It may seem counterintuitive, but you can collaborate with, and learn from, your competitors. Yet many business owners seem to think that talking to a competitor is akin to having conversations with the enemy.

Should an aspiring or incoming American president, through his associates, have unofficial conversations with the Russian president, through his associates? We’re not going to get into that. But we are going to use this controversy as a news hook to tell you that you can learn from, commiserate with and even collaborate with your competitors. (Source: HolliLeaks “wiretap”)

It may seem counterintuitive, but you can collaborate with competitors. Yet many business owners seem to think that talking to a competitor is akin to having conversations with the enemy.

All business is competition, so it’s tempting to view your rivals as enemies. It’s also counterproductive. Here’s why:

  1. You can learn from your competitors. They are doing something right to stay in business and to snag some market share that might otherwise be yours. Conversations with them can help you better understand their competitive advantage, which can help you better define yours. Learning about their business model may help you see flaws and opportunities in your own model. Hearing about the marketing tactics that worked well for them – and those that didn’t – can inform your own thinking about best tactics.
  2. You can collaborate with competitors. By definition, rivals offer products or services that overlap with yours. But once you start asking your rivals beneath-the-surface questions about their core strengths and target markets, you may find that some of your core strengths are different and/or you serve a different clientele. With that deeper knowledge, you and your rivals may see opportunities to refer business to each other and partner in ways that enable both of your companies to grow.
  3. You can commiserate with competitors. People who do what you do have remarkably similar experiences: the good, the bad and the ugly. Sharing frustrations with others who understand at an empathetic level has a welcome cathartic effect. Hearing how they deal with similar internal and external challenges provides invaluable perspective. At the very least, each of you walks away having asked “Is it just me?” and having been reassured you’re not crazy and this stuff doesn’t happen only to you.

Have a marketing challenge? Call Kim Landry at 484-829-0021 or email [email protected].

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