By Jenny Fujita and Joy K. Miura, Fujita & Miura Public Relations

On December 13, Reuters news service announced “The popular search engine Google has added an online shopping site called Froogle to its bag of tricks.” While this new service gives Google a competitive edge, it also has the potential to alienate it from both competitors and customers. Yet the “ever-friendly” Google has managed to take a bigger slice of the search engine pie, now “running neck and neck with Yahoo,” and keep its customer-competitors happy.

How? “…they’re being creative on how to monetize their site,” said Salomon Smith Barney analyst Lanny Baker. Even though Google’s Froogle is in direct competition with MySimon and BizRate, they provide links to those sites, as well as Amazon.com and eBay, at the bottom of each search results page. Everyone wins with this arrangement – customers see more shopping choices in their search, competitors get a plug, and Froogle charges ahead.

What a clever PR move: serve your competitor. To apply this tactic to your business, think first about what you have that your competitors don’t have – but want. Consider not only the obvious, like your services and products, but also how you carry out your business. Perhaps you use a progressive, new accounting procedure that you could teach your competitors; maybe you have a supplier for a hard-to-find item that would be cheaper with a bulk buy; or possibly you use a piece of machinery only once a week that your competitors could rent the rest of the time. Whatever it is, you have it and they very well might want it.

From there, it’s all in the offering. Approach your competitor in a humble and gracious manner with something they want (and only you have). It will set you apart as the leader in your field and provide them with something valuable in a way that only a colleague could. Moreover, customers notice when you collaborate for their benefit, and truly appreciate these efforts.

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