In today’s business vocabulary, the word pivot—as a verb or a noun—has become shorthand for any change or shift. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, forced many of us to initiate wholesale and all-encompassing pivots in order to stay afloat.
We talked with entrepreneurs and members of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) who recently overhauled their businesses in order to survive—and perhaps even thrive—in a post-pandemic landscape.
From their experiences, we learn three key steps to making a successful pivot.
1. Adjust your services to be relevant today
WooHah Productions is based near Melbourne, Australia, and provides audio-visual equipment. Before coronavirus, they primarily catered to in-person events and live entertainment activities. When those became scarce, the company found itself with few prospects.
Arosh Fernando, creative director of WooHah Productions, says, “When our core business was not permited to function due to the government restrictions, we realized we had to change everything.”
The team had to come up with a new way to make their products and services relevant in the current times. With that, Studio 45 by WooHah Productions was born.
“We turned our warehouse into a television and live-stream broadcast centre. We created Studio 45, our pivot during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a state-of-the-art studio with the latest audio, lighting and video technology as well as a 14m-wide digital LED screen and broadcast cameras to enrich virtual events,” explains Arosh.
The studio has become the venue for various live stream events—from Easter Sunday church services to five-day virtual conferences. “We also helped funeral homes during lockdown period by live-streaming services for family members and friends.”
Additionally, says Arosh, “we built an online ticketing platform to help event agencies and organizers make money on virtual and live-streamed events.”
Arosh notes that “all these changes helped us, as we would have no income if it wasn’t for them.”
2. Stay true to your brand and commited to your clients
Brad Hampel, director at Solution Entertainment, faced the same industry challenges as Arosh Fernando. With in-person events drying up, he pivoted his venture to an online engagement platform that blends technology and experiences to connect and unite workforces.
His new company, All In, brings colleagues and communities together, even when they are physically apart. All In delivers hundreds of curated experiences around five key pillars that touch on today’s greatest needs: community, mental wellbeing, physical wellbeing, education and entertainment.
“For over a decade, Solution Entertainment has made connection our currency. We bring brands, businesses and people together through experiences that are exciting, rewarding and memorable. In this challenging time, we may need to do it a little differently but that’s exactly what we intend to keep on doing,” Brad explains. “That’s why, no matter whether we’re together or apart, we wanted to continue to give our clients access to experiences that inform, inspire and delight.”
3. Maintain a narrow focus
“The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly delivered huge challenges for business owners both around the globe,” says the creative director at ManBrands, Trent Dyball. A subsidiary of Norman Connell Advertising, ManBrands is an advertising agency that develops creatively inspired strategic campaigns that speak to men.
Instead of focusing on the negative, Trent focused on how he and his team could make the most of the situation. “Owning a marketing and content agency during this period has provided me with an opportunity to help many businesses successfully change course to survive and, in some cases, increase profitability.”
The common thread for those organization that succeed? Change only one element of their go-to-market strategy.
Trent explains, “In our experience, businesses that stay focused on their existing target market have secured success quickly.”
According to Trent, “Modifying your product or service offering or providing alternate delivery methods to continue to fulfil your current target market’s needs is a simple and effective pivot strategy. Finding a new product or service to offer to your existing target market has also proven successful.”
“This allows businesses to increase their share of wallet and is easier and more cost-effective than identifying and nurturing a completely new target audience.”
“Of course, identifying a new target market for your existing product or service can also deliver outstanding results, but generally over a longer period,” he adds. “We recommend our clients ask existing customers how they use their products. As a result, they often discover potential new applications and target markets.”
Internally, their agency has shifted its focus from deliverables to strategy. “While still extremely challenging, it is also quite exciting to help clients adapt and explore new opportunities. The old saying still rings true: Play to your strengths.”