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Blue Ocean Content

Today we’re going to explore a different way to build your content strategy.

Two years ago I listened to W. Chan’s groundbreaking book, Blue Ocean Strategy, during my commute. I tried to implement it’s gospel but didn’t have the time or opportunity to see it through…

But now, it’s a whole new ballgame so let’s dig in…

What is Blue Ocean Strategy?

Blue Ocean Strategy redefines a category so that a brand can own an entirely new position in a customer’s mind.

This approach outflanks the competition by fundamentally changing how a company delivers value. Put another way, the aim of Blue Ocean strategy is to make the competition irrelevant.

Iconic examples of successful Blue Ocean Strategy players include Cirque du Soleil, Yellow Tail Wine, the iPad, and the Nintendo Wii. Each of these redefined their industries and created a new standard for innovation.

Cirque Du Soleil reimagined the traditional circus as a high-end, wonder-infused performances that enthralled adult audiences. Traditional circus acts with live animals, and cold and uncomfortable arenas were blindsided.

PC companies tried to beat Apple to the market with an alternate vision of the laptop pc. Their netbooks felt like a Blue Ocean strategy but consumers decided that they didn’t want an underpowered laptop. Instead, Apple resurrected the tablet market with a completely new entry – the iPad. The iPad’s high resolution screen, beautiful UI and a single button changed the game.

Yellow Tail Wine decided it couldn’t compete using traditional wine distribution tactics.They were a new entrant and didn’t have time to nurture a vintage that could compete with the established players. Their Blue Ocean breakthrough was a fun, easy to drink wine, marketed at your local liquor store. While other wine companies competed for the “Most Snobby” award, Yellow Tail became the beer drinker’s wine. Brilliant.

Can Blue Ocean Strategy work for content marketing?

Blue Ocean Content Examples

Copyblogger announced that they were no longer accepting comments. Since comments the most visible characteristic of a blog, it makes sense if you are confused by why an influential blogging thought leader is abandoning them.

But, looking at Copyblogger through the lens of Blue Ocean Strategy reveals a clever roadmap. Copyblogger doesn’t see itself as a blog. It is a media and software company focused on content marketing and tools. Comments aren’t necessary for that positioning.

Marie Forleo recently aired her interview with Arianna Huffington. That’s the same Arianna Huffington that founded the Huffington Post and then sold it to AOL for $300 million. This high caliber interview coup isn’t a fluke for Marie. She’s also interviewed Oprah Winfrey and was featured on a Tony Robbins special. Technically Marie Forleo runs a “blog” too but she has reframed her content as on-air entertainment. In fact, it’s makes more sense to view MarieTv as the first blog-based Cable TV channel.

Recently I asked Mike Stelzner about his rationale for describing Social Media Examiner as an “Online Social Media Magazine.” His reasoning is pure Blue Ocean. He said that his core audience didn’t know what a blog was or why it was important. Positioning Social Media Examiner as a magazine made it easier to understand and accept while making everyone else’s blog seem inconsequential. I love it.

Look at your “blog.” Are you fighting for survival in a “Red Ccean” filled with bloodied competitors fighting for every scrap of attention? I think you know already that you can’t win. You can waste your time trying to out-tweet, out-publish, outshout, or out-webinar, the next gal or pursue a fundamentally different strategy.


4 Blue Ocean Content Steps To Take Now

Step #1: List the Competitive Factors

Write down the areas where you players in your area compete.. For example, in the self-help space, brands focus on:

1. Books: Publish a new traditionally published every 18 months.

2. Speaking: Keynote large, prestigious, and influential conferences and events

3. Top-of-Mind Publishing: Use video, audio, and visuals to stay top of mind with readers and fans

4. PR Dominance: Cultivate relationships with traditional media channels to get interviews, guest column, and on-air appearances.

Your industry has a similar list. Listing your competitive factors is critical for Step #2:

Step #2: Identify, Select, then Focus on Overlooked Factors

Cirque du Soleil recognized that the big-tent shows like Barnum & Bailey overlooked the high-wire acts and acrobatic performances to focus on live animals and center stage skits. These acts interested the kids but bored the heck out of parents. Cirque du Soleil responded by focusing on the acrobatic performances and re-imagined “clown performers”and ditched the concessions, the animals, and even the tent!

Pouring energy and imagination in one or two areas can fundamentally shift playing field and give your content an advantage. Can you focus on a subject overlooked by your competitors?

Step #3: Drop the Dead Weight

I recently made a pretty bad strategic blunder. I thought that I could offer dozens of small services at a low cost. I reasoned that more readers would be able to use my services and in the process take a look at my premium coaching services.

I was wrong.

Instead of focusing on what I do well – bringing oodles of traffic to new and growing blogs – I focused on coding, CSS, and HTML projects. So my blog marketing clients were disappointed by my lack of focus, and my small-project clients realized that they were better off doing the small stuff themselves. I realized that I could never compete in the Red Ocean of WordPress Services.

I’ve focused 100% of my time on small number of clients and my new blog marketing course. My content has shifted to match the new focus.

What service, topic, or activity is dragging your content down? Which topics do you blog about because you feel like you have to? Which social channels are you killing yourself to populate to keep up with competitors?

Drop them. Find an overlooked area and reinvest the time you save into innovating an area underserved by your competitors.

Step #4: Create a New Approach

Danielle LaPorte is eating everyone’s lunch in the human potential / self-help space.

She has a fresh approach for:

  1. Getting subscribers: Her opt-in overlay is beautiful. Yes, I said “opt-in” and “beautiful” in the same sentence.
  2. Engaging: Danielle uses an entirely different vocabulary for talking to her audience. Her invitation to engage simple says “let me love you.” Yep I want some more. I want some more!
  3. Selling: Danielle’s sales page doesn’t look like a sales page. It looks like a page ripped from your favorite magazine. This approach drops my guard and raises my interest.dl_landingpage
  4. Her Community: The #DesireMap is filled with photos and people that will make your heart trip-hop. Danielle’s expression of engagement and community is completely original.


Get the point? Find your message and reshape your presentation. This approach makes your competition irrelevant and your reader’s jump off a cliff for you.

Post Notes

Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant

Danielle Laporte: Sermons on life, love, consciousness, some cash, and everyday liberation.

About Stan

Stan Smith is the CEO of Pushing Social a content marketing consultancy for aggressive, results-focused organizations.

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