Why the Digital “Land Rush” of 2007-2017 Will Impact The Future of Business as We Know It

by Marcus Sheridan

The "Sooners" of the Wild West are rushing for land faster than ever...

The “Sooners” of the Wild West are rushing for land faster than ever…

There is something incredibly profound happening right now in business, and few talk about its impact, but believe me, it will affect every business for decades to come, especially new ones yet to enter the fray.

But before I discuss my thoughts on this subject, a quick history lesson:

Land run (sometimes “land rush” ) usually refers to an historical event in which previously restricted land of the United States was opened to homestead on a first arrival basis. Lands were opened and sold first-come or by bid, or won by lottery, or by means other than a run. The settlers, no matter how they acquired occupancy, purchased the land from the United States Land Office…The Oklahoma Land Run of 1889 was the most prominent of the land runs while the Land Run of 1893 was the largest.


There was an amazing time in the history of the United States when settlers were in a literal mad rush to get to the west (i.e “Sooners”), and stake claim on the land—an act that to this day affects generations upon generations of families – where the live, their community influence, and their overall wealth.

And today, there is another land rush that’s happening, but this time it has to do with digits on a screen, but it’s every bit as impactful as its predecessor.

Timing is (Almost) Everything

Many of you have heard about the digital success of my swimming pool company, River Pools. When it comes to online consumer swimming pool education, the River Pools website dominates the industry with about 200,000 visitors a month. But what would happen if someone else started a swimming pool company in 5 years that was even more prolific with their content marketing efforts than River Pools? Would they experience as much if not more success than we did with River Pools?

The answer, as you likely already know, is NO.

River Pools Website

Even though hard work and strategy were incredibly important at River Pools, the most influential component to our success was the fact that we embraced content marketing before anyone else in our industry.

Or, to turn it around, where would River Pools be if we hadn’t started content marketing in 2009 and had instead waited until 2015, what would have been the difference in the end results?

Once again, the answer is that River Pools wouldn’t be a spec on the map—comparatively speaking—because it didn’t take advantage of the “land rush” that was available in 2009.

I hear many successful bloggers speak about “best practices” to building one’s brand and business online, but the truth is many very “famous” people (digitally speaking), if they started a blog today without anyone knowing who they were, would never reach the same level of success they’ve been able to attain, all because they were a “Digital Sooner”—grabbing real estate online and taking part in the conversation before (sooner) few others were able.

I’ve discussed this topic somewhat before, mainly with my thoughts on what I call “CSI”—or an industry’s Content Saturation Index, which essentially represents the saturation levels of content in every industry.

And truth be told, some industries today are down-right slammed with content.

Others are still the wide west, waiting for the first set of “Digital Sooners” to stake their claims on land they’ll own for years and years to come.

Hopefully you understand the analogy I’m making here. In many ways, it goes back to Malcolm Gladwell’s discussion on a similar principle in his book, Outliers, where he  discussed the incredible importance of being born at the right time in the right place—ie Bill Gates and Paul Allen of Microsoft.

River Pools was born at the right time in the right place. We embraced full-blown content marketing, through text and video, before anyone else in the swimming pool industry did. Despite the fact that we’re clearly not the smartest or most experienced “pool guys” in the world, we do have more influence than everyone else, and it’s all because we were “Digital Sooners.”

What It All Means

From what I’ve been able to surmise, the Digital Land Rush started around 2007. Sure, one could argue it started before, but the conversations around “Inbound Marketing,” “Content Marketing,” and “Social Media Marketing” truly started to speed up during that time—and have only continued to speed up until this day.

As you can see, the "rush" started around 2007...

As you can see, the “rush” started around 2007…

Now, because so many businesses are aware of the need to not just have a website but dominate from a content and platform perspective, the “rush” is fully on, with “land” in every industry becoming more scarce by the moment—something I feel will crest within the next few years, leaving many on the outside looking in.

I would predict this to mean 2 major things for all businesses:

1. The Digital Sooners—companies like River Pools—will dominate their industries for years and years to come, gobbling up all the digital real-estate they possibly can.

2. Future businesses—companies that have yet to form—are going to have an incredibly difficult time rising to the top of their niche due to the extreme disadvantages of being late to market.

Sure, as with anything else, the cream will generally find a way to rise to the top. But that path to the top will be monumentally more difficult due to the fact that they were late to the game, often times through no fault of their own.

Could I be wrong with my predictions? Yeah, sure I could, but time will tell. Frankly, I’d love for future businesses to have the same opportunities as today’s modern day ones, but I seriously doubt that will be the case, at least for years and years to come.

Your Turn:

This is a subject that I think just about anyone could have a great opinion on, which is why I’d really like to hear your thoughts. Do you agree with my assessment of  the Digital Land Rush? How important is “timing” to one’s online success? And do you think future businesses will suffer because the missed the Rush?

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