Why Communications is Critical to Pivoting Your Business

2 min read

Like many of you, I’ve been a lot of Zoom meetings these last few weeks discussing how to pivot your business during a crisis. There is a lot of talk about selling via e-commerce, social media and other channels, but less focus on how to communicate while pivoting.

We get it. For many of us how we delivered our business doesn’t work in the current COVID-19 climate, and likely won’t for many months to come.

All businesses and organizations need to figure out how to pivot to not only stay afloat but also add value to their customers and audience.

A big piece of this pivot is communications.

I’ve previously written about how to communicate during a crisis. Now let’s look at how to communicate as you pivot.

Audience definition

Getting clear on who your audience is, their needs, what interests them (not just you) and how best to engage with them is always important. But as you pivot your business into a new model of service delivery, it is crucial you figure out who your customers/audience was before COVID-19, and, using your new model, who are your key customers/audience moving forward.

You will likely find there has been a shift.

Really drill down into who your core customers/audience are, seeing them as individuals with a name and persona versus a broad category like women ages 30–50. What is their age, gender, occupation, income, education, social interests? Where do they go to get information, entertainment, unwind? What are they passionate about?

Now create personas for your top three audiences giving each one a name and identity. This will allow you to not only tailor your marketing to meet their needs, but also help you identify who you need to talk as a test market. Don’t make assumptions about their experience and connection to your business or organization. Talk to them. Have honest conversations to get meaningful feedback which may result in further pivoting.

Key messaging

With your target audiences in mind, what are the 1–3 key points you want them to know? This is not the time to be rambling about all the great programs, resources or supports you are offering.

Be specific. In all of your communications, go back to your target audiences and what they care about. Now what are the 1–3 key pieces of information you want to share that connects with their needs, concerns or interests?

Here’s the beauty about key messaging. Once you’ve written out your key points, they can be used to create social media posts (focusing on one message at a time), content for your website, newsletter and other communications materials.

Make sure your key messages help people understand your pivot — what’s happened, why and how it benefits them (what’s in it for me).

About you

With your pivot, you are likely going to attract a new audience. As such, don’t assume they know the values, services or commitment of your organization. Take the time to let them know about who you are, what you do, the service you provide (not just sales but value) and how you can help them. Do all of this in a context that is relevant to the COVID-19 environment (recognizing the emotional and financial struggles).

Be vulnerable

Don’t put on a tough face and pretend everything is normal. It’s not.

Let people see behind the mask. What are your struggles as a business owner or organization? How are you supporting your team and community?

It’s okay (and relatable) to admit you are pivoting as you are afraid of losing a business you spent years building or you are looking for new ways to serve customers so you don’t have to layoff valuable staff.

For me, I’ve drastically dropped the price of a membership on my digital product website to not only help people with their online learning, but also to cover the maintenance costs (which don’t go away even when sales have decreased). It’s about providing value while still needing to cover my costs.

As you continue your pivot (as we still don’t know what the road ahead will look like), I encourage you to keep refining your communications, reviewing the points above. What might be true in month one may change in month three. Being flexible, responsive and personal will help you navigate these uncharted waters.

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Cynthia Lockrey Cynthia Lockrey is a storyteller and motivator. She is passionate about helping people find their voice so they can share their knowledge, stories and BE HEARD! Having started her career as a newspaper editor, she understands the elements that make up a good story, and where the story gets lost in the telling. When she jumped into public relations, she brought with her all the lessons learned and insights from working in the media. It is these insights, and experience gained over 20+ working in PR, that she’s passionate about sharing. Cynthia is skilled at breaking down communications fundamentals into bite size and easy to implement pieces. She does this in her blogging, communications consulting, training and speaking. She is also the author of two books.

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