“Pivot”, a word familiar to start-ups and entrepreneurs, was one of the most-mentioned business terms in 2020. And for good reason, last year was hard on companies, especially small businesses. The pandemic turned the world upside down, forcing corporate leaders, mid-market managers, entrepreneurs, and solopreneurs alike to adjust in order to keep their businesses afloat. For many of us, we had to make many adjustments. In 2020, we all had to position ourselves a little differently – we all had to pivot.
Now that some time has passed, it’s a good time to reflect. What did you learn along the way? What did you learn about your customer? How has your customer’s life changed? What about their pain points? Their behaviors, preferences, and habits? (Remember: it wasn’t just small businesses making changes, our customers were pivoting, too).
So, you had to pivot and make a bunch of changes, adjusting things large and small, across your business, right? Ok, let’s make sure what you’re doing aligns with your strategy and is actually working for your customers.
It’s time for a marketing gut check!
Grab an hour on your calendar, a pen, a calculator, and some coffee (or wine – we don’t judge), and let’s get to work:
1 Gather Your Customer Data
Most modern online platforms used to communicate with customers have built-in insights. Log in and start combing through your business’ Instagram, Facebook, website, Google Analytics, POS, and email service sites for all the customer data you have access to. If you get reviews or survey results, don’t leave those out either.
2 Compare the Data
Review your data from before and during the pandemic. See if you can spot changes or new patterns in how your customers click, browse, buy, or engage. How did these changes align with your expectations? How well did the assumptions you used to pivot play out? Are your customers behaving in any surprising ways?
3 Take Stock
As you comb through your data, what questions come to mind? Write down all your questions along the way. Sometimes, finding the right questions is harder than getting to the answers themselves. There are no bad questions, so your list might be long – and that’s OK. Each one will guide you towards understanding your customer better.
4 Follow Your Curiosity
With your questions now in hand, start separating them into categories based on how you’d like to find your answers. For some, you’ll want to ask your customers directly. Get feedback using one-on-one conversations, surveys, or focus groups. For other questions, like those about the general marketplace or trends, you can Google or research through online organizations. Another category of questions might bring you back to Google Analytics where you might like to set up a new conversion to track.
5 Leave No Stone Unturned
After you’ve categorized how you’d like to find answers to your list of questions, it’s time to go and find them. Craft a survey and send it out. Create that new conversion tracker. And make those phone calls. Take Nike’s advice and “Just do it”.
6 Make Your Data Actionable Information
You’ve gathered data and followed up on your questions. What now? Pivot (again, if you need to). Data is only as good as how you use it as actionable information. Sure, you’ve pivoted already, but did it work? Are your customers still satisfied? What can you be doing better? Are you reacting to customer’s pain points or moving toward delighting them? Did they leave while you weren’t looking? Use this time to turn data into insights that inform what you need to do next to keep what is and adjust what isn’t working for your business.
Data = Gold
Good data is like gold. It’s valuable but requires some mining to get it. Combine the insights that you’ll get out of your data with listening to your customers and marketing your business will become exponentially easier. Messaging becomes a breeze when you understand your customers and what they need from you. It’s no longer just a question about where and when to post anymore, it’s about finding the right ways to deliver the real value to the people who want – and need – what you have to offer.