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When I was doing my MBA, one of my marketing course professors said: if you have a choice, it is better to be 3rd in the market than to be first. His catchphrase was "Let us be first to be third".

The logic was as follows:

  • - The first develops interest for the product/service. Particularly true when the product/service is an innovation.

  • - The second develops the process/application

  • - The third one arrives in time to benefit from the development of the two others and offer a superior product/service to a client that is already "aware".

In 2004, I experienced this reality with a web application that allowed professionals / SMEs to put an agenda online so that their clients could make an appointment directly on their website in a safe and transparent way (no one saw the appointments of others). Today many options are available, but in 2004 I was the first.

For years I tried to commercialize this new way of doing things for people who still used paper calendars and who often did not have a web presence. So I witnessed first hand the reality of my teacher’s statement: the first develops the interest.
Over the years, more and more advanced or elegant options with more functions emerged. Different business models were also offered (free to use, inclusion in a community, pay per appointment, etc ...). In short, the process and the application evolved.

So if you are looking to market an innovation, think about the advantages and disadvantages of being first. And if you want to be first, consider another important point: do not put all your money into developing your innovation. Keep a good amount for your marketing. Otherwise, you may have an excellent product/service that no one knows about.

If you have any questions, comments or if you want to share your experience, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Stéphane Elmaleh-Riel, B.Ed., MBA
Marketing consultant