Join Forces with Competitors
If you have read this far and still think it is too hard to promote yourself, this chapter is for you. You will learn how to coach others to shamelessly promote yourself. Your friends, family, customers and business associates already love you, why not ask them to continue supporting you and your business through referrals.
There are three easy steps to creating glowing testimonials. The first is to simply be aware. We all love compliments. Next time you receive one don’t just say thank you. Look the complimentor straight in the eye and say, “I appreciate your noticing, that’s so nice. A great testimonial like that could be so helpful to my business. Would you mind writing it down for me on your letterhead? Thank you!”
The second step is to use these testimonials to promote your business and make new prospects into clients. Testimonials are one of the easiest, most effective, and lowest cost promotion tools.
Step three is to reap the benefits with increased exposure and a more profitable business.
Don’t fight your competition; join forces. One of my top-selling seminar topics to the retail industry is How to Compete and Succeed Against the Retail Giants. What does this tell you? That everyone is concerned about losing ground and their share of the marketplace. It has become a shark-eat-shark world out there. Everyone is fighting the competition to stay alive. But why fight them, when you can join forces and make them a strategic alliance or associate.
The best thing I did to grow my business to the next level last year was to join forces with one of my toughest competitors, Tom Shay. (See Tom’s confession on page 173.) Tom is a professional speaker who specializes in the same niche market that I do. Although I have always been friendly with Tom, I had never thought of actually forming an association with him.
Tom approached me with the idea of sharing our entire leads list, a list we had both worked very hard to develop. At first I was not too keen on the idea. I have always carefully guarded this list from what I used to call “the enemy,” my competition. Sharing my entire leads database was something I had never thought about. Tom, on the other hand, had been doing this with another speaker, Jack Rice, and it had brought them both success. After Jack passed away, Tom especially felt not only the loss of friendship, but also the loss of a dynamic business connection. He longed to build another strong competitive association. He looked for the opportunity and I appeared.
Tom and I more than doubled our database of leads overnight, opened up new market areas, and put our foot in the doors of many new opportunities for our speaking, writing, and consulting business. I can’t take every speaking engagement, and neither can Tom, so we are the first to refer one another. This association grew our businesses quickly, increased our credibility, supported our clients, and improved our service.
You never know where and when business will come your way. Seek a referral from your competition for this referral is often perceived as one of the best forms of flattery. For example, while visiting my favorite office supply store, Office Depot, a few weeks ago, I noticed that they were planning to close this particular store (one of 70 bad locations across the nation). I told them how disappointed I was, and that I would miss the friendly and helpful staff. The girl behind the counter said, “We appreciate that, and we will miss you. But when we close I recommend you go to Office Max, not the other office supply store down the street. They are very helpful as well, and I’m sure you will be happy with their service. We don’t recommend the other store.”
I asked a few more questions and discovered that representatives from Office Max periodically stopped in at Office Depot. The reps checked on what the competition was offering and compared notes. They were always friendly and announced who they were. Over time the staff at the two stores had built a friendly alliance. They would never have known at the time, but they had opened up an incredible opportunity for their future business growth. The referrals from a closing business quickly and dramatically increased their sales. With growing sales they needed more staff. Where do you think they got them? Right! From the competition. The other competitor missed a huge opportunity!
When you help and support others it comes back to you many times over in increased referrals, respect, and more business than you can handle. So stop worrying about your competition. Don’t fight ’em; join ’em!
Debbie Allen is a marketing expert, international professional speaker and award-winning author of Confessions of Shameless series of books. To download a free chapter of her book and sign up for her free newsletters on marketing and retail go to www.DebbieAllen.com. Contact Debbie directly to learn more about her presentations at 800-359-4544 or via email Debbie@DebbieAllen.com.