What Is Blue Ocean Strategy and How Can It Help Me?
I believe in and attempt to follow what is called a blue ocean strategy for business. There are several useful books that outline what blue ocean strategy is – one of them is Blue Ocean Strategy by Chan Kim. It’s one of the books that helped the two dermatologists, Rodan and Fields, when they first started their business. A blue ocean strategy means that you look for new spaces in which to market your goods or services, rather than sticking around in the “red ocean” where everyone is fighting for the same market.
Blue ocean strategies are those that differentiate you from all the pool of people who are doing the same things you are doing. You want to do something to be seen in that vast blue ocean of all those competing with you. Think about when you are looking out to sea, out to the horizon – it’s a lot of sameness. But if a dolphin surfaces, or a single boat goes by, you notice those things – they stick out from the blue ocean. As an example, if you are a Mary Kay consultant, how do you stick out from the ocean of all other Mary Kay consultants who can offer the exact same product? That's your challenge, right?
4 Blue Ocean Strategies You Can Implement In Your Business
Recently, there was a useful article in Blue Ocean News that listed the four blue ocean strategies. As with most successful business, attitude – your mind set – is key. These four strategies are summed up in a chart in the blog post I mentioned just above, and it’s a great reference to keep with your business and marketing plan.
- A blue ocean business owner doesn’t take industry conditions as a given (whether the conditions are bad or good). Rather, look at how you can reshape industry conditions in your favor. For me, for instance, I know there is a huge amount of noise, distress, and confusion in the world of business coaching and consulting for women entrepreneurs. Some coaches are offering business strategies and yet have no experience as a small business owner. It's easy for me to be to stand out, because I've owned both a brick and mortar business and an online business. I have been supporting myself with my businesses for 20 years. So, I look at the industry conditions and know that I can rise well above the norm.
- A blue ocean strategist doesn't seek to beat the competition. Instead, seek to make the competition irrelevant. How can you shape your business so that all other competition is simply irrelevant to your prospect? Sometimes, this is called “making yourself unshoppable.” If what you offer is exclusive, it’s unshoppable. If it’s bundled together in such a way that no one else matches your offer, it’s unshoppable. When you can’t be compared to competition, the competition becomes irrelevant.
- Blue ocean business owners focus on creating and capturing new demand rather than fighting over existing customers. In my own coaching industry, the assumption is that every woman wants to build a multi-million-dollar business, and end up a CEO. I don’t want to fight over those clients, frankly. I know there are many women entrepreneurs who want to start or expand a business but don’t want to be working as the leader of a large multi-million-dollar team. Instead, they want decent income along with free time and flexibility. I call this the three “fs” of freedom, flexibility, and financial independence. I don’t make the mistake of thinking all women entrepreneurs are alike, which allows me to service a demand that is different than the one most business mentors are fighting for.
- Business owners who are blue ocean strategists know to simultaneously go after differentiation and low cost. I call this “make yourself stand out and keep your costs as low as possible.” Learn to be cost effective in the back end of your business, because that translates into reasonable pricing to your prospects and existing clients. Blue ocean strategy seeks to break the tradeoff between value and cost.
Considering these four points as you plan for your business can give you a strategic advantage in the marketplace. It doesn’t matter whether your business is small or large, these strategies can be useful to you. You can read more here about blue ocean strategy and your marketing message.
Have you consciously set out to employ a blue ocean strategy in your business? I’d love to hear about it, so leave a comment here and let me know what you did.