Pivoting – it’s not just in Silicon Valley

By Aoibheann Rogers

The term “pivot” was coined in 2009 by Eric Ries, however transforming a business model has been a core element of company strategy for centuries.

Silicon Valley start ups are known for their major “pivots”: Instagram started as a check-in app called Burbn which allowed users to post pictures of the meet-ups: it was too complicated so the founders honed in on one aspect of the app that users were focused on – the photo sharing. The ecommerce platform Shopify was built by its founders for their own snowboarding online shop: the shop failed but the platform was hugely successful. Many non-technical companies have also pivoted their business model; Suzuki moved from the Japanese silk industry to the automotive industry in the mid 20th century and Starbucks expanded from selling espresso makers and beans to a coffee bar experience.

It doesn’t matter how small or large your business is, a pivot may help you further realise your business goals.

The authors of the Grow Movement Uganda Study define a pivot (a marketing strategy innovation) as “a deliberate shift in how some business model components are designed to create and deliver value for customers”.

The 8 types of pivot

A pivot can take many different forms, these include:

  1. New Offering Pivot: Keeping the same customers, to solve a different pain point or address an unresolved need
  2. Narrow Offering Pivot: Reducing the number of products, services or featured offered.
  3. Broad Offering Pivot: Expanding the number of products, services or features offered.
  4. Advanced Offering Pivot: Using a new technology to provide a more effective, efficient or superior offering.
  5. Target Segment Pivot: Keeping the same offering but switching sales and marketing efforts towards a new group of customers.
  6. Go-To-Market Pivot: Changing the channel, method or intermediary for getting your offering to customers.
  7. Revenue Model Pivot: Changing the source of collecting money from customers or a new approach to charging money.
  8. Mass Market Pivot: Reconfiguring to create a more standardised offering that appeals to mass market.

How do you know when to pivot?

A pivot can be triggered by learning new information, experimentation, new team members, or by engaging a business consultant. The best way to know if you need to pivot is to truly understand your customers and your product or service business model. A deep analysis of this will tell you if you can improve your business goals by adapting one or both of these things.

You can ask yourself questions based around the 3Cs of marketing (Customer, Company, Competition):

Customers
o Who are they?
o How do they use our product or service?
o What needs do they have?
o Can we improve our customer interactions?

Company
o What is our offering? Is it easy to understand?
o Can our offering be made more attractive?
o Can our offering be extended to other customer needs?

Competitors
o What are the market conditions?
o How else can customer needs be met?
o What trends are impacting our marketplace?

What does this have to do with Grow Movement?

Grow Movement connects entrepreneurs in Africa with volunteer business consultants (VCs) from all over the world. Our VCs mentor and advise the entrepreneurs over skype, email and phone. In 2015 and 2016, Grow Movement was part of a Randomised Controlled Trial run by researchers at Stamford, Chicago Booth and London Business School to study the effects of one-on-one remote business consulting on the strategic marketing efforts of entrepreneurs. You can read about our results soon!

Links & References

3 August 2019

Aoibheann Rogers is a marketing and business professional who has worked in Australia, Asia, UK and Africa in a variety of functions including Sales & Marketing, Corporate Strategy and Commercial Project Management. Aoibheann is a Trustee of Grow Movement, having joined in 2015 as a Volunteer Consultant during the Uganda600 program, working with an inspiring young entrepreneur named Jesca.

She is a strong believer in enabling people to help themselves and their communities by providing the right frameworks and support. Aoibheann holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing) and Asian Studies (Indonesian) from Curtin University of Technology in Western Australia.

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