Why is it that we sometimes have the "rugged individualist" mentality when we are trying to run an online business? We tend to see others as competitors instead of possible potential allies. Of course we all have competition - if you are running a smaller web hosting company or just running a website that is targeting a specific 'market segment', but realistically we have more potential allies than we do competitors.
I will use <a href="http://www.alphaone-tech.com">AlphaOne Technology Web Hosting & Design</a> as an example. Our primary focus, web hosting and design, is populated by tens of thousands of others who offer similar services. Are they all competitors? In some ways yes. For example, when it comes to search engine result placement, all of us who in any way target the keyword phrase "web hosting" compete for placement among over 2 MILLION web pages that Google or Yahoo considers a valid result for that search. WOW! Undoubtedly the most competitive arena on the web.
But wait a minute, just because we compete for traffic in that way does NOT mean we can not find ways of partnering and complimenting another web host! For example, <a href="http://www.alphaone-tech.com">AlphaOne</a> does not offer Windows web hosting, so we have begun talks with 2 other web hosts who do offer that service. They happen not to offer Linux hosting. :-) Within the next month, we will partner with one of these 'competitors' by putting prominent links on our sites to each other. Then not only will our partner benefit by getting referrals of people who come to AlphaOne looking for Windows hosting, (and vice versa), but the web surfer benefits by being directed to the product they are actually looking for.
Another example. AlphaOne does not sell domain names except with hosting accounts. Instead, we refer all users who come looking to buy a domain name to another hosting firm who DOES sell domain names, <a href="http://www.cawebsolutions.com">CAWebSolutions</a>. CAWebsolutions sells only very specific hosting plans - all geared towards smaller web sites. They in turn refer people who need more space & bandwidth to AlphaOne.
AlphaOne has a similar partnership with <a href="http://www.webs4christ.com">Webs 4 Christ Hosting & Design</a>. This ministry is geared towards hosting Churches & Christian web sites. They have quite a few resources specifically geared towards that market niche.
Both of these partnerships have brought in traffic AND sales that we might not have gotten otherwise. I know the same is true for our partners. And yet, both of these companies are our competitors as well. We sell the same product, just in different flavors.
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