Pivot! How to take your marketing in a new direction
Thursday, August 15, 2019
There’s an iconic scene in the fifth season of “Friends” in the episode titled, "The One With the Cop." (If you don’t immediately know what scene I’m referencing based on the title of this article, you can watch it above.)
In the scene, Ross has purchased a brand-new couch, but decides to deliver it to his apartment himself, instead of paying the outrageous delivery fee the store charges. As he waits for help from his trusty friends, he sketches a plan for easy movement up his apartment’s stairway.
To the characters’ chagrin, the couch doesn’t fit up the stairs the way Ross originally planned in his drawing. Thinking on his feet, Ross quickly “pivots” to a new plan … and the hilarity ensues.
So, why did I just run down that scene for you? Well, they say, “Write what you know,” and I know "Friends."
Plus, it’s timely, because instead of doing what it seems like every other hit show of the late ‘90s and early 2000s is doing these days — a series reboot or reunion — executives at Warner Bros followed the advice from its beloved "Friends" character, and pivoted — opting instead to do a 12-episode feature series in movie theaters across the nation to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the hit show.
After Jennifer Aniston said she and the rest of "the girls" were down for a reboot or reunion, and knowing it’s definitely what the majority of new Netflix fans seem to want, Warner Bros made the bold move to try something a little different — and it seems to be paying off.
So, how can you apply this strategy to your own company? Well, no executive wants to admit his/her marketing efforts are failing.
Those well-thought-out strategies often hold the blood, sweat and tears of your dedicated marketing team, but when the numbers tell a story so grim even Phoebe Buffay couldn’t put a good spin on it, it’s time to pivot.
Make sure the stairway is wide enough
Is there a new algorithm that will negatively affect your current campaign? Are your competitors playing it safe by following all the best practices rules? Is the landscape your product or service falls under going through a state of monumental change?
If you don’t know the answer to any of those questions, the time to figure them out is before you pivot. Going in blind, or worse, with bad information, can be what ultimately destroys a successful marketing campaign.
So, do your homework. Run it by your team. Think through all the negative space before you head in a new direction.
Sketch your plans in pencil
Just like Ross and the gang had to pivot away from his initial sketch, you’d be wise to plan your marketing strategies in pencil. The theory being, since pencil is temporary, you can easily erase an idea you thought was going to be amazing and start over in a new direction. No, you don’t literally have to do your plans in pencil — it’s just a metaphor.
However, being nimble in marketing these days is a huge factor in success. I mean, how many marketing campaigns take off and become the huge story in a company’s upward mobility? Not many.
So, you have to be agile in your planning, willing to take some constructive criticism, and open to the possibility of new ways.
Look for reinforcements (and don’t settle for “the next best thing”)
Sometimes the best decision you can make in marketing, or in life, is to ask for help. In the marketing world, this may mean finding room in the budget to do just that — get help from an expert agency.
Digital marketing agencies these days don’t hold the negative connotation they used to and are actually a lot more trustworthy than in the past.
The reason? Because they have to be. With so much competition in the market and with simple targeting and retargeting solutions that have recently been added (and will continue to be added) to the digital marketing realm, there really is no longer anywhere for deceptive agencies to hide.
Again, do your research before teaming up with a new partner, but also keep an open mind knowing that someone else may know more than you do, or may just be better than you at executing.
Laugh through the pain
While I’ve taken a funny scene and applied it to serious business strategy, it’s fair to note that pivot marketing is not all fun and games. Just like our "Friends" sketch didn’t work out according to plan, sometimes ideas just don’t hit their mark. Even the most thought-out, well-executed and super-creative campaigns fail.
The trick is to surround yourself with a team you trust, try as hard as you can to make it work, know when you’ve been defeated, and be able to laugh at yourself as you learn and move on.
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