In the world of startups there is always pressure to be “first to market”, being first on the scene with that new idea, new app, or new product that’s going to captivate early adopters so profoundly they’d never even dream of migrating to a competitor’s offering, right?
Unfortunately, being first doesn’t always mean being best (see: most notably, facebook and myspace). Although first to market can be a huge step in the right direction for any company, gaining name recognition, initial adoption rate, and key inertia making it tough for second “movers” into the market, unless you capitalize on that inertia, your first move may be your last.
Let’s see why your go to market strategy shouldn’t just focus on being first, it should focus on being best.
Early Adopter Loyalty
Early adopters are great. They embrace new ideas, try out new products, and provide valuable initial feedback for product growth and development; but unlike legacy software offerings requiring large upfront investments, and garnering “required” loyalty from early adopters, new online and mobile offerings are typically low cost subscription models or even free to their user base, making loyalty less “required” by the adopter, and more “earned” by the provider. Your early adopters are the board room of your consumer presence, keep them happy, improve your product, use your inertia, and be sure that your “first to market” product doesn’t fall by the wayside to a more attractive “second mover”.
Second Movers – Competition is Coming
Here’s the problem with being “first to market”, by the time you’re ready to go, a lot of people probably already know about your offering. In fact, if you’re marketing appropriately, it’s hard to run in “silent mode” for long, especially if you want to capture those ever important early adopters like we discussed before. Once your website goes live, products hit app stores, or media coverage is released, the competition is coming. So called “second movers” are analyzing your product, they know what you’re doing wrong, and they’re ready to show all your early adopters how it can be done right. Don’t coast too long on your alpha release, be ready to move, pivot, and change your offering to show your consumer base you’re proactive, flexible, and not just a jumping off point for more powerful competitor offerings.
Time to Market v. Time to Volume
Remember, it’s not always about time to market, it’s about time to volume; just because a competitor released their product sooner, doesn’t mean they’ll secure the volume or market share necessary to have staying power with their user base. Startups and new product releases should focus on user volume, and not simply initial adoption. Don’t look to a static date to prove you’re the first, look to a volume of use over time to prove you’re the best.
Final Thoughts: Being “Best To Market”
So, as you start down the path of product development remember, it’s not a race to the beginning, it’s a race to the end. First to market is great, but your real goal should be “Best To Market”. Don’t be dismayed by competitors’ early releases, continue to fine tune your product, sharpen your edges, and beat your competitors not in speed, but in quality of release.
Don’t just be the first, be the best.