Sunday, June 24, 2012

Marketing Blue Ocean Strategies!


Am sure most of us must have come across the bestseller business strategy book Blue Ocean Strategy. Blue Ocean Strategy is all about achieving high growth and profits in business by creating uncontested market space and making competition irrelevant.  This is essentially accomplished by coming up with innovative products/services. In contrast, Red Ocean is all about competing head-on in traditional marketspace with conventional or rapidly commoditizing products/services. And in the book, you find several examples of companies that have demonstrated the benefits of Blue Ocean Strategy.

If you observe the examples, you will find the likes of Apple, Nintendo, Air Asia and others. Of course, being big and daring to take risky market adventures is no small feat!  Some of these companies also have the advantage of an established brand by having competed in red ocean products/services. Hence, when they enter into blue ocean (such as introducing something like iPod), they demand attention regardless of the merit in the new product.

The question is - How can small fishes enter and succeed in Blue Ocean?. For one, startups & small companies may not have enough clout/marketing budget. Second, by virtue of being innovative, none would be able to understand & appreciate the new product without enough marketing. So, How could they be successful in marketing their unique products/services?

As Jack Trout says there is no objective reality when it comes to marketing. There are only perceptions. Marketing when undertaken purely on product merits regardless of perceptions is sure to fail.

However, When it comes to startups/smaller companies, there are no market perceptions on the company.  People neither love it nor hate it, because they may not know enough yet. That's not a nice situation to be in!.

When it comes to Online Marketing, We are still in light bulb stage!.  Would like to quote couple of examples here.

1. The social analytics tools such as PeerIndex, Klout and Twitalyzer report the most influential people on the Internet. They are highly reputed, established and successful in the offline world as well. They report people like Deepak Chopra, President Obama as top most influential people. Come on!. They are and would continue to be influential and successful
even without Twitters/Social Networks and other online tools.  We dont need analytics tools to report these findings.

2. Digital Marketing thrives on keywords, search and celebrities. If you dont have a presence in any of these, you are lost.
   For example, if some one comes up with a new vocabulary, new word (example - web 2.0), it wouldn't be successful and top the listings unless its quoted by an online celebrity or gains enough traffic.   Recently, I was introduced to a new word called - Filter Bubble - by Venky, who is a regular reader of my blog.   Though Filter Bubble is a brand new word, Search engines will get you plenty of results because it was coined by a reputed online activitist (who has klout) and there was a TED presentation on the same.   Keyword based marketing takes a mechanistic approach and limits the possibilities of innovating / discovering and amplifying new concepts!.

3. All Internet marketing efforts are based on quantitative analysis of content such as page ranks, klout computation, number of hits, retweets, etc.  Keywords and traffic hits rank humans?. Excuse me! :-) They are not based on qualitiative assessment or the merit of the content.   Unless this happens, We wouldn't be able to unleash the potential of the Internet and its Innovation diversity.   Using Online tools, you would only be able to find what you would like to know. How will you discover something radical which you dont know, but that exist online?

   May be, the next generation online tools could leverage semantic technologies assisted by Human intelligence to qualify the content and reach the required audience.

I was trying to understand how Facebook and Twitter became popular despite being new & small in the market. Facebook became popular because it was launched and grown in universities till it gained a significant mass. Twitter grew significantly by having celebrities signing up for the service.

But, Marketing innovative concepts/products/services pose a unique challenge given the top limitations. This applies to marketing products/services born out of Blue Ocean Strategies as well, especially from Startups/smaller companies.
So, What is the next best alternative?. The best way to amplify an innovative product/service is to first create a 'local density' - a small group of people who would turn as advocates, salesmen, tribes who communicate and support each other in the community around the new offering. And they would need to connect with 'Connectors' who can bridge them to larger communities. (like Facebook did) as mentioned by the 'Tipping Point'.

Apart from online efforts, TED conferences were widely recognized as platforms for spreading ideas. Some of the TED ideas are worth listening to and has the potential to influence the audience. However, there is another dispute here that talks about what influences the TED conference sessions themselves (including celebrity sessions) and their usefulness in recent times!.

1 comment:

Venkataraman Ramachandran said...

Bala, Interesting post! Thanks for sharing the link on TED conferences. I think you are absolutely right in saying that we are in primitive stages when it comes to understanding social networks and our efforts to quantify the social value that is being generated in the networks.
There have been plenty of debates around the whole notion of influence as advocated by the likes of Klout and Peer Index.

2) Although analytics enthusiasts have been trying to game the system, with innumerable algorithms, with the rise of social networks, we are in different terrain now. Content is discovered by individuals in their social graphs.So Internet marketing efforts have also been changing, more driven towards discovery of content through influencers and plain, pure better content.

I think your analysis that its all about keywords is little too protracted. With Social merging with search, we are coming across different ways to reach out to critical masses. As far as Tipping Point is considered, I am not totally convinced about its effects, as it suffers from post-facto fallacy. You should check out "Is Tipping Point Toast" article and "Everything is obvious once you know the answer" to look at the other side of this tipping point argument.