Today’s guest post is written by Andy Crestodina

I’m a capitalist, so I love the concept of competition.

I’m in a very “competitive” industry, but I’ve often said I don’t really have competitors.

What I mean is everyone is a potential partner. If you think you’re competing with someone, you just don’t know them well enough yet.

I recently realized many of the people who agree with this philosophy are also doing content marketing.

I began to wonder, do content marketers compete?  

My answer is no.

Why not just ignore the competition?

Or better yet, why not collaborate with them?

Be Original, Just Like Them

In marketing, you may have the same goals as other companies, but if you’re doing content marketing, you really aren’t trying to win the same race. You’re focused on finding your voice, telling your story, and teaching. If we’re all out there being original, when do we meet on the battlefield? If we’re all running in our own directions, is it really a race?

Think about it. You and your “competitor” are both focused on truly knowing yourselves and what makes you different. You’re producing original content, in a genuine voice. You never hear people say, “Hey! They’re unique in the way I’m unique!” If it’s true, than neither of you are unique, and you’re not doing it right.

Collaborate, Cooperate, Compete?

The real victories in web marketing are borne out of collaboration. All the best techniques – guest blogging, sharing, commenting, networking, even speaking on panels – are all so cooperative, anyone who wanted direct competition would soon find themselves sitting out of the game completely.

The dominant culture in social media is positive. Advice is given freely and thank yous are the norm. Negativity directed at competitors in social media is very rare, probably because it would backfire quickly.

Inbound Means Ignoring Competitors?

Inbound marketing is called such because the potential customers come to you. Companies who use inbound typically don’t know who else the potential client is talking to.

And if you’re practicing the true virtues of inbound marketing (“out-teach the competition”) you actually don’t care who you’re competing with. You’re just trying to help the person you’re talking to, and if they hire you, great! If not, no problem. As in, “Oh you’re talking to other companies? Good idea.”

So I don’t recommend competing, or even thinking about the so-called competition. If you meet someone who considers themselves your competitor, it may be awkward at first, but if you keep the conversation going, you’re sure to find they have different specialties, approaches, pricing or timeframes. I would try to help them too.

Except…In SEO

As you read this, a giant robot (Google) is giving someone a top 10 list of companies (a search engine results page) for the service you provide (your top keyphrase). This is the ultimate competition.

Search engine rankings are insanely visible, and extremely valuable.  It’s a brutal, to-the-death contest of wills and endurance. Are you in the top 10? The top three?

If you want to compete, compete for rankings. Be ruthless. Never surrender in search!

Andy Crestodina is a 12-year veteran in web marketing and the strategic director of Orbit Media, a Chicago web development firm where he collaborates on content marketing with anyone who is interested. You can find Andy on and Twitter.