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Pandemic Pivot: The Businesses That Got It Right

Let’s talk about pivoting. And by ‘pivoting’ we mean fundamentally changing the direction of your business. The objective of a pivot is to improve sales and revenue or to help your business remain in a particular market. And deciding to do a pandemic pivot comes with its own set of challenges.

The decision to pivot normally occurs when your current products or services aren’t meeting the requirements of your target market. How you pivot your business ultimately determines whether or not pivoting will be successful.

What is pivoting?

  • Making a feature of a product or service a stand-alone product or service.

Imagine you run a wedding photography business. One of the services you sell is a Wedding Package that features photography, drone videography, and 100 printed photos and 3 large canvas prints. Since the pandemic hit, sales of the wedding package have fallen, so, you start to offer photo printing and canvas printing as individual services that can be purchased from your website.
  • Making a product a feature of another product

Imagine you run a cosmetic company. The pandemic has caused lipstick sales to drop and footfall to your bricks and mortar locations to fall. So, to combat this issue, you do a pandemic pivot and develop a monthly subscription box that includes lipstick as one of the features.
  • Targeting a different set of customers and positioning the company in a new market

Let’s go back to the example of the wedding photography business. Marketing wedding packages no longer seems sensible with so many cancellations due to COVID-19 restrictions. So, you pivot your business to focus on producing doorstep portraits which have become a popular choice for families.
  • Changing platform i.e. from an app to software

A famous example of this is Slack. Slack’s CEO, Stewart Butterfield originally had a company called Tiny Speck. Tiny Speck created a game known as Glitch. After it was launched, it was deemed popular but unprofitable. However, its internal communication tool (which was developed to establish communication between various offices) emerged as a viable opportunity. This was how Slack was founded in 2014.

So, when is the right time to pivot?

Pivoting isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly. It should only be considered when you have exhausted all other options. 

4 situations where pivoting makes the most sense:

  1. Your business is constantly trying and failing to overrule your competitors
  2. There is only one part of your business/product getting attention 
  3. There has been a limited response from your marketplace
  4. Your business objectives and expectations have changed

How do you pivot effectively?

There are a few factors to consider once you’ve made the decision to pivot. To increase the chances of success you must:

  • Choose a new goal inline with your vision
Take the time to make sure your new vision is the right choice. Conduct research, competitor analysis and find out as much as possible about your target market

  • Identify opportunities for growth
You need to consider the long term implications of pivoting in a new direction and identify new opportunities and areas for future expansion

  • Redirect resources towards the new goal
See what you can reuse and salvage rather than scrapping any work you’ve already done. Identify what aspects of your business can be salvaged and redirect them towards the new goal

  • Listen to what your customers are saying
Customer feedback is a great indicator as to whether or not you should pivot. While some negative feedback is to be expected, a constant stream of it may mean you’re ready for a pivot

Businesses that got the pandemic pivot right

Here are 6 examples of businesses that pivoted during the pandemic and became more resilient:

Virascreen – from exhibition stands to protective screens

Part of the Kudos Exhibitions, Virascreen is one of the biggest pandemic pivot success stories. When Covid-19 hit, the exhibitions market was at a standstill. But Kudos Exhibitions saw an opportunity to redirect resources to meet the increasing demand for protective screens
They needed to market Virascreen and process orders urgently so, within 2 weeks, we built them an eCommerce solution. Within 3 months of the website launching, Virascreen had over £170,000 in website sales and a further £110,000+ in orders placed via direct communication. 

Airbnb – from in-person holidays to virtual experiences

The pandemics impact on travel meant that Airbnb quickly had to switch from offering vacations and staycations to offering virtual experiences. Rather than offering places to stay, hosts could instead offer things like cooking classes, music lessons and city tours online instead of in person.

Playmobil – from children’s toys to reusable masks and PPE

Playmobil used its own plastics expertise to create reusable face masks. They redirected their resources to produce masks in different sizes using a material which is durable, resource-saving and easy to clean. The toymaker also released a video aimed at helping children understand the virus and its implications.

Kwizzbit – from pub quizzes to employee engagement

Kwizzbit was an interactive pub quiz provider but with the closure of pubs across the country, they had to pivot to survive. They now offer interactive quizzes to businesses with remote workers to engage their employees and boost team morale.

Restaurants – from dine-in to delivery

The hospitality sector was one of the hardest hit. But many businesses adapted to the climate shift to offer delivery, takeaway and curbside pick up, meaning they continued to have access to their loyal customers and accessible to new local customers.

Hairdressers – from in-person experiences to curbside pickups and eCommerce

Salons had to close so hairdressers moved to online services and digital engagement. Many began building tailor-made take-home colour and other treatment kits specific to each client’s needs. While some offered curbside pick up through social media, others moved into the world of eCommerce adding a cart to their website.

To conclude

Launching and running a business is filled with risks but these situations present the perfect opportunity to try something new, so why not try it? If you do decide to take your company in a new direction, take the time to prepare. The more you plan and prepare, the more likely your business pivot will be successful.

The key signs it’s time to pivot:

  1. There is too much competition
  2. You’ve hit a plateau
  3. You’ve had very limited response from the marketplace
  4. You’re perspective about the industry has changed
  5. Sales have completely stopped
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that you have to adapt to survive.

If you’re thinking about pivoting your business, get in touch with us here.