• Oak Street Experts

Adversity Into Opportunity: 3 Tips to Pivot Towards Business Growth

We can all say 2020 has been a strange year.



Today, we want to reflect on how businesses have pivoted in pursuit of growth this year. More specifically, we want to cover how businesses have transitioned from adversity towards opportunity. It is no surprise that businesses NEED a strong digital presence today and have adapted new marketing strategies to grow their client base and enter new markets.


According to the Harvard Business Review, “An even bigger threat to established brands is consumers’ increased willingness to experiment with different offerings during the crisis- Covid 19. Consumers are holding brands and companies to a higher standard than previously, favoring those perceived as doing more for society.” In other words, safe and sustainable are two common buying incentive variables today used by consumers. Not only do they strongly correlate to what's happening this year during the Covid pandemic, but present new marketing campaign opportunities that will be swayed by consumers. In addition, this means that brand loyalty can no longer be taken for granted, and brand repositioning may be necessary in many cases.


More importantly, this signifies that brand purpose and messaging will need to be laterally tweaked, not overhauled, because consumers are becoming more and more interested in safety, experience, and comfort as a result of the pandemic. However, not all pivots result in good business performance. There are 3 necessary conditions for such lateral moves to work.



First, a pivot must align the firm with one or more of the long term trends created or intensified by the pandemic, including the transition to remote work, backed up supply chains, social distancing, consumer introspection, and enhanced use of technology. For example, social distancing has motivated Facebook and Bumble to innovate the dating scene and now offer video dating. We can expect competitors to follow suit, especially with no foreseen end date to the epidemic just yet.


Second, if a pivot were to happen, businesses need to ensure that the lateral extension is an existing possibility of their existing capabilities, cementing – not undermining – its strategic intent. For example, let's take a look at the sudden collapse of the travel industry. Airbnb moved swiftly in order to help hosts financially and connect them with potential guests. Hosts can now offer online events focused on cooking, meditation, are therapy, magic, songwriting, virtual tours, and many other activities, with users joining for a modest fee.


This pivot represents one more step in Airbnb’s evolution process. They are transitioning from their traditional business model of facilitating matches between hosts and guests, to moving to become a full range lifestyle platform. Moving forward, these new online experiences might be able to help travelers discover new destinations and on-site activities and help hosts offer better service. Airbnb could potentially become a platform that people use not only to arrange their next vacation, but to develop a cosmopolitan mindset throughout the year, learning about other cultures from a distance and celebrating the diversity of the world on a daily basis.


Lastly, pivots must offer a sustainable path to profitability, one that preserves and enhances brand value in the minds of consumers. The economic crisis triggered by the pandemic does not necessarily spell the end of entire industries or companies. It does, however, weed out business models that fail to pivot toward the new reality characterized by shorter value chains, remote work, social distancing, consumer introspection, and enhanced technology use.


In conclusion, if businesses want to be relevant in the short term, they must not forget about the long term as well. By adapting and pivoting for the short term survival, and long term resilience will, ultimately, push businesses in new marketing positions following the pandemic. More importantly, the pivot in the short term needs to align with the long term strategic intent of the company, not undermine it. This will be critical in the end as businesses are adapting to stay relevant, while at the same time, exploiting their existing capabilities.


We have been getting a lot of questions from small business owners asking us how they can pivot to achieve growth. The possible solutions vary from business to business and industry to industry. First and foremost, when we're asked this question, we do an extensive assessment on the particular business, analyzing their market, client base, business structure, competitive advantages, and other factors to develop a customized solution for the right time and place. From there, we create a relative playbook to help them pivot towards growth. Our playbook hones in on their strengths and opportunities, while also paying attention to their weaknesses and threats. This way they will not only continue to focus on their strengths but also further develop the lateral extension of their existing capabilities.


If you have more questions on how you can transition your business adversity into opportunity, we invite you to schedule a free 20 minute consultation with one of our experts and we will customize an approach that best suits you and your business.


© 2020 by Oak Street Associates, LLC

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