Being the First Matters – The race is on

Since young we have been told to be the best – be top in class, aim for the top prize in sports, competition etc.

While there is nothing wrong in striving to be the best, the world of business has another criterion – you need to be FIRST.

Most entrepreneurs understand the value of being the first to market.

But why is being first so important?

When you are the first to offer something to the market, you will capture the imagination of the market.

This is especially true if your offering is truly revolutionary like the Walkman audio player or the Apple iPhone/iPad.

As the offering is new it will naturally arouse curiosity and subsequently people’s attention (i.e the first principle of marketing).

Without any close alternative and nothing to benchmark against it, the product and the accompanying brand would kinda dominate and receive the market’s undivided attention.

From the marketing perspective, it will be marketing nirvana as you will have dominant mindshare in the minds of your target audience.

By being first to market, media will be more receptive to doing an editorial on your offering. As they themselves are eager to be perceived as the first to provide groundbreaking news.

By being first to market, you will also attract trendsetters. These trendsetters, who like to be perceived as the first adopter of anything new, with their influence could ignite wild adoption. Another nirvana moment for marketing.

From the sales perspective, anyone who wants to own the product, would not have much of an alternative. There will be lesser resistance to purchase.

Also as you are the only offering in the market, you could charge a premium.

Hence the benefits of being first are numerous.

However, the nirvana state is short lived.

If your offering is popular enough and if there is a good take up rate, competitors will quickly set in.

This is the time when things become more challenging and the saying “only the fittest will survive” truly kicks in.

Hence while being first is important, trying to stay at the top through continuous innovation is just as important. We have seen the effects of this lack of innovation happen to many established brands like Nokia, Blackberry, Polaroid, Kodak etc, who have sadly lost their leadership position and gone the way of the dinosaurs.

So while the race to being first is crucial. The ability to maintain pole position is just as important.

What do you think?

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