Often, market disruptions are perceived negatively. However, it is an excellent opportunity to innovate and grow. Many companies became successful because they successfully disrupted the market, forcing their rivals to change their game plans to survive in the industry. Although disruption may strain businesses, leaders can find ways to navigate the challenges while pivoting their strategies. Here are some critical factors that determine the success of a business pivot.
1) Putting People First
Many organizational leaders were concerned about their expenses and wages, which led to downsizing to ensure business survival. At the same time, some adopted the Last In, First Out (LIFO) approach at the risk of losing competent newly joined employees instead of those underperforming older employees. Some consider restructuring their employees’ wage structure based on locations where it is inexpensive to reside. Some employees experienced a pay cut due to their choices of working from home full-time.
An excellent example of restructuring with people first is AirAsia Group Bhd who reskilled its 500 employees under AirAsia Digital’s RedBeat Academy in collaboration with Google. Some of their former aircraft crew were involved in data sciences and analytics, similar to Malaysia Airlines Bhd’s in-house training. Although AirAsia Group Bhd has laid off more than 2,400 employees since Malaysia’s borders were closed last March, they pledge to rehire them when the time comes.
Although it is not an obligation to put people first in times of crisis, doing so actually strengthens the company – without people, companies cannot yield profit. Studies have demonstrated that companies thrive and emerge even stronger than before by investing in their employees, particularly during crises. Furthermore, they can build and maintain customer loyalty, as the customers find that these brands are being more human during challenging times. This leads to vigorous customer advocacy and improved business performance, regardless of the crisis.
2) Speak Your Customer’s Language
Pivoting is not always about offering an innovative product or service. It should be paired with proper messaging. An excellent idea can be overlooked without appropriate messaging, as it doesn’t leave a long-lasting impression on your target market. It is crucial to crafting a brand persona, pushing past the theoretical framework, and communicating with actual customers. Spend time with them and closely observe their reactions, needs, and wants. Through a combination of personas and targeted market research, intentionally shape your messaging and align your organizational strategies with the real needs of your clients.
The Dove Campaign is an excellent case in point. Dove ran a revolutionary campaign named “Campaign for Real Beauty.” Before that, they conducted a study where they learned that only a minority of women considered themselves beautiful. Dove seized the opportunity to spark a conversation about beauty. Their goal was to celebrate the natural differences personified by all women, regardless of their shapes and sizes, and encourage them to be confident and comfortable with who they are. This campaign turned out to be successful, has helped boost their sales, and received several awards. What’s more fantastic is that because of what Dove did, many women today no longer embrace beauty based on a rigid set of standards of physical appearance. This demonstrates the importance of applying insights to your target market about their specific concerns and, most importantly, speaking their language.
Customers do recognize the difference when companies make an effort to speak their language. They find that these companies genuinely understand their personalized needs and they feel heard. This is how companies build long-lasting relationships with their loyal customers.
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1) Ahmad Fairuz Othman 2020, “My Priority Is To Rehire All My Staff WHo Were Let Go,” New Straits Times, viewed 17 August 2021, <https://www.nst.com.my/business/2020/12/651486/my-priority-rehire-all-my-staff-who-were-let-go>
2) BBC 2021, Google May Cut Pay of Staff Who Work From Home, BBC, viewed 17 August 2021, <https://www.bbc.com/news/business-58171716>
3) Killey Skene 2014, A PR Case Study: Dove Real Beauty Campaign, News Generation, viewed 17 August 2021, <http://newsgeneration.com/2014/04/11/pr-case-study-dove-real-beauty/>
4) Rena Fallstrom 2019, Are You Speaking Your Customer’s Language? Forbes, viewed 17 August 2021, < https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2019/03/12/are-you-speaking-your-customers-language/?sh=2bc3a77e59b2>
5) Thomas Yoon 2021, How To Choose The Right Business Pivots in 2021, Forbes, viewed 17 August 2021, <https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2021/02/04/how-to-choose-the-right-business-pivots-in-2021/?sh=594ccdc2774e>
6) Young Entrepreneur Council 2021, How To Help Clients Pivot Their Business Strategy, Forbes, viewed 17 August 2021, <https://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2021/01/07/how-to-help-clients-pivot-their-business-strategy/?sh=56a455e3819d>