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Can Blue Ocean Strategy Help Your Consulting Business?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010   (0 Comments)
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Can Blue Ocean Strategy Help Your Consulting Business?
By Confab 2010 Keynote Speaker, Dr. Sarah Layton, CMC, FIMC

Why do some companies prosper and others fail? Why can some consultants charge high fees without being challenged and others starve to death? Could it be that the successful consultants have a better strategy than the unsuccessful ones? Could it be that their approach to strategy is different? Or are they just spending more money on marketing?

There is a study that sheds light on this for organizations. The study was conducted by two professors from INSEAD University, Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne. They studied product and service launches that were successful over long periods of time, that outdistanced their competition for at least 5 – 8 years, which means these products and services virtually had no competition during this period.

These products and services were in 30 industries and spanned the years from 1880 – 2000. They were in manufacturing and services, retail and hospitality and many others. Based on the results of this research, they developed a set of tools that would help an executive in any business begin to identify their own potential blue ocean, that market space where there is high demand, high profit and little or no competition.

At an IMC Leadership conference in Chicago recently, I challenged a group of chapter presidents and IMC USA board members to come up with no more than ten criteria they believe are the elements of value their clients consider when deciding whether or not to hire them.

It was interesting how much spirited discussion was generated and how difficult this task seemed to be. When you get right down to it, if you don’t know the value elements on which you are judged, do you think your clients find it hard to make a decision as well? I would argue that they do.

I have the honor of being your keynote speaker at Confab in Reno in October. At that time I will share the list with you and compare it with the market exploration I am conducting on clients. You will find it an interesting comparison.

But until then, just consider your own business for the moment.

First, do you have as much business as you want? Are you tired of having to beat the competition? Keep in mind that client inertia and doing nothing is also competition. Anything that doesn’t result in your getting business is competition. Even your own inaction is competition.

The very first principle of Blue Ocean Strategy is that you go where the competition isn’t. When Ford developed the Model T, there were already 500 auto manufacturers. He didn’t go to the wealthy market where the other 500 were competing. He went to the people not buying automobiles who were still driving horses and buggies.

When Nintendo, probably the most famous blue ocean strategy product, looked around and saw that the primary market for electronic games was young antisocial males, they asked everyone else (girls, families, seniors) what features would make electronic games fun for them. That is how the Wii was invented.

When you come to Confab in October, I will show you how you can fine tune your beliefs regarding what your clients consider valuable and how you can make small strategic moves to dramatically improve your business.

Dr. Sarah Layton is a qualified Blue Ocean Strategy practitioner and managing partner of Corporate Strategy Institute based in Orlando, Fl. She will be presenting the keynote address at the 2010 Confab in Reno titled "Using Blue Ocean Strategy to Improve Your Business”. Visit her website ( and blog (

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