Pivoting your offering in these tough times

Let’s start off with a massive assumption / disclaimer: None of us are looking to “profit off a terrible situation”. We’re not looking to take advantage of anyone, especially those suffering. If you’re here to try to make a quick quid based on scarcity and fear, this isn’t for you.

This post is for people who want to make an authentic contribution through their skills, talents, and creations. (I kind of hope all my posts, courses, and services have always been for those people.)

Marketing your business may feel weird during this time. I’ve heard that from several of my clients and Progress not Perfection members, and I get it.

If you’re a jeweller or a sewist or a designer – or indeed anyone selling primarily gifts – it’s easy to tell yourself that there’s no point, that this isn’t what’s important right now.

And let’s acknowledge that if you could be making hand sanitiser or medical masks or loo roll (eye roll), you would.

Should you keep posting out products, potentially adding more pressure to the postal service and risk to others? Only you can decide.

My initial gut reaction is to keep going if you can. We need boosts to our spirits, as well as to the economy.

But I can also see the argument to shut down, reduce risk, and reduce pressure.

What I do know is that you can pivot.

We’re being asked to see our businesses, our economy, and our concept of money-and-value in a new way.

A whole new set of needs are arising for a population in extraordinary circumstances.

Chances are, you can meet some of those needs.

If you can sew and mend people’s clothes so they don’t have to buy new, do that.

If you’re a jeweller and can reimagine family heirlooms or repair beloved pieces, do that.

If you’re great at making your hair look good without a hairdresser, please tell us how!

If you’re a storyteller, tell us stories.

If you’re great at making your cobbled-together dinner or homemade coffee look restaurant-quality, show us!

If you can help us to connect with far-away relatives and friends, please make it easy and help us do that. (I just want to send my Granny photos of my 8-month-old.)

If you can help us to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions, tell us allllll about it.

If you have great store cupboard recipes and ideas, we’re all ears.

If you have tips or activities or creative approaches to entertaining kids of all ages, my goodness we’re going to need them!

If you can provide anything to soothe, calm, organise, or encourage us, please show us, and make it easy for us to get it.

What if it’s not relevant to your current business? Does it matter?

Yes and no.

If you’ve got existing products or services that serve your existing customers in this new normal, carry on. Keep going. Share, with thought and good intentions.

You might find you’ve got things you can offer your local community, but doesn’t really work online.

You might have new ideas (hello, creative minds) to serve your existing audience. Create, get feedback. Listen to what your people need, what they’re struggling with. Create accordingly.

And then again you might have fabulous ideas that serve a different audience… That’s great too! But note that that’s also the category that needs the most marketing effort. Not impossible by any stretch of the imagination, but be ready.

Consider:

  • Digital downloads for people to print at home (colouring pages, fresh artwork, helpful lists and reminders, puzzles…)
  • Running a live workshop online
  • Creating a mini ecourse to teach or guide your audience through something you know about

Do not underestimate the power of art, of gifts, of beauty. Do not underestimate the power of creativity and connection.

We need pick-me-ups and lovely things to send each other. We need to celebrate birthdays and friendships and incredible NHS staff and all the amazing people keeping things going right now.

You may not need to make a huge change. It’s probably just a pivot.

My current identity crisis

I mean, truthfully, I’m not feeling as dramatic as the title suggests…

But I am having an identity crisis of sorts.

First of all, I’m a mother now, so there are changes in how I think of myself and my purpose in the world. If I’m honest, there’s no crisis there – it all feels really right to me, which is amazing and a relief.

It’s the professional identity that is going through a shift.

I started my business over 5 years ago, back in 2014, and my identity then was a 26-year-old, with very specific experience working at Notonthehighstreet, and a very specific offering to a very specific audience. Which was great – I can honestly say that being specific allowed me to hit the ground running.

In the years since, I’ve tried different things, expanded my business, trained in broader areas, and grown as a human and as a businesswoman. One of the things I changed a couple of years ago was referring to myself as a coach and my work as coaching, rather than as a mentor/mentoring.

Now that I’m returning from the biggest break I’ve had (nearly 8 months!), I’m wondering about this change. I chose to call myself a coach because I got some training and practice as a coach. The majority of the methods I use in one-to-one and group work are coaching. The ethos of coaching appeals: that I’m here to create a positive space for you to discover more about yourself and your way forward – not to dictate it based on my own (limited) experience.

With a broader view of things, I’m looking at my business and seeing that “mentoring” is a word with a more business-focused edge to it. While there aren’t industry-approved definitions, it somehow seems to say “I’ll help you with your business, to help you be the best you can be,” in a way that “coach” doesn’t. Perhaps there are so many coaches around. Perhaps this is just my view right now.

It’s funny: whichever word I choose to use doesn’t actually impact the work I do.

My ability to share experiences and expertise, to encourage, to ask pertinent questions, to share my ethos of business and life – they are all definites. Unchangeable.

I suppose really it’s about marketing: how can I explain what I do in the most effective way?

Perhaps you’ve had similar struggles or thoughts or ideas yourself.

I’m not quite ready to make a decision either way yet. I am ready to experiment with both “coach” and “mentor” in the things I write and share for a little while.

And, of course, I’d love to hear your opinion, too!

What about you? How do you describe your work and role and business? Comment below or join the conversation on Instagram.

Business book recommendations

Just in time for Christmas, here are some of my most-recommended books from recent weeks:

Flow: The Psychology of Happiness by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

A wonderful book – now a psychology classic – on how to create more of that great creative feeling.

Ride of a Lifetime by Robert Iger

A fascinating memoir by Disney’s CEO. I love reading about how Iger was passionate about maintaining the unique creativity of Pixar – inspiring for even small creative businesses.

Simple Abundance by Sarah ban Breathnach

The most important book of my day-to-day life, I read this pretty much every day. There are short chapters to encourage, inspire and delight, and the new 2019 edition has wisdom on surviving and thriving in the modern world. Love!

optin-cup

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