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.
At Click Media Works, our 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 (cleverly and effectively, I might add) for commercial and industrial enterprises, non-profit and charitable organizations, public figures, and educational and government agencies and departments.
Our clients hire us to write the words that build the messages used to serve their respective business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) needs, and deliver those messages using various vehicles: Blog posts, web copy, case studies, social media posts, video or audio scripts, press releases, advertorials and advertisements, and whatever else needs words. 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. Here are some of the things we do NOT do:
- 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.
1. WE REFER BUSINESS TO THEM (AND KEEP OUR CLIENTS HAPPY)
Since our clients often need some of the services I noted above, I am grateful to have developed strong relationships with people and agencies who provide them. And yes, they 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, I can send them directly to Camilla Coates, Linda Horn, or Denée VanDiermen. If they need a branding package or comprehensive marketing and PR plan, I call Leanne Froese. If they are looking for an integrated digital marketing plan, then Allison Markin is my go-to [ahem] competitor. If a client needs a PR splash, I connect with Summer Dhillon-Giesbrecht. And for video, Gilda Diaz or Keith Dobie get the call.
The bonus, as I see it, is that I don't leave my client to whirl in the wind wondering who to hire to get "that other part" of the project done.
Customer Service 101 ... Yes?
2. WE HIRE THEM DIRECTLY (AND KEEP OUR CLIENTS HAPPY)
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.
3. THEY PAY US 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.
4. DIRECT COMPETITORS SEND WORK, TOO
What about direct competitors? Other writers?
I don't worry about them, either. They are, in my opinion, my greatest asset. I was a member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) for more than 12 years. During that time, I developed good, strong relationships with a number of other professional freelance 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 don't like writing proposals or government grants, but I know my friend and colleague Heidi Turner does. So, I'd rather refer a client to her for one of those projects and keep that client extremely happy, while I remain free of frustration.
Ronda Payne has a busy schedule, so she refers certain clients and projects to me (and others) rather than suffer through them.
5. 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. Please connect with me in the comments here.
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