By Danielle Stephens is co-founder of The Darkly Agency

When most business owners think of competition, they don’t exactly get excited. But what if competition was approached as part of a long-term strategy rather than a threat to your market-share? This concept is like appreciating the importance of the forest for the survival of the trees. Competition is not just good, it’s awesome!

Understandably, you have doubts, so allow me to convince you.

Big success for one brings big opportunity to all.

Think of the ad agency boom in Minneapolis, where a collective of agencies worked together to attract bigger brands to their local market. Minneapolis became a creative hotspot for huge brands as a result.

Still not convinced?

Look at Silicon Valley where Apple made its mark, and the reputation and popularity that ensued for all technology startups in that region.

Have I convinced you now that maybe it would be awesome if one of your local competitors struck it big?

Here are the 4 Cs you should be doing with your local competition in order to benefit as a company in the long run.

Compare

Know how many companies similar to yours are operating in your local region. Rank them in order of sales, growth, popularity or size. The easiest way to do this is by getting the Phoenix Business Journal’s Book of Lists, an annual publication that does the work for you by listing the top businesses in Phoenix by industry, often with contact information!compare

Consider these competitors at all times when forming your marketing strategy. Take time each week to follow their happenings – website updates, social media conversations, and press efforts. Become aware of their messaging, pricing, promotions, packaging, strengths and weaknesses.

Connect

Seek out and connect with professionals with whom you share common interests and passions. Find them by joining the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, attending networking events, leads groups, conventions, and joining clubs and organizations that relate to your industry. Connecting with your competitors allows you to discover businesses offering complimentary services that bolster your company’s offerings. When you offer joint products or services, your reach and potential becomes that much greater.

Collaborate

Collaboration fosters an environment that takes the focus from competition to innovation and cooperation between experts. Here, everyone wins. Instead of trying to take on the world single-handedly or operate in a silo, collaborate with your fellow industry experts on how to create efficiencies in your marketplace and develop new concepts, practices or products. If done successfully, you’ll attract attention and business from all over the world.

Compete

competeOf course it’s healthy to compete! Business is exciting because it’s a challenge, and the harder we work to outpace our competition, the higher we raise the bar and the more value consumers get. Healthy competition spurs innovation as well. Focus on what you can do better than your competition and market that difference to your customers. It is most important to remember that you’re not truly competing if you don’t practice the other Cs on this list!

Leveraging competition in these four ways will make long-term success possible. These four Cs are good for you, good for Phoenix and good for the legacy you leave behind.

Posted by Alexie Chavez