What was your first experience with the Apple iPhone? When did you first get your hands on one?
For me, it was the week it came out. Late June 2007. And not because I bought one.
In fact, I didn’t know what the big deal was. I’m an early adopter, but not an innovator.
But, I was the VP of CrossComm, Inc., a custom website and app development firm in Durham, NC.
Don Shin, the company’s owner and founder, is a lifelong, diehard fan of all things Apple. He’s also an innovator.
He was the first person I know to get an iPhone. He knew it was a game changer.
I didn’t see it.
In fact, I recall debating him on the merits of even buying the phone given it’s hefty price tag at the time.
One year later. It’s July 11, 2008.
Apple releases the 2nd Generation iPhone…
and opens the App Store for the first time.
On DAY 1, the App Store had only 500 apps.
CrossComm built one of them. A game called Lumina. It was one of the first apps in the store when it opened.
It was a feat.
We had a small team work around the clock for about three days to convert the web-based version of Lumina into an app.
It was a big play.
Don wanted to get in early. He took a calculated risk. A risk that paid off.
When the iPhone took off, there were only a handful of companies in the world who had experience successfully building and distributing an app through the App Store.
CrossComm was one of them.
Don’s foresight, along with our amazing group of developers and programmers, put us on the map.
That recognition lead to the development of apps for Citysearch, NBC Universal, Forbes.com, and the SyFy channel.
None of which would have been possible if CrossComm didn’t get in early.
When it comes to digital marketing, getting in early is crucial.
Early adopters of Facebook were able to build and reach a large audience. For free!
That’s no longer possible.
Early adopters of search engine optimization were able to quickly boost sites to the top of Google rankings and make a killing.
The same goes for YouTube, blogging, email and content marketing.
When you get in early, you get to ride the wave. You’re able to get established, get situated, and take advantage of the incoming crowds.
Once a platform is saturated, several things happen. All to your disadvantage.
1) Platforms look for ways to monetize.
In the case of Facebook, they’ve now separated businesses from their “Fans” and implemented a pay-to-play system. Early adopters reached all of their fans for free. Laggards are forced to pay.
2) It gets crowded.
The more people there are on Twitter, the harder it is to break through the noise and get noticed. When you’re early, the party is all yours.
3) Marketers exploit weaknesses.
As Gary Vaynerchuck likes to say, marketers ruin everything.
As soon as marketers find a way to exploit a platform, they do their best to maximize revenue as quickly as possible.
It usually works. But it also creates a backlash.
Blackhat SEOs made millions exploiting Google’s search results. Ranking a site #1 was easy. But that hurts Google’s reputation and customers service.
Do you remember searching for Nike shoes and landing on a page about Brittany Spears? I do. Not a good customer experience on any level.
Google fights back. Now, it’s harder than ever to rank #1 for any competitive keyword.
4) People tune you out.
Remember banner ads? They used to work.
Once they are everywhere, they quit working. In fact, we completely ignore portions of websites today thanks to banner ads.
5) Costs go up.
When all of these things kick in, your costs go up.
The cost of acquiring a customer on any platform older than 5 years is exponentially higher than it was for early adopters.
Are there risks for getting in early?
Not every platform makes it.
I used to recommend Posterous.
Plurk was once thought to be a rival to Twitter. My time there was wasted.
Somewhere I have login info for Digg, Friendster, and Hunch.
I have thousands of bookmarks on Del.icio.us. I’m just not sure how to access them.
But here’s the thing…
The cost of getting in early on something that fails IS MUCH LESS than the opportunity cost of missing out on the next thing that wins.
The next Facebook. LinkedIn. Twitter.
In 2008, I thought I had already missed out on the blogging wave. So I gave up.
Pat Flynn started blogging in 2008 and built a 7-figure business off of it.
I have an email to a colleague in 2009 suggesting we look at building WordPress themes to sell.
“What if we built a WordPress marketplace?”
Envato, WooThemes, and Studiopress did. I missed out.
The upside on missing out is that you learn from your mistakes. You get better at spotting trends.
You learn who to look up to and who to follow. You see who the leaders in your industry are, and you see who tends to be right.
Here’s the good news:
Digital marketing is like surfing. Even if you miss a good wave, there’s another wave coming.
And it just might be better than the last.
I see a wave coming. I’m going to hop on it. I’m going to get in early.
I’ll tell you about it next week.
Listen to Me
If you only listen to one thing this week, listen to this…
You’ll learn how Foundr Magazine got 2,700 email subscribers in one week using Instagram. Plus a lot more tips and insights that you won’t find anywhere else.
Tool of the Week
In the podcast mentioned above, Pat and Nathan discuss building your Instagram following by posting images with quotes.
I took their advice and purchased Wordswag to do just that. It’s powerful, and yes, it’s super simple! It’s $3.99 at the time of this writing, and worth every penny.
Follow me on Instagram at @themooring, to see what I’m posting.
A Big List
In Case You Missed It
Ever tried to raise money via Kickstarter? Know someone who has? It’s not easy.
You need all the help you can get. Here’s how to hack Kickstarter and raise $100,000 in 10 days (includes successful templates, e-mails, etc.)
Last Week’s Top 10
I’ve said it before, but if you’re not using Slideshare, you’re missing a huge opportunity. Now there’s data to back me up.
Here’s the data, some inspiration, and the A-to-Z Guide to SlideShare [Infographic]
If you’re spending time online marketing, you should be testing. Unfortunately, you’re probably not. Most people aren’t.
Most people are building campaigns and taking action on what they read. They’re guessing.
Testing is not easy. And part of the problem is not knowing what to test or where to start.
I’ll make it easy on you, here are 11 things that work more often than not in A/B tests.
I’m not sure I can send out the Digital Marketing Brief without a post from Quicksprout.com. The content is always spot on!
Here’s a great post on email marketing. From Beginner to Pro: A Complete Guide to Tripling Your Email Conversion Rate
4. The Lab
Google just launched the News Lab, “a digital journalism toolbox full of useful reporting tools and lessons about how to use them”.
I haven’t had a chance to really dig in as much as I’d like, but I did find 4 ways Google’s News Lab will help you create awesome content.
Who doesn’t want awesome content?
5. Control Group
Did you know that Facebook has updated the News Feed controls? Users can now pick and choose who and what they want to take priority on their News Feed.
That’s great for users, but what does it mean for your business? Here’s Facebook’s note to you, the business owner.
I’ll include more thoughts on this next week, but one thing is for certain, if you want your fans to keep you on their feed, you have no choice but to wow them with value.
You spam, you lose.
6. There’s Smoke
7. The Product
Whether you’re selling an eBook, coaching, or SaaS, deciding on a pricing strategy is always hard. And if you’re a small business owner, I bet you’ve struggled with pricing for hours upon hours.
You’re not alone. Choosing the right price and the right strategy is tough. This post will help you learn how to price your product so your prospect says Yes (Yes!)!
8. Is It Unique?
When marketers talk about being unique, we often think about broad ideas and general perceptions.
How is Apple different from Microsoft? Starbucks different from Dunkin Donuts? Mercedes vs Cadillac?
And while that’s important, you shouldn’t neglect the importance of being different at a micro level. For example, if you’re targeting search traffic, one word can make or break your entire campaign.
Here’s a great post from Moz that explains the importance of creating a competitive advantage with your USP.
9. There’s A Problem
If you have a customer service problem, you also have a marketing problem. The two go hand-in-hand. Customer service is marketing.
10. It’s the New Style
Looking for new ways to meet prospects, business partners, and vendors?
Why not interview them?
Record it. Post it online. Share it with the world.
It’s not. It’s called podcasting. And it’s the new networking. Ok, yeah, it’s a lot more than just an opportunity for networking.
Podcasting is getting big. Very big. Huge.
Get in early!