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You may think it’s a summer thing, to think about blue oceans… You may think I’m craving a vacation… You may think sandy beaches and coconut drinks…

Meanwhile, my wheels are spinning like crazy around words such as “strategy”, “customer experience”, “key factors”, “value curves”… I’m high on grids, canvas, tables…

Last week, I attended a 2-day workshop on Blue Ocean Strategy. The book,  first published in 2005 and written by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne of The Blue Ocean Strategy Institute at INSEAD, illustrates what the authors believe is the best organizational strategy to generate growth and profits. Blue Ocean Strategy suggests that an organization should create new demand in an uncontested market space, or a “Blue Ocean”, rather than compete head-to-head with other suppliers in an existing industry.

I was lucky enough to be part of a mix of university teachers and consultants during the workshop, which allowed for any expressed idea to be absorbed, questioned and dissected before being approved. No one there took anything for granted, and it was a refreshing way to learn. Learning through questioning, my old-time favorite!

More than the concept itself, the workshop was centered around using a battery of tools: Strategic Canvas, Buyer Experience Cycle, Three Tiers of Noncustomers Framework, Six Paths Framework… Each one of which I couldn’t help but observe, wondering: “how can I adapt this for marketing & communication purposes?”

Putting words into action

It only took me a few days to adapt the Strategic Canvas and the Buyer Experience Cycle and to put them to good use during a kick-off meeting with a client. Before I asked: “What are your objectives for the campaign?” and I received responses as various as: make money, develop awareness, build brand image (when I was lucky). Err… Could you develop a bit?

This time I made them work around the Key Factors for Success in their market, had them compare themselves with competitors and play with color dots… It was interactive, and it brought up some real field stories. What better way to hear my clients objectives through their own experiences and perceptions?

Then, I would ask: “Who are your clients? What do you consider your target(s)?” To which I would mostly get: “everyone and their cousins” (okay, I’m exaggerating a bit). But, in all seriousness, we’d get a list of brands or positions, period.

Using the Buyer Experience Cycle, I was able not only to define three different target groups: Clients, Prescribers and Partners, but I was also able to hear tiny details about the pain points each one of those groups were experiencing with my client’s services. We’re building a Content Strategy, after all, this is all food for the Big Idea!

Beside the simple fact that sitting in the student chair for a couple of days rewired my brain and revived the excitement of learning new stuff, I found that these two days have already proven useful in my daily work. That’s enough to finish convincing me, as a consultant and as a teacher, that continuous education is the key to quality of my services.