Pivot like a champ

Four steps to streamline #winning

by Tracey Parsons |

Our world is in constant flux. I think we like it that way. It makes us feel alive and allows us to stretch and also to complain. We like complaining, but that is for another day.

The level of upheaval in social media and digital marketing is something that we are becoming accustomed to. It is a good thing. Makes us nimble. Except when it doesn’t. Sometimes constant flux makes us panic and panic makes us pause and flap our arms a little.


One of the earliest skills I remember learning was the ability to crush panic in an instant and pivot quickly. I learned in my first real journalism job that when you panic, you lose time and when you are putting out a newspaper in a few hours time, there is no time to waste in panic-mode. This training has served me well. And because of this training, I’ve learned that the most valuable skill in our arsenal at this moment in time is the ability to pivot.

When you are quick to pivot, you avoid panic, you save time and effort and sweat and heartache. Pivoting is by far, the most valuable skill in our day. Question is: How can we learn to be better at pivoting?

Imagine tangible success

It’s tough to know when to pivot if you have no idea what you’re shooting for. This is beyond setting goals. This is about describing and documenting in real numbers or other tangible ways what success or winning looks like. If you do not do this, you will never know if you should be pivoting. The key to pivoting is knowing that it has to happen. If you have no idea that it needs to happen you will never do it and if you never do it, you’ll never get good at it. So, visualize and document what success or winning means to you in any project or campaign.

Start small

SME: Digital operates in the Lean Methodology, we believe that you should be learning, measuring and building all the time. When we do this, we start small. If you want to find out what kind of content will resonate with your audience or test different content types (images, videos, etc.) or channels, we think you should start small. Test one type of content and measure its results. Take a theme you think would be valuable to the audience and write some content around the theme. It doesn’t need to be a full ebook, it should be a smaller piece of content, something that can be made in less than a few hours. Then, launch that content and see what happens. Did it meet the vision of success? If the answer is yes…awesome! Do more of that! If not, it’s time to pivot.


When you see a need to pivot, it’s hard to know what to do first. Well, I am telling you the first thing you need to do when the need to pivot arises is to ask! Look at the opportunity to pivot with a team of people. Try to never pivot in a vacuum. Involve your customers, your colleagues, your advocates, ask them why the content didn’t hit the mark. Ask them directly and take their answers seriously. These people will help drive your pivot. They will often give you the answers as to why the test did not achieve what you thought it would.

Get OK with #fail

The faster you admit something isn’t right the faster you can make it right. And for this reason, you have to be ok with failing. You have to. It is required. Now, I didn’t say you had to like it. I said you need to be ok with it. Without this skill, it will be nearly impossible to pivot. If you cannot admit something isn’t working, you’ll never see the need to pivot and you will continue to drag your brand down. Failing is just part of the path to success. In fact, you don’t want to win them all. If you are winning them all, you might not be pushing the right buttons. You may not have realized the height of success.

The ability to pivot will serve everyone well. When you figure out what’s not working as quickly as possible and change course, you are respecting your customers, elevating your brand and advancing your career skills.

Pivoting is the skill of the future. Learn it well and reap the rewards!

About the Author

Tracey Parsons

Since 1995, Tracey has been developing digital solutions. Currently SME Digital’s lead strategist, she continues to be dedicated to bringing cutting edge, thoughtful and measurable solutions to marketers. With more than 15 years in digital, Tracey not only brings vision, but the tools and strategies to execute against complex next generation concepts. She has worked with some of the world’s most recognized brands to develop and devise cutting-edge social, mobile and digital marketing practices.