Knoodling on the Pivot

For those who have been in business long, you have no doubt learned that the many challenges that have hit business- especially small business- are adding up. We had the Great Recession, The Pandemic, inflation and interest rates which have doubled in the past few months. So how do we not only stay in business but sustain our employees and grow our revenue?

We pivot.

The pivot entails finding a unique market position that is authentic to our brand and using it to propel the business into profitability.

Here are the five steps to a proper pivot:

1. Discover what your customers (or clients) are thinking

Since so much has changed in the last few years, we should assume that our customers are not thinking or doing the same things they were in 2019. Mindsets have changed. So have their habits, their priorities and their buying patterns.

Industry Research

Research by industry is a great place to start. The internet is a robust garden of research and an excellent place to start. Look for trends in white papers, industry newsletters, studies, and data supplied by experts in the field.

There are also reports that you can buy on almost any industry for a nominal cost. One such provider is ReportLinker. This information will provide a backdrop of the big picture.

Now we need to delve into the finer points. We need to find what individuals are thinking.

Focus Groups

Focus groups are an effective way to get answers directly from those who are in the market for your products or services. Using a platform such as Zoom offers a way to interview people from all over the country in a recorded focus group while people are in the comfort of their living room.

You can find potential customer groups easily with websites such as userinterviews.com where you target participants specifically by what you are looking for. Keep in mind, it is necessary to compensate them for their time and it will result in a much better sample if you offer a minimum of $50 per research subject.

We have done this with great success and our clients love watching their potential customers talking about what they are looking for, what they like or not like about their website, what they will pay for a service or product, etc.

Contact us if you’d like help setting up a focus group, including which questions to ask to get the most out of your session.

 

2. Build a persona of who your customer is.

Once you know what your potential customer is thinking, it’s time to create a profile that includes:

  • Who they are
  • What they look for
  • What they value
  • How old they are
  • What is important to them
  • What their problems are

This will enable you to talk directly to them about their hopes and fears every time you create a marketing message. Building a customer persona also helps you focus your messaging on your website, social media, advertising and everything you do to attract customers.

3. Create a competitive audit.

Website Audit

The easiest way to start a competitive audit is to pull up the websites of your business’ competitors. What insights do they use in their marketing? Note the quality and quantity of their content. How often are they writing articles or blog posts? 

Online Reviews

Another area for competitive insights is their customer reviews. Look at who your competitors are targeting, how satisfied they are, and what they value. Once you gather this, put it on a whiteboard or grid. This will make it easier to interpret the data and draw some conclusions. This might be more helpful with your team and it seems to go better in a group. 

Insight

/ˈinˌsīt/ – noun
An undeniable truth (which always seems obvious), that makes a brand unique and is used to sell products or services.

4. Prepare a brand analysis.

This isn’t as intimidating as it sounds.

  1. Create a grid with columns. Column 1 is your company.
  2. In the column, write the current messages you are using to attract customers.
  3. Add an extra column for each competitor and do the same for each of them.

It may take a few days to gather their messaging which can come from websites, mailers, digital ads, email campaigns and other media.

5. Develop an overall insight.

As you pour through all this data, what are the commonalities you see between the consumer, competition and brand insights? This usually results in an overall insight that can be a brand spark for your marketing.

An Example

During the great recession, we worked with Fulton Homes to uncover the following insights:

The Consumer Insight

Customers aren’t excited about buying new homes when all these great deals are coming from foreclosures and the resale market.

The Competitive Insight

Homebuilders were selling with incentives, devaluing the worth of what they sell in order to move units since most were public builders. They were doing very little brand advertising.

The Brand Insight

Fulton Homes was the only builder doing branding that included “Proud to own, Proud to build” messaging, the importance of community, and cause marketing in water safety and education to show they cared about the community.

The Overall Insight

Fulton Homes’ primary competition wasn’t other homebuilders. It was foreclosures.

Strategy Should be Based on Insights

We delivered a strategy for Fulton Homes directly related to the insights we uncovered. The campaigns emphasized all the bad news stories regarding foreclosures: missing appliances, mountains of trash, mold, and even dead animals left behind.

Get expert help with any of these steps by contacting us today.

About the author:
Rosaria Cain is CEO of Knoodle, a women-owned business founded in 1999. She works with a team of twelve professionals in the area of branding, public relations, social media, digital and media to help clients meet their goals, find insights, and create new and improved revenue streams. The Knoodle team still works with Fulton Homes today, 23 years after they became a client.