Niche mates, not competitors.

​How do you feel about the word “competition”? For us self-employed people, that word can create anxiety and resistance. Being “competitive” tends to make human beings less cooperative.

Instead, I recommend using the term “niche mates” — other worthy human beings who occupy the same industry niche as us.

They, too, have families to feed, and dreams they hope to achieve. And, similar to us, they also have hidden suffering in their life that, if we only knew, would inspire our deep compassion.

The world is starving for genuine, win-win collaborations.

Let’s find a better way to think about, and work with, our niche mates.
There are essentially 3 options:

  1. Niche mates can fight each other. Or at least, fear each other, generating discouragement and avoidance. Sometimes, even aggression, when people talk badly about their competitors.

  2. Or, we can observe each other’s business behavior, and learn from that, since we are serving similar people using similar skills.

  3. Even better is that if we get creative, we can figure out a way to grow our niche together by collaborating.

Because the word “competitor” is the default way people think about others in their niche, they default to the first option of avoidance or aggression.

If a little wiser, they might get “strategic” and try the second option: learning from their competition, but even so, it’s often out of hoping that the competition will eventually lose.

Let’s be more mindful in how we think about our niche mates, and focus instead on learning and collaborating.

We can all have enough

Every single business can have enough clients, if we become more mindful, active, and caring about creating win-win relationships.

A niche mate is another business, like you, that provides a service similar to what you provide, and which serves a similar audience.

A niche mate, like you, has both insecurities and genius zones (that might complement yours.) They need to support themselves, as you do, and might have a family to support. Your niche mates deserve good opportunities. And, like you, your niche mates also need and deserve help.

In fact, your niche mates are either your best mirrors, or your best partners.

Niche Mates as Mirrors

It’s difficult to see how good (or bad) you look, and adjust your appearance, unless you look into a mirror.

Similarly, it’s hard to figure out the best ways to improve your own branding, messaging, and marketing, unless you look at your niche mates. They are essentially mirrors for your business!

When you look at your niche mates, you’re naturally able to critique and praise.

Do you love something they’re doing? Then do more of it yourself. (Not copying, but emulating, in your own style and with your own voice.)

Do you dislike something they’re doing? Take that silent criticism and refrain from doing it in your own business, too. (If you are friendly with them, and they seem open to your feedback, you might help them by offering constructive critique.)

Study Your Niche Mates

Ask around your network for who else does similar work that you do.

Write down 5 niche mates.

For each, answer these questions:

  • What are 2 things you like about their services, that you might want to emulate?

  • What’s broken? What’s missing? What’s unnecessary?

  • What’s unique about your services that sets you apart from them?

  • What are 2 things you like about their marketing?

  • What are 2 things you don’t like about their marketing?

  • What’s unique about your marketing that sets you apart from them?

  • Are you addressing the same audience? Or what’s different about yours?

  • What could they be doing differently or better to meet their audience’s needs?

From these insights, you can then modify and improve your own business.

Instead of copying, focus on being of Service…

Don’t try to match your niche mates’s offerings, feature by feature.

For each feature they provide in their service, ask how it is trying to solve a problem for clients.

Ask yourself:

  • Is there a better way to solve this problem?

  • Can I solve it in a different way, in my own style, with my own experience and wisdom?

  • Can I solve it in a way that is more effective or delightful, based on what I know about my clients?

Focus on solving your ideal clients’ needs in the best way you know how.

Niche Mates as Partners

When you find a niche mate that has a similar-sized audience as you, contact them casually, to see if they might be open to finding ways to collaborate or mutually support each other.

Some people might not respond. That’s ok. The few who do respond positively, are abundance-minded like you. Good opportunity to make a new friend!

Why our niche mates can be some of our best partners:

  • Do your offerings complement each other? Perhaps your offers can help each other’s audience in different ways or styles that are both important.

  • Your audience has some people who don’t (and will never) buy from you — it’s just statistics — and this is true for your niche mates, too. Yet, those same non-buyers may love to buy from your niche mate if they are endorsed by you… and vice versa. In other words, you can be referring some business to each other!

Again, focus on contacting niche mates with a similar-sized audience as you, whatever you can tell of their numbers based on looking at their social media profiles.

If they’re open to collaborating, then help each by introducing content or offerings to each other’s audience, so that everyone can be helped:

  1. That audience is helped by having an alternative that may work better for them.
  2. Someone is helped by gaining a new client (or at least, a new reader/viewer.)
  3. The introducer benefits by building trust with all parties involved.

A client who buys something is likely to buy another similar thing. The person who follows a topic will enjoy discovering another creator in the same field. Partnering with niche mates can be a win for everyone.

In your research into niche mates, also take note of who is partnering with your niche mates? Who is endorsing them, or introducing your niche mates’ offerings to their audience? They might also be interested in introducing your offerings, too.

If we connect & share, there is more than enough for everyone. There are always more than enough ideal clients. We just need to be more active and caring in connecting with our niche mates.