Searching for Green Fields of Opportunity

Here comes part 2 of our March Opportunity blog series:  Searching for Green Fields of Opportunity

Part 1 – ‘The Opportunities Right Under Your Nose’

Green fields are the areas that your business doesn’t currently address today.

They can be found in several locations, such as new and as yet untapped markets, existing markets that have been overlooked and gaps between current markets.  Wherever you decide to look, it’s about creating and mapping out new opportunities and being open and alive to ideas from wherever they may come from.  It can involve new products and services as well as leveraging current offerings to talk to new customers.

Here are some of the ways to identify green fields of opportunity:

1. Talk to your customers

If you don’t do this already, provide multiple channels for customers to get in touch with you, such as email, social media, surveys and helplines.  Opportunities can come when customers say they wish you sold a particular type of product, or how a slight modification of an existing product would be perfect for their needs.

Also, listen to customer complaints.  When a customer moans about something, what they are really saying a lot of the time is: “I wish there was….”  There can be opportunity gold here.

2.Find a niche audience

A niche is a tightly focused part of an audience.  By definition, serving it reduces competition and can increase your chances of success.  Try to really understand your customer to see if you can develop products that give them something they need that they’re not getting from elsewhere.

In 2010, 15-year-old schoolgirl Tara Haughton was at a wedding in Spain, and as she walked confetti stuck to the adhesive on her shoes where the price label had been. The look resembled some designer shoes she had seen and it gave her an idea, coloured soles for a designer shoe look.  What started as a school project has grown into Rossi Solini, a company that now sells its ‘designer sole makeover kit’ to more than 20 countries.

Hot Picks in San Jose, California was founded after inventor Stephen key noticed that major brands in the guitar pick industry weren’t producing collectible novelty picks.  So he designed a skull-shaped pick that filled a niche and the company was born.

3. Perform market analysis

Look at products and services in your market to see what’s currently being under-served or missing.  It’s not necessarily about reinventing the wheel, but looking at where you can come in to fill a need.

Michigan-based Champion Enterprises discovered green fields with its pre-fabricated homes that let buyers choose high-end specifications, such as state-of-the-art kitchens.  The opportunity came from looking at the housing industry and noting that although prefabricated homes are cheap and quick to build they have a reputation of being low quickly.  At the other end of the scale are houses constructed on-site by developers which project a high quality image, but are expensive to build.  Champion mixed the advantages of the two, to create a new offering; pre-fabricated homes with swish touches and luxury extras.

4. Look for new markets for what you do

You serve your market well with your current offerings, but can you branch out and offer the same things to new markets?  For example, you might be doing really well with companies who have up to 100 employees, are located in London and have a turnover of £10 million.  Perhaps, you can then turn your attention to similar companies who fit this profile in other parts of the country.

Finding Your Green Fields

Green fields can be scary places for some, because they fear the unknown.  They are uncomfortable serving markets outside their core competence and feel uneasy when trying to solve unmet needs.  The experience is new and different and conservative organisations may shrink away from the challenge.

Companies that often do well are those that adjust well in unfamiliar territories and are willing to take risks.

So be bold and go out and search for your green fields of opportunity, and once you’ve found them, plant roots and then focus on growth.

Soybean Field

Part 3 of our Opportunity series will be published on Thursday. Keep an eye on the blog!


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