Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Importance Of Being First

In athletics and in other kinds of competitions, when something is first, it is generally declared "best". Gold Medal winners, Super Bowl Champions, World Series Champions, etc. They did what they do better than anyone else, came in first, and were declared best.

The business world is nothing like that. First does not automatically mean best. Honestly, it rarely means best. Being first can get you the notoriety, but it won't necessarily be because you are the best. In our world, first and best are mutually exclusive. In fact, since people have no attention span anymore, the best is constantly changing, and needs to be quantified any number of ways at any given time.

I'm not even sure that marketers or advertisers really care about being "first". R&D or Product Management obviously has a different idea, and in the mind of positions like that, first on the market (possibly even ONLY) can automatically determine "best". Marketing strategy rarely takes into account being "first" unless the person creating the strategy is instructed that they must do so. This is really more relevant in packaging design, in my opinion.

Why not publicize or be proud of being first. When I interned for the head of Corporate Sales for a Clear Channel concert venue, one of the things she was responsible for was coming up with new ideas for advertising space in or around the venue. When she/I/we/anyone came up with a new idea, we were proud of that idea, even if it was the most obvious thing in the world. Why aren't the first people to come up with a new way of marketing or advertising something blatantly proud of that? Why don't I know the name of the guy who perfected banner ads...or the guy at Google who perfected googleads...or something like that. If I wanted to, I could probably find the first person to do just about anything, and maybe even the person who is best at that same activity. Why not marketing or advertising?

Thanks for listening...

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