Ever since that damn book “the 22 immutable laws of marketing” was published it seems everyone has overrated being first or exclusive to market (or maybe, conversely, that being a follower is underrated).
To be a contrarian.
It doesn’t matter if you are first, second or 21st.
What does matter is what you do.
Here is what I mean.
Being first is irrelevant if you don’t take advantage of it. Tipping your toe into a competitive environment with something first with what could be a bold idea (but not treated boldly by tipping toe) is … well … not acting like a leader.
The fruits of “firstdom” go to the bold that don’t tiptoe <or hesitate>.
The follow up thought?
Being an effective impactful ‘follower’ is more about overcoming that wacky belief that “well, someone else has already done it so it isn’t new.” That is just crazy talk. Just get over it and get a move-on and make it look like an attractive relevant benefit.
All this came to mind a morning not too long ago on my drive into work.
Radio stations are masters of managing first (and exclusive) versus following (as is Apple, the penultimate follower, by the way).
Linkin Park is a guilty pleasure of mine (but that is a different post). One station is the sponsoring station … boldly claiming “exclusive 99X concert!”
You know they had to pay gobs of money to be able to make that claim. And I am sure it will pay off at the concert. And right now they are pounding away on the ‘exclusive’ like they are the only ones going to the concert.
Every other Linkin Park audience relevant station is fighting for perceptions in people’s minds to overcome that ‘exclusive’ thingamajiggy.
So. The main competing station didn’t bitch and moan about not being the exclusive.
They didn’t sulk. They didn’t focus on ignoring the other station’s exclusivity (and highlight, say, a Barry Manilow exclusive).
They got a move-on.
They came out of the blocks with a Linkin Park block of music at the same time the exclusive station was making their announcement.
And on top of an awesome rock-block there was a special offer for their registered station fan club members and a pretty neat “be part of a small group to win a trip to sit in on the final Linkin Park dress rehearsal” promotion.
The “follower” station understood that relevance is relevance. And relevance is king.
Fact. There is going to be a Linkin Park concert.
Fact. They know their listeners will want to go.
Fact. They are going to make their listeners know the station knows it’s a big deal (even without an exclusive association as well as not being the one to make the announcement first).
This is no different than offering a gas card after everyone else has offered a gas card.
Or building a new mp3 player even though someone else has already offered one.
Or selling any widget that is already in the market.
If you have something distinct and useful and relevant and interesting to say … people will forget (or be likely to shift focus) from whatever else is being said by anyone else. Regardless if the other person was first or exclusive or whatever.
Attitude and timeliness matters.
Don’t worry if you are first or last into a market. Just say what you have to say better than anyone else (and be more relevant than anyone else).