The Pandemic Effect: A Business Creativity Boom

Sep 28, 2020 9:15:00 AM

These last six months have been full of firsts. Some great, some, well, not so much. But, as I said a couple of blogs ago, focus on what you want more of. So in the spirit of that…hands down, my favorite part of the pandemic has been The Creative Pivot. No, it’s not a Fortnite dance. It IS a classic FRIENDS scene, but that’s not what I mean either.

Creative Pivot

It’s all the new stuff that has popped up, been created, come out of left field, and appeared out of thin air since March. The Creative Pivot is, to me, the very best of what people and companies have to offer, the light that every single individual, group, brand, organization, and team has shone for humanity to make the most of a bad situation. 

We’ve cooked with Rachel Ray and Aria Kagan.

Peloton app’d inside, outside, and up and down a mountain.

Ordered Cracker Barrel online and picnicked in their parking lot on a road trip. 

Taken our Pandemic Puppy to the groomer and vet via curbside drop off. 

Utilized the ever-efficient virtual shopping services (even getting skincare recommendations!).

Mastered some serious bartending skills (at home, of course) with the help of YouTube tutorials.

And I just finished outfitting my house and my mini-me's to attend virtual school. New Fiber, UniFi Dream Machines, and MacBook Airs all around… 

All firsts -- and largely the result of Creative Pivoting. When I asked my networks on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for everyone’s favorite creative pivot, there was A LOT of input! Here’s some of what the world is bringing to bear for all to enjoy.

Cooking. So. Much. Cooking. (And delivery) 

I’ve tried some of the best delivery meals ever during Q-Tine and gotten access to things we would not have otherwise tried. I mean, a delivery of homemade empanadas to pop in the oven anytime? Yes, please. Bagel Balls from my favorite deli growing up? Yep, delivered to my door. Handled the whole transaction over Instagram - how’s that for “meeting the customer where they are”?! We even did a Morton’s The Steakhouse Home Cookout! Would you have ever thought they’d let you cook their famous burgers at home!? It came complete with buns, fixins, and fries!

Marisa tells me, “Artisan is constantly pivoting. Gone are the days (for now) of crowds rushing the dancefloor (and sneaking out to get as much leftover delicious cocktail hour food as possible), which is the kind of event we’re used to catering. Although that’s what we’ve been known for, we became available to first responder teams offering on-site affordable catering. We created a ‘prepared meal’ business for families, special occasion menus with five-course meals to go, and we just launched a prepared lunch meal service for homebound students and parents.” 

Jeanna loves that Temper Grille started delivering its amazing tapas and premade family meals right to the car window. Once a week, the restaurant holds socially distant parking lot tailgates, offering its regular menu as well as specials on the outdoor griddle. It’s BYOT&C (table & chairs) and a perfect change of pace!

But the Creative Pivot award on food goes to this NYC Dumpling Locker. Because, 2020. The lengths we will go to for our Dumplings...just ask Calvin’s mom, Shirley. 

Keep on Giving!

@kayphelpstweets (also our Director of Product Marketing) says: “The charity where I volunteer, @GrowingHomeCO, moved its food pantry distribution to a drive-up model. As a result, @FoodBankRockies made Growing Home one of its primary distribution sites.”

Hungry Harvest, my personal favorite farm box/rescued produce/food waste reduction company, keeps doing its important work of filling customer orders with no-contact delivery, getting overflow produce to areas in need around the country.

Boutique leather studio, Clayton & Crume, pivoted while its shop was temporarily closed - pausing production on its luxury leather goods and starting to make what was needed most by the medical community: face shields. On its face shield site, the company says: “We’re eager to put our skills to use in the fight against COVID-19 and to help play a small role in keeping medical professionals safe.” What a way to let customers know they care - not only about where their next purchase comes from - but about everyone’s welfare in an unprecedented time.

Similarly, my friend Beth told me about Origin, a Maine company that pivoted to keep its people working and help essential workers. The company normally manufactures mixed martial arts apparel, jeans, boots and other garments. Overnight, it pivoted its employees and operations to focus on producing face coverings. This video shows it best.

Work (not) From Home

The Hyatt Centric Las Olas customer experience pivot is classic South Florida. The property, also the area’s newest and tallest building, is offering day rates for hotel rooms as an alternative to the home office. Kara tells me the $75 fee includes a poolside suite, power lunch, and post-work cocktail or private Peloton ride. Sounds like an extremely wise investment right about now!

Who Says You Can’t Play in Traffic?

Santa Monica redesigned it’s streets. Literally. “As we seek to support our local businesses and provide safe ways to enjoy our City, reimagining our public rights of way becomes essential,” said Interim City Manager Lane Dilg. It’s outdoor dining in a whole new way. 

Santa Monica Street Design

The locally-owned, restaurant-laden Massachusetts Ave in Indianapolis - dubbed “Mass Ave” by locals - took a similar approach. In May, restaurants began welcoming back eager diners at 50% capacity with tables seating 6 people or less outside, temporarily closing the road to all vehicle traffic. White tents and fine dining sidewalk-style allowed businesses to reopen their doors and nurture the social aspect of dining people had so desperately missed.

And in Colorado, Denver’s Larimer Square took a similar approach, closing off traffic and opening up this popular shopping/dining area to outdoor dining. With happy hour festivities, dinner, and an evening under the stars, Dining al Fresco is one of the city’s best scenes. USA Today named Larimer Square one of its Top 10 Dining al-Fresco Neighborhoods in the United States.

The Show Must Go On

We humans can’t go very long without our entertainment - it’s our escape and if we don’t need an escape now, boy when will we!? With movie theaters closed, places have gotten pretty creative! For those lucky enough to have a boat, floating cinemas are popping up across the US. If you’ve been, please message me, I need to know! 

Floating Cinema

Short of that, you’ve probably got something like the Carpool Cinema Wynwood coming to a town near you. They’re all about the customer experience plus COVID safety. While you can order food and drinks (yep, movie margaritas are a thing!) from a few local hotspots to be delivered to your car, the website also clearly says: “You must stay in your vehicle at all times during the movie except to use the restroom. Basically, the ground is lava.” LOL, I wish that would work with my kids!

COVID essentially hit fast-forward on many things, like the reality of work from home (work from anywhere really), telemedicine, and curbside pickup. So, while most of us could have done without 2020 and its ongoing juggling acts, some pretty solid aspects of our collective humanity and ingenuity bubbled to the surface. Our experiences as humans, as employees, and as customers have certainly changed to the extreme, but they still exist (and matter). And ultimately, what the customer wants will persist into the future. 

Rich Mahogany (@hogesq) said it best: "Creative pivots are here to stay… ordered my Egg McMuffin on my phone and @McDonalds brought it to my car in the parking lot.. skipped the doctor appt bc @Teladoc can treat me at home… why go back to the drive-thru or the waiting room post-COVID??”

What is your favorite creative pivot of 2020? Could be employee experience, could be customer experience, could be something completely different. Discuss & share. 

Candace Sheitelman

Written by Candace Sheitelman

Candace Sheitelman brings more than two decades of marketing expertise to Edify, much of it focused on CX and the contact center. She's responsible for Edify's go-to-market strategy and execution. Sheitelman previously ran her own marketing communications firm and global marketing at Aspect. She earned her B.S. in Public Relations from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Learn more here.