Do competing clients have value for freelancers?

by Carl Natale on March 24, 2010

I was surprised one day when I was talking to a marketing consultant about her clients. I asked if she pursued a niche – a certain industry. She said no because she only has a client in each industry.

She won’t take competitors on as clients.

This puzzles me a bit. I would think being able to specialize in an industry or niche would give you an advantage over your competition. You could develop expertise and knowledge about your clients’ industry that would make you more valuable.

Or would that exclusivity make you more valuable?

Rich Brooks tackled this would a good blog entry on serving competing clients.

He attracted a number of comments from freelancers and/or consultants. They seem to favor serving multiple clients in an industry. I didn’t see any comments from clients and what they prefer.

It’s going to start with your service or product. If you sell a commodity, the less likely someone will expect exclusivity. For example, Coca-Cola has no problem delivering soda to every restaurant on the block. But if the service is more expensive, personal and customized, customers may feel more comfortable you’re not selling to the competition.

By the way, why would a customer want exclusivity? Do they object to you helping another business or are they afraid that you will reveal propriety information? You can put their minds at ease if you practice discretion. Don’t talk about how other clients conduct business. Then they will be less likely to fear you will talk about their business.

I would be more comfortable working with multiple clients in an industry. I hope to establish expertise and authority in a niche. That will make me more valuable.

But if a client insists, I will grant exclusivity. Hopefully they will be willing to pay a price.

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