The Indisputable Marketing Power of Being First

By Kathy Roy Gaughran
Senior Marketing Strategist

There’s an analogy that I offer clients to demonstrate the importance of being first in marketing. I ask:

“Charles Lindbergh made the first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean. Can you name the second person to do so?”

“If John Hancock famously signed the Declaration of Independence first, can you name the second person to sign? Hint: he was a physician.”

And for a bonus point: “Sir Edmund Hillary is often credited as first to stand on the summit of Mount Everest. Can you name his Sherpa climbing partner who was with him at the time?”

Gold first place medalYou need to lead to succeed. Hardly anyone remembers the second person to solo the Atlantic…or the second person, place or thing of just about anything. More people remember when you are first. Not surprisingly, leadership is first among the immutable laws by marketing gurus Al Ries and Jack Trout. In brand recognition, second place offers little distinction.

Being “brand memorable” is the first goal. Healthcare providers rarely burst on the scene with a revolutionary new product. Nevertheless, the marketing challenge is to win first awareness in the mind of the consumer. Ries and Trout’s idea of “first to market” means, “It’s better to be first in the mind than to be first in the marketplace.”

Being first to market doesn’t win the prize. Many first-to-market products never capture the consumer spotlight. Marketing-smart competitors can still come out on top with the consumer. For example, the Apple iPod commands the digital player industry, but Apple wasn’t first. They followed Walkman and others by decades. Ford is recognized as the leading brand name car manufacturer, but someone else actually built the first automobile in America. It takes effective marketing, advertising and brand messaging to win the first spot with the public.

The Internet is often the de facto first opinion for health information and providers. Online visibility and the Internet have become primary marketing tools because that’s where patients, prospective patients, friends and family are actively searching for diagnostic information.

The first page of Google search results is prized territory. The cruel rules of online search dictate that if your listing isn’t on the first page of a SERP (Search Engine Results Page)—ahead of your competition—your practice doesn’t exist.

Healthcare Branding: Professional, Memorable and Unique…

Brand awareness and recognition—being first in a highly competitive arena—means defining and communicating how and why you are different and better. And frankly, it’s a challenging and complicated process to become (and retain) the first position. And that’s where we come in. Healthcare Success can create distinctive branding that’s memorable and exclusive. Give us a call today at 800-656-0907.

Oh…by the way. Share these answers and impress your friends…

Being “second” is rarely the same as “famous.” But to you might win a trivia contest if you know that:

  • The second person to sign the Declaration of Independence was physician Josiah Bartlett.
  • Nepali Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary reached the 29,035-ft summit of Everest together. Some say Tenzing was first.
  • And the second person to fly solo across the Atlantic? That’s almost a trick question and answer…and  extra points in trivia. It was actually Amelia Earhart. Her historic solo flight, however, made her the second person, but she was also the first woman to do so.

Of course, you can always use this quote: “If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.” WC Fields

Kathy Roy Gaughran
Senior Marketing Strategist at Healthcare Success
In her career, Kathy has helped over 4,000 clients all over North America achieve their growth goals. As an award-winning strategic marketing planner, Kathy has been involved in both the high-level strategies required for long-term sustainability, plus the tactical execution used to accomplish the day-to-day successes. Kathy’s clients include practices with annual revenues well over $10 million and with annual marketing budgets up to $900,000. In addition, Kathy is an accomplished speaker, appearing at countless national, local and state healthcare associations. Kathy is a member of the American Marketing Association and The Direct Marketing Association.



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– Jonathan Calure, MD

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