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🚀 The Best COVID-19 Business Pivots 🚀 | The Blogsmith #117

Maddy Osman
Maddy Osman
Hey Listies,
Today, I want to share some of the most interesting COVID-19 business pivots I’ve noticed lately in hopes that they give you some ideas to help you prosper during this time.

#1: Banding together with other small businesses — there’s strength in numbers.
The concept of competition is one that we can probably put on hold until 2021.
Instead, explore ways that you can work together with other businesses in your industry. Lift yourself up while lifting others up at the same time.
Previously an in-person market, Denver Bazaar is doing an incredible job of supporting local restaurants and specialty/gourmet product producers with an online farmers’ market.
You can shop multiple brands and checkout within the same interface, then select from three pickup locations based on which is nearest to you.
On a similar note, Family Meal is a new ebook with recipe contributions from well-known chefs, with all proceeds benefitting Restaurant Workers’ Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund.
In general, the restaurant industry is definitely one to watch in terms of pivots as they’re currently limited in terms of monetizing once-full dining rooms.
How could you work with your competition to support each other?
#2: Increasing average order value by selling convenience.
Again, the restaurant industry provides the easiest example for explaining this concept.
Many restaurants big and small, like Panera, have started offering grocery items for pickup or delivery.
There are probably two reasons for this:
  1. Restaurants benefit from cost savings by buying ingredients in bulk but aren’t currently operating at capacity and risk waste if fresh ingredients go bad before they get used.
  2. Immunocompromised shoppers are leaning into contact-free deliveries to get essential items.
Whether you’re trying to get your hands on specialty items or even just pantry staples, there’s a win-win situation to be had by sourcing some groceries from a local restaurant.
And if they’re not yet offering grocery items on their menu — just ask if they can sell you the ingredients you’re looking for.
For those of us not in the restaurant industry, there’s still something to be said about increasing your average order value by finding a way to increase convenience for your customers.
#3: Offering a personal touch/exclusive access to you via Zoom.
I recently bought access to a livestream sushi rolling class for Dan and myself.
The price of my ticket includes the delivery of sushi ingredients + sake for two (technically I’m a smidge outside of their stated delivery zone). It also includes a livestream lesson with a sushi chef where we can ask questions and interact with other attendees.
There is definitely something compelling about signing up for an interactive class that can be enjoyed from our own house, with a pre-packaged kit that includes all the ingredients we need to be successful.
Instant date night! And a fun surprise to spring on my fiance after dealing with a stressful week.
A similar-ish concept is Brass Heart, a Chicago restaurant, who’s offering a virtual tasting menu. For $85/person, you get a four course meal, video reheating instructions, and have the opportunity to meet the restaurant’s chef over Zoom.
There’s a real opportunity right now to forge more personal connections with customers right now. So fnd a way to create an interactive and engaging experience so that you’re the reason they have something to look forward to.
#4: Adding an ecommerce component to your business.
Ecommerce is overwhelming. I say that as someone who has set up a functioning store with WooCommerce and who stays up-to-date with the latest best practices.
But the current times practically require that if you’re selling something, you empower others to place orders whenever they want — ideally with the ability to securely collect payment information via online checkout.
But that doesn’t mean that you have to invest thousands of dollars into a fancy ecommerce solution.
Rock River Ranches normally supplies bison to local Denver restaurants but had to pivot after their capacity and output dropped dramatically in light of COVID-19 shutdowns.
Rancher Rex Moore made the best of what could’ve been a very bad situation by pivoting to selling his bison for pickup or shipping.
The reason he was able to pivot so quickly and effectively?
It’s so simple — it’s a barebones Jotform order form.
This is definitely something similar to what you could create yourself with limited technical expertise on Google Forms (which is free).
And if you want to process payments? Just use an order form tool that offers simple checkout functionality, like Paperform.
Don’t worry about fancy features or a beautiful on-brand design that could break and that you have to constantly update.
Just get something simple out there — now. Solve the most important problem first: increasing cash flow.
A related COVID-19 ecommerce pivot: my friend Leah, a yoga teacher, who’s been offering livestream yoga classes and launched a fun, witchy Etsy store!
#5: Generating great PR for paid offerings by being of service with free solutions.
My client, Scott DeLuzio, runs Amplify Plugins — a plugin development company offering many ecommerce-related solutions.
Due to the nature of his focus, he was one of the first to realize that there was no plug and play method for WooCommerce websites to offer a contact-free delivery option during checkout.
So he quickly created a solution and released it for free.
Knowing Scott, he did this simply because he’s a problem solver and wanted to help however he could.
That’s kind of how the WordPress community operates, in general.
But from the outside looking in, it was such a brilliant move for helping to position his company as one to watch in the WooCommerce space. Those who get value out of his free offering can easily make the logical jump that they’ll get value out of any of Scott’s paid plugins.
Is there an opportunity for you to provide free value to your community now that will help you build relationships over the long-term?
#6: Creating a DIY version of your product.
Big brands like Auntie Ann’s and Einstein, as well as entrepreneurial local restaurants, are finding ways to reposition food offerings in a more novel way and giving consumers another option for enjoying favorite tastes at home.
For example, offering a deconstructed (unassembled) version of your finished product for families is such a beautiful swerve.
On one hand, DIY family meal kits with different ingredients give everyone in a household the opportunity to enjoy a meal customized for their unique tastes. On another, giving families the opportunity to create something together is a lovely way for them to spend time together.
Even if you’re not in the restaurant industry, is there a way to inspire people to be creative with a DIY version of your products?
#7: Addressing the strange nature of these times with on-brand offers.
While not directly revenue generating, there’s something to be said for the brands that are keeping things light with on-brand offerings that complement the fact that most of us are sheltering in place.
It’s been fun to see lots of different companies doing fun things with on-brand Zoom video backgrounds and goofy swag (like Heinz’s ridiculous completely red jigsaw puzzle).
Really, it’s all about staying relevant (RIP to the content calendar you had planned out for March and beyond) and giving your audience a reason to smile.
That said, I’m kind of over brands sending me sh*t to do (coloring pages, word searches, and extensive link roundups if that wasn’t part of their previous email marketing strategy).
I have enough to do right now and I’m getting inbox fatigue from all the extra emails.
Anyone else? 
I’m going to wrap this newsletter up here even though I have so many other pivot ideas I want to share! Perhaps I’ll continue the series in my next newsletter?
On that note: what interesting business pivots have you been inspired by lately?
I’d love to hear your thoughts — just reply to this email.
Until next time,
Maddy Osman, The Blogsmith
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Maddy Osman
Maddy Osman @MaddyOsman

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