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Blue Ocean Strategy: Creating Uncontested Market Space

Unlock the full potential of your business and ensure success with a blue ocean strategy. Read on to learn how to use this marketing tactic.

Developing a winning marketing strategy requires more than a basic understanding of your target demographics and their needs. In order to truly differentiate yourself, you may turn to the blue ocean strategy.

By opting for a blue ocean strategy and going after uncontested markets, you'll open the door to many potential opportunities that are otherwise unavailable in traditional red oceans. This strategy is ideal for those seeking to create new market spaces while simultaneously pursuing differentiation and low-cost solutions.

But what exactly is a blue ocean strategy, and how does it differ from other marketing methodologies? We'll cover everything you need to know here, including the benefits and limitations of blue oceans.

What is a blue ocean strategy?

A popular yet risky startup marketing strategy that has taken the world by storm many times in the past includes the blue ocean strategy. Understanding what a blue ocean strategy is can help you to determine if the course is right for you or if you should shift gears and pursue another tactic.

Blue ocean strategies focus on innovation and building brand-new ideas and concepts that have yet to make their way into any existing market. When establishing a business in a market with plenty of competition, you’re considered to be entering the red ocean.

However, if you invent something unique and unexplored, you're entering a blue ocean. A blue ocean has uncontested marketing space but is often considered much more high-risk. While blue oceans are rare, they can have a significant payoff when they work successfully.

Notable success stories that come from blue ocean marketing include:

Facebook

When Facebook began to roll out to the public, it stood out as a unique directory designed for those already enrolled in college. Unlike its predecessor, Myspace, Facebook was targeted towards adults and college students, helping to differentiate itself. Providing services for free with a simple and straightforward layout helped Facebook quickly gain traction and overtake Myspace in popularity within a few short years.

Netflix

Netflix was the first to hop on the digital streaming bandwagon. Although Netflix initially launched with a DVD rental service, it quickly shifted its focus to an all-access streaming platform, which was unheard of at the time.

Uber

When Uber was introduced, it was an entirely new concept that had only been challenged by traditional cab companies in the past. By opening the doors to drivers everywhere, Uber quickly dominated the taxi industry with a blue ocean strategy that had yet to work in the past.

Apple iPods

Another company to think of when pondering the blue ocean shift is Apple. When Apple released its iPod, it took the world by storm. What was once the job of a Walkman or a traditional portable CD player had just been overtaken by a device capable of storing thousands of songs. The Apple iPod significantly and drastically shifted the music industry until music began being stored on everyday smartphones instead.

What are the benefits of using a blue ocean strategy?

When it comes to developing the right marketing strategies, choosing the best route for your business and brand is critical. If you're entering a new market space or intend to create an uncontested one, turning to blue ocean strategy examples and implementing a blue ocean strategy is highly recommended.

Some of the benefits that come with integrating a blue ocean strategy into your own brand's marketing campaign include the following:

  • Outperform the competition. Those who are successful with blue ocean marketing can quickly begin to reap the rewards. Outshining potential competition is much easier when entering a blue ocean as opposed to diving head-first into a red and highly saturated market.
  • Differentiate yourself. Creating blue oceans is an ideal strategy for those looking to differentiate themselves within a known market space while standing out to a target audience.
  • Growth potential. Entering an untapped market opens the door for more growth. When there's little to no competition, you have a greater chance of succeeding while simultaneously growing.

What are the limitations of using a blue ocean strategy?

Blue oceans are promising for those who are able to create a market that can take the world by storm. However, blue ocean marketing has its own risks, regardless of the resources you have to support your idea.

It's also imperative to understand that over time, blue oceans can also quickly become red oceans, causing existing businesses to become irrelevant.

Here are a few risks to keep in mind:

  • It’s a high-risk option. Entering a blue ocean is risky because there's minimal proven market data. This means there's no guarantee that a market will be interested in your products or services.
  • No long-term guarantee. Unfortunately, blue marketing strategies do not guarantee long-term results, as blue oceans can quickly turn into red oceans.
  • Too ambitious. In some scenarios, an idea may be too ambitious or arrive too early for an existing market. When this occurs, the project may fail until the public is ready or more aware of the target industry.

Blue vs. red ocean strategies

When it comes to conducting market research, comparing both blue and red ocean strategies is highly recommended. Familiarizing yourself with blue and red ocean marketing strategies can help you pinpoint the best tactic for your business and brand.

A red ocean marketing strategy takes an existing market and attempts to outshine competitors by offering higher-quality products, services, or solutions. On the other hand, a blue ocean strategy focuses on working with brand-new ideas and concepts. If you want to create blue oceans in an uncontested market space, you'll need to get a bit creative.

A red ocean marketing strategy is ideal for those who are selling products that already exist but want to do so in a way that's different from their competition. Blue oceans work well for those with unique ideas that have yet to be tried elsewhere. If you prefer to lean into an uncontested market space, a blue ocean strategy is likely the best option.

The four actions framework

Once you have established the business idea you want to pursue, you'll need a framework to begin developing and marketing your venture. The 4 actions framework was developed by Renee Mauborgne and Chan Kim, providing a reconstruction of buyer value elements with a new marketing strategy profile. By creating a new value curve, Kim and Mauborgne demonstrate the trade-off between low cost and differentiation while simultaneously challenging traditional strategic logic.

The 4 actions framework asks the following questions for those who are working with blue ocean marketing:

  • In the existing industry, are there elements that are no longer useful or that can be eliminated entirely?
  • Are there elements and other factors in the industry that can be brought up above the existing industry standard?
  • Are there any elements in the industry that should be reduced below the standard of the industry or eliminated entirely?
  • Are there specific elements of an industry that shouldn’t exist or shouldn’t have been invented and implemented in the first place?

These questions are extremely helpful in developing a blue ocean strategy that works for your idea, product, or service.

The six paths framework

Getting started with a blue ocean marketing strategy can feel confusing and overwhelming, especially if you're unfamiliar with the concept. The 6 paths framework can help you stick to your goals and any vision you have for your new business idea or concept.

  1. Research alternative industries. Spend time researching alternative industries relevant to your chosen market before attempting to create a new market space.
  2. Compare existing strategic groups. Research strategic groups already available in your industry if you want to create uncontested market space.
  3. Redefine industry buyer groups. Research the chain of buyers to hone in on a particular audience or demographics you intend to reach
  4. Consider complementary services. Consider free products and services to give to your target audience.
  5. Functional-emotional orientation. Consider how others view and interpret similar industries and how you can stand out
  6. Shape external trends. Work to make major shifts in existing markets.

Implementing a blue ocean strategy

Once you find your niche and conduct research on markets as well as supply and demand, you can then determine if a blue ocean strategy is right for you.

  1. Identify the best place to start. Consider the problem you intend to solve and the audience you want to reach.
  2. Assess the current market. Research existing markets that are relevant or similar to the market you intend to enter or create.
  3. Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. It's essential to compare both strengths and weaknesses when it comes to a new marketing strategy.
  4. Understand the pain points of your target market. Getting to know your intended audience is key to success in any industry or market.
  5. Create your plan and choose the right tactics. Create a working plan of action and research the best tactics for your intended goals.
  6. Launch the shift. Don't be afraid to dive in. Launching a new marketing strategy is essential for any blue ocean marketing campaign to work.

Develop your blue ocean strategy

Developing your blue ocean strategy is a way for you to verify an existing or brand-new market, depending on your project's goals. With the perfect blue ocean marketing strategy, maximize your reach and make an impact in a market that's new and exciting.

Getting started with a blue ocean strategy has never been easier, especially with Mailchimp's suite of marketing tools. Mailchimp can help streamline your marketing efforts and allow you to connect with potential customers.

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