You have heard the rallying cry before: find your market niche, create a unique offering, target your efforts to grow your business. As a matter of fact, you’ve heard it from me! This is a proven strategy for extraordinary business growth, but is it enough?
In his newest book “Surge: Time the Marketplace, Ride the Wave of Consumer Demand, and Become Your Industry’s Big Kahuna”, (hot off the presses), author Mike Michalowicz says “yes and no.” Yes, a targeted market niche, a unique offering and a repeatable process are all necessary to business growth, but if you really want your business to take off, you need to be in the right place at the right time.
Arrrgh, you might be saying to yourself right now, how the #$%! do I do that? Surge tells you exactly how!
In his usual irreverent, first person, breezy style, Michalowicz takes us through the steps to anticipate and ride the wave of market demand. He even gives us a handy acronym to remember the steps. You guessed it – S.U.R.G.E.
Before I tell you what SURGE stands for, I will share an example from the book of what he means by timing. The technology for video conferencing existed for years before Skype came along. It was mostly relegated to large corporations who could afford the high cost.
However, in 2006 something really significant happened. Apple started putting built in cameras into their laptops, and soon other laptop manufacturers followed suit. By 2009, most laptop owners had built in technology for video conferencing. No special equipment needed. Skype was in the right place at the right time, and their free/inexpensive video conferencing services took off.
Using a surfing analogy, Michalowicz shows us how to spot these types of trends, catch the wave, and ride it for all its worth. Wave Watching is one of the methods for spotting trends that he shares. While watching the waves, do the following:
- Analyze the part of the ocean where you are going to surf. The best place to surf, perhaps the only place to successfully surf, is where your company’s unique offering caters to a specific type of top clients in a repeatable fashion.
- Look at the history of your industry and your niche – trends tend to happen in cycles.
- Watch for consumers trying to figure out their own workarounds for “traditional” solutions that aren’t working well anymore. If no one offers what they want, they will seek their own solutions.
- Look for landslides that can cause huge waves. In other words, when massive companies make innovations that require vendors, competitors, and consumers to make a large change. I mean the kind of change that can create a whole new market. For example, when Amazon released the Kindle, the e-reader industry was formed, with new products offered, requiring publishers to change their business models, and making way for new business opportunities to pop up.
The overriding question that Surge answers is how you can align what your company offers with what your customers will need, to take advantage of an oncoming wave.
Once you separate out your target market, you know who to sell to and who not to sell to, which makes it easier for you to determine how to sell.
This takes additional effort, as you look for patterns regarding what your niche needs now and what it may need in the future.
You must continue to increase your effort as you empower your community to rally around your mission. Once this takes hold, your effort will decrease as your growth increases
In this phase, your marketplace does the heavy lifting for you, automatically, as they spread the word for you.
This is where you repeat the core growth process you have mastered in prior markets with new targeted markets.
The bottom line, you don’t have to have a crystal ball or ESP or a time machine or even incredible luck to spot a trend in your industry and be in the right place at the right time. Follow the recommended action steps in SURGE and your business may become the next big thing!
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