A couple of weeks ago, I introduced another outthinker
company, Abiomed, which decided to give up its focus on creating an artificial
heart in order to focus instead on helping people repair their existing hearts.
In the beginning, this approach seemed strange because Abiomed was the first
company to patent an artificial heart. However, years of research helped the
company’s management realize that heart recovery was the future.
Such opportunities appear when a person stops seeing a
retreat as surrender. Instead, one should try to see retreat as a skillful
advance. By choosing to retreat from the crowded frontlines, a company can
quietly and gracefully step across another unprotected border.
This strategy is
pattern #17: Seize the “Deer in the Headlights” moment.
This happens when a person looks for a moment when an attack
will not invoke resistance.
EyeBuyDirect is practicing this pattern. Consider this –
while CEO Roy Hessel and his team are keenly aware of their competition, they are
more focused on the “billion people worldwide who do not have access to vision
correction.” In fact, the company’s official purpose is to make prescription
eyeglasses and other forms of vision correction affordable and accessible to
everyone worldwide. To listen to my complete interview with Roy Hessel, please click here.
In other words, EyeBuyDirect is focusing on a market segment
that competitors will not defend because they are not serving it. This is not
unlike MasterCard, Visa, and American Express, who know their greatest
opportunity, and their best “competitor,” is found in cash transactions. Home
Depot, for example, enjoyed years of effortless growth by attacking the
fragmented independent contractor market, convincing homeowners to “do it
yourself” instead. Contractors did not see Home Depot as a threat and even if
they did, they were too fragmented to organize a defense.
So EyeBuyDirect lets its competitors take the traditional
route of eyeglass retail stores, and instead focuses on the people who can’t
afford those high retail prices. Not only does EyeBuyDirect offer its customers
more competitive pricing, but it also creates a custom-made product for anyone
anywhere in the world. That attention to detail and ability to provide
personalized products helps drive EyeBuyDirect’s success.
Instead of worrying about its competitors, EyeBuyDirect
focuses on keeping its organization efficient and streamlined. And it keeps
looking for new ideas and ways to reach the consumer, such as by producing
videos about the products and having employees model different styles.
By ignoring the competition, EyeBuyDirect can harness its
resources to focus on better products and higher sales numbers. Ask yourself the following questions to see
if you can find an opportunity that is currently being ignored by the market.
target market would I like to enter?
see an opportunity that someone else hasn’t taken advantage of?
type of competitor will not resist an attack?
identify a time that a competitor will not anticipate an attack?