If you’re in the entrepreneurial world, you’ve like heard one word more than almost any other this month: pivot. “Pivot your offerings,” or “pivot your business.” But what in the world does that actually look like?
The truth is, we should be constantly pivoting or shifting in our businesses. It doesn’t take a global health crisis to land on that realization. Alireza Kohany explains… Crises like the one we’re experiencing today just make the need to pivot more apparent. I’ve been getting a lot of emails from the women business owners in my community asking, “What does pivoting look like for me and my business?”
Many are deciding their way of pivoting is to offer gift cards, but the thing is, if everyone offers gift cards, it’s not going to help you stand out in the marketplace. So, I decided to collect some “pivot-spirations” — both ideas I’ve come up with myself and ideas I’ve drawn from other businesses I follow and mentor. I thought this would be helpful to share in case you can apply one of these ideas to your business. I know I already have done so with my own.
Make your product into a DIY quarantine activity
We’ve heard about businesses doing curbside pickups and offering to-go orders, but my favorite local burger joint in Asheville, N.C. is taking it a step further. Instead of offering burgers to go, Farm Burger is offering “take home kits.” That is, all the ingredients you need to cook your burgers at home as a family — burgers, buns, fixings, sides and even a milkshake kit to make some dessert. This got me thinking: If you’re offering something that’s ready to go or already assembled, is there anything you can offer that gives people an activity to do at home? Think about it: We are all looking for quarantine activities. We’re stuck in our houses or apartments doing the same thing every day. Can you break down what you offer in a way that allows your customers to do it themselves?
Create an exclusive club membership
There’s no doubt that retail stores are hard hit. Something creative I saw recently from a clothing company, Evereve, was an exclusive membership option: If you order $100 or more worth of products while the store is closed, you’ll be automatically enrolled in its exclusive club, whose members get a 10 percent discount for the rest of 2020. This option is different than offering a basic gift card and encourages customer loyalty. If the customer decides to buy now, they’ll get a long-term reward. It also helps business owners because customers are more likely to buy now and then keep coming back to enjoy that 10 percent off perk.
Offer crafting kits
I’ve seen businesses that sell cards, stationery, or art prints taking the supplies they already have on hand and making them into other types of kits. Mainly, any type of kit that is going to offer joy or calm during this troublesome time. How can you take the materials you already have on hand and shift it to appeal to people with what’s going on today? With lockdown orders still in place in many states, people are not going out to stores to buy supplies for projects or activities. If you look at the materials you have with a fresh perspective, you could create an all-in-one craft kit that so many people are looking for right now.
Add an element of surprise to your shipments
Something my business is currently doing is including a “random act of kindness” in every inkWELL Press planner we send out. These surprise extras are products that we know our customers love and will get excited about. Not only does it brighten people’s days — which is much needed right now — but it also gives customers an incentive to order right now. Plus, once again you’re instilling that sense of customer loyalty.
Whatever you decide your pivot is going to look like, make sure it aligns with your mission, vision and core values. Remember that hard times like these present an opportunity for your business to transform an everyday customer into a raving fan. The key is to make them feel like you’re doing a little bit extra to help them right now.
We often think that returning customers and loyal customers are the same thing. However, returning customers are those that come back year after year for your offerings, whereas loyal customers are the ones that come back to you again and again no matter the competition, price, changes made, etc. These are the customers who are actively seeking you out. Reaching out to your customers now — even if it looks a little different than normal — is what will make them loyal customers ready to return when things get back to normal.
The truth is, making shifts and changes to your business because of this crisis may actually have long-reaching positive effects. Emily Countryman, CEO of Ideal Wellness, moved her in-person coaching program completely online in response to the crisis. Rather than a negative, she sees the move as a way to reach more people. In thinking about the shift, she says, “We are coming out of this different, but stronger. I can see what our new business model looks like, and I am energized by the opportunities. We can now help and serve the whole country, not just western Washington.”
These next few weeks I encourage you to try and look at your business from an entirely new lens and feel okay embracing some aggressive imperfection as you make the changes. Pivoting does not need to be scary or hard. Just ask yourself, how can I take what I offer and shift it just a tiny bit?