How to relearn some lessons by considering what it takes for dominance

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Kelly Borth, CEO and chief strategy officer, Greencrest
Kelly Borth, CEO and chief strategy officer, Greencrest

While listening to a representative with a local food manufacturing company talk about his company’s success with leading innovation and being the first to bring new products to market, it piqued my interest and led me to do some research on whether or not this was a winning strategy across the board.
What I did not realize is that this concept has been bantered about for decades. What I uncovered were some good reminders about what it takes to successfully lead the market.
So while there may be an argument that being first-to-market leads to market dominance, the bigger truth is more about how an organization’s vision and commitment to obtain market dominance results in enduring market leadership.
To get noticed, stand out in the crowd
Why does someone need your product? How are you going to penetrate the market so that potential buyers learn about what you have to offer? A decade ago, research showed that making an advertising impact required seven touches — today it is 11 (and when I entered the marketing field it was three — that’s a huge change).
Obtaining market leadership is not a one-time spend or a short-term spend — it is a long-term commitment that requires access to resources for the long haul. Even the best-laid plans need to be tweaked to overcome unforeseen competitive obstacles, shifts in consumer behavior and periods of a weak economy, among other factors.
Revenues may not cover costs the first year or even for several years. Being underfinanced can lead to premature market pull-out and thus financial losses.
Get your product known by meeting an unmet need
Whether or not you are meeting a need and/or desire in the marketplace is paramount in succeeding and achieving market dominance. Have you obtained customer input in the development of your offering? Did you study competitive offerings and determine where customer needs or desires were not aligned with effective solutions?
Can you deliver what the market wants at a price consumers will pay? How do you know if your solution is going to bring customers the value they need to justify the purchase? Is it providing economic efficiency? Competitive advantage? Making a difficult process easier? Does it have an immediate or long-term return on investment?
An intensive study of the market and understanding what buyers need and how to leverage that need takes visionary thinking and resources to innovate products that can dominate the market.
Maintaining dominance in a market can also mean cannibalization of a company’s current product line — short-term loss to achieve long-term gain and market dominance, and encouraging that innovation remain constant, as to never being satisfied with status quo.
Deliver an outstanding experience to create rabid fans
If you build it, tell the world about it and answer an unmet need, you’re only half way to a home run. Brand experience leads to brand adoption which leads to brand dominance. Having a well-thought out “go to market strategy” means that you took the time to do it right — planning to dominate rather than blind luck or happenstance which would be much more difficult to endure long term, or worse — failure.
Operational execution is a key factor in sustaining market dominance. Brand trust is earned through the brand experience. Once lost, it can take years to regain. Getting it right creates brand ambassadors who help you grow the market share you need to become and remain the market leader.
CEOs need to lead to dominate the market
The individual commitment and vision of CEOs such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Jack Welch and others drove their organizations to market dominance — with the help of a lot of talented team members, no doubt, but it was the CEO who championed and led the charge.
They had long-term visions and long-term commitments. They infused their organizations with the financial strength needed to innovate, obtain market dominance and continue innovation to sustain market leadership — even during the best of times.
Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for Greencrest, a 21-year-old brand development, strategic marketing and digital media firm that turns market players into market leaders. Borth has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 25 certified brand strategists in the United States. Reach her at (614 885-7921) [email protected] or for more information, visit