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Choose Collaboration Over Competition To Grow Your Business!

Nothing pleases us more when a DT&G reader wants to share their wisdom with the rest of the Design Center readers. Ladies and Gentlement, please give a warm welcome to Stacey Hall ... drop her an email and invite her back to the pages of DT&G....

Choose Collaboration
Over Competition
To Grow Your Business!

by Stacey Hall

It seems that the fundamental, universally accepted premise on which traditional marketing approaches are built could use some serious thought and updating.
__ In this day and age, do businesses actually have to compete for customers? Doesn't this actually fly in the face of the basic law of nature that each of us is unique; and no two people are exactly the same?
__ If no two people are exactly the same, then it stands to reason that no two businesses are exactly the same. So, how is it possible for two businesses in the same industry to serve the same client's needs equally? Each of us created our own business for a specific purpose or mission. Our business has developed as a result of our own unique experiences and needs. Therefore, each business is designed to serve a specific group of customers in a particularly unique way. As a result, it makes more sense to think of other businesses in our industry as collaborators, not competitors, who can assist us in ways that truly serve our customers' and our own interests.
__ If this sounds heretical, then it simply shows how the idea of competition is deeply ingrained in our culture and colors our views of the way we do business.
__ Yet, I invite you to consider the memorable scene in the classic movie "Miracle on 34th Street" when Kris Kringle, as Santa Claus at Macy's, refers a customer to Gimbals, a "rival" department store because he knows that the customer would find the exact item they are looking for right there. Kringle recognizes that it is in Macy's best interests to serve the needs of the customer... even if it means losing the sale to another retailer. He knows that he is building a reputation among his customers that Macy's is the first place to shop. If Macy's doesn't have it, they will know who does.
__ This example demonstrates that businesses are more attractive, and of greatest service to themselves, their industry, their customers, and their communities when they are knowledgeable about the products and services offered by other businesses in their same industry.
__ Another example of a beneficial collaboration is provided by Ed Young, a Farmer's Insurance agent. Ed was at risk for losing a 15-year customer, when the customer's auto policy premiums were raised. The customer decided to begin shopping for another insurance company. Ed was friendly with an independent agent for Braniff Hogan and Jenson, who he knew could meet all of this customer's needs. He facilitated a smooth transition of the auto policy to this new company. As a result of the care and consideration he provided during the process, he was able to retain this "perfect" customer's homeowners' policy.
__ Each of us knows instantly the moment we meet a "perfect" customer for us. There is an immediate connection between this person and our service that quickly leads to mutual admiration. Almost instantly, we find ourselves freely sharing information with this customer because they make us feel needed, appreciated, respected, and understood. Our opinions, values, and outlooks on life are similar. After just one conversation, we feel as if we have known each other for a long time. And, over the course of time, our social interactions with this perfect customer increase as does the quality of our business relationship. It expands and deepens into a true friendship as we find new ways to be of service to them and they provide a steady stream of referrals to us.
__ Conversely, we also know when we attract a "customer from hell."
__ Usually, this becomes apparent immediately as we realize that there is no synergy between us and the customer. Interactions with these customers tend to be confusing and unfulfilling.
They expect us to provide services that we do not normally offer. They want us to make exceptions to our policies, to provide discounts, to ignore our standard agreements. The truth is that they are actually looking for another agency to serve their needs.
__ To pursue any less-than-perfect relationship would prove to be very frustrating for both the customer and ourselves as it involves a struggle to meet each others' needs when the fit isn't right. Yet, what do we do with a less-than-perfect customer? Usually, we continue to try to serve them anyway and thank our lucky stars when the transaction is finally complete.

THERE IS A BETTER WAY. We could, instead, consider it our responsibility to direct this less-than-perfect customer to their most perfect agency.
__ Taking a lesson from Kris Kringle, the most mutally satisfying way to grow your business is to build close relationships with other members of HALU in order to know with whom you can form alliances and to whom you can refer your "less-than-perfect customers." Remember, our "customer from hell" is probably another business' "customer from heaven."
__ Creating strategic alliances with businesses outside of the insurance industry can also provide you with greater number of opportunities to meet potentially perfect customers. If you have not already done so, consider how your business could grow by forming alliances with various attorneys, accountants, and family counselors...all of whom your customers may need in the future. If your customers need them, then it is likely that their customers will need you, too.
__ The first step in developing our own network of collaborators is to recognize that what holds us back is usually a lack of trust. Common sense tells us that we must only collaborate with our most perfect collaborators....those who will treat us they way we want to be treated. Now how do we attract those types of collaborators?
__ A good place to start is by listing all the qualities that you would want your collaborator to demonstrate, such as an openness to collaborating, as well as credible skills and knowledge, integrity, honesty, commitment, focus, and a large customer base.....just to name a few. Then, look at your existing network of associates and the products or services they provide to determine which of these folks comes closest to being your "perfect" collaborator. Then plan to meet with these perfect associates specifically to consider in what ways you can be mutually assisting each other in serving your respective clients.
__ Beyond your existing contacts, there are hundreds of others in the insurance industry who are also potential collaborators. How do you meet them? By getting actively involved in industry associations and community activities will increase your visibility, making it easier for like-minded people to find you. Contributing articles to trade publications serving your industry, accepting invitations to speak at industry forums, and taking the initiative to call on the owners, managers and agents of other insurance agencies will also move this process along.
__ Once you have identified a potentially perfect collaborator(s), it is important for each of you to share openly and honestly about what constitutes a perfect customer for each of you. In this manner, you can clearly determine where your businesses overlap and where you are distinctly complementary. By working together on your individual business growth plans, you are actively making the pot bigger and more lucrative for both of you.


I invite you to take a moment to contemplate the following questions, and write down your answers. These questions are designed for you to consider what might be possible for you and your business if you had at least one "collaborator."

  1. Who do you consider to be your main "competition?"
  2. If your customers were not being served by you, who would be serving them?
  3. What services do these businesses offer that are the same as yours? Different from yours?
  4. Have you ever referred one of your less-than-perfect customers to one of your "competitors?"
  5. What would stop you from referring a less-than-perfect customer to one of your "competitors?"
  6. Under what conditions would you refer a less-than-perfect customer to one of your "competitors?"
  7. Can you name a less-than-perfect customer who you would now consider referring to a collaborator?


Who is Stacey Hall?
__ Stacey is a synchronicity marketer practicing the principles of "strategic attraction." She is credited as the catalyst for the paradigm shift now occurring in the realm of marketing. Her soon-to-be-published book "Strategic Synchronicity...The Art of Attracting Perfect Clients," documents the research she has conducted over the past 20 years while facilitating, designing and implementing profitable global marketing plans for organizations, such as Budget Rent a Car Corporation, FEDEX, and the University of Houston. Her global client list includes a multitude of corporate and entrepreneurial organizations, such as financial institutions, personnel agencies, real estate agents, retail outlets, plus educational, service, professional, and non-profit organizations.
__ Stacey is also a member of The Muse's, which as the Houston Business Journal reported provides "a principle source of inspiration and access to the creative spirit inside corporations to ensure that (these) corporations experience unprecedented levels of accomplishment here-to-fore unknown through traditional business practices."
__ In addition, she speaks internationally and facilitates workshops on the subjects of "Strategic Synchronicity: Mastering the Art of Attracting Perfect Customers and other Stakeholders;" "Speaking Your Gift: Creating A Magnetic Mission Statement and Intriguing Introduction;" "I'm Possible Dreams...From Mission to Vision"; and "Work Performed in the Spirit of Service is Worship...The Balance Between Giving and Receiving."

Strategic Directions: Transforming Your Business Into A Powerful Magnet for Attracting More Perfect Customers...and Employees, too!

For a complimentary subscription to the Daily Strategic Attraction Tip e-zine, please visit "Subscribe to Daily Tip Now".

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