Think twice before you pivot in 2024
Mita Srinivasan
10x Industry

Think twice before you pivot in 2024

Businesses have been forced to stay agile in order to survive and thrive. However, it’s time for them to move away from the pivot mentality, refocus on their strengths, and play the long game again, says Lucy Bradley, Founder & Brand Commander of Plug Communications in this contributed article.

Running a small business is never easy, but the past few years have been more of a rollercoaster ride for the region’s entrepreneurs than usual. When Covid hit, SMEs were badly affected, with large numbers closing their doors and others battling hard to stay afloat.

Just three years later, the government reported that the UAE’s economy had rebounded strongly following the earlier slowdown, expanding by 3.7 percent annually in the first half of 2023. Certainly, the small business owners I speak to in a wide range of sectors were enjoying a boom at the start of this year.

Throughout these ups and downs, businesses have been forced to stay agile in order to survive and thrive. However, it’s time for them to move away from the pivot mentality, refocus on their strengths, and play the long game again.

Let’s be clear, I don’t mean sticking to strategies that don’t work, or ignoring feedback that will allow you to evolve in line with customers’ needs. I’m talking about the increasing tendency I’ve seen for entrepreneurs and solopreneurs to branch out into different areas without the relevant expertise. Or constantly reinvent their offering based on the latest trends. When times are good, it’s common for companies to overstretch themselves and forget to concentrate on the basics like consistent communication and good customer service. I know that after all of the turbulence, it’s tempting to chase sales any way you can, especially when the market is buoyant. But, it’s a short-term fix that will catch you out in the end.

Finding your niche and sticking to it is important. If you keep changing what you do, customers get confused. You dilute your brand by becoming a jack of all trades and lose the appeal you had with your core audience. The market will always be unpredictable; it can change rapidly, as we know. The key to long-term success is consistency, and being confident about what you offer. Your business has to have a strong purpose that you believe in. You may get fewer clients overall, but you will attract the right ones who genuinely need your product and service, meaning they’re far more likely to remain loyal. When you stay true to what you’re good at, you quickly become the go-to expert and it’s far easier to stand out from the crowd.

As we look ahead to 2024, ask yourself whether you veered off course. If so, refocus on your core proposition and get talking to your customers again. That way, you can strengthen your brand presence and build solid foundations with clear, targeted, and effective communication.

Once you’re sure about what you can provide and why people should choose you, identify your ideal customer base. Again, fight the urge to target everybody and anybody. Who can you really help and what problems do they need your support to solve? In order to get tactical, create an excel spreadsheet with potential clients you want to work with. Be specific and drill down to actual names and numbers. What do you want them to know about you? This will inform your messaging, alongside your values. Then plan how you’re going to reach out. It’s a great opportunity to get creative and bring your brand to life.

Too often, companies rely on lazy WhatsApp messages and generic social posts to speak to potential customers. And it’s not enough. Rather than worrying that your offering might not be right and shape-shifting all the time, it’s far more likely that you’re just not communicating effectively enough. As more of our lives become digital, we all love an IRL connection when it happens. Consider sending something physical every now and again, in addition to email communication. Anything that creates surprise is guaranteed to raise a smile and be remembered for a lot longer than its online equivalent.

Consistency in customer interaction is another big one, because the main reasons customers walk away are poor service and neglect. If you don’t have a core customer base, it soon becomes hard to survive. People want consistent quality interactions to keep them engaged.

Keep talking to regulars and prospects about the things that matter to them, and show how much you appreciate their loyalty through free gifts, special offers, rewards and ‘VIP’ privileges.  Also, stay accessible, ask for feedback, acknowledge their pain points.

It can be challenging staying focused in a competitive environment, but you’ll notice a positive difference. I often think about the people I meet whose titles and positioning are deliberately vague, and I can’t help but assume they kept trying to succeed at different things, only for none of it to stick.

About the author:

Lucy Bradley has been the Founder & Brand Commander of Plug for 15 years. She is passionate about design and helping companies grow, making it her mission to educate business owners and marketing departments on creating successful marketing plans and retaining customers.