This is not one of my typical blog posts. This is a rant, pure and simple. I write this just to get it off my chest and feel a little better, that’s all. I tend to have one of these rants once in a blue moon, and this is just one of these rare moments. I don’t expect you to understand where I’m coming from, but if you do – that’s great! I’m only sharing this for the few who have shared a similar experience and can relate. If that’s you, click the ♥ icon below 🙂
A couple of months ago I wrote about a Blue Ocean Strategy – an “out of the blue” approach to differentiation. Un-levelling the playing field, if you like. Creating something which no-one else has, doing something so different, there’s no need to compete fairly. Instead of playing by the rules in a known game, you design your own game, write your own rules, and win every time!
Sounds compelling, doesn’t it? As an entrepreneur, or a rebel, this is a great approach – Stay away from the crowded “red ocean”, and create your own playground…
There’s the catch though… Although it’s fun to create my own playground and write my own playbook, it can also be a good reality check. Being “out of left field” is hard work! I’m not just talking about creating the product, or service, or company and writing its’ own rule book. Let’s say you’ve done that already. Now it’s game time, and you need to find other players to join the game. In this game, you can’t just play with yourself – you need clients, suppliers and employees to learn about your new game, and to be willing to play.
Not too long ago I had that epiphany moment – I was having coffee with a friend, and fellow marketer. It was just a casual catch up, but then he said to me – “you know you’re ahead of the game, right?”.
Then it hit me!
I AM ahead of the curve! And that acknowledgement helped me realise some of the key experiences I’ve been having. The conversations I’ve had, the blank stares I sometimes get, and some of the knock-backs I’ve been getting.
It’s a LOT easier to compete in a known market, for several reasons:
- There’s a market, therefore there’s a need. When people realise and acknowledge they have a need for something, the market develops.
- People are already aware of the product / service / solution, so all you need to do is stand out.
- Potential clients are familiar with, and therefore searching for what you’re selling. Which means they understand they need it. See point 1.
Being “ahead of the curve” brings on some real challenges:
- There’s no certainty of need in the market, which means people need your product / service, but don’t know it yet.
- If you’re dealing with large businesses, there’s no “tick box” in the procurement process, so the chances of getting in are a lot smaller.
- The sales process becomes very long, as there’s a need to educate the market about your brilliant idea, and why they need it.
- It can take years for you to educate the market (at your own time and expense) until you build a market awareness. By doing that, you’re paving a way for competition to come in and enjoy the fruits of your labour.
So far – it sounds daunting and challenging, and I must admit I had times where quitting was considered as an option. But then I’d take a breather, and force myself to remember why I’m doing what I’m doing.
I see the market need. I hear about it, and feel it! I’m passionate about the value I create and know there’s nothing else I’d rather do, even if it’s easier. I often wonder how other people missed this need, or haven’t done it already.
Sometimes I get encouraged by people who immediately “get” what I’m doing, and openly saying so… Getting acknowledgement along the way is a rewarding experience.
Of course, some people are already doing something similar. And I know it’s hard for them too. I don’t see them as competition, but potential collaborators. I see others trying to build a similar organisation, doing it differently. And that’s great! This is a validation point for me, that I’m not the only crazy one – others can also see what I see.
Being ahead of the curve means that I just need to be the first to carve out my market, build a stronger brand, and be quicker than others. Stay strong, focused, remember the “why” more often.
Raz Chorev is the founder of Orange Sky, a unique blend of Marketing Consulting and executive-placement business. Orange Sky’s model involves the appointment of a part-time corporate marketing leader, to work hand in hand with a mid-sized business leader, bring global marketing expertise and leverage off the knowledge and experience of Orange Sky cohort of senior marketing executives.
Originially published on Medium.