Finding the ‘white space’ in your market

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Finding the white space in your market is about identifying market opportunities in your industry that your business is capable of meeting. There are many different interpretations of ‘white space’. Some companies consider it to be unchartered territory; others believe it to be where competition doesn’t exist. In this context, it is about mapping out new opportunities that your business has the resources, capability and passion to meet.

Let’s look more closely at some of the practical ways to identify and exploit the ‘white space’ in your market:

1. Clarify what you sell
This may seem like an obvious one, but so many companies fall at the first hurdle because they are unable to describe succinctly what they do in a single sentence. Whether you’re selling to consumers or other businesses, developing an effective proposition is the first step to persuading customers to part with their money. Try to be as specific as possible and incorporate detail such as geographical reach, your USP, and the market you wish to target. Recognise that the more specific you are with this, the greater chance you have of honing your marketing message to resonate with the right market.

2. Find a niche audience to serve
No business, particularly a small one, can be all things to all people. In order to succeed in your marketplace, you need to identify which customers to focus your efforts on. This will then drive how you reach them and how you price your product or service.

Take the time to understand your customers’ needs, what they like and dislike, and map out what you believe to be their decision-making process, so you know how and when to approach your market with the right tailored messaging.

An effective strategy is to identify key problems your target market has and to consider whether your offering provides effective solutions. It is all too easy to get carried away building innovative solutions that do not connect directly to your audience’s problems.

3. Focus on what you do well
Your business needs to have both the capability and resources to serve your market, so to find your white space you need to assess your strengths and weaknesses.

your efforts on finding your white space needs to involve an assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. Focus on an area you are closely familiar with, have experience with and are passionate about.

Begin with an assessment of the following:

  • What product or service are you most interested and passionate about?
  • What market would you most like to serve?
  • What do you do best and what skills do you think are required to excel in the identified white space?
  • What market, geographical or demographic, do you understand the best?

4. Get competitive advantage

Evaluating the competition’s marketing strategies can help you define your own target customer and find a white space. Ask yourself two simple questions:

i) What do we clearly do better than our competition?
ii) What do they clearly do better than us?

Competitive advantage can be achieved by focusing heavily on your answers to the former question, and by deprioritising your answers to the latter.

During this evaluation, put yourself in the position of the buyer and you’re more likely to get frank answers that will help you define and understand how you need to differentiate.

Finding your white space may sound pretty straightforward – and it really is. The overall ‘Holy Grail’ is identifying key needs within your target market which are currently not being met by any other provider. Then identify which of these your company can profitably address. This is where your ‘white space’ lies, and is where you should focus for growth.

Have you found your ‘white space’? What are your challenges? We’d love to hear from you.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I think there are some really important points here – a lot of organisations understandably don’t want to turn business away, but end up taking on projects that aren’t suited to their skill set and don’t play to their strengths, often at the expense of time and quality management. Not the best environment for finding yours, or other’s ‘white space’.

    Keeping on target with your desired customer base, and not being afraid to turn work away, even if it does go to the competition can be key. You want to deliver optimal project outputs every time – this will give you your own competitive advantage! This is a good reminder John!

  2. Thanks for your comment. I agree with your point about not being afraid to turn away work. This can be easier said than done, but generally pays dividends in the long term. This is especially the case for fixed fee work where you have significant variable costs – thinking long and hard before taking these kinds of projects on is really important, as they have the potential to get out of hand and stifle growth.

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