There’s a term called “Blue Ocean Strategy” from a book of the same name by Renee Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim. This is a marketing strategy and approach to building a new business in the wide and deep blue ocean, as opposed to the “red ocean,” where there are other competitors. According to Mauborgne and Kim, Blue Ocean Strategy entails uncontested market space, making competitors irrelevant, creating and capturing new demand, and “aligning the whole system of a firm’s activities in pursuit of differentiation and low cost.”
In short: how can you stand out from the competition and create something entirely new? Oftentimes in business, innovation can mirror imitation. Companies have many overlapping services and products. Competition is fierce, as a result. Consumers are inundated with options and may develop decision fatigue. So, instead of paying attention to the vast array of ads or specials, they tend to pay attention to referrals and reviews from friends. Highly competitive spaces breed the “who you know” type of purchasing decisions, or can drive you to offer a lower price as a competitive edge.
It’s never been more important to ensure you’re offering a novel and truly innovative product or service. Here’s why.
1. It Provides A Unique Selling Point
Creating something novel doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to create the first rocket that takes customers to Saturn. It just means you do something different — something that can provide a unique selling point that your competitors don’t have. Lisa Caprelli noted that “consumers will see innovation as something which adds value to products or a company. When this is used the right way, it can give you an advantage commercially, especially in a market that is saturated or shifting rapidly. It can get your more positive exposure in the media and your customers will be more willing to pay the extra money for something that is well-designed and new, rather than picking the less exciting and cheaper rival.”
In Caprelli’s research, she also found that 90 percent of businesses believe that innovation is critical to their success. Now, it’s a matter of taking that belief and turning it into strategy. What do you offer that others don’t? What is the innovative edge you offer? Defining this innovation will bolster your value proposition.
2. It Gives Consumers Something They’ve Never Tried Before
This also stands out to consumers who have tried the competitors before to end up disappointed. Marcos Razetti, founder of a funnel agency called Blue Hackers (incidentally, named after Blue Ocean Strategy), shared with me that “consumers make decisions that feel new and worthwhile to them. If you can’t prove how you’re different from the others, there’s no clear reason why they should pick you. Market your product or service as a new way for a consumer to reach their objectives — a way they’ve never tried before.” Razetti has put this approach to work in his own business, helping business owners triple their revenue in a way that other agencies don’t offer.
Remember that consumers like to join you on the cutting edge of new innovations. So, if you’ve created a brand new product that can better source their customer’s emails, they want to be part of that first mover advantage. Or, if you offer an event-planning service but feature an innovative approach to managing RSVP’s, consumers want to be associated with this new and exciting way of doing things.
3. It Keeps Your Focus Off Competitors
The other best part of the blue ocean is the fact that there aren’t any competitors for miles and miles. This can help you regain focus and be heads-down on your own company, rather than constantly seeing what new innovations or approaches your competition is offering. This can help you make the best possible company you can, rather than making decisions based on what the competition is doing. Femke van Schoonhoven, a designer at Uber, wrote in an article on Medium that “leading competitors are there because they lead the way, not because they followed.
“There’s only so far ahead you can get if all you do is follow or copycat a competitor. Assess what they did and then consider what you can do differently to get ahead faster or more efficiently,” she wrote. “This is where your unique selling proposition comes in handy. Stop focusing all your energy on what others are doing and create your own path instead. This is the only way you’re going to get ahead — by creating a unique path that’s 100% focused on YOU.”
You’ll do your best in business (and in life) when you’re focused on how you can innovate and help your customers in new ways. So, start thinking about ways to stand out, or speedboat over to waters that are more blue. It could make all the difference in your business and for your customers.