I am a lifelong learner and avid reader. I am constantly on the lookout for thought leaders and mentors to uplevel my personal and professional development journey. A couple of years ago, I ran across the concept of creating blue oceans based on a book called “Blue Ocean Strategy” by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne. Having been in the coaching business for many years, it made sense to get out of the red ocean and create my own space. Coaching is one of the fastest-growing industries in the US. According to marketing research, many of them work their coaching business part-time because they struggle to get in front of their dream customer and grab their piece of the market share. No companies hold more than 5% of the market share according to IBISWorld. Now, I can tell you from personal experience there are two major reasons that hold coaches back from experiencing high levels of success:
They don’t set themselves apart from their competition
They aren’t getting in front of the RIGHT audience
When I started my coaching business, I struggled to find my unique value proposition so I could stand out from the hundreds of thousands of coaches in the online space. It’s not easy to carve out your space and stand out. This book challenged the tenets of competitive strategy and called for a shift of focus from competing with similar businesses to creating new market space and making your competition irrelevant. Their proven analytical frameworks for creating and capturing blue oceans made a paradigm shift in the field of business strategy and practice. For those of you who know me, I am the Queen of strategies and processes. So, the ideas presented in the book were very exciting! If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend grabbing your copy! But today, I want to give you these strategies in a simplified format to get your creative juices flowing.
Step 1 – Reconstruct the market boundaries.
Take a look around you in your niche. Where is your competition not meeting the needs of your ideal clients? This is a gap in the marketplace. This is your “in” for creating a blue ocean. Ask yourself, “How can I uniquely fill that void?” Once you have an idea, you can build your programs and services to meet your potential customer’s needs. When you have a method to solve their pain point, you will begin to organically stand out from your competition. The book uses an example of a wine company that couldn’t compete with large US and European wine sellers. The assumption they were working under was that “all wine drinkers are sophisticated.” That assumption was incorrect. They actually went on to launch a budget wine that turned out to be wildly successful.
Step 2 – Focus on the big picture.
One of my favorite books written by John Maxwell is “How Successful People Think – Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life” There are so many great tips on the types of thinking people can use to build a business. Big Picture thinking is when you are able to remove yourself from the ground-level view most people work from and look at your business from a bird’s eye view. Don’t get caught up in the numbers game when you employ big picture thinking, instead assess the possibilities and potential. Once you can do that you can create a vision and formulate a plan to move forward. Build a bridge from where you are to where you want to be in the future and start taking action, don’t rely on what other people are doing or say you should be doing. Look for the gaps in your industry and seize the moment.
Step 3 – Reach beyond existing demand.
Look at your non-customers. Ask yourself why they aren’t buying from you. This can be a real eye-opener. Are you offering products and services that are too similar? Are your products and services not solving a problem for your audience? What barriers are in place that makes it difficult for them to say “YES!” to work with you?
Asking great questions will help you develop solutions that will propel your business forward. The book shares an excellent example of a golf club company that looked at why people gave up golfing. They discovered that a segment of the golfing community couldn’t hit the ball off the tee. So, they created a club that had a larger than the normal head which allowed beginners to have a higher success rate in hitting the ball. It was an instant success because it solved a problem other companies weren’t addressing.
Step 4 – Get the strategic sequence right.
As with any strategy, you need to use the right sequence to gain momentum.
Can your potential customer see value in your offering? Can you demonstrate that your product or service will maximize its results?
Is your pricing correct for your demographic? Are you able to show the value they will receive for their investment? Rolls Royce is at a price point that only a few can afford, whereas Toyota is priced for the masses. Make sure you’re in alignment with your avatar and your branding.
COGS (Cost of Goods Sold) – What are your production costs? How much of your time and energy go into creating this product or service? Do you have to pay staff or contractors? How repeatable is it? Is it scalable?
Test the market. What potential challenge might your potential customer face to become your customer? Remove friction from your buying process so it’s easy for them to say “YES!” Use omnichannel methods to make the process simple and easy.
Building a coaching business was one of the most difficult projects I’ve undertaken. But, more than that, it will work for both brick and mortar and online businesses. This idea of creating a blue ocean was the catalyst that led me to found Audientum.
I saw a need that no one was addressing.
Instead, they were misdirecting people to look at marketing measurements that didn’t really matter in the profitability of a business. Or, their method’s success relied on having an audience filled with the RIGHT people. And as of today, we have 0 competition! YAY for Blue Oceans!!!
Give it a try.
Where could your business be in the 2 – 5 years if you eliminate your competition?