The case for first-mover advantage 

  • June 23, 2023
  • Reading time: 3 min

First-mover advantage. From brand name recognition to loyalty, it comes with all sorts of competitive advantages. 

Take LinkedIn. Not only was it one of the first social media sites dedicated to professional and business networking, but it was one of the first social media sites full stop, predating MySpace and Facebook. Now, it’s synonymous with what it does. 

Other B2B first-movers include Amazon Web Services, which pioneered infrastructure-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service solutions. And Salesforce, one of the first companies to introduce cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) software for businesses. Both of whom experience similar success. 

But when it comes to B2B marketing, too often, we follow the crowd – walking the well-trodden path strewn with eGuides and blogs, webinars and whitepapers, reports and social ads.  

There’s nothing wrong with these kinds of assets. They’re tried and tested – popular for a reason. But they’re not going to make you the first mover. At best, they’ll make you the thousandth mover. 

To be a first mover in the world of B2B marketing, you need to break free from the constraints of convention – and move into unchartered territory. 

Humour is serious business 

First-mover wannabees would do well to embrace humour. After all, B2B content typically skews serious, and anything that shakes up this convention is bound to stand out. 

Take Corpay One, a spend management software platform. Corpay One wanted us to make a campaign promoting its payments automation platform to the UK market.  

Given the number of similar competitor platforms available, it wanted us to do this in a way that was genuinely interesting. 

Make Space for Bigger Things was just that. Made in collaboration with Octopus Group, it’s not a one-size-fits-all eBook. Instead, it takes a dry topic – automated payments processes – and pokes fun at it through the style of a mockumentary. 

It would’ve been easy to write a report highlighting the benefits of automated payments processing. But it wouldn’t’ve stood out like a campaign like this.  

What if…? 

Often, first-mover humour comes from asking surprising questions. Like, what if farmers sold their cows on an app that was a bit like Tinder? Or what if lawyers and poets are basically the same thing?  

These questions were the bases for two B2B first-mover marketing campaigns: 

The first is Tudder. Affectionately known as Tinder for Cows, Tudder formed part of our Valentine’s Day-focused media campaign for AgriTech business Hectare. It encouraged farmers to sell their livestock online, and in doing so grow subscribers to Hectare’s SellMyLivestock platform. It garnered a lot of attention – hit the headlines, won awards – and also delivered results.  

The second is Rhyme & Reason. A campaign for law firm Addleshaw Goddard, Rhyme & Reason highlights how lawyers and poets share the same toolbox words. Less hilarious and more playful, this online anthology of poetry nevertheless stands out from the crowd and gives pause for thought – even if we weren’t the masterminds behind this one. 

Risk vs reward 

For every example of a first mover, there are a million other examples of those who follow the crowd. 

In some ways, this is OK. After all, with great risk comes, well, great risk. If you go for something wacky and it fails – which it might – it might be embarrassing for your team. You might lose your job or at least some clout. On the other hand, if you go for something wacky and it succeeds, then awards, fame, and glory await. Maybe. 

Also, we can’t break new ground every day. Not only would this be exhausting, but it also runs the risk of marketers going off kilter for the sake of going off kilter. When it comes to first-mover B2B marketing, we should feel free to stray from the status quo, but we should never feel free to stray from our buyers’ needs. 

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