Applying the Blue Ocean Strategy to events

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According to the Financial Times, Blue Ocean strategy generally refers to the creation by a company of a new, market space that makes competitors irrelevant and that often creates new consumer value while decreasing costs. This suggests companies should forego traditional competition for market space and rather create their own. Why fight with competitors when you could occupy an uncontested market with an innovative product?
Over time, many companies and events operating in the same industry tend to look the same as everyone competes fiercely to bite off a piece of the market, thus creating a bloody ‘red ocean’.  Event companies that embrace a Blue Ocean strategy, can on the other hand, reconstruct their markets and find wide open markets, where the competitors are nowhere to be seen.   It’s fair to say, Blue Ocean strategy is indispensable for anyone committed to building a compelling future.  Many leaders and companies in diverse industries have applied this strategy and created new markets.  The events industry should be no different.
We are all aware of how saturated the events market is across various industry sectors and markets worldwide.  Now is the time to move beyond competing, inspire your audience’s confidence, seize new growth and take your events organisation from a red ocean crowded with competition to a blue ocean of uncontested market space.  For events this means creating a value curve that is radically different from anything the industry has seen before.  Be it, a new event format or a new emerging topic or theme.
So how do you make Blue Ocean strategy work in events?

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  • Focus on your audience groups and communities: Engaging them consistently to understand what is happening in their markets, new trends, top-performing companies and new emerging start-ups will ensure you get the scoop and right angle to differentiate your event product from your competition
  • Look across the chain of buyers for your events and look to focus on previously overlooked sets of buyers – is there a specific niche event for them? Remember niche events can ensure you coin that market and then you are able to grow this area year on year
  • Understand the gaps in the market sectors your events are in – what are the shortcomings and recommendation/solutions? How can you run an event to take advantage of these points?
  • Raise the value you offer in your events while lowering your costs structure. Rather than focusing on the same format that may have been successful in the past, look at what your attendees are looking to get out of your event now.  That may be networking, interactive panel sessions or specific in-depth and technical content.  Instead of looking to produce a big beautiful ‘catch all’ event, tailoring your event accordingly can save you money
  • One way to find potential sources of differentiation is to look across industries where your customers commonly seek alternatives to your offerings.

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Using Blue Ocean strategy is particularly pertinent when supply exceeds demand in a market.  It is important to find factors that can be raised above the industry standard, which factors should be eliminated in the industry, which should be reduced below the industry standard, and which factors should be created that the industry has never offered.
There is an abundance of event suppliers in the market.  Now is the time to look at a more productive approach.
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