There’s a new buzz word making the rounds in business circles. If you’ve had your ear and eyes to the news grapevine the last few months, I’m sure you’ll recognize it. Close on the heels of the now cliché phrase, “We’re here for you,” is the term “pivot” as it relates to companies making significant business changes in response to the pandemic, business closures, and resulting economic slowdown.
- Have you had to pivot due to COVID-19?
- Have you had to change the way you deliver your products and services to consumers?
- Is your pivot permanent or just temporary (I know, that’s a hard one to answer in these uncertain times)?
If you have had to pivot to stay afloat, the next thing you need to ask yourself is, as a business, has this ‘pivot’ actually changed your brand . . . and should it?
I recently read an article at Forbes.com, How Three Small Businesses Are Pivoting To Stay Afloat Amid The Coronavirus Pandemic. In the article, the author profiles how three different businesses have reacted in response to the pandemic:
CAMP GLADIATOR—When news of the pandemic broke, Camp Gladiator cofounder and co-CEO Jeff Davidson told his team, “I think we need to be prepared for a major event.” The $60-million fitness company’s offerings were designed to be conducted outdoors, in parks, at schools, and on sports fields so participants could be present to support one another. Clearly, with quarantines and social distancing, such a model could not sustain itself. In response, the company and its 1,000+ instructors “pivoted” and began offering virtual workouts in mid-March, using platforms such as Zoom. So far, reports Forbes, “Camp Gladiator has retained 97% of its original customer base of nearly 80,000 and has acquired an additional 20,000 new customers.” All in all, the company appears well-positioned for whatever the future brings.
LA MONARCA BAKERY AND CAFÉ—Pre-COVID, La Monarca Bakery and Café cofounder Ricardo Cervantes described his $15-million, Los Angeles-based chain as a cross between a “Mexican Bakery and Starbucks.” Since the pandemic, it’s grown into something more. The chain has kept all of its locations open for pick-up and take-out, plus expanded its model to include more prepackaged items and family meal options. They’ve also started carrying essential daily goods such as milk, butter, flour, paper products, and cleaning products—making them a more indispensable part of the community. They report that they are busier now than ever.
KINGSTON FAMILY VINEYARDS—It should come as no surprise that while on-premise alcohol sales (in a restaurant or bar, for example) plummeted due to closings, in-store and online alcohol sales have been booming, according to Nielsen.com. While this is good news for those that don’t rely on on-premise sales, it spells disaster for those that do. To avert such a disaster, Kingston Family Vineyards of Portola Valley, California, which sells the vast majority of its grapes to other winemakers, turned to virtual wine tastings to help sell the 3,500+/- cases of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, and Sauvignon Blanc it produces annually. They simply ship bottles to customers in advance so they can enjoy the vintage “virtually” with the experts at Kingston. While most other on-premise sellers of alcohol report dismal sales, Kingston’s revenue was down just 10% year-over-year as of April.
FILLING A NEED
There are countless other examples of pivots made by companies to sustain themselves during the pandemic. Here are a few more:
- Washbnb, a laundry service whose pre-pandemic focus was washing and folding linens for the AirBnB market, now provides laundry services to the elderly and immunocompromised.
- Kitsbow, a bicycle apparel company, repurposed its 3D printers to make plastic masks.
- Car parts and textile manufacturer Acme Mills switched to making KN 95S respirator masks.
The promise of most brands is to fill a need their target customers have. To that end, companies that have pivoted in response to the pandemic are simply filling customer needs in new, different ways. That’s what I call innovation—and that’s a business word I never get tired of hearing or using. Innovation is what drives business success and sustainability. You can call it “pivot” if you like, but to me it’s really all about innovation.
INNOVATE & ADAPT
It’s simple. Companies that are most innovative and adaptable—those that can adjust on the fly to the changing needs of customers—will be the most successful, COVID or no COVID.
- What have the past several months taught you about your business model?
- What have you learned about your customers?
- Are there new ways of positioning, packaging, and/or delivering your product or service that are more aligned with today’s realities?
- Does your company or team possess skills or talents that can be utilized in new ways?
- How does your pivot set you up for the long-term? What happens to your new approach in a post-COVID world?
As I have often stated in my blogs, the answers to these questions are unique to you and your brand. There are no cookie cutter approaches—at least there shouldn’t be. Some businesses have stayed the course and failed, while others have thrived. Some have changed to take advantage of new markets and opportunities, while some have not had to alter a thing.
We must also remember that a pivot or change in business direction doesn’t necessarily mean a change in brand. As you know, customers don’t just buy the product or service you provide; they also buy the “promise” you make to stand behind what you offer—and that promise shouldn’t change necessarily just because what you used to deliver in-person you now deliver virtually, for example, or just because the product you once produced is now something else that your customers need. Your offerings may have changed—which means you’ll need to change messaging, where you advertise, or the way sell to target customers—but your brand endures.
Personal Brands Often Need Makeovers Too
WE ARE HERE TO HELP
Barrel O’Monkeyz has decades of branding, brand storytelling, strategizing, and messaging expertise to share with you. No one knows what the new normal for business is going to be. That said, Barrel O’Monkeyz is committed to putting our team to work for you. If you are struggling with questions about your brand and how to keep your business afloat, give us a call to discuss strategies and potential services, plus how we’ve reduced our service pricing to help businesses stay on their feet! Contact us today.