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How do you feel if you come across a competitor to your business? Whether you find them when you’re scrolling on social media or they pop up at an industry event, I know the range of emotions that moment can ignite. It’s totally natural to feel threatened, a little bit peeved or maybe even secretly rather pleased that you seem to be riding a little higher than they are! But what about taking a totally different approach to competition? What if instead of peering at each other and sneaking looks at each other’s work, you actually worked with them?

What! Yes, that might sound a little bit strange on the face of it, but please read on to hear us out. First of all, you need to get over the idea that if someone else wins, you automatically lose. Even if you offer the same very same services in the same sector as someone else, the likelihood is that there is more than enough work to go around. It’s also important to note that you will almost certainly have taken different paths to get to where you are today. That means your expertise will be different, as will your strengths. Your team, if you have one, will have different ideas and what you offer will be unique and authentic to you.

So, now that you know there’s nothing to be feared by having competition, how can actively collaborating with them be beneficial for you both? I believe collaboration can work for many different types of businesses, but I’ll let you know how and why it works in my little corner of the business world. Marketing and PR are creative industries to work in. We need to be able to sniff out the story behind a brand, share the key benefits of a new product in a way that customers just ‘get’ and often advise on branding, imagery, wording and more.

Collaboration is a shot of adrenaline for creativity. Talking to other people about industry news, events, opportunities and threats will bring out new ideas and help us to be far more creative and proactive. Plus, as previously mentioned, the skills we all bring to the table are different, so by putting our heads together we can create new and amazing solutions for clients! That specialist network of contacts is really beneficial too – if we suddenly need a Mailchimp expert, banner retargeting whizz or HubSpot specialist, it’s likely someone else already has a tried and tested contact.

So, are you ready to get started and drop your competitors a line? You will be amazed how much talking to someone who faces the very same challenges as you day in, day out will make a key difference to your outlook! Of course, we have to caveat this all by reminding you that there are of course one or two bad apples in every barrel. In the PR and marketing world there are some rather unscrupulous types who try to poach clients from other agencies. This approach, to tell your clients why they will be able to serve them better, rather than to attract their own new business just by doing a great job and being recognised for it, is unpleasant. The only advice I can give is to be mindful when you speak to people about collaborating. If anything rings alarm bells, then don’t work with them.