Blue Ocean Strategy for B2B Marketing

Marketing is supposed to be a field sprawling with constant innovation … a domain where ‘new new things’ are born every day. But unfortunately, reality begs to differ. This is especially true when it comes to B2B Marketing, where creativity and innovative ideas can sadly be regarded as endangered species. Apart from a few exceptions, most of the B2B marketers are always racing against each other armed with their very own ‘me-too’ campaigns and mindsets. From content marketing to social media, almost all marketing programs are unfortunate carbon copies of each other. It can be said that sometimes, even the best practices are not translated well when copied. This is especially true in B2B marketing because it’s a field where standing out is your utmost goal.
So let me ask you these questions. How can we, as B2B Marketers, stand out from the crowd without risking too much?  And how can we form strategic frameworks in place for our marketing campaigns for brand awareness to lead generation? The following ideas will hopefully answer these queries.

Formulating an effective B2B marketing framework via Strategy Canvas and ERRC Grid from Blue Ocean Strategy

Blue Ocean Strategy is a great way to leap beyond the competition. It (as a concept) first emerged in a book (of the same name) written by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne and published by Harvard Business Press in 2005. Now it has blossomed into a global institution that offers consulting, training and presentations regarding Blue Ocean Strategy. The main gist of it is simple. Rather than compete in what they refer to as the bloody red ocean where all your competitors are, why not be better off by finding a blue ocean where no one else is in yet.
Take note though that in this article, we are going to use Blue Ocean’s framework purely from a marketing activities / programs / campaigns point of view rather than from a holistic strategy for a product / organization standpoint.

Strategy Canvas
Strategy Canvas is both a diagnostic and an action framework for building a compelling Blue Ocean Strategy. It quickly captures (into one simple picture) the factors that an industry competes on and invests in, the offering level of each factor that buyers receive, and the strategic profile of a company and its competitors across the key competing areas.
The “as is” strategy canvas depicts where a company stands today in the known market space. The “to be” strategy canvas, on the other hand, describes a company’s proposed future strategic profile in its attempt to create a blue ocean. For a B2B marketing strategy framework, Strategy Canvas with ERRC Grid can visually represent the points which will help you determine the areas wherein you should focus your energy. Let’s have a gander at the grid shall we?

Strategy Canvas

Eliminate-Reduce-Raise-Create Grid (ERRC Grid)


We should first determine which of the factors present should be eliminated? Specifically those factors that are taken for granted in the B2B Marketing industry. Of course there is no straight answer here because it all depends on your industry. Obviously, we should weave out what works apart from those that doesn’t. For example, Hubspot decided that they would no longer participate in tradeshows since they determined that it’s not working for them. Ben & Jerry’s, on the other hand, stopped sending out email newsletters because they felt like it was not the way to go. Another example is Apple, who has never actively taken part in social media (amidst all the hype and furious activity surrounding it) because their brand is so ubiquitous to begin with. The thing is … do we have to be compelled to go for the same old things (even if they don’t actually work for us) just because we are habituated to do so? The sensible answer is no that is why there is a need for us to sift through our methods and eliminate accordingly.


We must then ask ourselves which factors should be reduced well below the industry’s standard. Everyone is practically doing the same things and aping each other and that’s a huge reason why mediocrity is so prevalent especially in the world of B2B marketing. Yes, methods or mediums that work are always good essentially and we can always take our proverbial two-cents from classic campaigns. But if everyone’s using those methods or avenues, then such a system is usually destined to crumble under its own magnified weight. If your goal is to set yourself apart, you should consider if it’s really worth resorting to a ‘me-too’ campaign just like what everyone else is doing.


The third part of the grid is raise. There are elements to your B2B marketing campaign which you can consider raising above the industry’s standard instead of reducing like what you did in the second step. By isolating key areas showing promising results and clear ROI, we can determine the elements worth elevating. Of course we’ve stated earlier that we must essentially veer away from what everybody else is doing and mark our own paths. But there are things worth doing and there are also things worth doing more. Having isolated what you need to raise (on the strength that they work and have defined ROI), raise the frequency and do it more.


The final part pertains to creation. Sometimes we take ‘norms’ and ‘standards’ too seriously in such a way that they become an encumbrance to our success. We are usually afraid to adopt marketing strategies which have never been implemented before. But we also need to be able to heed to the call of creating something that is entirely new or different because this may help us place ourselves in a completely different position apart from our competitors. Study other industries and B2C marketers and learn from them. Also revisit your buyers persona. Finally, think hard if you are missing out on any tiers and then figure out how to target them accordingly.

B2B marketing can stand to benefit from Blue Ocean Strategy’s core lesson of creating new demand in an uncontested market space. Adapting Blue Ocean Strategy to our campaigns and suppressing the tendency to go for the ‘me-too’ mindset would give us a fresh angle to our approach that could lead to positive results from our marketing campaigns for brand awareness to lead generation.

This article was originally posted at

Read more: Marketing consultancy and branding services by GetIT Comms

Paul Writer believes that there is a rich pool of innovation in B2B industries and all that is required for this potential to be unlocked is marketing.  Founded by Jessie Paul, author of No Money Marketing, Paul Writer aims to be a membership platform that provides B2B marketers resources, research, insights, benchmarks and tools that will make their professional lives simpler, more efficient and richer.  And make their social networking more relevant.

Anol has over 18 years of experience in consulting hi-tech and telco clients in the field of B2B marketing strategy.

He is a regular columnist in various print and online newspapers, such as Business Times, Straits Times, Marketing Interactive, Asia One, MIS Asia, and CIO Asia

Anol has given keynote addresses, and been a panelist, at BMA (Chicago), Canalys, SES (Hong Kong and Singapore), Click Asia Summit (Mumbai), AdTech (Singapore), SiTF Workshops, etc.


  1. I love this article on Blue Ocean Strategy for B2B companies. (And I wish we were 1/2 as good as you at graphics.) Though we lacked the systemized processes, we knew that boredom and sameness are rampant in B2B. It is the norm.nnThe best companies, Zappos, Hubspot, Marketo, Kinaxis, etc. are different. But your blue ocean discussion put a formal shape to it.nnCongratulations on being named a top B2B marketing blog. Thatu2019s quite an honor. Iu2019m pleased to share the news that Fearless Competitor was also named to that great list.nnJeff Ogden, the Fearless CompetitornFind New Customersn

  2. I love this article on Blue Ocean Strategy for B2B companies. (And I wish we were 1/2 as good as you at graphics.) Though we lacked the systemized processes, we knew that boredom and sameness are rampant in B2B. It is the norm.

    The best companies, Zappos, Hubspot, Marketo, Kinaxis, etc. are different. But your blue ocean discussion put a formal shape to it.

    Congratulations on being named a top B2B marketing blog. That’s quite an honor. I’m pleased to share the news that Fearless Competitor was also named to that great list.

    Jeff Ogden, the Fearless Competitor
    Find New Customers

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