“Blue Ocean Strategy” Principles in Marketing

This week I was asked to give a presentation to a group of marketing managers at one of the divisions in GE Healthcare.  As part of the presentation, I referred back to Blue Ocean Strategy, principles that were made popular by the Harvard Business Review article.  The more I’ve been thinking about it, the more applications it I see it has for us in marketing in today’s environment.

A slow, jobless recovery

If you watch the popular news, you’ll hear that things are getting much better.  The DOW is @11,000, there is no more talk of recession and at least for now it seems that we’re up from the bottom.  Still, companies are hoarding tons of cash in their balance sheets.  Credit remains difficult for customers to obtain.  Boards remain skeptical and investments are slow.

 The new economy reset, characterized by conservative financial management, continues to hinder B2Bs and especially premium products.  Yet, we’ve had recent success with our blue ocean strategy.

The Blue Ocean Challenge

The principles in this landmark publication ask us to re-think our business, create new value propositions and redefine markets/offerings.  In doing this right, competition becomes less relevant in comparison.  Commoditization of goods and services may be bypassed or at least delayed.  Also, as long as there’s product/service excellence, first mover advantage can be harvested through value chains that further accentuate differentiation. 

Chicago Theater 12/09

The traditional example of is what Cirque du Soleil has done by transforming the circus big tent into a theatrical experience.  This past winter I took my wife to her first Cirque experience and she was blown away!  In the Chicago Theater, seating in $120 seats, we absorbed in awe the world-class entertainment (gymnastics, music, comedy, theatrics, etc…).  This is nothing like the circus experience I new as a kid (cheesy clowns, bad smells, crowded seats, etc…).  They have truly redefined the space.  And they have done so very profitably.

 How can you redefine your market?

Considerations for marketeers

We’ve been applying many of these principles within our current product portfolio over the last few years.  Recently we’ve been substantially rewarded for our “innovative” approach through historically large contracts.  For confidential reasons, I cannot disclose any details.  But I want to share the principles I’ve learned from a marketing perspective over the last 3 years:

  1. Build on market-centric adjacent markets, which expand your core capabilities.

  2. Think partnerships, to expedite time to market and product excellence.

  3. Play in financially lucrative markets, where even mild success will yield significant revenue & profitability.

  4. Avoid “nay-sayers” once you set your strategy.

  5. Fail fast, learn and get up again & again & again. 

 As marketers, our job is to meet or exceed target customer needs.  Many times those needs are unsaid or unexplored.  Seriously think about redefining your space and consider blue ocean strategy in your current product/service.

 Good marketing!


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