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A crash-course in ‘pivoting’ without the Buzz Words

Ok. Maybe a couple of Buzz Words.

Because words like ‘pivot’, ‘agile’ and ‘transformation’ have saturated business conversations for the last 12-months. Especially when talking about small businesses 'surviving', maintaining 'relevance' and 'embracing' the brave new world that will rise from the ashes.

Quite frankly, the Buzz Words and drama are getting a little old.

All this talk of pivoting is really about understanding how your customers' needs have changed and meeting your customers where they are.

It's not a new concept.

I mean, there was that catchy song about how Video Killed The Radio Star.

And now look at how popular podcasts are these days.

If you have been running your business for a number of years, you have probably adapted and changed with your audience, and it's happened organically.

Coffee loyalty cards have changed from physical cards that you stamp to a phone app that the user swipes, and we were happy for the convenience.

The difference is that businesses have had to adapt quickly. Really quickly.

There is no time for market testing products, research reports, testimonials from early adopters to reassure you that your business decisions are the right ones.

The safety net of our decision-making process - the ability to rationalise our choices - is gone.

And that is terrifying.

But is the ability to make informed decisions really gone?

The cookie cutter approach is doing something that is tried and tested. It is the easy solution where we do what has always been done, or what everyone else is doing.

When we have so many competing priorities and are feeling unsure, it's the safe path.

But now there is no mould, we have to go back to basics.

I get it.

Spending so much energy on just surviving leaves little brain-energy to commit to the overwhelming task of changing your business model.

So grab a coffee and put up a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign for the next 5 minutes and lets dig around some ideas.

Who Is Your Customer?

Firstly, I want you to think about:

  • Who is your customer in 2019?

  • Who is your customer in 2021?

When I ask who is your customer, it’s a generalisation.

I don’t mean specifically Garry who comes in every Saturday at 8am for his usual order of Eggs Benny and a long black.

I want you to be thinking about a typical customer's age, gender, location – perhaps Garry is the embodiment of your typical customer, or perhaps Garry is the exception to the rule.

This is an audience profile. When you understand who your clients are, you can start to consider what motivates them.

A Little Something I Prepared Earlier...

Let's say that you run a high-end dining establishment. Your customers are typically aged 40+, couples or groups, affluent and local.


Why do they come to your restaurant over the one down the street?

  • The quality of food

  • The service of your staff

  • The atmosphere – it's an event to treat yourself to dinner

  • The Convenience - no shopping, preparation, or dishes

The challenge is - how do you re-engage with your clients when the point of going to a restaurant is physically going to a restaurant.

The meals you have might not travel well as a takeaway - and you don't want to compromise your reputation you have spent years cultivating by providing anything sub-standard.

So how can you get around this?

Break out the neon markers. We need to get creative.

Case Study: Restaurant

  • We know your customers typically come in as couples

  • We know it is the atmosphere they like

  • We also know it's about convenience and quality


Offer a date-night hamper.

Your 'hamper' could include a 3-course meal, a paired wine and even some candles and flowers for the table.

  • Convenience: Everything is supplied in a nicely presented box or basket and delivered to your clients' door

  • Atmosphere: Why not include a menu with tasting notes

    • If they are a regular, perhaps a hand-written card from one of your waitstaff, or add an extra dessert because ‘I know XX loves the homemade Gelato so we included an extra scoop!'

  • Service: Include instructions or ‘tips’ for serving and presentation

    • Special instructions from the chef

    • What about recording a posting to youtube a how-to tutorial for the finishing touches

Let's not stop now that we have re-purposed your product!

  • Encourage clients to share and tag your social media with their creations

    • The instruction will mean your food is restaurant presentation even at home, so looks good when shared

  • We all know that sharing and tagging is fantastic organic content

    • How about running a competition judged by your chef for the best presentation

    • It can be as simple as clients post the photos on Instagram or Facebook and tag your restaurant

  • Get creative and set-up a spotify playlist on-theme with dinner

We are changing how we interact, so these new ways of connecting are also able to continue when we are not in a lock-down.

A form of takeaway hamper could be encouraged for weekend picnics, or for someone who is not a cook but wants to impress friends or a date - you're their secret weapon.

These products are also easy to scale-up and roll-out for future lock-downs.

We hope it doesn't come to that, but be prepared.

It’s all trial and error to work out what works for your business. What you might consider a failure is what we marketers call Market Testing!

Followers and Subscribers

Do you have an email list and/or Social Media pages?

You probably do. I want you to re-think your use of these platforms. Instead of just looking for sales, you can do your own customer research.

Example: Date night hamper

  • Run a promotional email campaign to your database

  • Run a promotional campaign on your social media

Take a moment to consider who has ordered the hampers:

  • Ladies or Gents?

  • Do you have their birthdates, or when people pick-up the hampers you can get a feel for the demographics?

  • If it's delivery then you know the locations

You might find that you have received 50 orders, 40 of which are from ladies aged 40+ in a 5 kilometer radius of your restaurant.

  • You have just found your target audience for this product

  • You can use that to tailor the targeting of your paid ads on Social Media - your return on a campaign improves with better targeting

Yes indeed. A marketing campaign doesn’t only have one purpose.

  • Next time, promote 3 versions of the hampers to your database to see which sells the best

  • Perhaps you could have a limited supply of Hampers and they are only available on Sunday nights

Creating your own sense of urgency and tapping into everyone's fear of missing out is an old tactic that works wonders if executed well.

Now, start considering how you can apply something similar to your business - think about the customers' motivations, not yours.

Social Media

Now you have a product that has been market-tested and you know which hamper is your best seller in this crazy new world.

So let’s go find your new customers with a small social media budget.

One of the easiest ways to kick off Facebook advertising is to boost a post to a radius of your business.

Because Facebook likes your $$, you can easily follow their step-by-step instructions to promote a social media post.

This is especially useful when you know what types of posts are going to have a good engagement to give them an extra push.

However, creating content is a lot of work.


It is. So much work.

Sometimes for so little reward.

This leads us to frequently question: Is it worth our time?

I've said it before and I will keep saying it: Don't shout into the void, post with a purpose.

Look strategically at what and when you are posting. Posting regularly to platforms such as Facebook creates analytics that allows you to see:

  • What type of posts are interacted with most frequently:

    • Videos

    • Images

    • Blog articles

    • How-to guides

  • What day and what time is best for you to post for the most engagement

  • Scheduling programs allow you to schedule your posts across a range of your social media assets - at the optimal time for post types

Next time you run a promotion, you want to know that a video tutorial posted at 10am on a Sunday is your peak time for exposure.

Your orders for that product also seem to increase on Sunday Nights.

Co-incidence or strategy?

Don't think outside the box. Repurpose the box. That's quality cardboard.

Case study: Cafe

If you are small and local, your weakness is also your strength.

Can you be a local connection for people in isolation?

  • Do you have a book co-op or op-shop nearby?

    • Why not team up and do a mystery book included in a Saturday breakfast order?

  • If it suits your audience, connect with a local fitness instructor and do a healthy brunch bowl

    • Have your box include an exercise series by a local instructor

  • Set up a 'mystery gift' - encourage neighbours/friends to send a coffee and book as a gift with a note to someone in the community

    • All efficiently ordered and paid for online

  • Do you have a local organisation with a list of people who are in social isolation or vulnerable - your clients can donate a coffee and book to these people?

  • Pair up with your coffee roaster and run a competition for the best at-home coffee art next lock-down

    • Have one of your Barista's do a coffee tutorial or challenge video to post on your socials

These are not game-changing ideas. They are a few ways to quickly adapt resources you already have.

The aim is to expose you to a new audience, create a fantastic piece of PR, and build a very loyal customer base coming out the other side.

Take a risk and if it doesn’t work – you have lost some time, but investigate why your promotion didn’t work.

Maybe your idea was solid but the timing was bad or the audience was wrong.

Was your idea too complicated?

Even if you haven’t started to change your business model yet, it’s not too late. Start looking at what has worked for businesses in your niche, and ask yourself why it worked?

It's time to get back to work and I hope you have a bit of inspiration now to adapt and overcome.

If you want to tailor a plan or flesh out some ideas for your business, check out my idea-intensive workshop.


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