Knoodling on the Pivot

For those who have been in business long, you have no doubt learned that the many challenges which have hit business — especially small business — are adding up. We had the Great Recession, The Pandemic, inflation and interest rates that have doubled in the past few months. So, how do we not only stay in business but sustain our employees and grow our revenue?

We pivot. The pivot entails finding a unique market position that is authentic to our brand and use it to propel the business into profitability. Here are the five steps to a proper pivot:

Know what are your customers (or clients) thinking. Since so much has changed in the last few years, we should assume that our customers are not thinking or doing the same things they were in 2019. Mindsets have changed. So have their habits, their priorities and their buying habits. Research by industry is a great place to start. The internet is a robust garden of research and an excellent place to start. Look for trends in white papers, industry newsletters, studies, and data supplied by experts in the field. There are also reports you can buy on almost any industry for a nominal cost. One such provider is This information will provide a backdrop of the big picture.

Now, we need to delve into the finer points. We need to find what individuals are thinking. Focus groups are an effective way to get answers directly from those in the market for what you do. Using a platform such as Zoom offers a way to interview people from all over the country in a recorded focus group while people are in the comfort of their living room. You can find the potential customer groups easily with websites such as, where you find your recipients and target them specifically by what you are looking for. Keep in mind, it is necessary to compensate them for their time and it will result in a much better sample if you offer a minimum of $50 per research subject. We have done this with great success and our clients love watching their potential customers talking about what they are looking for, what they like or not like about their website, what they will pay for a service or product, etc.

  1. Build a persona of who your customer is. Once you know what your potential customer is thinking, it’s time to create a profile of who they are, what they look for, what they value, how old they are and what is important to them. This will enable you to talk directly to them, their hopes and their fears every time you create a marketing message. This will help you focus your messaging on your website, social media, advertising and everything you do to attract customers.
  2. Create a competitive audit. The easiest way to do this is to pull up the websites of your business’s competitors. What insights do they use in their marketing? An insight is an undeniable truth (which always seems obvious) that makes them unique and is used to sell product or services. Another area for competitive insights is their customer reviews. Look at who your competitors are targeting, how satisfied they are, and what they value. Once you gather this, put it on a whiteboard or grid. This will make it easier to interpret the data and draw some conclusions. This might be more helpful with your team, and it seems to go better in a group.
  3. Prepare a brand analysis. This isn’t as intimidating as it sounds. Create a grid with columns. Column 1 is your company. Down the column, write the current messages you are using to attract customers. Add one column for each competitor and do the same for each of them. It may take a few days to gather their messaging, which can come from websites, mailers, digital ads, email campaigns and other media.
  4. Develop an overall insight. As you pore over all this data, what are the commonalities you see between the consumer, competition and brand insights? This usually results in an insight that can be a brand spark for your marketing. 

An example:

During the great recession, we were working with the CEO of Fulton Homes.

The consumer insight: Customers aren’t excited about buying new homes when all these great deals are coming from foreclosures and the resale market.

The competitive insight: Homebuilders were selling with incentives, devaluing the worth of what they sell in order to move units since most were public builders. They were doing very little brand advertising.

The brand insight: Fulton Homes was the only builder doing branding that included “Proud to own, Proud to build” messaging, the importance of community, and cause marketing in water safety and education to show they cared about the community. 

The overall insight: Fulton Homes’ primary competition wasn’t other homebuilders. It was foreclosures.

Execution: We did a campaign that emphasized all the bad news stories regarding foreclosures: missing appliances, dead animals left behind, mold, etc.

Here is a link with an example:

Rosaria Cain is CEO of Knoodle, a woman-owned business founded in 1999. She works with a team of 12 professionals in the area of branding, public relations, social media, digital and media to help clients meet their goals, find insights, and create new and improved revenue streams. The Knoodle team still works with Fulton Homes today, 23 years after they became a client.

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