Why You Need to be First, Not Better
Let me ask you a question: who was the first person to fly solo across that Atlantic Ocean?
If you answered Charles Lindbergh, you are correct. Even if you didn't know the answer, did you at least recognize the name? If you did, than you would probably associate his name with flying, right? What about Bert Hinkler?
Did you know he was the second person to fly across the Atlantic Ocean solo? If not, that's okay as I had to personally look that one up for myself. What about Amelia Earhart; have you ever heard of her?
She was actually the 3rd person who flew solo across the Atlantic, and I'm pretty sure you recognized her name immediately. So why do we recognize Lindbergh and Earhart, but not Hinkler? Simple, because they came first.
Amelia Earhart's publicist knew full well that she was the third person to leap the Atlantic behind two other outstanding pilots who had already eaten that gigantic cookie. However, Earhart's media team saw the genius in creating a separate category for Amelia to be first in.
The public saw this too. So where did Hinkler go wrong? Simple, he was doing the exact same thing somebody else had done, and had not created an entirely new category while doing it. So the lesson here is simple: if you can't be first in something, create a brand new category that you can be first in.
Charles Schwab did not open a better brokerage firm. Rather, he opened the first discount brokerage firm. Basically people are mostly only interested in what is new while mentally discarding what may be better. Strange, but marketing guys like me must deal with realism, and not rationalistic idealism.
Opening up a completely new category that you can be first in will not only help you to occupy new unexplored mind-space of your market niche, but also put you in a formidable market position to exploit the weaknesses of your competitors' game.
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