As marketers, we hear these words all the time: Don’t mention my competition. The idea behind the words is understandable—intuitive, even. Why give your competitors a platform when you’re struggling to gain any sort of notice for yourself? We really do know where you’re coming from, and we understand your fear. The problem is, you’re kind of shooting yourself in the foot when you pretend your competitors don’t exist.

See, your customers and potential customers know they have other options. They know you’re not the only business in town. In fact, with the internet making purchases from all corners of the earth possible, you’ve got even more competition than you originally thought. This is no time to stick your head in the sand and let the world keep turning around you. Instead, you must face your competitors head-on, and here’s why.

Establish Yourself as the Expert

By sharing information from your competition, you show your customers that you know exactly what’s going on in your industry. If your buyers have been doing their research, they’ll probably already know the article or blog you cited. That means trying to repurpose the content on your own site or social networks will just make you look like a copycat. Why not acknowledge the great information, give your own takeaways, and even congratulate your competitors for their excellent post?

What do you think will happen when you the followers you’ve gained hear you mention that another company does something well? Will they run straight out to your competitor? Or, will they acknowledge that you must be the absolute best at what you do if you recognize greatness in others? Part of your job is to solve your customers’ pain points. If you have to reference others to make that happen, you still keep your brand intact.

Make the Competition Acknowledge You

If your competitors try hard not to mention you, either, this is a great way to force their hands. See, they’re pretending you don’t exist for the same reasons you’ve been wearing blinders around them. What if you do give a shout-out about something great they do? They won’t be able to ignore you any longer. What will their customers think when the competition reaches out to you through social media or a blog comment to thank you for your nice words? First, they’ll probably head right over to see what you said. Next, they’ll go through the cycle mentioned above—finding you an expert in your field, generous enough to see the good in your competition, and the leader within your market.

And if your competitors still don’t want to acknowledge you after you say something first, well, they look kind of childish, don’t they?

Hijack Their SEO

When you mention your competition and even use some of their most common keywords, you can give your own SEO a big boost. What if a potential customer seeks out your competitor in an internet search and arrives at your page instead? As long as you’ve taken the opportunity to point out the differences between your products or services—specifically how you perform better—you’re set to benefit from the mention. You can also gain a lot of traction from linking to blogs and articles by your competitor, too. This serves the first to reasons of positioning yourself as an expert and making your competition acknowledge you, and it also gives your SEO a little something extra.

Educate and Shape Future Generations

In addition to providing knowledge to those interested in your industry, you should always feel free to share training and education opportunities. In order to keep your company and industry growing, new people need to enter the field. You can endorse particular training programs, start building relationships with candidates who’ve started training, and help shape the future of your industry.

Many may see these students as future competition, but you shouldn’t. They definitely could be, if you don’t play your cards right. Instead, make them your fans and advocates. Teach them how things work within your line of business. And when they graduate from their program, they’ll be ready to join you rather than fight you.

These reasons to acknowledge your competitors are so much more than just reasons. They’re best practices for running a business, being an expert in your field, marketing your services, and ensuring your brand lives on for decades to come. Next time you have the chance to give props to your competition, consider going for it. You’ll be surprised at how very much you could gain by giving a little something away.

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