a need for this kind of service.
The fact of the matter is, even competitors in many fields could be clients of your own in one way or another. Or- if not, they may refer someone over to you- if you offer something that the competitor does not. In fact there is a term for this kind of relationship. It is called collabotition– competitors collaborating. Let me give you a few examples of how I have had competitors turn into clients.
Last year, I ?attended a networking event and I did run into another social media manager. Sure, the conversation we had at first became a little awkward- until she had asked me if I would be open to the idea of her outsourcing some of her clients’ work to me. Then I saw an opportunity, and she did give me a little bit of business. As a result, that competitor became a client. Another social media manager ?contacted me on LinkedIn as well to ask if I could take on some of the slack early this year. If it was not for these competitors who needed help with managing their clients’ social media- that would have been less business for me.
I will now give you an example of how a competitor had referred business to me. This social media manager was not comfortable with managing campaigns for spiritually based business owners- and he knew that happens to be a niche I target. He referred someone who owns a metaphysical shop that wanted social media management over to me, and I gave him a commission as a result.
I also like to network with other social media managers who target niches that I know little about. This way, if I come in contact with a business owner of that particular niche who is interested in having SM help, I then will know who to refer him or her to for a commission as well.
You are now probably wondering how my competitors can be so trusting to allow me to manage their clients’ SM campaigns that I could easily steal. I would never work with a competitor before signing a non-disclosure agreement, and if I had to outsource work as well, I would expect the same. If you happen to be thinking about outsourcing work to a competitor as well, make sure nothing is shared until that non-disclosure agreement is signed. Does that guarantee honesty on his or her part? Of course not. However, odds are he or she will be trustworthy. Otherwise, your competitor who you outsourced your clients’ work over to would be in serious hot water- and he or she also would know that and would definitely want to keep out of it.
Another reason to never shun or blatantly compete against a competitor is because you may offer something unrelated that he or she would want or need. I have had several social media managers come to me for astrology readings! On the flip side, I have done SM campaigns for other astrologers as well.
Collabotition will bring other opportunities your way beyond what I have stated in this blog post. Maybe one day you decide to create a course with someone else in your field, or co-host a webinar- the possibilities are endless. To conclude, if you encounter a competitor- don’t get your back up, find a way to create opportunities instead because there are plenty there!
Totally excellent advice Miram!
And a truly great way to strategically extend your reach and credibility within your niche!
And build some incredibly strong and hopefully future business relationships as well!
It stretches your marketing dollars an exposes you to entire new network of entrepreneurs and potentially lucrative possibilities as well!
Thanks so much for sharing your extremely valuable insights!
Thanks so much Mark for your comment, I am glad you found it insightful!
This is really great advice, Miriam.
I’ve worked with professionals in many fields, and referrals are part of business. It helps everyone. After all, “competitors” are all partners in business by virtue of sharing a common pool of prospects. So the closer they work in unity, the more leverage they command for converting those prospects into customers and clients.
Think of the biggest mainstream professions… lawyers, doctors, accountants and so forth. They all belong to professional associations, like the AMA (American Medical Association). They form friendships, venture partnerships and marketing alliances… they don’t squabble and try to steal each others’ business. They work routinely on what is known as “a referral basis”. That’s how they all move forward.
The very best online marketers join hands. They attend conventions, the co-op projects, they do joint ventures, they shake hands and they play golf together.
Those who don’t understand how professionalism and success operate, squabble, bicker and try to steal clients from each other. I hope they read this post and open themselves up to the enormous opportunities they are missing out on by not understanding the dynamic of association and joint venture.
Thanks David, everything you said is so spot on, thanks so much for sharing that as well!
This blog post resonates with me, especially since I have started my Marketing Our Practices groups with the goal of having therapists work together. So far, many have not grasped the concept. They post their url in the group, and not in the designated thread, and they do not go to comment on other people’s pages. So I see my task as an educator and guide. At first, people are threatened by the idea of supporting others in their specialty. But in the end, we get so much more business and can create events together and projects, and be affiliates, and so much more.
Thanks for commenting Dr. Erica. Unfortunately many business owners see competitors as a threat to their own businesses, and are not ready to open their minds up to the possibilities that are opened up by working with them instead. You are making a difference and making others aware of opportunities as well with your groups. Hopefully they will wake up sooner rather than later!
Hi Miriam, i tend not to look at others as competitors really, i think if you do you get sidetracked into worry about what they are doing which can take you away from your own strategy….. I just seen your Klout score… thats one of the highest i have ever seen, we need to have a chat sometime, you know things i need to know 😉
You are right Dexter, you need to focus on your own strategy at all times and not worry about what others in your niche happens to be doing. If your own strategy is working, then keep at it and nothing else will matter. And I am up for a Skype chat sometime if you would like 🙂
Competitors can make the best business partners in my book!
I have done so on my off line business. It is still up and running after I moved away. What I did was team up with another person that had the same value system as I did because my business was branded with honesty and the go to place for great service.
This competitor is also a friend of mine and I didn’t want to do so with a hand shake. I drew up the paper work and we both signed. Now I’ve been away from that location for many years, but it is still up and running.
When someone is looking for me, she tells them that I can talk to them via phone, skype, Ichat, etc. When I get a call to make an appointment with her, I will tell them to call her phone number.
It’s a win win situation. We don’t see one another as competitors, but as service! People are amazed that we do this because they are of the mindset that one needs to keep clients all to themselves and never share them.
When they finally catch on to what we are doing, they get the AHA moment and learn from us. It is a wonderful situation.
Donna you said it very well, and once you do partner up with “competitors” amazing things do happen!! It is also a big bonus when he or she is a friend. Thanks for sharing.
Wow! This is definitely a strategy that I have not seen before… But, it makes so much sense!! Who better to get your exact target market client than from your competitor! The idea of collabotition is definitely one I will be reviewing.
Thanks so much for this eye opening business strategy!
Thanks for commenting Monisha. Yes, sounds counter-intuitive however this is a great way to actually grow your tribe and to get new clients!