February 21, 2022
Take a lesson learned by Flickr’s co-founder Stewart Butterfield. He and his team were busy developing a game, Game Neverending, when he realized it wasn’t going to work. Instead, he used a pivot strategy to turn the photo-sharing tool into the very successful Flickr.
That wasn’t the only time a pivot strategy worked for Butterfield. A few years later, his company started developing an online game, Glitch. To make it easier to share notes and product management tasks and milestones, he did away with traditional emails to his team. Instead, he created an in-company messaging system that they could use for collaborating. Glitch failed, but Slack was born.
A pivot strategy is a technique where you change your business or product to fit the needs of consumers in other ways. By pivoting your marketing plan, you agree that your product or service isn’t meeting the needs you thought it would, so you shift the business to fit consumers’ current demands or needs.
How Do You Know When It’s Time to Pivot Your Campaign?
You get it. It’s time to make some changes, but how do you know when to shift your marketing campaign?
You’re Too Similar to the Competition
Start by looking at your competition. Do you have one competitor, or are you trying to stand out in a field of dozens of similar brands or products? If you have too much competition, focus on the thing that makes you unique.
For example, you have McDonald’s and Burger King. They offer the same items, so why would a consumer choose one over another? Burger King stands out by offering flame-broiled burgers and onion rings. You want to look for that one thing that makes you unique and run with it.
You Can’t Get Ahead
No matter how hard your marketing team works, you can’t seem to get ahead. You’re spending hundreds of hours of wages each month, but you haven’t progressed anywhere. When you’re wasting money on marketing campaigns that aren’t going anywhere, it’s an excellent time to consider pivoting your strategy.
Years ago, Odeo was being developed to be the biggest podcasting platform the world had seen. With just over a dozen employees working non-stop to get it ready, Apple came out and beat them to the punch. Odeo’s founders didn’t give up. They pivoted their strategy to short one-line blogs. Twitter was born.
Only One Part of Your Brand or Service Draws Consumers
One part of your company is getting attention, but consumers ignore other areas. If you have one successful component in your brand, pivot towards it. Stop spreading your company in several different directions. Hone in on the profitable area and build on that niche.
Have you ever looked at how Avon was born back in the late-1880s? David McConnell worked as a door-to-door book salesman. He started offering free homemade perfume samples with each purchase to draw sales. The problem was that the women were more interested in the perfume samples than they were in his books. He pivoted his approach and started selling door-to-door perfume instead.
Your Company Goals Have Shifted
As times change, your vision may also shift. If your company values and visions have shifted with the changing times, consider pivoting your marketing campaign to match the “new you.”
Patagonia decided to expand its “1% for the Planet” vision of protecting the environment by donating all Black Friday sales to grassroots nonprofits they believe in. The company expected about $2 million in Black Friday sales and, instead, hit the $10 million mark. One minor change to their Black Friday marketing strategies brought tremendous results.
Consumer Feedback Isn’t Positive or Shows Times Are Changing
If you’re testing products or services and the feedback isn’t positive, it’s time to change strategies. You might be marketing your products based on past beliefs or times. Look through consumer feedback and pick out your company’s strengths. Learn from your mistakes. Use that information to refresh your marketing strategy.
For example, Victoria’s Secret found hundreds of stores shutting down as malls floundered across the country. The brand was marketed to women who wanted to look sexy for men. But, they learned that women want to dress to please themselves, and those women come in all shapes and sizes. The brand now has lingerie and comfortable undergarments suitable to those women.
Our Best Tips for Incorporating and Using a Pivot Strategy
How do you get started once you know you need to make changes?
Do It Now
The first step is to strike while the proverbial iron is hot. If you delay making changes, you’ll waste time and money. What happens if your competition sees a need and moves faster than you have to fill it? While you’re deciding to make changes and delaying that first step, your company is losing money. How much can you lose before you have to shut your doors? Get started pivoting your brand as soon as you know it’s necessary.
Brainstorm With Your Marketing Team
You want to sit down and brainstorm how your brand, service, or product needs to change. A strong marketing plan isn’t something you do on your own. You want as much input as you can get from different experts. If you don’t have a team, it’s okay to realize you need help. A specialist in marketing campaigns is one of the best ways to embrace a pivot strategy.
Have you ever heard of the SMART methodology? It’s something Google emphasizes with its project management teams. It stands for:
S (Specific) – The change has to be clearly thought out and presented so that there are no questions about your intent.
M (Measurable) – Make sure the change you’re working on can be measured in some way. If you don’t know how to measure success, it is hard to understand if the changes are working.
A (Achievable) – Is your change or pivot something that your company can realistically pull off without running into problems that will halt your goals?
R (Realistic) – Your changes have to be relevant to your brand and not something you have no expertise in.
T (Timely) – Set clear deadlines for your tasks, milestones, and product or brand’s relaunch.
Run your ideas through these criteria. If the ideas don’t fit well into each one, tweak them to ensure they do. If your thoughts are hazy, they’re unlikely to be clear to your target audience.
Don’t scrap your original information and plans as you decide how to make changes. Tuck it away, as things may circle back over time. The work you’ve done can be valuable in the future.
Gather Consumer Input
Go through reviews, comments on social media, and emails you’ve received and see what consumers are saying. Take their advice to heart. It may not be easy to hear criticism, but it’s essential. Use that feedback to reimagine your brand, product, or service.
As you make changes, create a strong PR strategy. You want to make it known that you appreciate the consumers who support you. Influencer marketing and plenty of social media content can help you here. Use the power of platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to spread the word about your changes.
Consider Future Growth
While coming up with your new marketing strategies, keep an eye on the future. You’re changing now, and you might need to again a decade from now. One way to do this is by incorporating strategies that allow for growth. If they lead to dead ends, you’ll have no way to grow that branch in the future.
Factory 360 specializes in digital, experiential, and social media marketing. We’ll help you reimagine your brand or service from the ground up. Reach out to us to learn more about our expertise in pivot strategies.