Pivoting for Christmas sales in a Covid-19 year: Revisiting a Praxis staySMART group’s discussion

For the past three weeks, I have participated in a remarkable weekly Zoom meeting with fellow entrepreneurs of the Praxis School of Entrepreneurship’s staySMART (alumni) program. Last week, the group discussed digital strategies for entrepreneurship in Covid times. North American statistics show us that almost one-third of business clients are online for two-thirds of every day. More business people use mobile than laptop and desktop technology. Yet, as group facilitator Deanna Litz observed, “digital” is not the goal, but rather a means to reach our goals.

However technology may advance, we continue to need relationship marketing and building. Using a next level of technology is another means to serve the clients we care about.

The weekly group discussed ways to build the digital experience (DX) of our customers or clients. Facilitator and coach Deanna Litz commented that it’s tough work to design a Digital Experience, including with our clients—rather “like trying to ace a test without being given the questions.”

Tailoring one’s digital experience can help with sales, but we need to keep it simple for clients who may not care about the process.

One question we raised was “can we create a digital experience to allow for word-of-mouth” referrals and not just “Googling,” so we needn’t play the same game as Google? As Monica Kreuger commented, we can be a “mind” search (“top of mind”), not a “Google search.”  (This needs to work in the opposite direction of “Upwork” content mills infiltrating our province, such as “Workhoppers,” which recently advertised from Regina.)

How can we become top-of-mind by consistently showing what we have to offer, daily? We don’t need huge volume of Google customers, but can personalize in ways Google/Best Buy/Amazon/Michael’s, etc. cannot. We can try to compete with specialized services to specialized clients.

As group contributor Monica Kreuger summarized, “We need a ‘Made in Saskatchewan’ version of Amazon.”

We also should strive to know what aspect of our brand that our clients want.

My colleague and friend Christina Cherneskey mentioned that blogging regularly to demonstrate what your brand is about (as I do, in this article) can connect clients with entrepreneurs. Evidence that blogging still works underpins the seminars I facilitate on the topic for Praxis’ startSMART training program.

Group discussion led us to see that digitalization is about more than just marketing—we can become more efficient in our operations, we can collaborate with other service providers, we can find local sources for things we do—these are all parts of digitalization.

One of my colleagues, a spiritual healer, suggested that entrepreneurs shouldn’t be afraid to share our “secret sauce” (fearing that would give our businesses away), because there will always be more top resources to unfold and we will always perform with them differently beyond what a newbie would.

Monica Kreuger observed that there is a major opportunity in how businesses can pivot to relieve customers’ overwhelm in these Covid months, to make them feel comforted, safe, joyful and part of a supportive community. In doing that kind of work, we would totally outdo the Big Box Amazon/Michael’s/ Holy Clothes retailers.

In a recent Facebook meme, the Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce reminded business owners to patronize groups like SYPE Saskatoon (Sype.ca—SK young professionals and entrepreneurs) who can collaborate and experiment to make their businesses become known by “word-of-mouth.” The Chamber also cites the Riversdale District, Broadway District, 33rd St. BID and DTNYXE as avenues to “Support Local” this Christmas.

Do-able even this week would be to gather a group of local companies who offer gifts for staff using local companies and organizations. Why not send a gift certificate, accompanied by a personally created card, from a local provider? (This could be done on “Local Love Holiday Gift Guide,” itself a local, Saskatoon-based group on Facebook.) Our local Chamber could have a contact list of providers and what they sell to give to the owner/organization who needs “staff gifts,” and which could allow the recipient to choose a gift from a given store.

Monica Kreuger observed that it would take only 10 minutes to put a small paper package together for pick-up. As she said, last week, entrepreneurs could do this now and get the message out, even in time for Christmas 2020.

Such pivoting would make optimal use of the inconveniences and hardships of Covid-19 for local businesses.

And now it’s your turn. How are you pivoting as a business owner or entrepreneur, to succeed in this Covid-19, holiday time?