NEED-MEETING & Why You Want a Blue Ocean, Rather Than a Red Ocean Strategy

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 10/25/17.

W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne analyzed 150 years of strategic decision-making and concluded that every strategy can be described as either a “red ocean strategy” or a “blue ocean strategy.” A red ocean strategy is where you go after the same people as your competitors and try to meet the same needs that your competitors are meeting. Therefore you fight over the same fish and, as sharks feeding on the same fish, the water becomes red with blood.

A blue ocean strategy however finds new segments of the market that are not having their needs met and begin to meet those needs. Therefore you are not competing with your competitors, but rather you are meeting needs in a segment of the market that the other competitors have overlooked.

This is very important for the church. Most churches typically try to have a better children’s ministry, a more professional worship team or a more visible/attractive facility in hopes of attracting people to the church. Typically this attracts other Christians looking for a better experience.

And, over the past three decades more and more churches have tried to grow by focusing on attracting other Christians rather than meeting the needs of non-churchgoers.

Many years ago when the airline industry was suffering from too much competition, many carriers tried to increase their service to their flying customers. They wound up competing with each other and creating a red ocean of blood over the existing flying public. Stalwart and storied carriers such as Northwest Airlines disappeared.

At the same time a young start up company called Southwest Airlines focused on making flights cheaper along with the customer experience better. Their early motto was “everyone flies first class.” The result was meeting the need that a flying public desired of cheaper flights. This meant that they weren’t competing just for an existing market, but they were reaching out to people who typically didn’t fly to a nearby location. Now low cost meant the non-flying would considering a shorter flight.

A red ocean vs. blue ocean strategy for the church means reaching non-churchgoers [need-meeting] rather than church goers [attraction]. Take a look at this comparison between the two strategies published by Sage Growth Partners.

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