My local, Peggy Kelly’s in Harold’s Cross, was like being ‘in your Granny’s’. It was warm, smelled of cabbage, the lights were too bright. The tellies were loud, each playing a different match and weirdly indiscernible music competed with the GAA/soccer/rugby. You had a choice of roast beef or ham from the carvery (but they were happy to make me baked beans with chips). On a Saturday night it would be a quiet spot for pints of probably the best Guinness I’ve ever had. A couple of lads would sit at the bar exchanging commentary with the barman without taking their eyes off the match. The median age in the pub was probably about 65, including the staff. There was (and still is) a large, warm, covered-in smoking area. Peggy Kelly’s has a huge car park for visitors to the off-licence with its geography-inspired name D6, which has long been a destination for connoisseurs of good wines and crafty beers. The same experienced, knowledgeable staff served in the off-licence as the bar. They were never too busy to chat; they always knew my name.
A gentle pivot
When the virus arrived Peggy’s did a gentle pivot – they adapted their business in response to the new constraints. They kept the same level of hands-on service, friendliness, high quality booze, customer focus. They ditched the carvery and produced a menu with 3 simple burgers on it – chicken, beef and vegan. Graffiti artists breathed life into the concrete walls of the car park and the TVs were turned off. Suddenly it was impossible to get a table at Peggy’s. The young, the woke and the beautiful from all over Dublin were queuing to sit in the vibey carpark for burgers and pints and the queue for the office stretched down Harold’s Cross Road.
The 4 Ps of marketing
When I studied marketing in the 90s we were taught about the 4 Ps – Product, Place, Promotion, and Price – the fundamentals of marketing. Peggy Kelly’s didn’t panic, they acted fast, they reset. The family simply continued to do what they do best – great service, homey atmosphere, quality drinks. They turned down the lights and put candles on the tables, but they stuck to the knitting and the customers came in their droves. If ‘marketing’ is a function of the 4 Ps, then it is fundamental to the pivot. They continued to sell what they always sold: a welcoming pub to eat and drink with friends, but safely during lockdown (Product and Place), they changed their menu and website, added online booking, started an Instagram account, and word of mouth did the rest (Promotion and Price). Peggy Kelly’s made some simple tweaks and doubled down on their core strategy, achieved consistency and rhythm with the small food menu and reliably good pints, and business boomed while others languished.
B2B lessons from Peggy’s Pivot
What lessons can we as B2B marketers learn from Peggy’s Pivot? As the virus sweeps through the world businesses are operating with reduced workforces, reduced order books, reduced profits and reduced revenue. In response to these times of uncertainty our default is to reduce as much risk as possible. We seek predictability in our business to counterbalance the uncertainty all around us. And we cut. But how do we decide what’s expendable? Start-ups delay their first marketing hire, prioritising operational functions. Larger companies see marketing as an afterthought; they’re ‘too busy for marketing’. Operations people make decisions and then bring in marketing people to communicate them to the world. With a culture that devalues the role of marketing it is the first place businesses will cut back. But if marketing is the 4 Ps – Product, Price, Promotion and Place – then it is fundamental to what you do. It IS your product or service, it IS the way you do it, it IS your unique business story and THEN it is how you tell the world about it.
If your differentiator is Health and Safety then amplify your rigour; if your USP is excellence then double down on quality. If your superpower is your people then augment the way you treasure them; if your style is customer focus then ramp up the communication. Stick to the knitting and tell everyone about it. Your customers are spending more time online and consuming more media now during the pandemic than ever before; you have a golden opportunity to tell them how you’re different, how you’re better, how you can help them achieve their goals. Your competitors have cut marketing spend so they’re not doing social media strategically; they’ve cut the best (most expensive) storytellers from their bids team so your tender has an opportunity to shine; they’re not spending on Google Search so your keywords are cheaper and more available. Your customers are also operating on reduced resources – they have less time to research and they’re more inclined to lean into your message if it has their needs at its core. You can keep doing what you’re good at with a gentle pivot to make it better than ever. Stick to the knitting, your audience is ready to listen (even if you can’t bring them for a pint in your Granny’s).
Drop me a note if you want to chat about your own knitting firstname.lastname@example.org