Can competitors be friends?

Can competitors be friends? Of course they can… At least that is what I always believed. The hosting industry is ultra competitve, and at the same time a fairly tight knit group. Those that have been in the industry for a long time either know personally or at least know the names of others that are in the industry. When I am talking with someone in the “know” about web hosting and drop a name or two of someone I know in the biz, chances are the person I named, and the person I am talking to know each other already. Such is the web hosting business.

Since it is such a tight-knit group I have made an effort to reach out to many of my competitors to at least introduce myself and to complement them on some aspect of their business that I admire and would like to emulate at bluehost. While often I am well received and have a few minutes of polite conversation the “talks” quickly turn to what are some of our strategies for business, and what some of their strategies are. This is great. Sometimes I have advice that I believe the other companies really needs to hear, and othertimes they let me have it, and tell us where we can improve as they see us from a different perspective than we see ourselves.

The most common reaction however that I get is basically, “Why do you want to be our friends? We are competitors.” I didn’t know the two were mutally exclusive. The hosting market is a HUGE market. There is room for me to help out others and not hurt my own business. Don’t get me wrong. I want signups, and I want them BAD. We are VERY VERY aggressive marketers for bluehost, and we try and earn your business every step of the way. It just means we don’t have to step on our competitors in a negative way to do it. In fact, I think we can learn a lot from each other along the way if our pride doesn’t get in the way. That benefits us and our customers. Everyone wins!

I guess I am saying BEAT YOUR COMPETITORS, but buy em dinner afterward :) OK – Now lets all hold hands and sing kum-ba-ya ;)

Thanks,

Matt Heaton / Bluehost.com

10 Responses to “Can competitors be friends?”

  1. BrandonK says:

    I like the way you think Matt. Taking the world head on isn’t always the greatest idea.

  2. Bill says:

    Good point! I own a sporting goods retail store. When a customer is looking for something that we don’t have, I make phone calls to my competitors to see if they mite have what the person is looking for. I usually get strange looks from my customers. At first my competitors were suspicious. (I let them know who I am) Now they call me when their customers are looking for something they don’t have. (“What comes around goes around”)
    Keep up the good blogging. (BILL)

  3. Dino says:

    Yes. That’s what I believe too. But not all can be your friends. Some are non-believers. Although it is very unlikely to be friends with non-believers even if they are in different industry.

    my $0.0002

    Dino

  4. “Know Thy Enemy” is a saying that comes to mind. Enemy is certainly a harsh sounding word but when it comes to internet marketing in this day and age it more often than not applies.

  5. cardoso says:

    A small local ISP, run by a friend of mine and OS/2 hacker had a clear policy: At the meetings with competitors he used to say:

    “Don’t miss security upgrades. Don’t let your users vulnerable”

    To enforce it, the guy had a small script called “dropServer.pl” where he applied 2-week-old DOS and other nasty code. AND a data file with all the competitor’s IPs.

    At least 70% were unpatched after 2 weeks, 50 after an entire month. They never suspected why their servers hanged so much.

  6. Bijan says:

    What is your opinion on people buying your hosting, and then re-selling portions of it to other people?

  7. Teresa Felch says:

    Sorry for all of your recent problems with your system and other customers. You can work yourself into the ground, give the best service in the world and on the day you die someone will say”He just couldn’t give good personal service, so he dropped dead instead”. The moral is: Do your best and be appreciated by the majority and pray for the minority that are never going to be happy with anything or anyone..
    Thanks for all of your great service and your sense of responsibility.

  8. Betty says:

    I used to think that too. But I can say from experience that competitors can’t be true friends.

    Though we have competitive design businesses, we’d been friends for more than 4 years and shared everything–the highs and lows of life, business frustrations, etc. I trusted her with my friendship. We wrote each other several times a day. I thought we were as close as friends could possibly be, online or offline. We even exchanged Christmas gifts.

    And then suddenly she quit writing to me and when I asked her what’s wrong, she wouldn’t say. No more emails followed. The friendship was over.

    I suspect it’s jealously arising out of our competitive businesses as I’ve grown a lot this past year, and before all of this happened she said: “my only enemies are the competition.”

    No, I don’t think the competition can be friends, and to believe otherwise is to lie to yourself, which is what I’ve been doing these past 4 years.

  9. Colin Hall says:

    I have a great long term friend who is also in the same business as me / town as me. We enjoy sending ‘problem’ clients to each other and meeting for a pint to discuss the disasters that ensue. On a wider note, I think the main element that allows competitors to remain on good terms is a common set of goals. For instance we all want to feed our kids and getting into a brutal to & fro will not put food on the table.

    The only real way to build friendships within a competitive industry is to offer complimentary and niche services. This way the emphasis is on what can you do for me to make my business better.

    Of course if you are confronted by ruthless competition, that will stop at nothing to ruin you … the gloves must come off. Make your retaliation short and sharp. I always hold back that ‘black hat’ bad zone link network for these occassions ;-)

    Cheers

    Col :-)

  10. xenki says:

    i don’t think that competitors can be friends just go to google and check the deep fight beetween link builders

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