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Why My Company Pivot Scares Me

CEO of Inc. 5000 company VerticalResponse Janine Popick talks about her trepidation leading up to a major shift in the company's business model.
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My company, VerticalResponse, has been around for over 11 years. We're great at what we're known for, which is email marketing software for small businesses. Over the course of these years, we've added other really nice bells and whistles to help small businesses grow.

First we launched direct mail postcards. Then came our online survey offering. Event marketing arrived next. Most recently, we acquired a social media marketing start-up and integrated their technology into our platform.

These are all great features but we haven't been able to move fast enough for our customers because our technology is antiquated.

Time for a change.

Over the course of the next year, VerticalResponse will be moving into brand-new waters. We'll still offer email marketing, but in a very different way. Our platform and our company are going to totally change.

And frankly, I'm scared.

What am I scared about? Change management. I'm not afraid of change, but my company needs to grab the reins and charge forward with a faster pace of customer growth and ultimately--hopefully--revenue growth.

The training wheels are off. Here are some of the things we're doing that we've never done before:

  • We just launched our beta product and we're starting to get some really great feedback. (Read more details about this experience in my recent Inc.com post, What Makes Customers Tick.)
  • We're showing customers the future of the product before any coding gets done.
  • We're carefully plotting out the future of the business.
  • We're putting a ton of effort into our customer experience, from the time they hear about our name to the minute they get to our website to the day they wear our hoodies. (Fingers crossed.)

What we're going through is what some in the tech and start-up world might call a pivot. It's a turn in a new direction and acknowledging that some fundamental things need to change so that the company--and our technology, in my case--can grow. All businesses--whether you're large or small, young or old, in tech or not--need to embrace some form of a pivot at some point, because what's worked in the past probably won't work in the future. And while it might be scary to steer your company into unknown territory (and scary for your employees because you're shaking up the status quo), the consequences of being stagnant might even be scarier.

For VerticalResponse, those four bullets represent about 1 percent of all of the changes coming our way. Hopefully I'll have some great learnings from our ultimate pivot, which I'll be sure to share here. In the meantime, please let me know if you've experienced or led your business through any pivots and how it ended up!

Did you enjoy this post? If so, sign up for the free VR Buzz weekly newsletter and check out the VerticalResponse Marketing Blog.

Last updated: Sep 7, 2012




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