One of the best approaches to a Blue Ocean Strategy is to first locate a niche market and then to develop within the niche new value innovations. A great advantage of a niche market is the way in which it helps you locate potential clients. When you are marketing general travel, everyone is your potential market and you lack focus. But when your market is better defined, e.g. “golfers”, you know where to find them. Once you have located your market, it is much less costly to reach out to them as opposed to using much less efficient “shotgun” approaches.
In addition, when you focus on a niche, you very quickly become an expert. You will be able to speak with authority on your topic and marketing will be a matter of speaking directly to those who share an affinity for your niche. As an expert in a niche, your ability to generate referrals and word of mouth advertising will be amplified as those who have used you in the past tell others interested in similar travel experiences. You will also develop deeper and richer relationships with the suppliers that you use as they come to understand your devotion to their area of business.
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Niche marketing by itself, however, is not Blue Ocean. To develop a true Blue Ocean Strategy, it is necessary to create a value innovation so creative, so filled with WOW factor, you leave all competition behind. Certainly your chosen niche market will eliminate much of the competition. But if you only then operate in a “business as usual” fashion, your strategy will lack the dynamic potential of true Blue Ocean Strategies.
This week I have been picking ideas for your travel practice to illustrate Blue Ocean principles. Remember not to take these ideas as complete business plans “out of the box.” They are meant to be provocative, to demonstrate Blue Ocean principles. You can accomplish the same exercise with any niche. So today, let’s use a niche I have recently been studying as an example – genealogy.
If you list your ten closest friends, the chances are pretty high their last names reveal something of their ancestry. Genealogy is a field in which most of us at some time or another take an interest if only in passing. What if your travel practice specialized in Genealogy Travel?
Standard travel agent fare would be booking the cheapest flight and a hotel to small town in Ireland, maybe giving the client a destination guide and a bottle of wine. Bon voyage! Not much of a plan or business, though.
You, however, are a Blue Ocean Strategist. You create tremendous leaps of value instead. Here are some possibilities:
- You provide clients with a white paper on Genealogy;
- You seek out a local expert in genealogy and sponsor quarterly or monthly seminars on how to conduct genealogical research.
- Perhaps you even start a club and your clients and potential clients become “members”.
- You arrange a special program through Ancestry.com for your club members to begin tracing out their family tree and establish a relationship with one of their ProGenealogists to work with interested members.
- You assist members to utilize the services of AncestryDNA.com to discover family history through genetic ethnicity.
- You form relationships within your niche with a tour operator to work with your clients and provide customized tours in key locations with a variety of accommodations and transportation offers.
- You research the location of records for clients and days when public records are available for your clients to access. You do some background research to assist clients to locate the right villages, the right churches and public office location for records.
- You arrange for local assistance for the research effort.
- Upon returning home, you assist clients in preparing a presentation of what they learned for others in your club to view and enjoy at the next meeting.
Remember, the addition of each of these services is meant to enhance the billable value of your travel planning practice. No discounts here, no rebates.
Naturally, it is important to choose a niche market for which you have affinity. You can use these same principles to develop value innovations for your own niche whether it be golf, birdwatching, photography, music or any other possibility.
For creative minds there are no limits.