July 19, 2023
Case Study

Mastering the Art of the Business Pivot: Real-life examples and success stories about an AI chatbot, ChatGPT prompts, and a business model shift


There’s macro change that can disrupt your industry – like artificial intelligence.

And there’s micro challenges that can disrupt your business – like not being able to find the right customer for your offer.

Either way, the fix is likely the same – the pivot.

To spark your best thinking on strategic redirection, today we bring you examples from an SEO agency/paving company, pricing optimization company, and digital creator.

by Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute

Business pivot strategy

In the MECLABS AI Guild (MECLABS is the parent organization of MarketingSherpa), we’ve worked with marketers and entrepreneurs to help them build a SuperFunnel. But often that takes more than just getting the perfect headline or CTA.

To really build a SuperFunnel, many participants had to change how they served their ideal customers.

To give you ideas for how to do that with your own business, in this article we bring you three examples:

  • Business model change – In Quick Case Study #1, an SEO entrepreneur changes his business model and offer from selling leads to paving driveways.
  • Insights-fueled AI chatbot – In Quick Case Study #2, a pricing optimization company adapts its standard website for a new era by adding an artificial intelligence-powered chatbot.
  • Content teaching ChatGPT prompts – And Quick Case Study #3 is a combination of reacting to both micro and macro shifts. A digital content creator changes her business trajectory by learning how she can better serve her audience, and radically changing her content to, for example, teach her audience how to use ChatGPT prompts to overcome one of the main obstacles she identified in her customer research.

Quick Case Study #1: Pivoting business from selling leads to managing work grows monthly revenue from $2,500 to $36,742

Luke Van Der Veer’s background is human resources, but he learned SEO and used it to replace his full-time job in 2016.

BEFORE – Selling leads with a monthly retainer

Van Der Veer used his SEO skills to sell leads. “I would build a website, rank it in Google to generate consistent leads, then rent that website to a business owner (who could handle that type of work) for $1,000 to $5,000 per month,” said Luke Van Der Veer, Founder, Albany Paving.

His team of virtual assistants built the Albany Paving website as a lead gen website. “We used SEO to rank it in Google for several commercial terms so it would generate paving leads,” he said.

He planned on getting the lead volume up to a minimum of 50 calls per month, then finding a contractor to rent the website.

In Albany, NY, the average cost to pave a driveway of 12ft x 50ft is ~$3,000. And in his experience having done lead generation in the paving niche before, the average paving salesperson closes 18% of leads. So here’s the math: 50 calls x $3,000 x 18% = $27,000 in revenue. So targeted selling the leads the site generated for $2,500 per month, which he considered low.

In late May of 2020, calls were coming into the lead generation website, but he was having a tough time finding a contractor who performed quality work and could handle the call volume.

AFTER – Running a paving company

When the next customer called in, he went to the customer’s location during the estimate and had a conversation with the paving team to offer them more work and flexibility outside of their existing company.

He hired one subcontractor to do estimates and another to do the paving work and requested a set cost from the paving subcontractor – $2 per square foot. They work as 1099s so he has no employees.

Then, he would charge $4 per square foot and keep the difference.

The process worked like this:

  1. Customer calls in and books an estimate
  2. Estimator walks off the square footage of the driveway, pitches a price of $4 per square foot, collects the money, and sends the details to the paver
  3. Paver paves the driveway and notifies Van Der Veer when it’s complete
  4. He pays the estimator and the paver their cuts and keeps the rest of the money.

RESULTS – Higher revenue

“Shifting from a flat monthly retainer to an arbitrage-based fee structure drastically increased revenue,” he said.

In June 2020, he earned $36,742 in revenue. That’s a 1,369.68% increase from what he would have earned with a $2,500 monthly retainer.

“I’m always open to considering different ways to reach a goal,” he said. “I try to focus on the outcome rather than the path so that I can take advantage of any opportunities that may help get me there faster.”

Quick Case Study #2: Pricing optimization company adds AI chatbot to its B2B website, increases time on site by 4x and books 17% more sales meetings

Pricefx is a pricing software company that uses automation and AI to help businesses increase revenue and profits.

BEFORE – Standard website with top search bar

The company had a standard website with a user-friendly interface, featuring a top search bar to assist visitors in navigating through its content. To enhance engagement and drive traffic to important sections, ads were strategically placed throughout the site, redirecting users to core pages or, occasionally, leading to specially created static landing pages tailored for specific ads.

It was not uncommon to see visitors begin their journey on either the home page or the landing page from an advertisement, then proceed to explore either the company information or the contact page before eventually leaving. The company tracked the average duration of time on the website by visitors at around 22 seconds.

Creative sample #1: The old website search bar navigation 

Creative sample #1: The old website search bar navigation

AFTER – Insights-fueled AI chatbot

The marketing team decided to add an AI chatbot to the website.

Kelly Pronek, Vice President of Revenue Generation at Pricefx, said “We realized that by using AI to understand who is coming to our website, from where, and their history with us, that we could create a buying experience that is tailored to our prospects and customers and build trust through transparency.”

Leveraging the power of AI insights, the team gathered information about web visitors such as how they came to the site and their geography. By analyzing their referral sources such as organic search, social media, paid search, or paid social, the Pricefx team gained valuable insights into their visitor’s journey. Furthermore, their geographical location provided additional context for a more personalized experience.

Whenever possible, the site chatbot extended a warm greeting to known visitors, addressing them by name or their company name, enhancing the sense of familiarity and connection.

Creative sample #2: AI chatbot

Creative sample #2: AI chatbot

These tools enabled the team to create custom messaging strategies that served multiple purposes:

  1. Facilitated seamless continuation of conversations for visitors arriving from paid advertisements, ensuring a cohesive user experience.
  1. Based on prior interactions or firmographic data, the chatbot could suggest relevant content to visitors, optimizing their engagement and providing them with a personalized journey.
  2. When visitors engaged with videos, visited landing pages, or browsed content, the site’s intelligent routing system directed them to the appropriate personnel, fostering effective communication and enhancing the visitor's experience.

Another valuable feature was the ability to book sales meetings directly from the website. Leveraging the gathered information, some of which was captured through AI intelligence, the team ensured that these meetings were scheduled with the most suitable person or team. This integration of AI insights into the website's functionality allowed Pricefx to deliver a more personalized and efficient experience, enhancing visitor engagement and fostering meaningful connections.

Creative sample #3: Chatbot scheduling sales meeting

Creative sample #3: Chatbot scheduling sales meeting

RESULTS – 17% increase in meetings booked via the website

The insights used to fuel the AI chatbot led to a 17% increase in meetings booked with Sales and time on site improved from 22 seconds to 1 minute and 35 seconds.

“Our ability to capture first-party data from visitors improved by 466% which allowed us to leverage AI to enable a better experience for our buyers,” said Pronek. “We know that each one of these experiences with us is a chance to build trust and build a perception of what it is like to work with Pricefx. We aim to reflect that experience in every single touchpoint we have with our prospects and customers.”

AI is not a one-and-done solution. It can not only enable a better buyer experience, it can also help employees improve existing processes and tactics with more efficiency. Pronek added “every day AI technology is making incredible changes to products and services and it is our responsibility to stay aware, adopt what aligns with the experience we are trying to create and our buyers are expecting, and to be knowledgeable on how to use these tools to enhance our brand.”

Quick Case Study #3: Digital creator researches her audience, grows email opt-ins from 41 to 2,615

Natasha Puente is a content creator and influencer.

BEFORE – Lead magnet with curated content

She had 1,369,000 followers on TikTok and Instagram but only 40 subscribers for her monthly email newsletter.

Her only way to capture subscribers was through a lead magnet.

Creative Sample #4: Lead magnet

Creative Sample #4: Lead magnet

“The lead magnet was on MailerLite. When users sign up on the landing page, they receive three free courses to learn digital marketing from scratch. These courses are from Google, Hubspot, and Hootsuite,” said Natasha Puente, Content Marketing Strategist and UX Designer, Hola, soy Natasha.

She placed a link to the landing page in her bio on her social media profiles. “I used Linktree to create my links landing page since it's the most popular,” Puente said. She named it ‘Free courses to learn digital marketing.’

Creative Sample #5: Link in bio

Creative Sample #5: Link in bio

However, despite having a traffic of more than 15 million people per month to her profile, she only got an average of 45 subscribers per month.

AFTER – Audience research to improve content (for example, an AI prompts tutorial)

She conducted audience research to understand what truly holds people back from becoming digital nomads, so she could create videos and write articles and lead magnets that would help them solve their problem while increasing her ‘link in bio’ traffic.

“For my research, I interviewed six people via a Zoom video call, and also conducted a survey with Google Forms, receiving 178 responses,” Puente said.

Thanks to this research, she realized that there were three main reasons that prevented people from becoming digital nomads.

  • Can’t find work online
  • Want to learn a skill but not sure which
  • Don’t know how to make money online

“Through the Google Forms results, I understood that my users use Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok to consume information,” Puente said.

She also found out that people prefer watching videos for informative content on topics they’re interested in, but they still read blog articles.

Creative Sample #6: Results from audience research

Creative Sample #6: Results from audience research

Lastly, she learned having a better quality of life was the main reason to become a digital nomad and that content creation was the in-demand skill they are most motivated to learn.

Creative Sample #7: More results from audience research

Creative Sample #7: More results from audience research

Based on this research, she decided to create videos on topics of interest to them. She also wrote an article with more information, that she mentions in the article and includes a link to in her profile.

For example, in the survey she saw that 10.2% of respondents are interested in learning data analysis. “So, I wrote an article about a free data analysis course from LinkedIn and Microsoft, and made a video that went viral about ‘how to learn data analysis for free.’” The video received 392,500 views on TikTok.

Creative Sample #8: ‘How to learn data analysis for free’ video

Creative Sample #8: ‘How to learn data analysis for free’ video

One of the main obstacles for her audience is that they don't know which in-demand skill to learn. “So I wrote an article about how to discover which skill suits you best by asking ChatGPT,” Puente said. In the article, she wrote a series of prompts that can use in ChatGPT with their information to get highly personalized results.

Creative Sample #9: Article about using ChatGPT to discover which skills to learn

Creative Sample #9: Article about using ChatGPT to discover which skills to learn

She also made a video about this, which received 322,228 Instagram and Facebook plays. The video briefly explained how to do it, but provided viewers with a complete guide that they can access from the link in her profile.

She used footage of her travels in the videos, since she discovered that this is one of their main motivations to learn a new skill.

Finally, she redesigned the link page in her profile. “I stopped using Linktree and made a design according to the brand. I wanted to do it for branding but also because in Linktree I couldn't add an embedded form from MailerLite,” Puente said.

Creative Sample #10: Redesigned email opt-in

Creative Sample #10: Redesigned email opt-in

She also added this form to the footer of her website. Since there were a lot of people reading the articles, they also signed up for the email newsletter using the form in the footer.

People subscribing to the newsletter are emailed a gift of several wallpapers for their phone that she made with photos from her trip to Japan.

RESULTS – Monthly email newsletter signup grows from 41 to 2,615

In November 2022, she got 41 email newsletter subscribers. In December 2022, the first month with the new approach, she got 2,615 new email subscribers. In the first three months, she attracted 6,723 new email newsletter subscribers.

Each month, she receives 10,000 website visits from the link in bio.

“I think that as marketers we make the mistake of believing that we understand our audience and we create strategies for someone we don't know at all,” she said.

She continued, “A great lesson I learned was to create a user persona with the information I obtained from my research, and design content only for this user. Of course, there are companies that have more than one user, but in my case, it's just one. The only way to discover how many user personas we have is by researching.”

Creative Sample #11: User persona

Creative Sample #11: User persona

Related resources

Pivot Your Value Proposition: 6 ways brands, entrepreneurs and marketers are responding to COVID-19’s economic fallout

Use Your Value Prop to Pivot: Conversion optimization to help with marketing amid coronavirus (Part 1)

Use Your Value Prop to Pivot: Conversion Optimization to help with marketing amid coronavirus (Part 2)

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