The Power of (Strategic) Pivoting

Ever since Ross from TV’s “Friends” yelled “PIVOT!,” the word has crept into business vernacular and risen to the level of what we once overused such as “move the needle” or “think outside the box.” It’s been a long road for the word from its origins to becoming everyday jargon. In its original form, “pivot” is a French borrowing. In the 19th century, it adapted grammatically to verb form, indicating the act of turning, literally and figuratively, about a point. Today, the word has now pivoted to also imply a change of direction.

Recently, politicians have adopted the word and many corporations found it part of their lexicon during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Use of the word has been so widespread that it has taken on too many shapes and forms. Today, the word is often used to deflect a past mistake, cover up “hit and miss” approaches or avoid commitment to the latest decision. Pivot too often and you’ll circle back to where you started.

As a brand that knows the power of words, you’ll probably only hear the experts at Augustine say this one when it follows the word “strategic.” After all, pivoting strategically can lead to big wins.

North Lake Tahoe was a client that had traditionally focused marketing efforts on its winter and summer travel appeal. Leveraging a variety of data points – travel industry trends, consumer journey insights, media research and more, Augustine sparked a new idea. The team developed a four-season campaign to engage travelers to book overnight trips year-round. Positioning North Lake Tahoe as a year-round destination (and targeting the right audiences with appropriate, differentiator messaging and visuals) was essential to increasing overnight visitation to the region through marketing efforts. The strategic shift led to unprecedented growth in visitor spending overall — including revenue from additional room nights.

North Lake Tahoe, like the entire travel and tourism industry during the pandemic, had to refocus its marketing efforts. While many simply pivoted to multiple marketing ideas or pulled them completely, North Lake Tahoe took the strategic route — focusing on its outdoor appeal and the opportunity to “reconnect” and do it safely and sustainably.

As we are now able to look back on companies that chose smart paths during the early pandemic stages, most were informed by solid research.

Avocados From Mexico, prepared with its traditional football season in-store campaign and materials, approached fall 2020 with a large question mark around the fall football season. The brand looked to research for answers and learned that families had become increasingly focused on value — and they were focused on “their home.”

The team strategically pivoted to what consumers were focusing on during the pandemic with a “Guac The House” program including coupons and the chance to a win a $500,000 new house. The campaign hit home with shoppers — and with retailers who supported the program even stronger than recent football-themed campaigns.

However, pivoting is certainly not a magic pill for every business and every opportunity. There are a few items to keep in mind:

  • Strategic pivots don’t necessarily require a radical change
  • Being first requires agility and making fast, informed decisions
  • Listen to your audience: Base your decisions on solid research and informed knowledge involving your audience needs and trends
  • Work with an ad agency that knows how to take insights to action with measurable results

Whether implementing a strategic pivot because of a crisis or because you feel your company is in a marketing rut, make sure the pivot presents opportunities to create stronger customer value and competitive advantage, as well as aligning with your organization’s big picture goals.

If you’d like to see your company shine, take a moment to connect with us and we’ll be in touch.