The first rat gets the trap. The second rat gets the cheese. While entrepreneurs love touting their success when deploying first mover advantages, they typically overlook the established foundation that permitted early success. Before establishing a business relationship, responsible parties on both sides of the transaction typically learn about each other. This activity is called intelligence for a reason. Advantages surface by knowing more about the other side.
By understanding the other side at the beginning, savvy competitors already have begun their education. Branding delivers the first lesson. Effective branding announces benefits, attributes, and expectations before relationships formally start. Branding is the calling card that accelerates initial introductions. By the time both parties actually connect, an effective brand has already began communicating its foundation. The first vendor may be able to identify needs and introduce solutions to a prospect. But, the second mover with superior branding enters the competition knowing that their reputation has already initiated progress toward a solution. Reputations pave the way. Then, the winning relationship can flourish based on the foundational needs and terms established by the eager first mover.
Pioneers once described an individual or group that entered a new frontier looking to establish rights to new wealth. More modern pioneers are innovators and professionals who discover new value through progressing into unknown territories and finding previously unidentified market opportunities. For example, who really needed sales pipeline software more than 25 years ago? After specific pioneers benefitted from technology that facilitated successful growth by tracking success traits in the sales process, today’s question is who can maximize sales without it?
Pioneers that really strike it rich are the ones that solve new problems. The initial pioneer merely discovers the new problem. Whether the environment is oil drilling or e-commerce solutions, the entity who proves to the marketplace that they can deliver significant benefits will win. The modern pioneer focuses more on the value-add, than the value-chain. Ultimately, the organization that connects enough value-adds eventually dominates the value chain. CGI (computer-generated imagery) dominated the movie business once the technology enhanced the storytelling. Early adopters simply paved technological paths for more sensational images. Giving great actors and directors, incredible stories and technology that propelled the entertainment experience, ultimately paved the way to billion-dollar movie releases.
Better Beats First
Regardless of a product’s or solution’s brilliance, its adaptability ultimately delivers dominance. For example, video conferencing has rapidly improved in functionality and ubiquity. While various forms of video conferencing have existed for decades, who really remembers who delivered that functionality first. Its ubiquity has surged in the last decade. Consequently, the advancement in features and price competitive has likewise escalated. Better does not mean the most feature rich option, but rather the most value-rich alternative. Price, reputation, functionality, accessibility, and service all contribute to value-richness.
Whether a personal favorite is Zoom, Skype, Go-To-Meeting, or another provider, purchasing is a byproduct of individually prioritized feature sets, price, and reputation. Whether the functionality is sold to solo-preneurs, entrepreneurial enterprises, or multi-national organizations, first has quickly become irrelevant. While personal recommendations and effective branding influence decisions, the best choice for the individual entity’s specific needs closes the deal. Each subsequent mover crafts a message that may resonate with any individual customer. The established brand explicitly secured confidence which resulted in the purchase.
Innovation across industries continues to accelerate. Furthermore, value chains rapidly morph as retailers compete on delivery, and software providers compete on flexibility. Nowadays pioneers are rapidly passed like a station wagon with a trailer heading across the heartland next to a Mercedes speeding down the Interstate expecting to beat FedEx Freight to their next home before their worldly possessions arrive. Best beats first. Second mover advantage routinely surpasses innovation on new benefits that are constantly being discovered. To stay ahead of the competition, businesses with better branding prevail with trust and proven performance. Now, I need to hurry home to get my package when the drone delivers it!!
By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC