The Five “Whys” of a Successful Pandemic Pivot


When social distancing is now the norm, how are businesses who rely on face-to-face finding new ways to serve their customers?

Good, bad or indifferent, the way you conduct business today is not the same as you did yesterday. Or last week. Or the month before. 


And not a single business is immune to it.

Change is here.


It might feel like your options are limited, but you still have choices. You can close up shop, wait it out and hope customers come back when this all blows over, or you can adapt and pivot.


Your customers’ needs today are not the same as they were when you opened shop. The key to a successful pandemic pivot is to understand how the needs of the customer have changed and adapt your offering accordingly. 


Before you rush to rip out your old business model and replace it with new, do you really know, deep down, what your customers need? 


The difference between a good pivot and a great pivot is going beyond the surface of what your customers want to understand the underlying need driving their decisions.


Consider a wellness studio that offers yoga and fitness classes, massage, and sauna. When the “stay at home” command was ordered, the studio owner wasn’t sure how she would keep her members pacified. 


Originally, her members signed up for classes and services that required use of the studio. Now that the studio has closed, have their needs changed? 


Maybe. Let’s talk it through.


One tool I use to help my clients better serve their customers is the rule of the five “whys.” 


The rule of the five “whys” is really simple. When you think you know what it is your customers need, ask yourself why. Why do they need that? When you come up with your answer, ask yourself why again. Keep asking why and answering up to five times. 


When you answer the question “why” five times, you have a better understanding of the underlying need driving your customers’ choices. Knowing what’s really important to your customers when they are making a decision whether to buy from you keeps your offers and messaging relevant.


Let’s practice this technique with the yoga studio example. What do my client’s yoga studio customers need now that we are practicing shelter in place?


Why do they need yoga and fitness?

They need to stay active


Because they need accountability and guidance with staying fit and relaxed


Because they are feeling anxious and isolated


Because there is a huge amount of uncertainty and loss of connection


Because life as they know it no longer exists and they can’t interact with their community, friends, or family


When you first considered the needs of a yoga studio member, did it cross your mind that the person might ultimately be looking for certainty, connection, a sense of normalcy, and interaction? 


Now that the yoga studio owner knows this, how might it shape how she pivots to serve her customers? How can she use what she knows about her audiences’ needs in her marketing messages?


In this particular example, the studio owner recognizes that she can still provide that value to her members in a virtual capacity. She can choose to offer classes over a video conferencing software, giving members the opportunity to work out at their regular times and stay connected with the studio community.


And by offering a library of recorded yoga, classes, fitness workouts, and meditations, the studio owner provides members with the added bonus of accessing stress-reducing meditations and yoga sequences whenever the need arises.


Now that her offering is online, the yoga studio owner has inadvertently expanded her audience. She can now sell to members who are not local, but located anywhere in the world with an internet connection.


When you do the five “whys” exercise, what will you learn about your customers’ needs? How will that impact how you adapt your business?


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