Making Your Mark in an Age of “Community Over Competition”
In last month’s blog we spent a lot of time telling you how to talk about something besides yourself and your product on social media, but this month we’re going to pull a fast one on you and focus on how to do just the opposite. At the right moments anyways. We’re not changing our position here—we still think you shouldn’t constantly be shining the spotlight on yourself—but we are saying that when you do, you need to make it count, especially in the age of #communityovercompetition.
What is Community Over Competition?
The idea of community over competition has gained a lot of traction over the last few years among creatives and other professionals, with good reason. It’s an extremely positive movement. When owning a small business, especially as a creative, it can be very difficult to not keep tabs on competition. After all, competitive research is taught in business school. But competitive research is one thing… then there’s continual competitive “research” (aka: stalking), when you look at others as “competitors” all the time and have a high likelihood of becoming jealous, territorial, and negative. And that’s not good for anyone, especially your customers.
The other problem with competitive research is that none of your competitors are doing exactly what you’re doing the way you do it, so they’re not technically your direct competition anyway. (More on that later.)
So here we are, acknowledging just how positive this movement is, but we need to also acknowledge this elephant in the room. While collaboration is a beautiful thing, your livelihood still depends on successfully promoting your business, a business that you really believe in. But we get it. It can sometimes get tricky to know exactly how to support others in your industry, but still self-promote without getting competitive or seeming too pushy.
Here are a few ideas to get you started…
Defining Your Brand Story
“Storytelling” has become such a buzzword in recent years that a lot of business owners have started to ignore the idea, but the story of your business is maybe the only truly unique aspect you have to share. People love and crave genuine connections, and sharing your story is a great way to let people know about you, your day-to-day, the behind the scenes of your business, and ultimately build your brand.
Be Competitive With Your Brand Positioning
This is where things get tricky. “Community over competition” doesn’t mean you can never present yourself in a strategic way. You don’t have to be overly confident or put others down to get ahead, but you do have permission to own the things you truly are great at. The fact is, you have a unique selling proposition. No one is just like you. And just like others excel beyond you in certain areas (and you should encourage them in that), you’re better at some things than others are– so why not promote that? But remember, there’s a way to elevate your strengths without knocking the way others are doing things.
Determine How Your Add Value To Your Industry
Your customers are paying the most attention to your services or products, but that doesn’t mean they’re unaware of how you interact with other businesses in your industry. If you’re using passive—albeit extremely witty—captions to shade others in your lane, it puts a bad taste in people’s mouths. Instead, figure out how you add value to your industry (and by default, your customers too) and focus on expanding that. For example, maybe host a networking event, a lunch and learn, or an instructional seminar for others in your industry. Your peers will thank you and your customers will think you’re awesome, mostly because you are.
The bottom line here is, even if you’re all about celebrating the ???? out of others, you can still be proud of your work and believe in your business enough to promote it. There’s room at the table for everyone, especially you!