I’ve been considering the subject of competition lately.
Traditional marketing advice tells you to pay attention to how you stack up against your competition. What makes you different? What makes you better? Why should someone choose you rather than the other guy?
If you’re a solopreneur service professional, here are 3 other options that may make more sense.
1. Relationship business? Build Know, Like, Trust
Consider a highly competitive business like real estate. When we list our house for sale, we’re going to choose ONE realtor.
Are we going to choose that person based on what sets them apart from their competition? Are we going to scientifically compare and contrast? Are we going to interview 3 different candidates? (Do you know anyone who does this??)
Most people choose based on who they already know, like and trust. We’re going to go with the nice guy who shows up at the networking events. Or we’ll ask our friend/neighbour/colleague for a recommendation.
You’re better off spending your time building relationships than trying to isolate what makes you different/better from the guy in the next office.
2. Optional or unfamiliar business? Educate.
A lot of my clients have what I would describe as “optional” businesses. Businesses NEED an accountant. If you have a dog, you NEED a vet. We all NEED food.
Nutritionist? Life coach? Feng Shui consultant?
My nutritionist clients are not competing with other nutritionists. They’re competing with
- Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers and other diet programs
- Books (and the Internet)
- Doing nothing (the strongest competitor of all!)
In many cases, people may not even be familiar with what they do. Nutritionist? What’s that?
If you’re in a business like this, your marketing needs to focus on educating your prospective clients: What is a nutritionist? How can a nutritionist help you? What problems can a nutritionist solve?
3. Non-competitive business? Cooperate.
Some businesses really aren’t competitive. Consider authors. For those of us who read, we read more than one book. It would be ridiculous to think about only ever reading books by one single author.
Ditto for people who teach workshops and produce educational content. What do people talk about in workshops? All the other workshops they’ve attended!
Businesses in these categories are better off cooperating with each other, rather than viewing others as competition.