Ways To Pivot A Product

If you've hit a point in your product when progress or growth has halted and the current path forward is no longer working, perhaps it's time for a pivot. As Eric Reis put it "a pivot is a change in strategy, without a change in vision."

There are many different types of pivots. Some, such as a marketing pivot or channel pivot, don't involve changing your product. Others can be as drastic as stripping away all the things that aren't working, and zooming-in on only the most important feature. Here is a short list of some different pivots to get your brain flowing:

A pivot is a change in strategy, without a change in vision.

Eric Reis

Customer need pivot

In some cases, early on your customers might show little interest in the problem you are solving. This pivot is about rethinking the value of the problem you are solving. Perhaps it's time to solve a different problem with a completely new product.

One of the most popular customer need pivots is Groupon. You've probably never heard of the website "The Point": a social good fundraising site that employed the tipping point system to secure funding. When enough people promised a pledge, the funding would be secured - kind of like Kickstarter. It didn't catch on. The founder decided to pivot to a different customer need using the same concept of the tipping point. The Point became Groupon. A site where groups of people could hit a tipping point that would open up coupons for use.

Zoom-in pivot

Do you have at least one great feature? Take only the most successful feature (most used? highest grossing?) and strip away anything that isn't necessary for the success of that feature. Double-down on what has been working well, rather than trying to expand into new areas.

Nokia began as a paper mill in 1865. As the company grew, they expanded what they produced, including rubber goods, electronics, and telecommunications devices. In 1992, they zoomed-in and decided to focus exclusively on their mobile devices. They sold off all other divisions of their company and rose to great success (albeit unmaintainable...)

Zoom-out pivot

If you have an extremely focused product and simple feature set, perhaps it's time to think about expanding into new areas and solving other problems. Dig into your customer and see if they are using your product as a compliment to other software or tools. If so, think about solving for some of the problems that those other tools solve.

A great example of the zoom-out pivot is PayPal. PayPal started specifically to allow people to beam payments over handheld PDAs. It took a lot of permutations, and the merger with a financial services company, before PayPal became a payments platform. Quickly thereafter, they became the preferred online payment system for eBay and rose to glory.

Customer segment pivot

Perhaps your product solves an actual problem, but the customers who you've been targeting don't appreciate it the way you'd hoped they would. Was there another audience that hinted at the value of your product, but it wasn't for them? Perhaps now is a good time to try and position and optimize your product for a more appreciative segment.

Business model pivot

Your product may not be the problem. Perhaps your pricing model and monetization strategy are inhibiting your product from being more successful. A business model pivot is about altering your pricing model, monetization strategy, and marketing strategy to capture the most value.

Have fun pivoting ;)