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Marketing: the Race to 2nd Place

Race to 2nd place

Racing to 2nd place is like chasing a sunset: you never quite get there.

by Frank Strong

If you are running a marathon and pass the person in second place, what position do you hold?

The correct answer is second place.

The race to second place is pervasive in the business community.  Every company wants to be the leader but few are willing to take the risk to lead.  Often the first question posed in response to a new initiative is — such as social media or content marketing — is who else is doing it?

Nothing gets senior management’s attention like the competition.  Benchmarking the competition is a near-sure-fire way to make the case for content marketing.  Replicate the effort in sleeker packaging and a head for first.

Some might argue this is the Microsoft strategy — though in fairness Bing is doing things Google isn’t with Klout, Quora and others. Say what you will about Klout.  It is an interesting marketing tool and Microsoft does deserve credit for experimenting. 

Leaders lead from the front.  They try new things and they take risks.  Surely, they also fail, but dust themselves off and get back to it the next day.

Any new marketing effort includes inherent risks — an investment with little return or hard to measure return. Marketing must change because the effectiveness of traditional marketing efforts are despised:   people don’t hate marketing, they hate the interruption!

Marketing with useful, informative content is inviting, it’s engaging and increases the odds of being shared. This isn’t a new approach, but it for many organizations it’s a new mindset. It’s a long slow race to second place.

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