Recently at an association meeting the speaker asked the question “Which is  better?  To be first to market or be the best?”  Some audience members responded “first” (the majority) and others responded “best”.  The answer is that they aren’t mutually exclusive and neither is an absolute.Strategy-945x345

You can be first to market with a product, service, or technology.  You blaze the trail.  You spend the dollars building a market.  You go early when the “product” isn’t perfect and your message isn’t honed.  But you are THERE!

First to market advantage works best if you can sustain the position through performance.  Often when you are first to market you make the market.  You are the first to recognize a problem which needs to be solved.  You invest in educating the market.  And your competition thanks you for it!  They come into an established market and compete on price, quality, or some other dimension that isn’t quite what you offer in your rush to market and because of your cost to build the market.

Best to market can have its pitfalls too.  I’ve worked with companies which insist on perfection before going to market.  They are still working on it!

Somewhere there is a combination of timing and content that spells success.  It is dictated by a number of factors,  including degree of innovation, size of the market or niche, barriers to entry for competitors (expense in developing a product or establishing distribution channels), and the cost of developing the product and a market awareness and then purchase decision.

There are some widely used (near monopoly) software products that went to market imperfect.  They may have been first too – some will argue that they weren’t.  However, the combination of timing and content that addressed an issue, as well as shall we say assertive market moves, made the company and the product an undisputed market hog.  Other products have proved more reliable, less vulnerable, and some less expensive, but it hasn’t significantly eroded the market share yet.

Content also comes into play in establishing credibility.  Many entities (people and companies) are fantastic at promotion – themselves, their products, and anything they do.  Fantastic promotion without underlying content works for superficial interactions; it becomes an issue when your customer moves into an in-depth exchange with you.

It is a challenge to distinguish between superb showmanship and content.  Showmanship without content is an empty promise.  Content without showmanship is an opportunity waiting to happen.  Learning to promote your business, your products, your services, and yourself are skills that can be developed.  Learning to sell is critical for you and your organization.  Developing content when you have the promotional ability is an urgent need – it needs to occur before the promise your promotional activities have made becomes an empty promise.

How can you tell promotional “flash” from substantive “content”?

  • Listen for inconsistencies – Does the person walk the talk? Do the activities of the business reflect a belief in its own message?  For instance, does a marketing technology employ their own technology and process on their own business?
  • Look for the content – When you step back from the patter of presentation, what is there to support the message – testimonials, market research, test data, something meaningful that demonstrates proof of the concept?
  • Understand what is being sold – Are you buying an image or solution? Is your decision triggering emotion or are you basing it on set criteria?

Show me the content!

  • If you are promoting a methodology, say you write a book on how to make $100,000+ a year in a consulting practice and you are a consultant.  If someone audited your business books, are you a $100,000+ consultant?
  • If you lead a workshop on how to have financial independence and a flexible schedule, are you living that life?
  • If you advocate the position of a healthy diet, is someone going to see you making the 25th trip to an all-you-can eat buffet?

One part of content is consistency.  Another part is exhibiting the behaviors and using the tools, solutions, products, and services in your own business which you sell to others.

Successful promotion and market position will contribute significantly to your bottom-line.  It will determine whether you can set your prices above the market price or if you have to take the price the market dictates.  Promotion is more than press releases, marketing, and sales.  Promotion ultimately requires you to have content and credibility.  To make money with your content, you must be able to promote.

First? Best? Flash? Content?  All of the above, please.

Copyright ©2005 Lea A. Strickland,

F.O.C.U.S. Resource, Inc.

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