7 Ways Businesses Are Pivoting in Response to Coronavirus Outbreak

Over the last few weeks, life as we know it has fundamentally changed in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Business is no different. All around the world, small business owners are scrambling to find solutions to keep their businesses up and running and their staff employed. With that comes some strategy, flexibility and a whole lot of pivoting.

To help you take similar steps for your own business, Seek Capital spoke with business owners and entrepreneurs about the effective ways they’ve pivoted to make do during this unprecedented time.

Here’s some insight into the many ways businesses are pivoting:

1. Reach a Wider Audience

“As a small e-commerce business, we have experienced adverse ramifications due to COVID-19 — including shipment delays due to supply chain disruptions, inventory pileup, and reduced liquidity,” said Bill Joseph, CEO of Frontier Blades. “As a result, to mitigate these effects, we have employed multichannel selling as an effective strategy for maintaining and increasing profits by presenting our business the opportunity to reach a wider audience. Leveraging a personal e-commerce website and marketplace stores enables us to capitalize on both organic search and marketplace traffic for generating revenue. Additionally, selling on multiple online selling platforms is a practical marketing approach for increasing brand awareness, as this method enables us to reach new customers, which we can redirect to our business.”

2. Conduct a SWOT Analysis — Again

“We revisited our SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis with a particular focus on opportunities,” said Wendy O’Donovan Phillips, CEO of marketing agency Big Buzz. “Our clients have different needs now than they did even a month ago, and we are fully focused on uncovering those new needs with programmatic surveys then identifying from that data opportunities we have for meeting those needs. This approach will both help us more readily hit our revenue and profit projections and will also help our clients do the same. So far, we have delivered webinars to about 3,000 attendees in our industry nationwide, gained about 1,200 marketing qualified leads and gained about 120 sales qualified leads. More than that, we can sleep at night knowing we were of true service and help to other small businesses that needed support in how to communicate to their team and clients during this crisis.”

Related: Impacted by COVID-19? 10 Ways to Keep Business Strong While Working From Home

3. Show Your Community — And Your Customers — That You Care

“While the last few weeks have been very difficult, they have demonstrated the incredible way that communities can come together,” said Jessica Rose, CEO of Copper H2O. “E-commerce companies that have not previously implemented a program to give back to their communities should use this moment to change that. At our e-commerce company, Copper H2O, we have long maintained a ‘good karma’ program whereby we donate 15% of our profits to non-profit groups that work to supply clean drinking water in developing countries. Since the onset of COVID-19, we have pivoted this program and advised our customers that we will be donating these profits to charities supporting coronavirus relief efforts, including by donating N95 masks to hospitals. It’s the right thing to do, and it has the effect of showing our customers that we care about our community and much more than the bottom line.”

4. Diversify, Diversify, Diversify

“This crisis has forced us to accelerate diversification initiatives,” said Robert Withers, director of sales and marketing for Natural Citizen. “We are always looking for new places to sell our goods, but now we are now looking for new ways to warehouse and fulfill orders as well. Until now we have mostly relied on Amazon’s Fulfillment by Amazon program, however in mid-March Amazon suddenly halted inbound shipments to their fulfillment centers for goods Amazon deemed non-essential. We since have run out of a few products at Amazon’s warehouses and are having to fulfill the orders in-house. This was a burden at first, but we are now seeing it is actually much cheaper and higher quality packing when we do it ourselves. So in addition to growing new sales channels like wholesale and big box we are also looking to diversify our fulfillment channels. Without this crisis, we probably would have overlooked this weakness for too long.”

5. Offer New Services

“I’ve had to be very proactive to avoid being really badly hit by the COVID-19 lockdown here in New York,” said Inna Vernikov, founding attorney at the Law Offices of Inna Vernikov. “As someone who focuses on providing family and divorce law as one of their primary services, it may seem a strange choice but I actually went ahead with providing a new marital mediation service for clients who may otherwise have considered getting a divorce in courts. This service allows couples to resolve marital disputes without courts. This was a service I knew could be offered remotely — all I need is the two participants involved in an online conference call with myself, to discuss what their issues are and to see whether I can help them out … There are (sadly) quite a few predictions that during long periods of self-quarantine, many couples end up getting divorced.”

See: 13 Entrepreneurs On the Moment They ‘Made It’

6. Shift Your Focus

“We’ve pivoted significantly during COVID19 by refocusing most of our marketing efforts towards our online course. Previously, our new online course was a side note, but now we’re promoting it much more heavily and putting it front and center,” said Meg Marrs, Founder of K9 of Mine. “With Amazon dedicating most of their resources to fulfilling medical supply shipments, not as many people are ordering products on Amazon (which was primarily how we made money). Instead of just taking this profit hit, we’ve begun focusing on our 30 Things to Teach Your Dog online dog training course as a way to better connect pet parents with their canine companions. We’ve seen a considerable uptick in course membership, as more people are stuck at home with their dogs and have smartly decided to take advantage of this extra time to work on training goals.”

7. Change Your Tone

“I’ve pivoted sales copy in most promotional material to have a positive and hopeful tone in a time of global panic,” said Carmine Mastropierro, content strategist at Morphio. “Traditionally, sales copy is focused on provoking emotions such as fear, urgency, scarcity, and similar. All of these promote readers to take action to solve these emotions and their associated problems, but I believe the world has enough of them right now amidst the pandemic. So, I’ve shifted copy to focus on positive emotions such as hope, inspiration, and joy. This is achieved by helping readers picture success, freedom, achieving their goals, and giving them the tools to do so.”

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Photo credit: Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock.com

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