It’s no surprise really, when we begin to look at the meanings behind the words. Everything in our universe operates in a cycle, even language.
Since around 1600, the definition of the word compete was derived from the Middle French (M.Fr.) word compéter meaning “be in rivalry with.”
This is how most of us are used to thinking of competitors: those with whom we’re involved in a rivalry.
People who need to be spied on. People who can’t be trusted. People who would steal our livelihood out from under us if we don’t keep a VERY close eye on them.
Wankers, basically. Right? People we envy, don’t really want to get to know but feel obligated to pay at least some attention to lest they steal one of our precious ideas. Which may seem to happen all the time, but it’s only because they got there first while you were worrying about what they were going to do next.
Competere: com – “together” + petere – “to strive”
If we look to the earlier 14th century Late Latin (L.L.) root competere I think we begin to get a better picture of who our competitors are today, in this new epoch of online marketing.
To compete, used in this context, means to come together. Strive together. Work together. Seek together.
Marketing online today requires an absolute belief in this not-so-new definition of competitor.
We are all niche marketers at this point. At least anyone reading this post is. And each of us only needs a very small piece of the virtual pie to be able to make a comfortable living.
Let’s say I want to break into a new niche. I do some research and find there are 30 other people out there selling personalized purple g-stings and I decide to go for it.
If each of us 31 personalized purple g-string marketers keep to ourselves, we might sell a few panties but none of us is going to build an audience large enough to really make an impact.
Just ask anyone who tried to break into niche marketing hoping to qualify for Google welfare (a.k.a. AdSense revenue) when it first began. It all felt so very…competitive then.
But if all thirty-one of us got together…if we cross-promoted each other’s sites…if we collaborated on personalized purple g-string product packages…if we formed a personalized purple g-string marketing coalition to raise awareness on why everyone needs a special g-string in their life…well, the sky’d be the limit!
The real beauty in this approach is there’s absolutely no risk.
It’s. All. Win.
While there may be 30 other purple panty selling sites, there’s only one ME selling them. This means that even while we’re dealing with a limited market (people wanting personalized purple g-string panties), I can still focus on the even smaller segment of those people who really like ME. Those who get ME as opposed to the other panty guy.
In short, when we rid ourselves of the old baggage tied to the word competitor, we create the space for unexpected and lucrative new marketing opportunities.
Suddenly we’re allowed to form friendships. We’re able to reach out to those other 30 purple panty people. We may even begin to collaborate and strategize together.
Above all, these friendships will keep us feeling nurtured and energized. They will serve to replenish our spirits, not just our wallets, as we continue together on this journey of world-changing entrepreneurship.
With that small shift in perception we are no longer an island unto ourselves.
We have help.
We have support.
And, goddammit, if you’re one of my friends, we have fun!