144: Ask Andi—How To Find Your Blue Ocean Strategy® Step 2

Now that you know the basics, it’s time to go visually exploring!

Last week, I shared with you my Ask Andi session, How To Find Your Blue Ocean Strategy® Step 1,” in which I explained how Blue Ocean Strategy shows you how to go after nonusers, carve out a new, unoccupied market space and make the competition irrelevant. “OK,” you may be saying, “what do I do next? I‘ve done my strategic canvas but where do I go from there?” Now that you’ve started to see, feel and think in new ways about your business (visual awakening), you’re ready to go visually exploring, which is a very exciting part of the Blue Ocean methodology. Here we go!

It’s time to go out into the field and see with your own eyes, listen with your own ears

Visual exploration is at the core of Blue Ocean thinking (and right up my alley as a corporate anthropologist). We know that what we “see and feel” helps us better “think” about the problems to be solved and the ways to understand what we are really doing. Words are fine but if you see something or hear somebody talking about a problem they cannot figure out, something in your brain goes, “Aha, there is an opportunity for us.”

There are many ways to go exploring. But let me begin with a strong caveat: One of the key rules of Blue Ocean Strategic thinking is “never outsource your eyes.” I must repeat this. Don’t outsource your exploring. Get out of your office and go searching for new ideas yourself.

So, how exactly do you “see” your business with fresh eyes?

This is crucially important because it’s how we see that we will be able to really understand what’s happening, and why it’s happening, and where we can find nonusers with unmet needs. Visual awakening, therefore, becomes a very important part of your Blue Ocean Strategy.  

If you’ve done your visual awakening strategic canvas properly (you might want to take another listen to How To Find Your Blue Ocean Strategy® Step 1″), you’re thinking about unmet needs and nonusers. But first, who is a nonuser? And why aren’t they using you? Are they using a substitute for you, a competitor? Your job is to not just find answers but to find out why. Also, ask yourself: who could be your customer, and how can you find new ways to satisfy their needs in ways your competitors haven’t thought of yet? (Think Starbucks, Uber, Airbnb.)

Your task: to “see” the things you’ve been ignoring

This is one of the primary Blue Ocean ways to find your nonusers. Go visually exploring to see who will be your customer tomorrow and what they are doing and not doing. What’s changing in how they buy? Are there people struggling with problems that you could help solve? What are they searching for online right now? Could Google Analytics and Inbound Marketing help you see what they are searching for and where they go to buy it? Are they staying on your site or are they leaving you quickly? And the biggest question is, why aren’t they using you now?

How to go visually exploring using anthropology

As anthropologists, our job is to hang out, step out, observe and look at things with fresh eyes, listen to people’s conversations and storytelling, and try and find themes, or threads, or pain points, or opportunities. Here’s an introduction to how we do this at SAMC.

Remember, people cannot tell you what they’re doing. They will always tell you what they think you want to hear. But if you watch them, you will see what they’re actually doing, and it will be transformative for you. By simply hanging out and observing consumer behavior, you begin to better understand what nonusers are doing and how you could possibly solve their problems or serve their needs.

You’re looking for the new ideas that are all around you

You’re trying to find out a deeper meaning, a bigger idea, something that’s right before you that you’re just not seeing yet. Sit on the phones, or search the internet, or hang out with clients. Take pictures. Ask people what they mean.

Once you begin to see, feel, and think about things with fresh eyes, all of a sudden you’ll hear things that are coming at you and say, “Oh wow, that’s a Blue Ocean possibility!” And that’s when you can start to change the way you see things.

Don’t discount these observations and new discoveries about consumer behavior because they could open up a huge market space for you, your Blue Ocean Strategy. So open your eyes and your ears and go visually exploring!

In this episode, I discuss:

  • How to go visually exploring
  • Who are your nonusers
  • What are consumers’ pain points that you could solve
  • How to look at your business with fresh eyes
  • Ways to overcome the habits and biases of your mind map
  • How to recognize untapped markets that you could capitalize on
  • Observing people’s behaviors like an anthropologist

For a deeper dive into Blue Ocean Strategy, we recommend these blogs, podcasts and white paper


Get the full transcript of this Ask Andi episode here.