Why Can’t We All Just Get Along? Cooperative Marketing for the Win.
Do you play well with others?
As a small business owner, I do a lot of networking, both in person and online. I highly recommend that you do, too, unless you are fully satisfied that you have more than plenty of business and connections and you are no longer accepting new clients. Not quite there, yet? Then read on…
I have found that there are two distinct types of networkers in the world; those who truly believe that a rising tide raises all ships and those who believe that business is war and there is only one winner. I have always been in the first camp. It’s in my nature to help other people and businesses succeed! That’s why I started my company in the first place.
Does it have to be us or them?
Don’t get me wrong, I love healthy competition. Competing is fun and brings out the best in me. Do I want my company to be the best? Absolutely. Do I want to provide the very best in information, resources, and services for my clients? You’d better believe it! I also want to see my peers (aka “the competition’) doing their very best work and providing the best service, advice, and content. I want my competitors to be wildly successful. I believe, to my very core, that there is enough business for everyone and that people are meant to work with people and businesses that resonate with their brand. That means that everyone isn’t my ideal client and not everyone is yours.
I interact regularly with some people who belong to the other camp. They do not care if they are the best fit for you or your business… they just want to make their next sale. They want all the business for themselves and will do everything in their power to get it ALL. I almost understand how that could be a tempting strategy in the short term. At first glance, this attitude might seem like the path to more money, however, over the course of time I’ve seen the resulting behaviors backfire with some obvious negative outcomes and some more subtle ripple effects… and I’m glad that it’s not my way.
Here are just a few of the benefits of playing nice with your competition:
- Offers to market cooperatively
- JV Marketing
- Shared expense
- Lower overall marketing expense
- Inclusion in group opportunities
- Guest blogging
- Co-Authoring Books
- Increased exposure
- Mentions in press releases
- Expanded network
- Testimonials from peers
- TV, radio, online video (Blab.im, Periscope, Facebook Live), and podcast appearances
- Happy, well-suited clients
- High retention rates
- Great reputation
- Testimonials from successful clients
A few of the long-term consequences of going it alone:
- Exclusion from events
- Fewer invitations for appearances
- Exclusion from Joint Marketing opportunities
- Only paid sponsorship opportunities
- Higher marketing costs
- Unhappy, poorly suited client base
- Low retention rates
- Poor reputation
- Poor ratings from clients
In theory, that seems simple enough, but how do you play well with others without losing business?
Social Savvy Geek is a full-service online marketing agency; we provide a wide range of services on behalf of our clients and we still get referrals from other agencies and online marketing professionals. Why is that? Because I insist that we respect the talents that they bring to the table and we don’t step on their toes. If they are providing services to a client we offer to fill in the gaps, not to take over the client entirely. We sometimes refer or outsource part of a project to an expert outside our organization to make sure that our client gets the absolute best work and result available.
There are some highly competitive agencies that take a different tack. I have received job offers from some competing agencies who wanted nothing more than to bring my talent in-house and effectively shut down my company. A few local competitors have scrambled to bring on extra staff to expand their service offerings as soon as other agencies brought new skills to the table. Rather than refer business or collaborate, they felt threatened and reacted. Sadly, this type of behavior comes off as selfish and a bit desperate. When other professionals know that your business will try to get the sale no matter what, they don’t trust you with their clients. Whether these agencies realize it or not, their peers have taken note and any hope they had of inclusion in industry events has gone. Elvis has left the building.
One person or agency cannot be the best of everything to everyone all the time; it’s okay to reach out and collaborate. I’m excited and grateful to learn from the experience and expertise of my competitors and I am happy to help them with my knowledge in return. I would rather have the support and cooperation of my peers than try to have all the business to myself any day. My goal is to build trust and create long-lasting, successful relationships with both my peers and my client base. This way we all win!
How do you play? Do you go straight for the kill or do you collaborate?