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Green Ocean Strategy: Making it Work in an Asian Business Model

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Green Ocean Strategy

In last year’s October issue, we introduced the concept of the Green Ocean Marketing Strategy, which is a more practical and results-driven approach for SMEs doing business in Asia. It was heartwarming to receive feedback from China Business readers that they found this an interesting strategy model since it does not require too much investment nor a radical change in their current business practices. This is because the Green Ocean Marketing Strategy is more about enhancing a value proposition.

Another good thing about Green Ocean is that is can apply to almost any industry; retail, banking, insurance, food, manufacturing, etc. And it does not require a specialist to understand.

To put Green Ocean into practice requires that the following critical initiatives be understood and implemented.

1. Know the terrain. Get insights on the business and territory you want to claim. A common mistake is assuming that ‘knowing’ is the same thing as ‘gathering information,’ leading to a ton of meaningless data. Be more logical in your process. What information makes sense? What do you want to know exactly? What will you do with the information you get?

2. Beyond segmentation. Do not focus on market segments at this level since your target market has not been defined as yet. Focus instead on dividing a large market into identifiable sectors. In Green Ocean, the aim is to find meaningful target markets, which may be smaller in terms of quantity (maybe 5,000 names) but high on quality (can afford to buy, will find many uses for your product/service, give you decent profits if you serve them right).

3. Know the team. How much do you truly know about the people working for you? Often, what you know is limited to a person’s résumé when you should be considering what the right side of the brain is saying (i.e., what motivates them, how sensitive are they, their perception of work). Managing the right side of the brain of your employees gives you the opportunity to challenge their abilities positively.

4. Relevant tech, not just hi-tech. It is all too common to jump on the bandwagon of the latest approaches, technological advancements, and gadgets, as if adopting these would make you a step ahead in reaching prospects and target markets. But in Green Ocean, unless hi-tech is understood and makes clear sense to your target market, then your new gizmo becomes a mere fad, costly and hard to implement. Another mistake would be to invest in relevant hi-tech but not training your employee with the relevant high touch.

5. Test the Waters? Many companies are frustrated that their sales are not going up despite trying several approaches, formulas, and redesigns. What they don’t realize is that as you continue to reformulate or redesign, you continue to be under a ‘development’ model. Under the principle of product life cycle, you don’t expect sales growth at this stage, making you perennially stuck testing the waters.

6. Collaboration not cooperation. Did you notice that team-building is the knee-jerk reaction of many companies when things go wrong? This is because companies will always want to foster cooperation. In the Green Ocean Marketing Strategy, ‘cooperation’ is equivalent to ‘covering each other’s lapses,’ in effect allowing the same issues to persist. Instead, Green Ocean advocates ‘collaboration’ or pinpointing what can go wrong and addressing it beforehand so it won’t happen at all.

7. Critical thinking not creativity. Too much creative thinking is not really healthy since what it accomplishes are dreams instead of reality. The Green Ocean Marketing Strategy aims to develop critical thinking, working with the limited resources available—not with resources that are not available.

Print ed: 02/10


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