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August 29, 2006


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biren shah

what you say robert, is so very ideal and wonderful (ideal doesnot mean 'not possible' or not do-able). i feel it is evolutionary, and not an instinctual trait for us humans.
and that means, there are a lot of 'Bills' out there. and we, as a society have built their defenses around them.
i have learnt this the hard way.
since childhood, i never felt 'competitive'. and i used to feel (was made to feel?) like a mutant... an aberration.
oh, i had the usual bouts of silent envy - but not for the person, but for the thing he was getting. and i never even thought he should not be getting it.
if someone was good, i just accepted it. but i always had this feeling that i was probably a 'wet if not wimp'.
it was years latter that i started really seeing and experiencing the value of this 'natural leaning'.
i was able to enjoy so much more. i could enjoy somebody else's experiences and triumphs. it did not matter who won, the feelings were there to be expereinced by all of us. and, this increased the sweetness of it all.
thats when i started feeling sorry for the 'Bills'. they are missing so much. the wins, the intimacy, and most of all - themselves.

Karl McCracken

Another great article, Robert.

I came up against some tough competition a few years ago - they're government funded, and basically were offering exactly the same as I was (and dozens of other guys . . . ) at the time, but for FREE. Worse still, I found out about them when a contract worth £100,000 to me walked off the table, and into their pockets!

So I went to see my competitors, to see if I could work with them, and was told that "No, as a matter of policy, we only subcontract to big firms."

So I said "OK, but there's pleanty of business out there - I just need to avoid pitching against you guys. Who are your targets, so I can just keep out of your way?".

The response was, "Oh, we can't tell you that - you're our competition" (!)

I left the meeting feeling pretty despondant - their 'crush the competition' attitude had really knocked the wind out of me. But after a few weeks, I realised that my competitor's apparent strength (big organisation offering free consultancy) was a weakness that left a huge market wide open for me. They can't specialise, beyond the general sector they work with, because of their paymasters' targets.

So this is what we do now - specialise, to such a degree that I actually see it as a good thing when I approach a company and they say that they've already got my 'competitors' on site. We've tweaked what we offer, so that it actually works better when our service runs alongside our 'competitors', so everyone ends up a winner.

And the best bit is that by focusing on a very narrow specialisation, we're building a business that can be scaled up into a global franchise.

Lisa Weiss

I liked this article a lot because you hear Bill's thinking all the time. Robert your approach is dead on and I've been using it for years! My mindset is I don't have competitors I have a pool of resources out there to help me.

I'm a communication strategist, and a facilitator and each communication person I have come across has knowledge in areas I may not, so when a client is in need of such a person I know who I can refer. And they do the same for me. This is of course once I've seen the type of work they do and know that their clients are happy.

The abundance mentality works!

Tom McNamara

Reading Robert's story and the comments here has given me pause. I am also a copywriter. Intuitively, I recognize the value in this abundance and collaboration approach. I have even benefitted from it. But I also find myself constantly differentiating in the face of competitors. It's fun, but exhausting. I have lost proposals because a "partner-competitor" underbid me. And as the number of people selling copywriting services explodes, commodification intensifies. How many gunslingers can a town support before there's a shootout? (Sorry - another aggressive metaphor.) Are there more lucrative opportunities (that attract the bulk of the talent) than others? If so, does partnering with your competition pay more dividends than telling people why your better than them? I have seen results from both approaches. But I don't have the statistical certainty of which approach works better. Maybe "crushing your competition" is just a tired metaphor for telling people what makes you special?

Henning Matthaei

Robert, your article is perfectly describing the fight between two value memes as described by Dr. Clare Graves, Don Beck, Christopher Cowan, and Ken Wilber. Good websites to read more about solutions that no longer work are for example: or

To grow from willing to be the winner for any price towards serving the best of all of us is a major step in a humans lifetime! I hope you'll be hitting this button in your clients and customers on and on.

Best wishes from Old Europe.

Shannon Walker-Lembke

I'm always amazed at the people in business that take the mean-aggressive approach. They are definitely out there though, otherwise programs such as the one you saw and books treating business as war wouldn't exist.

In my experience, the mean people might succeed for awhile - or maybe we just hear about them - but the nice, pleasant, friendly businesspeople are the ones with the staying power. Working with someone that makes you feel good is the foundation for long term relationships whether they are your suppliers or your clients.

Speaking of clients that are a pleasure to work for, my coffee break is over and writing for a friendly client calls.

Ann Weiser Cornell

I totally appreciate this article and the attitudes behind it. It's clear to me that I have at least four goals in business that are more important to me than making money: to have fun, to have a relaxed stomach, to make friends, and to change the world. All four are more facilitated by the attitudes you teach!
My situation is an interesting one from the point of view of competition. Because I teach people to teach what I do, my main competition is my own students. If I taught them and then crushed them, it wouldn't make much sense! Instead, I support them in every way I can. This is good for the spread of our work.
I also have this attitude: no one is really competition -- because everyone is unique, no two people are alike. People are drawn to me as much or more because of who I am as because of the content of my teaching. How can there be any competition for being who we are?
Ann Weiser Cornell


I work in the toruism industry and am trying hard to work with competitors to build tourism in my region. They are so often not inclined to do so which just dosent make sense to me!!!

Jane Noel

As a small business, you don't always have all the skills you need to compete successfully. We are a design firm and we've had occasion to partner with competitors when their skill sets complement our skill sets. We help each other, both companies become stronger and better able to serve their clients.

Jennifer Koretsky

LOVE the imaginary dialogue!

I admit, in the early stages of my coaching business I was "threatened" by other successful coaches in my niche. But somewhere along the way, I realized that was *stupid.* It's much more effective and much less stressful to adopt the mindset that there is plenty for everyone. And every once in a while, you can collaborate with the "competition" and create even more opportunities.

Galba Bright

Excellent energizing and imaginative article, Robert. You demonstrate once more why you put the "Action" in "Action Plan Marketing." Your great gift is in inspiring others to get moving in a positive direction.

Michael Stein

Great article. The woman running a firm we've recently been partnering with has taught me a lot about this - every outfit I see as a competitor she sees as a potential partner. It's been very eye-opening. "We should sit down with them!" is her mantra.

April Stoor

Awesome;] I have been doing work with these "personal abundance" attitudes. When we really and truly believe that we are sufficient and that everyone deserves to be a winner, we begin to do business in totally win-win ways (one of Stephen Covey's 7 habits of highly effective people).

Tom "Bald Dog" Varjan

Brilliant story, Robert. And it's very relevant for many people look at marketing this way: "The better I market my stuff the more of my competitors I can make starve to death."

Roy H. Williams, The Wizard of Ads, has a great story in his book about the competition...

Of Sharks and Pigs

It is a true but little-known fact that more American citizens are killed by pigs each year than by sharks.

I believe this is also true of American businesses.

Business owners spend most of their time worrying about the sharks - those diabolical demon competitors though it is far more likely to be the pigs who kill the company.
The pigs are the employees who would rather lie in the mud and oink than jump through hoops for a customer.

The pigs are the middle managers who are more concerned with getting the most out of the company than with getting the most out of their staff. The pigs are the owners whose only thoughts are for short-term profits.

A healthy, pig-free company is one with a powerful sense of mission and purpose, a company with values that run deep enough to create a strong company culture.

--Roy H. Williams, The Wizard of Ads, #42

Malcolm Munro

I've learned two things about the competition:

1. Welcome them! If you are really better than they are, the proof will be in your sales, not in you holding onto your "kingdom" at all costs.

2. No matter what, there is plenty of money to be made. Don't be paralyzed by a new gimmick or offer by the competition. Stick to what works for you (and always work to improve it and be innovative) and continue to take care of your regular customers.

Have a great day!
Malcolm Munro

Pauline Esson

Hi Bill,
You brightened my day today, I love your Bill and Bill conversation.
I've been working with your marketing plan material and website kit and couldn't agree more about the internal work necessary for marketing.
I'm quite a practical soul and love looking at soul manifest in everyday things we do like this especially when it has me rocking back and forth on my chair laughing! Thanks

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