How to blog your way out of the red ocean and into the blue
If you’re sick of scrapping it out with the competition in an increasingly crowded market, with shrinking margins and rising costs, maybe it’s time to get out of the red ocean.
In red ocean markets suppliers tear each other to pieces trying to sell largely commoditised products or services to the same customers in the hope of winning a bigger share of a well-established pie.
The alternative to all this blood-letting is to find a blue ocean. Uncontested market space where the competition becomes irrelevant.
Reaching this strategic nirvana requires clearly defined ideas about what type of business you run, what products or services you sell and who you sell them to.
Blogging can play a crucial part in that process. By regularly updating your company blog with content about the themes you want to be associated with, you can influence what people see when they interact with you online and what issues spring to mind when they think about your business.
Your blog is also an excellent way to reach out to people who don’t yet know they want or need the products or services you sell. Finding ways to tap into these undefined, new markets is a crucial part of Blue Ocean Strategy.
What is Blue Ocean Strategy?
Blue Ocean Strategy has become a staple of business school reading lists since it was first published in 2005. Over the past decade, it has spawned case studies, keynote speeches, consulting opportunities, more books and its own dedicated website.
The idea with Blue Ocean Strategy is to find a way to create an industry that doesn’t already exist. To innovate not just in what you sell, but who you sell it to, so that you define a whole new competitive space where you can thrive.
One of the most widely-used examples of Blue Ocean Strategy in practice is Cirque du Soleil, the high-end circus act that redefined the genre. People who would never previously have considered setting foot inside a big top to watch brow-beaten elephants sitting up to beg, now pay a premium to go to the circus.
More than 15 million people attended its shows in 2014, according to the company’s website. Founder Guy Laliberte made the Forbes Rich List this year with an estimated net worth of USD $1.98 billion.
Mobile banking in Africa
Innovators in banking have been striking out to find new markets for years. Selling the same old products to people who already have bank accounts, credit cards and personal loans limits the profits of incumbents and makes it difficult and unappealing for new entrants to break into the market. Finding ways to make the “unbanked” into customers offers a route out of the red ocean and into the blue.
In western economies, where selling mortgages to the unbanked – and in some cases unbankable – almost brought the whole system crashing down, the idea of banks seeking out fresh, uncontested markets still makes everyone a little nervous.
But in Africa, banking innovation, particularly mobile banking, is making financial products available to people for the first time and bringing with it significant social benefits.
Globally, mobile banking is witnessing stellar growth. Figures from Juniper Research, which publishes data on the tech sector, predicted that by 2019 1.75 billion people would have used a smartphone or tablet for banking, up from 800 million in 2014.
For Aussies and Kiwis mobile banking is a convenience. For many Africans mobile banking is the only means of accessing vital financial services, such as current accounts and business loans.
Bill Gates, the tech billionaire whose foundation has spent USD $33 billion on international development projects, many of them in Africa, predicted recently that mobile banking would “help the poor transform their lives”.
“By 2030, 2 billion people who don’t have a bank account today will be storing money and making payment with their phones,” he said in the 2015 Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation annual letter.
These 2 billion unbanked people are the blue ocean that finance companies are now striving to get at.
How blogging can help
One of the great benefits of an active blogging strategy is that you can use it to get at a wider pool of potential customers.
With so much information freely available on the internet these days there is a good chance that people arriving on your priority landing pages or dealing with your sales team will have already spent a fair a bit of time researching the products or services you sell.
Your company blog can be your brand’s ticket into this crucial research phase of the purchase process.
Somebody interested in mobile payments or going to a Las Vegas show will search online, read articles, watch videos and look at social media sites. If you sell mobile payment solutions or your high-end circus act is in residence at one of the big Las Vegas hotels, creating useful and helpful blog content can get your brand into the mix before these people make a decision.
Your blog can provide both a means of introducing your brand to a potential customer for the first time and the regular touch points you need to nurture them until they’re ready to make a purchase.
When you’re trying to establish a previously undefined market, selling products or services to people who haven’t bought them before, your blog becomes a vital tool.
If you have blue ocean ambitions, you can use your blog to educate potential customers and even your own staff about the value proposition you’ve created. This will play a crucial role in telling your story and beginning the relationships that will eventually lead to sales in your competitor-free space.