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Friends and Foes

It sounds crazy, but your toughest competitor can be your greatest ally when you're vying for a sale.

This story appears in the March 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

If you're tempted to view your closest competitors as"the enemy," take a second look. In today's highlycompetitive environment, quality competitors can be anasset to your company. They are the businesses that stand behindtheir products and services, charge a fair price and enhance thereputation of your industry. Yes, they can help you reducemarketing costs, spur innovation and lead to new marketingopportunities. Here's how your company can get a leg up:

Reduce MarketingCosts
The best thing about having active competitors is that they canlower your marketing costs by shortening the learning curve foryour prospects. When an innovative product or service isintroduced-say, the first fax machine-customers go through aninformation-gathering period before making a purchase. By the timea second company markets a similar device, customers have passedthrough the educational period, shortening the sales cycle andreducing marketing costs, putting you in a better position to winthem over by offering additional value.

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