By now headlines about “unprecedented times,” “changes in business,” and “new normal” seem mundane. We all know the story of 2020 and we’ve continued to live it in 2021. While finding the silver lining of a pandemic might be too much of a stretch, there are worthwhile lessons to be learned about the resiliency of the human spirit and the ability to pivot on both personal and professional levels.
Among so many others, this is true for Itay Paz as well. Paz is the CEO and founder of Morning Dough, a digital marketing events company turned aggregate online newsource.
According to Paz, he “eats, breathes, and lives digital marketing 24/7.” After 25 years in the affiliate marketing industry, the last thing Paz planned for was a global virus invasion. So when the COVID-19 pandemic halted all public events, Paz made the decision to pivot the company into a new direction that still focused on his core values and business networking.
Time for a Change
Morning Dough, in its current state, is a quality community of affiliate marketers, digital marketers, business owners, and entrepreneurs. For Paz, it’s all about connection.
“We’re building this community by creating an authority hub that provides marketers across the web with the best and the most important content through a website and daily newsletter. This allows them to save time and be at the front of the pack when it comes to online marketing insights.”
So what can entrepreneurs and digital marketers who might be facing a similar situation learn from the Morning Dough story? Making changes to your business is no small or easy feat. It can be intimidating and self doubt can creep in. To stay proactive, here are five lessons from the Morning Dough pivot that can help make sense of the transition.
The Morning Dough Pivot
1. Pivots happen fast.
The new iteration of Paz’s company (now known as Morning Dough) launched in May 2020, with only four weeks of infrastructure building. The first newsletter with affiliate marketing content was sent on June 2, 2020. According to Paz, this pace was intentional.
“Morning Dough was built with a lean operation in mind. It runs primarily with a focus on providing greater customer satisfaction while using as few resources as possible and currently employs 2 people full-time.”
Packing light and lean can help you stay on your toes and adapt to a rapidly changing world. The digital marketing space has experienced a multitude of changes and while this is Paz’s first pandemic, it’s not the first time he’s had to pivot.
“Over the past 25 years, the affiliate and digital industry has had many big and small changes in verticals, technologies, and regulation. During this time we had to make changes multiple times to adjust and each time we were able to prevail.”
After pausing three major affiliate marketing events in the first half of 2020, Paz decided that the new venture would put email marketing at the forefront of the business.
2. Lean in and embrace the change.
Over the past two decades, Paz has been immersed in the affiliate marketing space and has held many different roles. From this he has learned to embrace the pivot and lean in to new directions.
“Change is good. Even when you’ve found success, changes drive you into thinking differently and obtaining better results.”
Paz has three pieces of advice for companies facing changes in business:
“First, embrace it. Don’t let it take you down. Take big actions. Second, talk to as many smart people as you can. This enables you to gather as much valuable information before making a new plan to change the business path. And third, focus on the big change and put all your resources into it. Making a big change is similar to steering a huge ship to a different direction. You need to act smart, fast, and go at it with all the resources in order to make it a success.”
3. Business is always about problem solving.
One of the changes that has happened in the affiliate marketing industry is the sheer amount of content that is available online. From guides for beginners to industry prediction blogs, a person could spend all day “catching up” on what’s new in the space. For Paz, this change presented a problem he felt like Morning Dough could solve.
“The amount of online marketing information and content published online, on a daily basis, is bigger than anyone can singly handle. Big companies have brought different solutions to curate information, but all of them are based on AI technology. They are not optimal and end up providing too much information leaving users to sort through what’s important and what’s not.
As someone with ADD, I know firsthand the issues of handling mountains of information with a limited focus. So I decided to bring to the market a solution that handles the problem of too much information.”
With that problem in mind Paz pivoted into Morning Dough and created a unique process that allows community members to find the best and most important online marketing information in a way that takes up two minutes or less.
Problem, pivot, solution, success. When you have the right mindset, that’s how changes in business can work.
4. Utilize the cutting edge of technology but always keep a human touch.
Automation can be awesome and AI is most definitely the way of the future. But Sometimes the human element is the ultimate value-add to a product of experience. Such was the case with Morning Dough.
“The uniqueness of our curation process starts with the integration of both AI technologies to bring together the information with a human professional.
Our process is a three step process. First, we curate 600 to 1,000 affiliate and digital marketing news pieces using automated AI technologies. Then, an affiliate and digital marketing expert with extensive knowledge manually sorts the collected data and produces a list of 150-250 best titles. Then, I personally take this list and select the best 20 titles for the newsletter.”
Paz believes this balance of technology and humanity is the key to producing effective solutions to problems that can gain attention and traction–two key things that are critical to the success of business pivot.
5. Look to your network for the attention you need to gain traction.
Just because you decide to do something new doesn’t mean that anyone is paying attention. For Paz, attracting the interest was the number one setback when he decided to make changes to his business.
“For us the greatest challenge was getting the attention of the marketplace while everyone was busy with their own struggles.”
This is why marketing, PR, and networking are all quintessential if you plan to pivot your business. Attraction and attention equate to more traction in the industry when your new business starts to take off. When it comes time to execute on “make it or break it” changes, your network should be the first people that you look to. Paz credits his network for his successful pivot:
“I am a big believer in people. For years, I’ve been creating and maintaining great partnerships and lifetime friendships within the industry. These connections were able to help us find the new path and build new infrastructure in the shortest time possible with new technology and scientific approaches.
Together, with our extensive experience and knowledge in email marketing, we were able to execute fast and reach our initial goals in a very short period of time.”
6. Keep your goals big.
Even if you can’t shake the feeling that committing to a pivot means failure in some context, you have to make sure that your mindset doesn’t sabotage your chances of success when you commit to changes in business. Even if you feel intimidated, you have to keep your goals big.
For Paz, that meant setting a subscriber goal of 500,000 within three years and turning Morning Dough into a high 7-figure business through paid sponsorships, advertising, and affiliate marketing.
Within six months Paz was able to take a business focused on affiliate marketing events and turn it into something different, but also the same–a vehicle for connections, information and community.
Pivots traditionally start with problems, but if done with commitment and conviction, they can provide lucrative solutions.
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