Everybody Wants *The Best* Or, 'The Unfair Opportunity Distribution In The Internet Era'

Never before have consumers had so many options, for pretty much everything. Whereas in the past, you could be a great business, driving sales with a Yellow Pages ad, or word-of-mouth referrals, the presentational aspect of the Internet is undeniable. And unlike brick-and-mortar product and service providers limited by hours and location, the wins that can go to what looks like the best are truly unprecedented. And arguably unfair.

We see it in online dating. OKCupid has had a blog, more than a decade running, that reveals a ‘superclass’ of singles, who – in any other time – would be limited to whom they could meet on the street.

In days past, the most eligible would be limited to whom they could meet in the physical world (people at school, college, church, or at work). The constraints of time, location and opportunity dramatically democratized pairing outcomes. 

Before smart phones and dating apps (Web 2.0) even a socially-outgoing person might encounter 200 people in a year. Today, with online dating apps like Tinder, OKCupid, Bumble, Hinge and others, they can meet that many in a day.

They have instant access to thousands of people in a region, or a state, nationally, or conceivably even globally. 

This is irrespective of how people pair; irrespective of gender, sexual preference, race, and age.  

With the former barriers of proximity and time removed, and with search facilitating introductions, a situation now exists  wherein everybody can engage with the most desirable, whether we’re discussing dating, job opportunities, or commerce. 

Winners are winning bigger, and the cost for being not-the-best has never been greater. The distribution of wins has become less democratic, less ‘fair’. The same thing is happening with business.

Never before have so many potential ‘wins’ or ‘opportunities’ to transact (meet, date, sell) gone to so few. Do everything you can to be the best in your niche. If you can’t be the best, define a micro-segment where you are the best. 

If you’re a deli, or a law firm, or a CPA firm, and you have a great presence (website, branding, marketing), because everybody wants the best, and because the technology can connect people to you, you will get an unfair share of opportunities. More than a pretty office or storefront might get you 30 years ago, and definitely more than a classified ad would get you in the same era. 

Now, the package (specifically your website) may not be representative of the contents, and Google is looking at human behaviors and their engagement with your website to vet appearances, but the point is that – given a choice – everybody wants what looks to be the best, and businesses can ingest them as form-fills, leads and opportunities. Websites work around-the-clock. An engineering firm that looks the best can receive a million form-fills in a day; they don’t need the staff to manually receive these leads.

And if a given business can’t serve them all, they can select the low-hanging fruit, or raise prices. Or they can grow or scale. Or they can do all of the above. 

This simply would never happen in the days of the Yellow Pages. Leads somewhat favored bigger ads or better business names, but nothing like today. 

The only take-home is to know this: if you’re considering a ‘web presence’ or ‘middling effort’, as a face to the world, and it’s not amazing, there’s a big drop-off between being No. 1, and being No. 2. Huge.

So, be the best you can. If you can’t compete, for some reason, with the others in your space, differentiate, or consider pivoting. 

As for the dating scene, people should not connect, as life partners, on superficialities like appearance or income. As they say, the resume gets you the interview, not the job