How to Pivot Your Business During COVID-19

 In Blog Post, Marketing Ideas, Online marketing

As small business coaches, we are dealing with an economic recession for the first time since 2007 and 2008, while adding that the cause is not the ‘normal’ economic cycle. The big question is, how are you going to pivot your marketing program to fit the new paradigm.

In fact, how are you going to pivot your business during COVID-19?

What can you do to insure the survival of your business?

As a small business owner, we are certain that by now you have seen that no matter how you define the word community, local through world-sized, there is a definite change in your community.  There is a definite change in how your community relates to itself and it’s members.  There is a huge change in how your community is seeing your business.

The first thing that changed were our buying habits. Normally we teach our private coaching clients that there is a two-part question they must answer in order to make the sale.  The question is “why buy from me instead of my competitors?” The argument you must make is: “Here, let me tell you why.”  Now, the third option, which has always existed, but under normal times does not come into play that often, is more prevalent.  That question is “Should you buy at all?”

As a business owner, if you are going to successfully pivot your business during COVID-19, you must currently answer that question first to attract attention.

It has already begun to happen in the larger marketplaces.  We are seeing that in automotive manufacturers Ford, Chrysler and Toyota all say some version of “If, during this time you need a vehicle…” instead of leading with the features and benefits of their particular model. They are leading with no payments for a certain amount of time, assuming that you think things will get better soon, so why not take advantage of getting a deal on a car, now? This is right out of their “How to sell cars during a recession” playbook. Automotive vending machine company Carvana is even offering contactless delivery of your vehicle.

We are seeing that in pizza delivery ads, too.  Have you noticed that the major chains like Dominos and Pizza Hut are talking about how they deliver your pizza without having ever touched it instead of the value they bring? They are answering that third question first.  Both examples, automotive companies and pizza delivery companies are relying that you, the consumer, will remember their years of previous feature/benefit advertising.

So what are you supposed to do to pivot your business during COVID-19?

Get used to a few new rules.

First, look at your customer base. Decide what they need from you. And, just as important, how will you be able to deliver to them what they need. Restaurants were the first to figure this out because they were not able to seat their clients in their establishments. Take Out banners appeared in front of a couple of dozen restaurants in our small town of Sedona. Our doctor's office began using Zoom for appointments.

At Yuloff Creative, our path took a three week arc from ‘in person 3-day Small Business Breakthrough Bootcamp' the first weekend in March, to an ‘in person, 2-day Small Business Breakthrough Bootcamp plus Saturday follow up phone calls with attendees who had questions, to a ‘2-day virtual Small Business Breakthrough Bootcamp' the last weekend in March because we could not see exposing our attendees to a possible virus.  The hotel saw a 80% drop in reservations in that time.

The second pivot we'd recommend for your business due to COVID-19 is to embrace the Era of Social Distancing.

Perhaps obviously, social distancing is not going away.  Which is difficult for us because at Yuloff Creative we are “Hugs, Handshake and High Fives” kind of people. Even if every case of COVID-19 were to miraculously just disappear, it will take a long time for things to get back to normal. I remember that after the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, I found that for months, I did not travel to see clients in the north San Fernando Valley. That’s where there was still damage.  I was gun shy since our house was just 2 miles south of the epicenter.  Now the entire World is the epicenter and we are all in the middle of it.  When will we all, collectively, travel North?

But your business has to make money, so we will all need to change the sales and marketing strategy that we were using just a short while ago.

To pivot your business during COVID-19, you are going to have to Embrace Your Digital Marketplace.

For some of you reading this there was a ‘no big deal’ reaction, while others had a ‘oh no, that’s a big deal’ reaction.  We have a client, a business lawyer in Sherman Oaks, California who sees this as an opportunity.  Keven Steinberg of Steinberg Law set up his practice as a boutique practice that can suddenly and easily compete with large law firms who have yet to figure out how to work remotely. Those firms are used to ‘wooing’ a client with face-to-face meetings (and MAYBE paying for parking). Steinberg is able to work remotely with a high level of security for his clients.

The same goes for another private coaching client that is a business printer, Peacock Print Co.  Mary Johnson has never relied on using a store front location. She is able to compete far easier than her ‘retail location land-locked’ competitors. By going digital, she is able to continue operating.

The same is true for a real estate client who can no longer hold open houses. He is using Facebook Live and video virtual tours as his business pivot due to COVID-19.

A financial planning firm client, Freedman Crossett Financial Services, found out quickly that her clients did not need to make the trip to see her in person, or have her come to them. Cindy Crossett has made it a point of being in phone contact with every customer. She is using online video conferencing to meet with current and potential clients. She is also about to hold virtual lunch-and-learns for people in her target markets.

That does not mean you can go full ahead without being very careful with your business. Angie Lozano of Angie’s House, a non-profit group of low-income homes, has found that she must take extra steps before she can allow a new resident to move in. As a coaching client, we have worked for two years to prepare her business to be in the position to be more selective, but the message is universal for many business owners: Protect your business before moving forward.

One common business pivot due to COVID-19 is the use of video conferencing.

With video conferencing software like Go to Meeting.com, Zoom, Skype and even FaceTime, your small business can still schedule and hold virtual meetings with your staff, your customers, your prospects and everyone else who is important to your business. We have found this to already be very beneficial to build relationships. Even if we cannot be “belly to belly” we can still be “face-to-face”.

At the same time many customers are staying at home, they are spending hours online and looking at their devices. Since you are going to pivot your business during COVID-19, we see this as a great time to accelerate your digital marketing strategies. This includes your blogs, your social media, email marketing and even digital ads.  For the ads, though, check with us first. We are currently seeing some anomalous results.

161 years ago, in his landmark 1859 book, The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin showed that those species that adapt best to their changing environment have the best chance of surviving, while those who do not adapt do not make it. Darwin wrote:

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

We have begun to use that quote in our online presentations and webinars!

The next pivot we'd recommend for your business during COVID-19 is to educate your prospects by offering virtual classes and education.

We have one private coaching client, Jacques Skuteeki from www.TimeDollarsClub.com who is running two virtual networking events a week. He gathers together several business owners and they hold a mastermind session to solve each of their challenges.

Throughout the world, every school class, every industry conference and most certainly every convention has been shut down or postponed. But your clients and prospects still want a chance to network with peers and learn about business. That's why we launched our own online series of webinars.

You and your company can pivot by helping to fill the knowledge gap with virtual classes or events, educational videos on your YouTube channel and each of your social media platforms, and by blogging on your website. We even have a system for our private coaching clients for getting noticed in the media. Every time you are published, you enjoy an opportunity to build you reputation of expertise in your industry.

What are we doing? You're right, we can't just let YOU pivot your business during COVID-19.

Here is what we are doing with our company. Normally, our sales process begins with small business owners like you learning about us by attending a live master class (usually free). In each of these seminars, we teach various marketing tactics such as sales, social media, follow up, online marketing or marketing plan creation. We speak all over the country for small and very large groups.  From there, we begin a two-on-one conversation (because you get two coaches in the same program, hence the two-on) where the small business owner may decide to hire us as her business coach. Obviously, meeting you in person has changed.

Now, we are moving a lot of our client acquisition activities online.  We are sending out more free copies of our marketing books. We're promoting our online marketing plan product.  We are doing more free marketing consultations. We have even begun using a direct mail piece that had been languishing in our files for many years. And as we do those things, we are finding that our funnel is beginning to fill. This is does not mean we are eschewing all of our other marketing efforts.  Direct mail and phone calls are still playing a large part of what we are doing to attract small business clients.

We would like to give you three things that would help your business and help pivot your business during COVID-19.

The first is a your own free marketing consultation where we can get you focused on a more successful path. Most small business owners that take advantage of this conversation report back to us that this success call was worth at least $10,000 in increased sales and savings to their bottom line. Let’s begin our conversation by increasing your profits. Go now to www.FreeMarketingConsultation.com.

When you join us on that call, we will give you a link to join us for our 2 ½ day event where we create your marketing path.  That event is called The Small Business Breakthrough Bootcamp.  We hold the bootcamps in 3 cities twice a year and at the moment, they are scheduled to be in-person events (for all the information you need head to www.TheMarketingEvent.com )  It is possible that we'll need to hold these events online. When you talk with us on your 30-minute Success Call, we will give you the link to register for your free seat, regardless of how it's held.

Lastly, we have updated our online marketing program, www.TheSmallBusinessMarketingPlan.com to include discussions about pivoting your business during COVID-19.

We created this program for small business owners who were not ready to jump into private coaching. The regular investment is $1,297, but when you use the special code YC497, you can get this program for just $497.  When you are part of the group using the program, you get to join us on a weekly mastermind call where we answer your marketing, human resources, sales and public speaking questions. You also can get very quick help through a private Facebook group.  Lastly, since we feel that all of us as entrepreneurs owe a debt to our communities, we will give the non-profit of your choice the ability to use The Small Business Marketing Plan as well.

Let’s get started on your pivot. Let's all start heading North again. We are looking forward to working with you!

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