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Mine the gap – there’s business in it!

Mine the gap - there's business in itIf you sit on your laurels, there’s a risk your customers will move away from you. John Fitzgerald

Let’s be honest with ourselves the marketplace is crowded and looking for that uninterrupted space to place your business foot is becoming more of a challenge. You have been told over and over again to find a niche and to go off on the quest of finding that elusive USP (unique selling proposition) to help differentiate you from the crowd.  But that crowd seems to be getting larger and as it grows there appears to be is less and less space for you to find a foothold, but what if there was a gap, a space in the midst of the madness that you could claim as your own and command a premium for.

I heard it said that the gap in a market is you, which certainly is a challenging train of thought, but as you start to unpack it there may be some truth in that statement.

First let’s understand what we are talking about when we say a gap in the market. I like Product Arts definition “A market gap is an opportunity in a market where no supplier provides a product or service that buyers need (or want).  This does not mean just the absence of any competition, but also the unavailability of adequate solutions. There may be solutions offered by competitors, but they are not cutting the mustard for buyers and users, leaving a gap open to a savvier offering.”

A great illustration of this is Apple who managed to create dominance with products and services in markets they didn’t create, with technologies that were available to everyone. They ‘simply’ identified a gap between existing provision and the frustrations of customers and set themselves on a path to being the solution i.e. The problem. How to carry around your entire music collection in an easy and accessible format. The Solution. Using the technologies that had successfully been used by Palm Pilot Apple created the iPod.

The business landscape is quite literally littered with examples of finding a gap in the market and mining it successfully; Glasses Direct, Amazon, Love Film, Gumtree and Ebay to name but a few.

A recent television advert reminded me of the importance of keeping your finger on the pulse to identify and monetize that gap.

In the UK where the war for supermarket share is fierce there are only a handful of names leading the pack and the competition has traditionally been on price and tradition – mum used to shop here- but a recent challenge about ethnics, values and down right lying to customers (100% beef turned out to be 100% horse) provided an opportunity and highlighted a gap between customer frustrations, wants and needs and an caring solution.

Morrisons Supermarket seeing the gap jumped in to subtly demonstrate how they are different from their competitors and claim a larger piece of supermarket real estate by putting their customers first.

They talked in a tone of voice that demonstrated empathy with their customers and the challenges they were facing with other supermarkets, they demonstrated an understanding of their needs and what it would take to provide a better solution and with messages like Morrisons ‘source 98% of their own beef’; own butchers; fresh in house they demonstrated how they were the solution.

Morrisons saw a gap in the market and went for it.

Where is the gap in your market is there something you are missing something that could enhance your offering that you could employ to engage more profitably with your customer.

Some things to consider when actively looking for the gap

  • • Listen to your customers
  • • Watch your competitors. Have a look at what they are up to. Also check out what that are not doing
  • • Listen to the news. What is happening in the world of your customers
  • • Think outside of the box. Have a look at what is happening around you in other industries are there any lessons for you there?

And finally in my translation of Tom Peters words ‘creative swiping copy’ adopt and adapt good practices and make them work for you as you continue your question to mine the gap

Carole Pyke

Passionate about HUGs, stories, transforming business and celebrating success. Currently excited about Business HUG Day on 28 November and helping businesses connect and engage with their customers.