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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Reaching first place by starting first

One of the cornerstones of marketing success is being first. First in heart, first in mind, first in the mental position of your market.

To be first you do not need to be best. And you do not need to be inspired -- because first is within a niche, specialty, or geographical area.

As an example, about two years ago I became the first blogger to focus on construction industry marketing. Certainly, back then, I was far from the first blogger -- word about blogging had spread around, and many people were starting blogs. I searched around the Internet for compatible blogs relating to the topic, and found a few local/regional and association-related initiatives and granted them free hyperlinks (and continue to provide the free links to anyone with a relevant blog).

Today, other excellent blogs are published relating to construction industry marketing, all of which receive free links from here (no reciprocation required). It hurts me a little, but some of the other blogs are actually better than mine -- in technical skills, design, and often in content (the last is a hard admission to make). However, the can never be the first construction industry marketing blog. I own that space (and will only sell it for a price only a fool would pay -- if you are a fool, feel free to contact me and provide your certified cheque.)

What are the advantages of first place?

  • You own the 'mind space' of your prospects. When people think about your speciality, they think about you first.
  • This means you don't have to work nearly as hard to win trust, respect, and the opportunity to bid work;
  • Once you are in first place, even if your technical or practical knowledge isn't as great as the contenders, you are in a much better position to defend yourself from competition -- the analogy is the military strategy of having a place on top of a hill with excellent supply routes to bring in reinforcements if necessary.
Note that it isn't hard to be in first place, no matter what your business is. You simply need to think "niche" and define your niche within your market segment or geographical service area.

For example, you may not have the first roofing, or drywall blog (you might for some of the trades, even nationally), but you could have the first roofing or drywall blog within your community -- relevant if you have a younger or technologically oriented market (or simply enjoy blogging enough that you don't mind if few people care, at least initially).

You could be the first roofing contractor in your area to use video or Internet estimates, or the first to actively support a local charity or community group with influence or respect within your market. You could be the first to offer a free maintenance or follow-up package, or the first to hold a client appreciation/referral night. You could steal dozens of ideas from this blog and other places, and still be first within your market segment.

(If you aren't first, you could be second or third, and play the Avis 'we try harder' concept -- it works, especially if your product or service are truly better than the first place contender, but still, make sure your marketing within your segment stands out first in mind.)

The ideas here are lifted from Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind probably the most influential marketing book I've ever read.

Any time you follow the "be first in your niche" rule, you will succeed. Anytime you defy that rule, by being better, cheaper, or simply copying a local/niche competitor, you will struggle to gain traction, respect and business opportunities. So make sure you are in first place from the start of your marketing plans.

2 comments:

Justice O. Omorodion said...

You really hit the point most people are missing when it comes to blogging! Not only blogging alone I should say but also life in general.

To actually get your voice heard in a crowded environment is very had. If someone wants to stand out from the crowd, then he/she has to do something difference from what other people are already doing.

Mark Buckshon said...

Thanks for your comment, but I would not recommend anyone rush into the internet marketing stuff you appear to be promoting.

Too much hype in most of this stuff, and not truly helpful to the readers of this blog who, after all, are in offline architectural, engineering and construction businesses.