The road to success is never a straight path. It is full of twists, turns, ups, and downs; it’s also a path that never ends.
Especially for your business.
What makes you successful today might not work tomorrow. Just look at 8-tracks, cassette tapes, CDs, VHS tapes, and DVDs. These were all products that were once immensely popular, but due to advancements in technology, have become obsolete.
Blockbuster, which has a spot in the hearts of everyone of a certain age, failed to recognize that trends were changing in home entertainment. Their failure to plan to adapt led to Netflix overtaking them and their eventual bankruptcy.
As your business grows, you will encounter the need to evolve to meet the changing needs of your audience. A crisis, like the COVID-19 pandemic, can also force you to change how you do business and, as a result, how you market yourself. This is called pivoting your marketing strategy so you can find success even in the face of adversity.
Let’s look at how the five steps you need to take to pivot your marketing strategy during a time of change for your business.
Reassess Your Goals
The first thing you want to do is evaluate your organizational and marketing goals. Most goal-setting is done for the mid- and long-term. However, during a change in your industry or a time of crisis, it can be difficult to count on what the landscape will look like 6-12 months in the future.
We recommend “shortening the cycle.” Set more immediate and intermediate goals. Focus on the next 8-12 weeks. When you have a better idea of what you can expect in the future, you can begin to extend your goal setting.
Your objective here is to gain a level of certainty and control over the immediate future.
Update Your Target Audience
Next, look at your audience. Has the changing environment changed who you are targeting? Or has it changed the priorities of your audience?
Make a list comparing the needs of your audience before and after the pivot. See what has changed and begin to think how you can address the changing needs of your audience. (More on this below.)
While it may help to focus on a narrower audience, do not immediately dismiss the possibility of expanding your potential pool of customers. Do some research to determine if there are people who need your services who may not have previously needed them before.
Rethink Your UVP
After you update your target audience, review their new pain points and see if there are ways you can address them.
At the time of publishing, we were riding the waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. People could not go into restaurants to eat, but, for various reasons, still wanted or needed restaurant-quality food. In response, many restaurants that originally did not offer delivery or curbside-pickup began doing so. So, at the same time diners were still able to get food from their favorite restaurants, the same restaurants were able to stay in business and bring in income.
For a non-pandemic example of pivoting, look at Twitter. Twitter originally started as a podcasting platform known as Odeo. Apple’s foray into podcasting made Odeo obsolete. After a company brainstorming session, Jack Dorsey, Founder and CEO of Twitter, changed the company to a messaging platform where you could share your status. The first tweet was sent in March 2006; now the company is worth over 4 billion dollars.
Whatever the case may be, look at the changing needs of your audience and determine how your business is most uniquely positioned to address those needs so you can remain relevant and solvent.
Revise Your Content Strategy
Now that you have an updated target audience and know how you can best serve them, it is time to update your marketing content strategy.
If your audience has changed, you may have to update the marketing channels you want to use moving forward. If there are no significant changes, then use the channels that you were using before.
However, now might be a good time to review your website, social media accounts, and email marketing platform to ensure that everything is up to par and is still used by your target audience.
Next, look at the types of marketing content you want to produce. Again, if there are no major changes to your audience or marketing channels, you will most likely produce the same types of content.
The key here is to make sure the new content reflects any changes in your audience or your services. Your content still needs to communicate that you understand their needs and that your products/services address those needs.
Speak, and Listen, to Your Team
It doesn’t matter if your team is a team of two or two-hundred. You want and need everyone to be on the same page.
Communicate the changes you are making and share why you are making them. Ask for feedback, and, if necessary, make changes to your strategy. As you implement your updated strategy, continue to communicate with your team. You will be better able to make important decisions while ensuring your team feels involved in the process. The key is to maintain open lines of communication.
Pivoting is never easy. However, to stay on your path to success, you will most likely have to do it a number of times over the life of your business; it’s a good skill to have. The steps above will help you lay a strong foundation on which you can pivot so you can continue marketing your business in the most effective and efficient manner whatever change comes your way.