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5 Great Examples Of How To Use Blue Ocean Strategy In Business

Ever feel like its hard to stand out in a crowded market? I get it, it’s more competitive than ever out there and there are more ‘want-preneurs’ than ever adding more and more content to the already overcrowded sea of information.

Trying to find clients can feel like fighting for the scraps in shark infested, bloody red waters. In fact, that was the basis for a book and business philosophy called ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’.

What is Blue Ocean Strategy? 

To sum it up, most of us are competing in an oversaturated and overcrowded market, a ‘red ocean’ so to speak where it is highly competitive, a bidding war, a race to the bottom to beat out competitors. Think about an ocean where there are plenty of sharks and not enough fish and the sharks are fighting for all available resources. 

But by starting to think expansively, you can move out of the red oceans and find a ‘blue ocean’ where there is little to no competition, there are plenty of fish and few sharks swimming in those waters. You can pivot to, or create a blue ocean to fish in. 

In my entrepreneurial journey, I also had times where I was fighting to keep my business alive in a bloody red ocean, and also times where I created my own brand new and uncontested market! 

My red ocean:

One of my biggest mistakes in my first online business in 2005 was building the business around the products, and not focusing on the brand. I sold automotive performance products and shipped them directly from the manufacturer and for a while I thought it was a dream business. I was able to work from home, drive traffic from the search engines to my website, bill clients out then ship the products straight from the manufacturer and keep a profit all without leaving the comfort of my home.

But by focusing on building a business that was focused on the product created 3 problems:

  • There were other people who could sell the same exact products I sold.
  • There were other people who could create products that competed with the ones I sold.
  • Having physical products also required materials, manufacturing, storage and shipping.

While the business did well for several years, eventually it became a shark infested bloody red ocean that ate me up!

My blue ocean:

At one point I was an aspiring DJ but so was everyone else! In the 2000’s DJing was HUGE and everyone wanted to be rocking it at the big clubs, so it was a highly competitive market. I didn’t want to be playing in my bedroom for my 2 friends, I wanted to play at the biggest clubs in front of the biggest crowds!

How I did this was I became both the DJ and the promotor and used networking (aka becoming friends with the bartenders and door guys) to meet the club owners.

I pitched them on an idea to throw a party called “Halfway to Halloween” at their club where instead of throwing another Halloween party to compete with every other club in the valley on the busiest clubbing night, we did it in early May where it was warm outside and people could dress up in their sexy outfits without freezing their asses off.

On top of that we got to keep the entire door while the club made out like bandits with the increased liquor sales.

Theme parties became our ‘brand’ and it allowed us to negotiate deals with other big clubs to bring unique theme parties to them. We solved a problem for them because we filled up their club and they didn’t need to promote, and we made thousands of dollars instead of the standard fee they paid local DJ’s.

On top of that, the people who came to the club LOVED these parties because it created such a feeling of community.

More examples of Blue Ocean Strategy: 

Companies that provide examples of a great Blue Ocean Strategy are ones that disrupt the current paradigm. Instead of competing for existing business in a crowded market and trying to outdo each other, they find out what's wrong with the entire industry and turn it upside down. Here are 5 examples of well known businesses that completely changed their industries:

  1. The I-Pod (and many other products by Apple). Before the I-Pod we were carrying around big portable CD players and had to change out the discs and buy complete albums with songs that we didn't care for, just to get a few that we did like. I-Tunes and the I-Pod completely changed the way we listen to music and forced the industry to change along with them. 
  2. Netflix - we all know the story of driving to Blockbuster Video to rent movies and have to return them, often getting penalized by late fee's. Netflix pitched Blockbuster early on only to be scoffed at because of the idea of sending DVD's in the mail and never having late fees sounded ridiculous until it wasn't. We know how this Blue Ocean success story ended. 
  3. 5 Hour Energy - this small 3.5 ounce energy shot disrupted the oversized and sugar packed Monster and Rockstar brands. Why pay for a bigger and bigger, sugary drink when you could get the same from a small, sugar free shot? 
  4. Tesla - Obviously we know how this unfolded. Before Tesla, we were addicted to big gas guzzling SUV's or ugly EV's like the Prius. Tesla developed electric cars that looked great and were high performance at reasonable prices. Now Tesla's market capitalization dwarfs that of Ford and Chevy combined because those 2 companies resisted the change that was necessary. Now they are playing catch up. 
  5. Cirque Du Soleil - disrupted the travelling circus's and animals that needed transportation. They turned the circus into a Broadway show and charge Broadway prices with no need to transport such a large entity around the country. 

Your Blue Ocean Strategy:

What is it that you can do to differentiate yourself from the competition? What unique angle can you bring that will shift you into a blue ocean? What are the biggest problems that the entire industry you are in that no one is working to solve or fix?

While this may be a topic that is too broad to cover in this email, one big hack to creating a blue ocean without reinventing a new industry is to carve out your niche + amp up your personal branding.

Niche Down – this does not have to be just a group of people, a niche can be a specialization or specific problem you solve or outcome you create. People often fear niching down because they think it will eliminate certain buyers. Niching doesn’t eliminate them, it attracts the right one, and also opens you to help them in many different ways (the niche becomes the doorway into your big blue ocean).

Amp Up Your Personal Branding – creating a recognizable image of yourself/business both online and offline. In a sense, attaching your NICHE to you.

A solid personal brand gives you a license to create business on demand. YOU become the brand and the ‘offers’ you create become the byproducts and not the business. Its also like having insurance and something you can take with you no matter what happens (business crashes, you lose your job, etc).

Make sure to check out 2 episodes on the High Value Skills Podcast including How to Nail Your Niche (Apple or Spotify) and Creating a Legendary Personal Brand (Apple or Spotify) so make sure you give them a listen if you are wanting to start fishing in a blue ocean!


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