These days, it’s not enough to be a household name. Heck, we’ve already learned that branding means next to nothing in today’s society, especially if said brand has garnered a bad rap for being offensive in nature. And the fact is, with millions of companies struggling to stay afloat, it’s no longer enough to get your proverbial foot through the door just through brand loyalty. You also have to prove your value to your customer base in order to be able to keep it there, too.
That’s why it’s more important than ever for companies to take a hard look at how they run their businesses. The ability to remain flexible during these uncertain times may make all the difference in whether a company remains solvent, or if it collapses under the mounting pressure of a recession-bound coronavirus economy. So what’s a company to do to keep from joining the ranks of other businesses that have gone under in recent months? Is there any hope left for them?
Surprisingly enough, the trick to not succumbing to bankruptcy may lie in a company’s ability to pivot. Now, this doesn’t mean that you’re going to do a shimmy and a shake and a hip pop next (though, to be fair, it may look cool to see a bunch of octogenarian CEOs getting groovy on the dance floor). In this context, pivoting is remarkably simple in nature — but may be a near-impossible feat for companies that aren’t willing to approach their branding strategies with an open mind.
Pivoting is a novel way of approaching how you run your business. Instead of getting trapped in a dogmatic, my-way-or-the highway-mentality, these business owners need to find a fresh approach in how they offer their goods and services to their customers. Take, for instance, Spotify. This music streaming service has largely depended upon advertisers to earn revenue, which meant that unpaid subscriptions were their bread and butter. One might think that with more people staying home and listening to their jams to stay upbeat during quarantine, Spotify would flourish.
The reality was though, that ad revenue dried up as their advertisers cut their budgets. Spotify remained undeterred, and thus their own pivot emerged. Instead of letting this potentially catastrophic loss of income lead to their demise, they took a unique approach to remaining relevant: they allowed users to host their own original content. Suddenly everyone had a voice, and they wanted to make it heard to their doting public. Spotify found themselves signing deals for celebrity podcasts, and even the average user wanted in on the fun. By going this route, Spotify was able to remain relevant.
How does this translate to other businesses? And is pivoting applicable in real life? Well, sure. Take a look at restaurants. They’ve been hit harder than most, and many restaurant owners found themselves permanently shuttering their doors in the aftermath of the coronavirus quarantines. However, by pivoting, many of these restaurants may be able to continue serving up fresh and delicious fare to their community. Perhaps by offering subscription meal services, or maybe a la carte entrees with cute little recipe cards for sides, tucked into the to-go box.
However, it’s not enough to just pivot. What’s the secret then, to not becoming the next company to suffer a premature death at the hands of coronavirus? For starters, a company needs to be able to capitalize on the new norms established by the virus. This can include working from home, or meeting broken supply chain demands. Secondly, the pivot needs to align with what the business already offers. Your local gastropub, for instance, isn’t going to start to offer a free haircut with every meal. And finally, the company needs to crystallize themselves as necessary in the eyes of their consumer base… and, ultimately, this perception needs to help them make money.
Unfortunately, it’s a sad reality that not every company has the privilege to deliver a good that regarded as a necessity. If they shift their model and how they provide their services to their customers, however, they can take the first step in presenting themselves as a product that we not only want, but also need, in this new economy. Compounding on their existing reputation, and maintaining an open mind about how they operate their business, can make all the difference in whether these businesses can stick around for another decade or two. Otherwise, they may find themselves to be next company folding in this coronavirus-stricken economy.