What Should You Do If Your Competitor Gets To Market Ahead Of You?

One of the great things about spending the bulk of my career in the analog IC business is you are always introducing products. I’ve launched hundreds of products over the years, and we were introducing over 30 new products a year when I ran my own company.

Sometimes we got to market ahead of our larger competitors and sometimes we got there behind our larger competitors. Here’s what I’ve learned over the years:

A. Yes getting to market first matters, but not as much as you think.

Was Apple the first PC? Was Facebook the first social media platform? Was Google the first search engine?

You can be second to market and still win big. Hell, you can be 15th to market as Google was and still be the big winner.

In fact…

B. Being late to market can be a huge advantage.

You get to see what all your competitors are doing , so you can react accordingly. That’s a huge advantage because now you know how to make yourself different.

I’ve personally used this simple strategy multiple times to come up with highly differentiated products that end up being the big winner. We would always do a critical deep-dive analysis at what our competitors did.

Think about what Apple did with the iPhone. How many mobile phones came before the iPhone? Hundreds.

Yet the iPhone was incredibly unique, different, and better. Certainly part of Apple’s success with the iPhone was learning from the mistakes of their predecessors (For more on the iPhone read: What Is The Real Truth About Creating Killer Products?).


C. Remember the best product doesn’t always win.

Your competitor can have a product that got to market before you. And maybe their product is even better than yours.

However you shouldn’t assume that the whole market knows about their product. Nor should you assume that your competitor knows how to market and sell their product.

Obviously, you want to have a better product, better marketing, and better sales. Marketing and sales is the huge equalizer when it comes to successful product launches.

You can still out market and out sell your competitor when it is truly a jump ball or even when you are at a disadvantage. I’ve been on both sides of this, and I’ve seen the inferior product win because of great sales and marketing execution.

So dig deep and learn as much about your competitors as you can. Remember, you can win in many ways including better marketing and better sales.

For more on MVPs read: What Are The Keys To Successful Minimum Viable Products?

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