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It's Time to Embrace the Pivot

Dear Mark T. King: Going into 2020, I resolved this would be the year we took my organization’s marketing to the next level. I conducted an audit, created a social media strategy, and my team has been working tirelessly to perfect our content. But as the year winds down, it feels like our marketing efforts barely made a difference. How can we be sure that our marketing resolutions will succeed next year? - A CAUTIOUSLY HOPEFUL MARKETER

DEAR CAUTIOUSLY HOPEFUL: In the wise words of Ross Geller from the hit television show Friends, it is time to “Pivot, Pivot, Pivot!”

In many ways, marketers in 2020 have felt a lot like Ross when he was unable to transport his couch up the stairs and into his apartment. But instead of a couch, it’s our strategy. And while we didn’t get stuck in a stairwell, for many, it feels like we hardly scratched the surface of what we could have accomplished with our marketing efforts.

Despite our mischievous marketing elf Marquette spending the year telling us otherwise, no matter how much work we put into creating and implementing our original strategy, it won't reap the level of success it could have when the year began. Similar to how it was physically impossible for Ross to get his couch up the stairs, the strategy you started the year with is not compatible with the world we’re now living in.

Hope is not lost though, because awareness of this is the first step to creating achievable goals that will help your organization’s marketing thrive in 2021.

As Friends fans will recall, when Ross’s couch didn’t fit, he didn’t just give up on having a couch in his apartment. While he couldn’t physically pivot it to its destination, he did pivot his overall gameplan. He acknowledged the couch couldn’t fit, adjusted to the situation by counting his losses, and adapted to where he ultimately managed to get a $4 store credit and find another couch.

Marketers should embrace this mindset.

Both personally and professionally, 2020 did not go how the majority of people expected it to. As new developments occurred, we all had to learn, adjust, and adapt to how we lived our day-to-day lives. Since we had to alter our daily lives, it begs the question: should our marketing strategies be handled any differently (hint: they shouldn't be).

Every day this year, individuals have demonstrated their strength, innovative nature, and ability to adjust to the unpredictability of the year. Similarly, 2020 has also given marketers an opportunity to rewrite the narrative of the field.

If your 2021 marketing strategy and resolutions are based on the same standards they were in 2020, there’s a good chance you might find yourself stuck in the stairwell again. But if you craft a marketing strategy that embraces the positive changes 2020 has brought, dives into the lessons it’s taught and looks to seize the new opportunities to come, you’ll open the door to an endless number of marketing possibilities.

So, whether you’re shopping for furniture or preparing a marketing strategy for 2021, the moral of the story is the same. When things aren’t going your way, you need to:

  1. Be aware of how the changing environment has impacted your strategy.

  2. Be open to adjusting your goals.

  3. Be willing to adapt to challenges and embrace new possibilities.

As we head into 2021, don't let Marquette's silly advice to keep your old strategy hold you back. Instead, tune him out, consider what the year has taught you, and go into the New Year with a marketing strategy that will help you achieve your organization's goals.


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