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This week’s focus: I was asked this week about the first football match I attended. I can remember it vividly; Preston North End versus Doncaster Rovers in March 1971, just after my sixth birthday. North End won 4-0.

Not only can I remember the match, I can also clearly recall the unmistakeable smell of the players’ liniment, eating a Wagon Wheel at half-time and hearing My Sweet Lord playing over the tannoy (– I’m instantly back at that specific moment in time whenever I hear that song).

I can’t really remember my second game I went to, though.

Similarly, I can remember my first kiss and my first gig (The Specials), as well as my first days at school and at work, but don’t recall the second of any of these activities.

Firsts matter because they create a new, distinctive memory. Their importance is further enhanced when you perceive the experience to be meaningful.

That’s why always being an innovation ‘follower’ is not the best strategy. You can’t be first at everything, but being the first at something – and something that’s important to your customers – can deliver lasting benefits to your brand and your business.

Apple, Amazon, Tesco, and McDonalds, for instance, have all benefitted by being first to market with a new idea or service, way beyond the life of that particular offering.

What ‘firsts’ have you delivered for your customers? And what plans do you have to be first in the months and years ahead?

Off the record: My Sweet Lord by George Harrison

I really want to see you

Really want to be with you

Really want to see you, Lord

But it takes so long, my Lord

© Stuart Cross 2016. All rights reserved.