Seth Godin has a great post here about positioning a product vs. it's opposite.
If you have to explain something new, how much do you focus on what it complements, or what it replaces? Most people need to see the flaws and feel the pain in their current choice to bother doing something new or different. If your opposite does not make sense to everyone, than it probably isn't clear and you might have a problem - an undefined, unreachable market.
Reminds me of one of my favorite books for Entrepreneurs - Selling the Wheel. Who buys your product? everyone! What do they use it for? everything! where's the opposite in that?
I stumbled across this great post that explains how this VC tried to discourage an entrepreneur from starting a party planning portal/website - "been there, done that", being the reason. The entrepreneur ignored the advice and has created a hot little company called mypunchbowl.
I must confess that I have historically been a "big idea" addict - gravitating towards revolutionary new concepts, as opposed to evolutionary improvements.
However, there are a hell of a lot of advantages for entering into existing product categories:
1. buyers have budgets
2. you can learn from the mistakes of the early entrants and do better
3. it is a lot easier to differentiate than to invent from scratch
Here are a list of examples big and small:
Google is the easiest, most obvious example. Me and everyone else were using Yahoo! before Google came along with better, faster.
The Ladders is a great jobsite that uses a model that is the inverse of Monster, Careerbuilder and HotJobs. Candidates pay and job postings are free.
Webex OWNS the web presentation market, but that did not stop gotomeeting, who has built a nice business, with the 80/20 model (80% of the functionality for 20% of the price).
Why on earth would anyone want to enter the pizza market with Dominos', Pizza Hut and Little Caesars owning the market? Papa Johns did and has consistently gained market share over the past 10 years while the others have lost share.
blah blah blah . . there are so many examples, it is ridiculous.
Don't hestiate from entering a crowded market because it's crowded. Just sort out how you will differentiate and take the business away from the other guys.
Seth Godin recently reposted his views on how so many companies create really bad powerpoint decks with uninspiring, boring information presentation. His key message - a picture is worth a 1,000 words.
Can you trust job candidate interviews?
What makes the point better? this picture, or several bullet pointed phrases?
Meanwhile, Guy Kawaski preaches the 10/20/30 rule in making powerpoint presentations. No more than 10 slides, in 20 minutes with 30 point font. Who is right and who is wrong? I think they are both right. For an investor deck, I focus on Guy's points first and mix in Godin. For sales decks, the oppposite is true.
If you are trying to sell a product that requires education on a concept, then you really out to check out this VERY innovative presentation on Identity 2.0 , made by Dick Hardt, the CEO of Sxip Identity. You will understand the challenges associated with Identity Mangement after listening to this and you will be entertained. Very unique approach - applicable for the right audience at the right time.