Something you should know (part 2)…

June 9, 2009 at 6:00 am 14 comments

Your competitor can also be your greatest ally.

I came into the wedding industry from the fashion industry.  I worked for a company that imported and distributed apparel from France.  We sold to huge department stores and tiny boutiques. My job as West Coast Sales Manager was more of a game in mediation and dispute resolution between competing stores.  The bad energy between people was poisonous to their businesses and it was poisonous to the industry.

So, naturally, I began my business thinking that anyone who also was an invitation designer was EVIL.  Boy, oh boy, was I wrong.  I moved my teeny little business (at the time) from LA to Seattle in 2005.  Seattle people are very friendly and warm and inviting.  Businesses blossom by word of mouth.

When I did my first Seattle Wedding Show in 2006 I was in uber-disbelief that my competitors actually came up to my booth to introduce themselves to me. “Wait.  What?  Huh?  Did that just happen?” is what I thought to myself.  And, slowly the ice began to melt.

Over time, I’ve learned more about my competitors.  I’ve also learned more about my business.  I’ve learned about my niche.  I’ve learned about their niches.  And, I’ve learned that we all add value to this industry.  We all have a different place in this market.  There are very few people that do it just like I do it.  And, there are very few people that do it just as my competitor does it.  I’ve also learned that these businesses are amazing and unique and different and beautiful. By better knowing my business and their businesses I can better inform the customer.  I can better teach the customer about stationery. They have been a great resource for me to refer someone who is not a match for our style of product, thus making me a “go to” for stationery knowledge.

So, this is something that you should know…
Get to know your competitors. Knowing them and their businesses will help you carve out your niche.  It’ll help you add value to the wedding industry and your industry segment.  It will help you differentiate yourself.  And, having a unique niche in your market is what will give your business value without taking away from someone else.

And, with that… go hug your competitor… I dare you!

My Competitor: The wonderful Brown Sugar Design Studio

My Competitor: The very talented Brown Sugar Design Studio

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Entry filed under: Inspiration, Life Lessons, Uncategorized.

Something you should know… Something you should know (part 3)…

14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Barbie Hull  |  June 9, 2009 at 7:23 am

    Very well written! A great reminder too – thanks Michelle!

    Reply
    • 2. Michelle Loretta  |  June 9, 2009 at 7:37 am

      You photographers are the BEST at doing this… so collaborative. It’s been inspiring for me to watch.

      Reply
  • 3. Kelly Simants  |  June 9, 2009 at 8:12 am

    I love this post Michelle! So true that we should see our competitors as our greatest allies and collaborate with them! Not enough people think this way, so I love that you have written such an inspirational post on this topic.

    Reply
    • 4. Michelle Loretta  |  June 9, 2009 at 8:28 am

      Thanks Kelly! It took me a while to get it… but when I did, it all made so much sense… and things just clicked.

      Reply
  • 5. Lisa Green  |  June 9, 2009 at 9:23 am

    In an industry that relies on referrals for clients as well as visual perfection to get clients, getting to know your competitors is not only a smart thing to do, its vital! Great post ~ very on target with how we all should all be thinking!

    Reply
  • 6. calisara  |  June 9, 2009 at 10:45 am

    well said! i love twittering for the connections to some great industry people who inspire me. but i can see that anyone (in wedding planning) within the bay area is not up for following me back, and i realize it’s just competition. i am not there to take anyone’s business, and love the idea of partnerships, knowing your competitor, and being friendly!

    Reply
    • 7. Michelle Loretta  |  June 9, 2009 at 2:22 pm

      It’s too bad you’ve had this experience, Sara… I’ve definitely felt the snub of a competitor (and probably been a little “snubby”, before I realized this)… but the important thing is to remember your experience… and support the people who will some day approach you… and they will definitely will be coming to you – in good time!

      Reply
  • 8. whitney {aka the competition} :)  |  June 9, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    Thank you so much for posting about this, Michelle – we’ve benefitted so greatly from our relationships with you and other competition in the area that we can’t imagine running our business successfully without those relationships. When there is an attitude of mutual respect and camaraderie everyone grows. Great topic! (Thanks for including us too!)

    Reply
    • 9. Michelle Loretta  |  June 9, 2009 at 2:19 pm

      Happy to include your very pretty stationery on here… love it… I’m a big fan.

      Reply
  • 10. ABC Dragoo  |  June 9, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    I always say “there are enough brides out there for all of us” – I could not agree with you more about the contents of this post.Very well stated.

    Here’s to gorgeous paper,
    ABC Dragoo

    Reply
    • 11. Michelle Loretta  |  June 9, 2009 at 2:18 pm

      You are sooooo right! There are enough people getting married every day! We can all have a bite.

      Reply
  • 12. juliannesmith  |  June 11, 2009 at 11:20 am

    this post is inspiring me to reach out – can’t wait to build even more relationships. thank you!

    Reply
  • 13. Julie Goldman  |  June 15, 2009 at 11:53 am

    I completely agree with your piece and I have recently reached out to several of my competitors. This has really helped me stop thinking of them as copy-cats and more as allies. Thanks.

    Reply
  • […] few weeks ago I wrote about knowing your competition.  I told you to hug your competitor because he or she can be your greatest ally in knowing the […]

    Reply

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