And other things you should know about your competitors.
I used to think a lot about our competitors. And with good reason. What entrepreneur do you know that doesn’t spend some time thinking about how to outdo their competition?
About a year ago, I read a book that changed my way of thinking forever.
I learned that in order to achieve massive growth, you would have to change the way people saw what you offered.
So for consumer facing products, we decided to operate on a low-inventory strategy. Our products are never currently available. You typically have to join an email list in order to be notified of a pending registration. It keeps demand high & our inventory manageable.
As I spent more time with this book, I learned to graph each of our products against what the market offered to see where we could improve & innovate.
For Travel Noire Experiences, I looked at the landscape of group trips & plotted their features on a graph. I read reviews, I asked friends. I did a ton of research. I wanted to get a better understanding of what customers wanted & what they could live without. And it was the foundation of building a truly artisanal experience.
As you begin your blue ocean strategy research, you want to understand where the market is headed, even before the market knows it‘s headed there. You want to start having conversations about the things no one else is telling them they need to consider.
Most businesses try to focus all of their attention on selling, servicing and talking about where their market is today. They create products and services to sell to people who are already demanding those products and services.
There’s nothing wrong with that focus, but everyone else is swimming in that same ocean.
Think of it like this:
Each company is a shark. If you’re swimming in the same sea as your competitors, the water turns red (let’s face it, competition can get nasty) because everyone’s after the same fish. But if you’re in a blue ocean, you’re free to swim on your own. As fast or as slow as you want to.
To deepen your understanding of creating a blue ocean, you’ll want to break your market into three kinds of customers — I’ll call them Scouts, Sparks and Early Adopters.
Scouts are your customers today. They have a need & found your solution based on a search of some kind.
Sparks will offer the greatest amount of growth. They’ll have a need for your product as a result of some type of life cycle change, calendar event, budget refresh or office relocation.
Lastly, Early Adopters are the ones who are super passionate about where your industry is headed. They buy early, evangelize and go to great lengths to be the first to the table. They’re looking for brands & products that help them validate their journey.
What we’ve done at Travel Noire is we’ve given our scouts what they want in order for us to gain market share & but we deeply understand the triggers that can turn scouts into extreme spark buyers.
We focus our marketing and brand positioning to bring early adopters to the fold. We make our competition irrelevant by communicating the things they’re not.
The key lies in understanding how to move your brand where the early adopters are. And this is how we’re changing the context of our brand. It’s how we’re rising above commodity sellers fighting for a profit in the scout space.
Always remember this: Bad Competitors require you to make your move first. They can’t innovate. You move into a blue ocean. Bold growth only comes from equally bold thinking.