It might sound baffling to suggest befriending a rival business. It’s certainly uncommon in smaller markets where just a handful of companies are competing for all customers.
In those cases, the question is: Why?
The very idea of friendship implies trust. But in business, it’s important to guard strategic plans and trade secrets. You don’t want to sit down to lunch and talk about upcoming marketing campaigns or how sales are doing this season.
But no matter the size or scope of your industry, there is still a case to be made for networking among your own counterparts at similar companies.
- Growing stronger by knowing what else is out there.
- Discussing and confirming observed industry trends.
- Learning each other’s specialties in order to exchange referrals.
You can befriend your competitors by:
- Joining (or founding) a local (or online) coalition. A rising tide lifts all boats, and these associations can lend greater authority and significance to everyone involved–including your own company, especially if you’re the founders and face of the movement.
- Participating in related conferences and trade shows. If your industry is textbooks, you might find yourself at education-related events. Others from your field will likely attend as well. But instead of seeing them as your competitors at this broad event, it helps to band together and draw a greater amount of attention to the importance of textbooks to the field of education at large.
- Hosting events through your company. You can also reach out directly, individually, to those contacts if you’d prefer to form one-on-one relationships than bring everyone together to share the benefits of befriending each other (though, there’s something to be said for offering yourself, and your company, as the lynchpin that connects everyone and brings them together).
Networking is important, in particular, when it comes to marketing. You might be surprised to learn that people in your own industry make strong referrers, since they’re also considered subject matter experts. Together, you can leverage strengths and span the field. You can keep an eye on shifting trends. And yes, you can even have a friendly rivalry.
Plus, let’s face it: A lot of the time, competitors give each other free advertising anyway when they say: “We’re so much better than that other guy!”
There are ways to lean into the competition in a way that benefits everyone…and you might even make some new friends along the way.
We’d like to be your friends, too! Contact Us anytime to talk marketing.