Brand Strategy

The New Normal: Pivot vs. Panic

Welcome to the new normal – aka the world pivoting from in-person to self-quarantined in just a number of days.

With everything that is happening right now, I can’t help but think about 2008. I was the in-house CMO for a start-up. It was super bad timing, along with a long list of things I learned NOT to do when building a business. But, this is not 2008. While the economic impact is just beginning to be felt and will have a ripple effect, the circumstances are different. We are smarter as businesses and leaders and, where 2008 was 100% panic, I see businesses having a big opportunity with this crisis to PIVOT.

I want to preface my thoughts here with an important note on mindset. I am an opportunist. I look at the glass as overflowing with opportunity and can’t help myself from wanting to help, support and grow businesses. I’m trying to keep that focus during this devastating time for all of us and our world. My goal with this post is to help you see opportunity too. It’s not easy with so much swirling around us and the situation feeling dire, but I believe that, together, we will be better.

Here are the top issues we are helping our clients solve right now as they pivot:

  1. How do we keep the business running in the most efficient way possible?
  2. How have our customers’ priorities changed and what new role do we need to play?
  3. How does our messaging and communications stream need to change?
  4. How do we pivot to 100% digital?
  5. How do we keep our loyal customers?

In times of crisis, I see companies panic and cut budgets and people. Marketing and brand are typically the hardest hit and I want to provide you with one pieces of advice: DO NOT STOP MARKETING. I am not saying this because it’s a core part of our services. I am saying this because I help businesses grow. I have lived through a cycle where marketing stopped and witnessed first-hand the repercussions where companies could not survive or, those that did, came out so far behind that they lost their leadership position.

For marketers, maybe the easiest course is to batten down the hatches—cut back, stay low, just hope to survive, not fight a seemingly losing battle at a time when they figure consumers don’t want to hear from them.

But the economy needs marketers and marketing. Consumer spending—”personal consumption expenditures”—in 2019 accounted for more than two-thirds of economic activity (specifically, 68 percent of U.S. gross domestic product). Marketing helps drive commerce.

Marketing keeps the economy rolling. Thanks to AdAge for this quote and reminding us of the critical role marketing plays. The new normal requires us to look at the business with more rigor around goals, velocity and results. In my opinion, businesses should ALWAYS be looking rigorously at how to be more efficient. But, it’s easy to slip into spending and hiring and, if you’re not careful, get too bloated. Adjust accordingly, but do not stop.

Another big opportunity I am seeing for businesses is to pivot messaging. If you’re still rolling your drip campaigns as-is, you’re making a big mistake. If you haven’t said anything about your response to COVID-19, you’re way late. At this point, my advice is to shift 100% to how you can help your customers – so they can help their customers. Avoid over correcting too far – everyone is already worried enough. Help vs. fear. Empathy wins and your customers need you now more than ever. We just helped a client completely shift to 100% digital – literally in days. Be real, be supportive, be ready to help.

Industries are completely changing. Customer need is completely changing. Our ability to connect with people is completely changing. We have businesses coming to us for help because 2 weeks ago, they couldn’t get on the radar of their target market. In just days the pendulum has swung and they are in high demand and need help figuring out how to scale to meet that demand. It is unchartered territory as we all navigate the new normal.

I urge you to pivot – it’s a position of strength. It requires new thinking and shifting priorities. The new normal requires all of us to pivot.

In 2013, when I started Growth Street, I had a vision for a strategic model where the best team could provide the best results in the best (aka most efficient) way. I could not have anticipated how our model would be tested through the rapidly-changing events of the past week. I am honored to continue to help our clients grow through this challenging time and am thankful for the best team – the A Team – to help me make it happen. You guys rock.

Be well. Be safe. Stay connected. We’ll get through this together. We are better together.





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