Industry Insights

Why be nice to your local competitors?

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Aime Cox
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This article and all others on the Studio Cotton blog are written by humans. Please enjoy our opinions, expertise, advice, experiences, and typos.

I’m a big fan of being nice and sharing all the love. It just makes life easier if you think everyone is bloomin’ lovely. Sure, every now and then they might do something you don’t agree with – or even something that upsets you – but deep down they’re a good person and so it’s all good, bra.

The same can be applied to business, approaching the world with the attitude that everyone is nice can make your life much less stressful. By actually being nice, you could see a real benefit to your business too.


Join forces with local businesses

Many of the small businesses we work with have audiences largely defined by a geographical area, and so it is crucial to be seen as part of that community. We’ve seen a revival in recent years of local festivals and parties – especially in Bristol – and at the events, we see local shop and restaurant owners team up with local entertainers to bring more people to the area.

I am very lucky to live just off of Cotham Hill, their annual street party is one of my favourite days of the year, although a lot of that is probably down to the free food samples.

We need to see this camaraderie all year round, by working together you make the area more attractive to visitors and locals. You could also expect some direct effects for your business.


Open conversations and get in front of more people

You might be a hardware store next door to a jewellers, or a gift boutique next door to a pizzeria. On the surface, it may seem like you have completely different audiences – but in reality, they’re very similar – they’re local to you.

You’re competing for the same attention, especially online. Each business is shouting at the same group of people, by working together, it can be a lot easier to be heard.

Open conversations with your business neighbours on social media, both Twitter and Facebook are brilliant platforms for this kind of activity. Firstly, follow every business on your street, it will easily open up opportunities for you to talk about local events.


Start complementing, because you’re nice

Does the hardware shop have a beautiful window display? Take a picture on your way into work then tell everyone, and, if it’s right for your brand, tag the business on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. It’ll make the neighbour happier and, if they share or retweet, it gets your name in front of their valuable audience. Win, win!

Say Mr Smith from the gift shop has an amazing pizza from the Pizzeria XYZ, with a simple tweet, such as “Amazing dinner at Pizzeria XYZ. So lucky to have awesome businesses nearby.”, again, you’re being nice, you are increasing your chance of getting in front of a greater audience, and you’re reminding everyone about how great the local area is.




Share each other’s offers, and help get more footfall on your street

It’s not limited to social media, you can blog about your area – talk about the businesses around you and why people should visit.

You can also run competitions together themed around an event, like mother’s day –  a gardening set from the hardware store, earrings from the jeweller, a scarf from the gift shop and dinner at the pizzeria. By making it very clear at the point of entry, this could mean more invaluable details of locals for your email mailing list.


There’s no point in pretending that other businesses don’t exist

When you’re a start-up, unless you have an exceedingly unique USP, there’s probably someone else out there doing pretty much what you’re doing. They might be doing some things worse, they might even be doing some bits better. That’s ok.

You could ignore these businesses, or you could embrace them. By interacting with similar brands (in the same way described above with local businesses) you could build a formidable force – especially if there’s a national competitor in the picture.

One of our clients, Fierlan, prides itself on being a friendly business. This Bristol-based brand creates performance cycling clothing for women and has to compete with the likes of cycling giants Wiggle, instead of pretending that other independent sportswear companies don’t exist, Fierlan calls out other great designs. You can see a blog post here where we focused the Instagram accounts of other brands.

By then sharing this article and tagging the other brands, we got in front of their audiences.


Recognising a good cause

Things can be a little trickier for charities, a lot of people will have an unconscious limit to the amount they will give and you don’t want to lose out on valuable donations. It doesn’t mean that you should ignore all other charities though. Again, it’s good to interact but you might want to steer clear of those that have similar causes.

One exception to this would be animal rehoming charities. By sharing each other’s posts and complementing each other’s work, you could see more animals in front of more people, and hopefully more responsible adoptions too.

It’s important to work with other rehoming centres too. In 2014 I attended an adoption event after hearing about it from Bristol and Wales Cat Rescue, and somehow ended up with a new rabbit from The Littlest Rescue. Because these two charities worked together, an animal found a new home – and again, the same thing can be done online.


So, be nice. When people are doing a great job, tell them. When they’ve made something beautiful, share it. It’s good for business.


There’s just one thing I can’t emphasise enough, and I’m going to hand over to a cartoon rabbit to say it for me:

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