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The Encore Entrepreneur

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How do you know when to pivot? If you believe it's time to pivot some part of your business, do you know how to pivot? We're covering all things "pivot" in this episode, and we're sharing our story of why and how we are pivoting Encore Empire to give you some insight into what a pivot might look like for your business.

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Episode Transcript:

[01:06] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: 2023 shook the foundation of businesses across the globe. 

Every sector was hit with a downturn in business and a disruption of business as usual. Many businesses ceased to exist. The world experienced bank collapses. Interest rates went up four times in the United States, and lots of retail chains closed most of their storefronts, up to 80% in some of the chains.


[01:37] Deirdre Harter: Now, as a service provider, you most likely felt a slowdown too, because this happened across all markets. It didn't matter what kind of business you had, whether it was brick-and-mortar or whether it was online business. Everybody was feeling this because this is one of those, these were some of the things that really changes the entire landscape of our economy. 

The businesses that didn't close their doors most likely understood the power of the pivot, and that's what we’re talking about today. Now, we like to discuss strategy here at Encore Empire because it’s easy to get comfortable with a strategy when it's working well. However, what do you do when your tried and true strategy doesn't work anymore? Well, when that happens, it's time to pivot.


[02:36] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: So let's first talk about when to pivot. One of the first signs is what's been working suddenly stops working. So if you experience that, you're not alone, that happens. This is the biggest sign that it's time to pivot. This can happen anytime as well. It doesn't take a global financial downturn like 2023 was, but it can happen at any time. 

So before you do anything about it, when you notice something is not working, you'll want to assess your market. And we're going to discuss that a little bit more in detail in a few minutes. But let's talk about what it means when something suddenly stops working. So if you've been going along and Deidre—what she said a minute ago is really great—you had a tried and true strategy, you've been comfortable with it. You've been selling the same thing. You haven't had problems enrolling new clients. And then all of a sudden, it's like crickets, and you're thinking, I didn't change anything. So what happened? Well, when things suddenly stop working, it's a sign that you may need to pivot, because, as in the example of 2023, what you're doing didn't change, but everything in the world changed.


[03:46] Deirdre Harter: Yeah, and another sign. There can be a couple different scenarios here. So all of a sudden, it's an abrupt stop. But one of the key indicators is that your sales are significantly slowing down. Now, as long as you've been able to pinpoint that sales aren't significantly down due to some other internal reason. We want to go through this, and we want to assess the situation first. You can have two minutes of freak out. Go ahead, freak out for a little bit. But then we need to get back and put on our CEO hats. As we talked about in our last podcast episode, we were talking about the CEO mindset and how that is such a big part of being resilient. And that's why we've included this pivoting episode in the resiliency series, because we have to be resilient about this. After all, it can be very disrupting to us, both mentally and to our revenue. 

So the first thing to look at is, let's make sure nothing's broken internally. And that could be a broken landing page. It could be a broken funnel. It could be marketing that's missing the mark. Low sales is a good indication that it's time to pivot. In a typical year, you might see a couple things happen. You could see sales just completely dry up all of a sudden, it actually happened to me and Carmen, and we're going to share that story with you. But you could also be seeing a downward trend. And this is why we talked about in our last episode, the importance of metrics. 

We really need to be paying attention to not only what's happening month to month, but what are we seeing over a period of time? We were seeing this, too. It started out as kind of a slow downward spiral, and then all of a sudden just stopped. It was like somebody turned off the faucet. And so when you see these things happening, it's going to help you be proactive and to start to think about what. How am I going to pivot? How am I going to change things here? When these things happen, that's when you're going to really want to pay attention.


[06:12] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Yes, and let's talk about for a second what pivot means. It really means to change direction. So something happened. Let's think about, we're driving down the street, all of a sudden a cat jumps out or there's a detour. Well, you have to pivot, right? You have to change direction. And that's all this means. It doesn't have to be a big scary thing, but there are reasons that you might have to and that's what we want to talk about. 

The third one we're going to bring up today is let's say your schedule changes significantly. If you are in the sandwich generation where you've got kids, they might be almost adults, but you've got parents and you're kind of taking care of and juggling both. Well, your schedule could change if one of your family members needs more of your attention. Something could happen that makes you realize that, boy, I just don't have the bandwidth that I did previously or up until this point to keep serving my audience the way I was. I'm going to have to really reassess and make some changes. 

It could be something with your schedule. You could suddenly have new responsibilities. Maybe it's not even something that is a negative, like someone needs more of your attention, but maybe it's you just want to do something new for yourself. You want to take art classes, you want to travel more. Whatever it is, something can happen that makes it so that you don't have the same amount of time and you need to make more room on your calendar to accommodate the thing that you want to do, which means that you also have to shift what you're doing in your business or pivot to make this new situation work.


[07:48] Deirdre Harter: So now let's talk about the reasons why to pivot. We just talked about when it's time. So you're, let's say you're seeing the signs, right? But we need to talk about the why because you've probably heard this before, but we always want to go back to our why. Why are we doing what we're doing? Why are we going to make the change? And we have to be very, very clear about why we're going to be doing this. Because if we don't get the why, we don't get the buy-in, right? And so it will make it hard if you're not really clear on why it is you need to pivot because it is all too easy to bury our heads in the sand when things aren't working right. And we pretend that, well, I'll just give it more time and it'll just get better all by itself. Has anybody ever done that? I know I have done that in many different areas of my life. 

And it's equally tempting to run from tactic to tactic in a panic to get things working again. So we've got the ostrich syndrome, and then we've got the SOS syndrome. That's the shiny object syndrome, where we're just running around and we're like, I'll try this and I'll try that. And if I do five more things, that something's got to work. Well, neither one of those strategies will help you succeed, and it will likely send your stress levels skyrocketing. And there's a huge danger of this sending your business backward.


[09:18] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Now, if you've been around us for more than a minute, you know, we believe in rinse and repeat and doing something often enough and long enough. We like to share the six-six rule, that you do it either six times or six months, whatever it takes to know whether or not something's working. We want to be able to do it often enough or long enough before starting something new or significantly changing gears. And in this case, we're talking about the pivot. 

We don't want to just keep changing. Just because something doesn't work doesn't mean it's time to change. And so this is why we're talking about this today, it doesn't mean that if you ran a workshop and things didn't go well, that now you should change, that you should do something else. That's not what we're talking about here. We're talking about something's been working. You know it's been working because you've done it long enough and often enough that suddenly you're seeing something shift. Then you start knowing, okay, something's going on here. And before you make that change, you're going to want to look at, well, what is going on? And we're going to talk about that in a little bit here as well.

Abiding by those principles, along with paying attention to the metrics and market research, told us here at Encore Empire that we needed to pivot at the end of 2023. And that's what we're bringing this out into the open about. We want people to know that pivoting is important and you may have to do it. You may have needed to do it. Maybe you did it, too. But we definitely did it. And it was a lot of what we call 2023, the reset button. It was a big reset button on all businesses across the globe. And so when we experienced what Deirdre's going to talk about here in a second, we knew we had to pivot. And so Deidre's going to tell you a little bit about our story.


[11:15] Deirdre Harter: So if you have been with us for a little while, you may have actually attended our Marketing Methodology Workshop. This is a workshop we ran for about three, almost three years. And before we had a workshop that was a different topic, and we ran that for a while before this one. So we are huge proponents of running live workshops, and we did this free of charge. And what it allowed us to do is to really get to know our audience and let them get to know us. And it gave them this fantastic marketing framework that they could use. We have hundreds of testimonials from the people who've gone through this workshop and who had tremendous success. So we were rinsing and repeating, and it was working. And it was working well. Then all of a sudden, it just stopped. 

And we knew, you know, every time we always checked our metrics, we knew exactly how many invites we had to send out, how many people we had to reach out to to get the registration numbers we needed, to get the attendance that we wanted. And from the people who attended our workshop, we would always enroll into one of our coaching programs. And it happened like clockwork. Our metrics were right on track all the time. And then, like I said, all of a sudden it stopped working. And as Carmen said before, we knew we hadn't changed anything. Like we had done exactly the same thing. 

So we thought, okay, one time, maybe it's a fluke, right? Maybe just something strange happened, who knows? So we just ran it again and to see what would happen. And we got better results the second time, but it wasn't near what it was the previous year. So we knew something was going on, and we weren't quite sure. So we looked at what could we change internally? What could we do more of? What could we let go of? How could we make this even better? 

So we continued to tweak it a few more times. But we were seeing this downward trend we were having to put in way more effort to get fewer registrations. And we were not enrolling into our program at the rate we had been previously. So this was, it was the hardest decision we ever had to make. And we knew there were two things going on here, the workshop itself. The other thing was our program. We're like, okay, well, which one is it? So we decided to. We actually tried a different kind of workshop, so we tried a different topic that didn't, that just didn't do well at all. So we're like, okay, well, that wasn't it. 

So then we began to look at our program. We were like, well, what could we, you know, maybe it's the program, maybe it's the offer that we have, and maybe we need to change that because we were also watching what was happening in 2023. You know, we were in the post-COVID bubble bursting. We were in a recession. All kinds of things economically were happening. There was a whole lot of turmoil going on economically and lots of changes to social media platforms. So a lot of things that we had no control over. 

But even though we didn't have control over those things, we knew that we still had to do something about this. We had to do what we could do. And so we decided to begin offering some different ways for people to work with us at a lower price. We talked to our audience. We were listening to what they said. And a lot of it was just, you know, I really want to work with you, but, you know, my sales are down. So that's what we kept hearing. My sales are down. My sales are down. So we knew that, well, if their sales are down, they can't afford the high ticket program that we had been offering and had been selling very successfully. 

So we decided that we would change it to where we could make it accessible for people from a financial standpoint. And that is what put some new life into our business. But we still were seeing more changes. We were still, at first, it was working, and then all of a sudden, we started to see this downward trend again. So all that to say, we wanted to let you know that Carmen and I have got decades of business experience behind us, and we know a thing or two because we've seen a thing or two, and it happens to all of us. So rather than to be surprised by it or to  feel disempowered over it, this is resilience. 

We have to tap into our resilience and know that we can pivot, we can change things, and we can use what we've already had. We don't have to start all over again, but we can use those things that we've already got in place, the things that we know work, and we can use that to turn the ship onto the right path.


[16:40] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: That's right, and when we talk about making these changes and like Deidre talked about, we created different ways that people could work with us. And for a lower point of entry. We did that because we assessed the market. 

So let's talk about how to pivot. And this is what we did. This is what we recommend when something's happening. 2023 was a unique thing because it wasn't only that, you know, we were considering, is it our workshop or is it our program? We could see things were happening worldwide, but there was no way to know the magnitude of the effect that that would have on us. So when you know what you're doing and you've been doing it for so long and it's been working so long, you really kind of want to hang on to that like a life raft. Right? So, turbulent waters were hanging on to what we know, but it just wasn't working. And so we had to assess the market. We had to look at how is the target market shifting, the way they buy, and then how could we meet them where they're at? 

That's always what we want to do, right? We always talk about knowing your ideal client, your ideal target market. You have to know them. You can't just go running off and freaking out emotionally about these things, although it's easy to do. And like Deidre said, give yourself some time to freak out about things, because you do want to get that out of your system. But we want to then take a deep breath and look at what we can do. 

We have to look at how is the market shifting? What are they, what are they willing to buy? Because everyone's purse strings tightened. And it wasn't just our industry, it was across the board. I was on so many email lists, or I'm on so many lists that people were sending me things where businesses have shut down. Social Media Examiner, one of the best and most respected social media marketing companies around, lost $1 million in 2023. And that story was very eye-opening. So, on the one hand, it made us feel a little bit better that it wasn't just us. 

We knew that was another indication. You're looking at when you know why to pivot. But, you know, you have to figure out how. It's like first you have to know, well, what is it that's wrong? And so we started getting these indications as the year went on that it wasn't our workshop and it wasn't our program. It was something that was happening on a global scale. So then we had to really pay attention to, well, what are people doing? And when people stop spending on these things that are nice to have and they want just the things that are, must have. Well, you have to then position yourself differently. And I'm going to talk about that in a minute. But we need to look at what's going on in the market:

  • How are they buying? 

  • How do you meet them, where they're at? 

  • What matters most to your ideal client now? 

As this turmoil is happening, what's becoming more and more important—how has it changed? 

In June of 2022, we could have had a discussion with someone about what mattered to them most. And it would look starkly different than if we had that same discussion with the same person in June of 2023. And this is why we always are proponents of tapping into and being connected with, by having conversations regularly with your target market and your ideal clients. You have to know what's really happening. And so when you know, then here's what matters most to them. They're afraid. The economy's up and down, it's in turmoil. They're reading things in the paper, seeing things on the news every night. So we have to look at, well, they're not going to then open their wallets for a high ticket program as easily as they once did. 

The other thing that we can look at is, well, what are your competitors doing to meet them where they're at? How are they changing what they're doing? Because it's not just our business, I'll tell you, that has made some pivots. It's businesses all throughout the industry. And so we started seeing a lot more people doing lower ticket things. And, you know, I'll say that we did know prior to 2023, we had put our, all our eggs in the basket of a high-ticket offer, and that worked out really well. But there were some signs coming ahead of time, and this is why it's so important to look at trends. But there were some signs that people might have wanted to work with us at a lower price point. And we didn't have a way to offer it to them. So we were working with that a little bit more. 

Well, 2023 was the catalyst to make us pull out all the stops and create that. But we also don't want to throw out the high-ticket offer necessarily altogether. We want to look at how can we best meet people where they’re at? Because the other thing that's going to happen is things will change again. Everything is not just going to stay the way it is today and it never will. 

Today, tomorrow, two years from now, ten years from now, things will always be changing. So that's why it's really important and why we wanted to bring out this episode about pivoting, because it really speaks to creating and helping you build the resiliency in your business that you need.


[22:09] Deirdre Harter: So another thing to do when you're working on this pivot is to continue to do what's working. And if, you know, if you've done your research and you're keeping notes and using your metrics, you need to keep doing the thing that's working and then you're going to future cast a new strategy that encompasses your existing offers and potentially some new offers. 

This is really about mapping this whole thing out:

  • What can I keep doing? 

  • What do I need to change?

  • Is there anything new that I need to offer? 

We need to answer those questions. And if you've done your assessment of the market like we just talked about, and you're talking to people and you're talking to prospects, then you're going to have a really good idea of what that is going to look like. 

Now for us in 2023, as Carmen said, we saw a lot of people greatly reducing their spending. And because we knew that they were less likely to invest in high-ticket, long-term programs, we decided to pivot what we offer and we temporarily removed the high-ticket program and we pulled some pieces out of our learning platform to sell as standalone low-ticket offers. So it was an all-encompassing, self-paced, you know, learn-as-you-go type of offer. 

What we were doing was taking the assets we already had that we already knew worked. We were getting amazing results for the clients that we have had. We have gotten incredible results. It just was that people just simply didn't have the funds they needed in order to get that kind of help. And so we decided, okay, let's, let's give them what they need and put it together and package it in a way that doesn't take more of our time. Because that was a big part of our program. It's always been access to the experts, and it was very high touch. 

And so with packaging up some of the learning part, the educational part of our program, and then offering a little bit of the high-touch, they still had some access, but we reduced what that access was and that allowed us to leverage our time to be able to still offer something that was valuable and was going to help entrepreneurs to move their business forward and to learn the business of business. 

While you're going through this strategizing and planning, we want to make sure that you don't burn everything down. And I think that's the first reaction. We're like, nothing's working. We have to start all over from scratch. But it just isn't true. We're going to discuss more of that in detail in our next episode, so be sure to plan to listen in for that.


[25:11] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: When we talk about how to pivot—we've already said it a little bit here, but let's go a little bit deeper. Create new offers or new positioning for your existing offers, or both. 

If you previously had only high-ticket offers, as we did, pull some low-ticket options out of what you already have—we're not talking about recreating the wheel here—and then offer an easy price point for gaining new clients. 

Studies have shown that once a person buys something from you, he or she is 76% more likely to buy something else. That's the value of low-ticket offers. So you get people, they've already said yes, they know, like, and trust you as long as what you're selling them gets them the result. And that's the truth for any level of offer that you have. But they're going to be thrilled and they're going to want to come back for more. So this means that the key to establishing a long-term trusting relationship is getting them over the buying hump. Once they are over that they're like, okay, I bought something from them and the world didn't collapse and I'm okay. And in fact, I'm better than I was because now I learned this thing, then that helps you. 

So that's creating new offers from your existing stuff. If you have a high ticket offer or even if it's been one-on-one coaching, you can still look at:

  • What is your process? 

  • How do you get people the results that you get them? 

  • What is the process from when they become a client to the transformation? 

  • Map that out and decide what pieces of that can you sell? 

That's essentially what we did. Now, we have a learning platform so our program was already written out. But if in case you don't, that's what it requires, that you just map out what your process is. You'll be surprised, because a lot of people at the beginning think, well, I don't know. I don't know what I do. Every client is different. 

But when you sit down and you actually write down what happens when someone comes into your business and gets help from you and they become a paying client from beginning to end, even though they're different—because every single one of our clients is different, too—but we have a process, and you should have a process. And if you haven't identified it, it doesn't mean you don't have one. It just means you haven't identified it. So sit down and map it out and then see what pieces can you pull from that and to sell those separately. 

Then we want to look at when people reduce discretionary spending, it's time to position yourself differently. So this means people take things that are nice to have and they say that it would be nice to have that, but I can't afford to have that now. Things are terrible. Listen, did you hear what they said on the news last night? You know, the sky is falling, you know, the whole thing. So you need to start positioning yourself for the value that you provide. 

When we look at this, if your offer is helping someone double or triple their revenue, well, that's not just a nice to have, that's an essential. And if your offer, if you're a health coach, for instance, and you help people get healthier and live a longer life so that they can be more active with their kids or grandkids or go hike the Himalayas or whatever it is they want to do, that's not just a nice to have, you're saving them money on future prescriptions and healthcare costs and all that kind of stuff. So we need to look at what it is that we're offering and how are we positioning it? 

We get a little bit lazy when the economy's good and it's easy to make sales. We don't have to really go deep into all of the features and benefits and advantages of working with us. But when the economy gets tight, that's when we really need to get creative about how we describe what we do. We need to clearly communicate that by investing in this, at this time, within, you know, three months, six months, whatever the timeframe is, you will be able to X, Y and Z (whatever the result you offer is). We need to be very clear. So people think, oh my gosh, I can't afford not to purchase that. And that just takes some practice and some work on your marketing.

Positioning is a big deal and that's part of pivoting. So when we talk about how do we pivot? It's not just about our offers and, and what we offer, but it's how we position ourselves as well.


[29:53] Deirdre Harter: Yeah, that's such a good point. Carmen and I want to talk a minute too about certain kinds of service providers. So if you are providing a service like, let's say that you don't have a learning platform like you're just, you're a web designer or you're a graphic designer or you're a copywriter, like you're actually, you know, you're just providing a service and that's all that you do. And you might feel like, well, I, you know, what can I do? I don't have anything to pull low-ticket offers from. 

However, we've worked with several clients in that exact same position. And the things to think about are how can you, as Carmen said, you've got to know your process and can you break that process up into different stages? So for example, let's say that somebody needs to have their website, they were talking to you about getting their website redesigned, and rebranded. But then of course they, you know, they put a freeze on spending, like, oh, sales are down, can't do it right now. So think through. How could they be able to do it? 

How could you bring that price down? And maybe it means that you can do this in different stages. It could also mean that maybe you could do a hybrid type of service to where it's a done with them instead of a done for them. Or perhaps you could teach someone how to do something. 

The point is don't box yourself in and think, oh, there's nothing I can do. This is the point in time where you have to get creative and think a little bit out of the box and think, I will, and say to yourself, I will find a way. Because if we just throw our hands up in the air and go, well, I'll just sit here and hope things get better. Well, that isn't a strategy that is going to work. So there is always a way. And if you really work through the process, you're going to begin to see some places where you could offer something that is accessible for the people who want to work with you.


[31:55] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Such a good point.


[31:56] Deirdre Harter: In our next episode, we're going to explain how to pivot without burning everything down. Because that is always our first inclination. I mean, even Carmen and I, you know, when we first got started on this pivot journey that we've been on, we had the feelings, right? Like, oh my gosh, we're going to have to start all over. We're going to do something completely new. But you don't have to do that now. 

Iterating for success is something that all business owners should learn and practice in all markets under all conditions to achieve and sustain long-term success. So even when things will change, right, they will get back to the good old days, so to speak, and things will open up again. But in the meantime, let's learn to iterate and make this a practice and a habit that we're doing all the time so that when pivot time comes, we are ready for it. 

Now, we talked about our Marketing Methodology Workshop a little bit earlier and how we pivoted and had to change that a little bit. And we're no longer running that as a live workshop. However, it's so good and everyone got so much benefit out of it that we decided to now make it an on-demand workshop. So if you will head over to https://encoreempire.com/mmw, you too can go through the workshop and come out with a marketing framework that is going to be a game changer for your business.


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