Pearl’s CEO and founder Merry Korn attributes the “Blue Ocean Strategy,” a book authored by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne, as having a seismic impact on how Pearl positioned in the highly competitive government contractor market space. “Until I read the “Blue Ocean,” I marketed Pearl Interactive Network as a contact center company that provided employment opportunities to people with disabilities. An approach I thought was compelling and a viable market discriminator, however, the angle did not result in sales traction.” After reading the “Blue Ocean Strategy,” Korn shifted Pearl’s market positioning as a Women Owned Small Business and HUBZone certified contact center provider that gives hiring preference to a niche workforce with barriers to work, with a laser focus on procuring federal and state government contracts. The marketing shift positively accelerated Pearl’s trajectory because Pearl’s social mission resonated with government agencies and prime contractors that for compliance, must provide subcontracting opportunities to diverse small businesses.
The Blue Ocean Strategy is based on the premise that companies must stop competing in red oceans. Red oceans are highly competitive, “me too” companies such as hotel chains and internet providers. Instead, the book suggests businesses pursue blue oceans, otherwise known as uncontested market space, which positions the competition irrelevant.
A case study in the Blue Ocean book references the rise and continued endurance of Cirque du Soleil, a combination of circus, opera, ballet and acrobatics that has no competition. They’ve positioned themselves as a business that delivers a unique entertainment experience that receives three to four times the ticket price of a traditional circus. The Cirque du Soleil production has entertained 180 million spectators, performing in three hundred cities over the last thirty years. The book credits the unparalleled success of Cirque du Soleil because they are unrivaled by competitors. The result of positioning with no competition results in realized revenues that took Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey—the previous global titans of the circus industry—more than one hundred years to attain.
According to IBIS World, a trusted industry research firm, there are 34,013 call centers in the US and the average number of employees per call center is 13.2. Pearl’s unique “Blue Ocean Strategy” demonstrates the importance of a strategy unique enough to minimize the number of competitors.
Pearl Interactive Network, Inc., a government contact center provider, is a for profit social enterprise founded in 2004 that gives hiring priority to a niche workforce of people with barriers to work. Sixty-five percent of Pearl associates are living in economically challenged areas, people with disabilities, military spouses, and Veterans. Today Pearl employs over 1,000 associates located across twenty-nine states.