“Pivoting doesn’t necessarily mean desperation,” says Alan Spoon in his Inc article, What Pivot Really Means. “It can be a tool to discover additional growth–growth you might otherwise have overlooked.”
When you pivot your business, you’re exploring new models and directions. Often your vision remains the same: you’re fine-tuning, adjusting and maybe rebranding.
And you’re no doubt exploring ways to generate a new message. The stories you’ve told up to now may not be as effective.
Here are three ways to use stories to remodel, rebrand or reframe.
(1) Share a story about working with your competitor versus working with you.
When you pivot your business, your clients might enjoy a whole different experience from what you offered before – and what you competitors do now.
A physical therapist points to “one-on-one sessions instead of having someone divide their time between you and someone across the room.”
A lawyer shares a story of a client whose previous lawyer didn’t return calls and generally made her feel her problem was too trivial for his attention.
A massage therapist focuses on pain relief and therapeutic healing instead of a feel-good spa massage (which has its place for sure – just not what his clients want).
I give my own clients a smooth, straightforward web experience, in contrast to web developers who make a big production out of a solo-preneur website and charge accordingly. Here’s an infographic I made a long time ago to show the differences in website development. Click here.
You could also develop a concept story, along the lines of the Wall Street Journal’s “Two men started at the same company the same day. Twenty years later, one headed a small department; the other had become a senior officer in the company. What was the difference? One read the Wall Street Journal.”
That story has sold millions of subscriptions. The “two guys” framework is my own “go-to” story template when I’m looking for a way to explain something.
(2) Share a story about why your best clients chose to work with you.
This is a fun one. How do clients make buying decisions?
What assumptions are you making about your market? Are they accurate?
Coach A’s market story is, “New business owners want to learn from people like me, who have gone from heartache of business failure to earning in the high six figures, over a 3-year period. They will hire a coach based on the coach’s own track record, preferably verified with sales records. They view the coach’s success as social proof, saying, ‘If she can do it, I can do it!'”
Coach B’s market story is, “New business owners realize that a good coach often is a mediocre player. For instance, Pat Summitt – perhaps the most successful and most honored coach in women’s basketball – was not a superstar when she played for UT – Martin. So these business owners will make buying decisions based on what they believe about the coach’s effectiveness, not the coach’s own success.”
(3) Borrow from sci-fi and tell a story of “Forward To The Future.”
After you pivot your business, what will your company look like in 3 to 5 years? What can clients expect?
Imagine that it’s 3 or 5 years from now. Tell the story of how your new pivoted company went from here to there. Is your company still around? How big is it now?
You’re not fortune telling or planning, just exercising some imagination. It’s a good way to see whether your brand will grow with you. Of course you may get derailed or you may realize along the way that (a) you’re not interested in growing this way or (b) the world has changed so much it doesn’t make sense anymore.
Here are 2 kinds of stories you might want to tell:
Story #1: “My company now has grown to 7 figures annually. I have 3 contract employees and I go to an office every day. I am known as a sought-after speaker in my field. I work with VIP programs such as high-end weekends and intensives for one-on-one clients. I value the opportunity to influence hundreds of people each year and change their lives, even if I see them just briefly.”
Story #2: “My company has grown to give me a comfortable living and time for leisure. I work out of my living room with my 2 dogs and assorted cats. I work one-on-one with clients at moderate price points and sell many products. I have one assistant for a few hours a month. I value the hands-on interaction with my clients.”
Can you see how these consultants might move in different directions? Their stories hold the clue to where they want to be in future times.
Free: Download the pdf version: 3 Stories To Pivot Your Business Successfully.
If you’d like to plan your own Pivot Your Business to Profit sequence, let’s talk! Send me a message or sign up for a consultation.
Thedore Nwangene says
Great post Cathy,
I think this is my first time here and I’m already in love with your writing style :).
As regards your post, the word “Tell a story” is really a very popular one on the internet today, i doubt if there is any writer who has not suggested that to someone before and that is because it works, its very effective when it comes to capturing an audience attention.
However, what matters most is not about you telling any story, its all about the type of story you’re telling.
Telling your potential client the differences between you and your competitors and why he should work with you instead is sure one of the best ways to win him over. Just don’t sound too boastful else, you will lose him.
A very interesting topic Cathy. Will certain tweet it right away :).
Thanks for sharing.
Welcome, Theodore! Thanks for emphasizing the point that it is about the type of story. A lot of times we think we can just tell campfire stories and that doesn’t always work.
I thought i’d replied earlier but things disappear. Thanks again for stopping by!