business strategy to beat competitors

A simple shift in business strategy can make your competitors irrelevant. When I was at University, I remember doing work around “Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning” (I know, riveting stuff!). I remember, “Positioning” involved us highlighting specific needs, which were important for our target market but not adequately met by our competitors. Indeed this opened my eyes to the importance of being different but better.

Your competitors circle “Red Oceans”

Many years later, however, I read the book, “Blue Ocean Strategy“. As I was reading this book I discovered the smartest business strategy was not to compete at all. At the risk of oversimplifying , “Red Oceans” are where most businesses compete, like sharks all circling the same prey. They fight over existing customers by differentiating their product or service just enough. Blue Ocean Strategy has popped up in just about every business strategy book I have read since.

Enter “Blue Ocean” business strategy

I have noticed, throughout my career, big businesses are particularly wasteful in this way. There appears to be no limit to what some businesses will sink into winning an existing client from competitors. “Blue Oceans”, on the other hand, are uncontested. Your competitors may not even realise people in this space are potential customers or clients.

Look for non-customers first

So, how do you find blue Oceans? Ask yourself, who are non-customers in this category? And why don’t they buy what your competitors sell? Address that question and you might turn non-buyers into buyers.
At this point , you may be wondering why I have previously suggested niche marketing, which is by definition slicing a market in very small and specialised sub-markets, is a smart business strategy. After all, “Blue Oceans” are about finding new customers, rather than slicing up the existing market. Well, I believe both of these concepts can work at the same time.

How is this different to Niche Marketing?

Niche marketing is indeed an effective way to compete but what if the niche you are in is not a sub-segment of the existing customer base, which you need to poach from competitors? Quite simply, I believe you can still find a specialised niche market among new entrants to any market… or non-customers. An important aspect of niche marketing is addressing the needs of customers that are not already being met. So ask yourself, “Why have these non-customers decided not to buy?”

Instead of fighting competitors for the existing market, you could grow the market. Let’s say the whole market was a pie. Would you rather take a small slice of the pie as your customer base? Or worse still, the crumbs? Or would you like to own your own whole pie? That’s what it’s like when you’re in a market and there’s no competition.

Who uses this business strategy?

Let’s have a look at some examples. Airbnb did not fight competitors so they could book hotels. They instead side stepped that fight and found non-customers; people who had a spare mattress and wanted to earn some extra cash.

Uber did not advertise to recruit taxi drivers. Uber drivers were a whole new market. Not licensed taxi drivers but everyday people who wanted to put some extra food on the table.

Maybe you can think of some other examples.

just the tip of the iceberg

I want to get you thinking about the concepts. In order to understand Blue Ocean strategy in depth and find detailed blueprints to deploy this strategy, I highly recommend you visit the official website, read the book or find someone to teach you. For now, it’s enough for you to understand the concept at a high level and how to shift from a competitive mindset to become a market creator.

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