Being The First To Market Is A Huge Leg Up
In economics, a theory called "the first mover advantage" describes the benefit obtained by the company that is the first to market with a new concept, product or service. MCI, for example, was the first company recognized as going toe to toe with AT&T in the long distance telephone market.
What company was the second? Who cares? MCI paved the way for thousands of companies to come afterward. Another example is Ann Bramson's book, "Soap: Making It, Enjoying It," the first maintstream book on the topic of soap making for modern hobbyists. It was published 3 decades ago, and though hundreds of soapmaking books followed, Ann's book is generally viewed as the one that "started it all." I don't know of an Indie soapmaker who doesn't own an oil-stained copy!
In any arena, the power of being "first" cannot be denied, making it well worth any business owners' while to find something they can be the first to market with. Here are some of the benefits of the first mover advantage:
1. Influence. Being first distinguishes you as doing something besides capitalizing on a great concept first marketed by someone else. It paints you as the "inventor," even the brains behind the success of the rest of the industry that follows you! You set the tone. You define the market. Everyone else is a follower!
2. Customers. Being able to say that you were the "first" attracts customers. Who can resist buying a product, which has since flooded the market, from THE person who thought it up in the first place?
3. Publicity. Are you the first company to offer handmade eye shadow, customized to match your customers' eyes or skin color? Are you the first spa in your area to offer a unique treatment using some raw material imported from an exotic locale? Whatever the case, if you're the first, you are suddenly not issuing just another press release. You are educating people about something new and exciting, and doing that is one of the best ways to gain positive media attention.
One caveat … being first doesn't mean you can rest on your laurels. You have to work hard to maintain the first mover advantage, usually in the face of everyone else coming along behind and trying to emulate your success. This means that not only do you have to be the first, but you also have to be the best, and continue to be the best.