In the extremely agile online world, there seems to be a premium placed on getting to market first with a new feature or product. But I’d like to contest the viability and probably the suitability of that premium, since I don’t believe that it’s crucial to be the first to the market**.
Getting to the market first, gives you the bragging rights and all of the hype / publicity that goes along with that. This is obviously great and I’m sure this is every marketer’s dream, since the marketing angles are pretty easy; it is undoubtedly much harder to hype & market something when it already exists, but when you’re game-changing this is a massive advantage. It is also considerably easier to create & build your own share of the market, when no competitors exist.
So all-in-all it would seem like a great idea to get to the market first. This does however not mean that you need to make this the be-all & end-all of your strategy.
I believe that you have just as much space & just as many angles to market your brand & offerings when you aren’t first to the marketplace. You may need to be a little more unique (both in terms of your offerings, which need to solve problems in an unique way *and* your marketing efforts), but it is 100% possible.
In fact, sometimes I actually prefer this approach, as I have a lot more information available to me before having to commit to a specific strategy. When we first launch the club subscriptions on WooThemes (for example), we were heavily influenced by some of Joomla theme developers (most notably RocketTheme), who were already offering similar services. We may have not been first to market and club subscriptions definitely wasn’t a groundbreaking idea at the time, but we did bring our unique thinking to the business model and today it makes up a considerable chunk of our monthly revenues.
If you can do something better or in a more unique way to your competitors, you’ll always have a chance to gain market share and build a business from your efforts. So don’t be too focused on getting to market first; rather do something unique in your own personality & time.
**Note: This applies in most cases, so I’ve used a good dose of generalization here.