BUSINESS TO BUSINESS & CRISIS STRATEGY 

LIVE CLIENT / INDEPENDENT STUDY / 3 MONTH PROJECT

I helped Squarespace rethink beauty standards as a response to crisis.

ASK

How can Squarespace attract more startup and entrepreneurial businesses?

APPROACH

Below is a synopsis of my methodology and the initial category research that I used to develop my strategy.

CATEGORY FINDING

On the surface, there is no difference between website builders so differentiation occurs during use.

 

Squarespace has leaned into the beauty of websites in an attempt to differentiate, but now direct competitors are doing the same.

BRAND FINDING

Squarespace excels for business use when a business fits 3 criteria.

The most important criteria is being a managed growth company. Managed growth companies tend to stay on Squarespace much longer than quick scaling startups. 

CULTURAL FINDINGS

As a society, we fetishize innovation while ignoring the actual goodness of a business. This has led us to focus on some terrible business models in the name of "innovation". It's also led to the perpetuation of a founder stereotype.

ADAM GRANT

WEWORK

ELIZABETH HOLMES

THERANOS

STEREOTYPES

The stereotypes below encompass the most common references in pop culture to founders and what I heard from man on the street interviews. 

REALITY CHECK

REALITY CHECK

Founders in general, but especially those that rely on Squarespace, don't fit that stereotype.

Founders in generally, but especially those that rely on Squarespace don't fit the stereotype.

These founders aren't in it for the money, they're in it for the lifestyle and because they don't found their companies trying to strike it rich, they're solving real problems.

Their companies don't don't meet traditional startup beauty standards. That doesn't mean they aren't beautiful.

One example is Commonwealth Classics. On the surface, they're a used car dealer. If you look deeper, they sell rebuilt classic cars in a unique and high margin way.

 

Squarespace makes it easy for them to elevate their business above a standard used car dealer.

CONSUMER INSIGHT

A founder's vision and passion is what carries startups forward. It's also the easiest thing to lose as a company scales. 

STRATEGY

Squarespace brings out the beauty in every business.

THE PIVOT

A week and a half before this presentation the COVID-19 pandemic reached the U.S.

 

I had a choice, present a completely irrelevant but beautiful campaign or rethink everything. I chose the latter. 

WHAT'S BEAUTIFUL  

DURING COVID-19?

I conducted social listening, analyzed positive headline topics, researched the history of past world events and dug deep into psychology to categorize the responses we were seeing to COVID-19. I then put them under four broad categories.

HOW CAN SQUARESPACE
SHOWCASE THIS BEAUTY?

I used the same reactions we were seeing societally to guide Squarespace's crisis response for small and startup businesses.

SUPPORTING

Gift cards and online ordering are limited to Squarespace's most expensive tier and they're what businesses need to survive. 

 

Giving temporary, free access to both of these features isn't only the right thing to do in the short term, it's the smartest business decision in the long term. 70% of competitor WIX's premium user base came from limited time freemium offerings. (1)

SHARING

Squarespace is known for its highly produced yet simplistic visual style and photography. During COVID-19 our beauty standards have shifted. 

 

The grit and passion of founders, small business owners and freelancers adapting to COVID-19 is the beauty Squarespace should focus on as we navigate this pandemic, even if that means sacrificing the production. 

CONNECTING

I found freelancers independently offering to do work for their favorite businesses in exchange for goods. Why can't Squarespace help facilitate this as well?

By temporarily changing Squarespace's Marketplace to encourage bartering and kindness, Squarespace can support its two largest communities - freelancers and small businesses.

The redone marketplace would feature freelancers as normal. It would also feature businesses, highlighting what they have to offer in exchange for quick freelance work.

For example:

NYC Pizzeria - 20 pies for online order setup completed ASAP

EMPOWERING

Throughout history, when we see crisis it's followed by social movements. No one knows what's going to come out of this, but the people that listen will know more than those constantly speaking.

Be the organization that asks how we can help, instead of the organization that tells people what we are doing. 

WHY BELIEVE ME?

When you look at past crisis you see the same reactions. That's because these reactions are part of human psychology.

We see the same business patterns play out time and time again.

BUSINESS IMPLICATIONS

During previous financial crisis while GDP, employment levels and stock indexes trend down - business applications trend upward. 

The more we help entrepreneurial businesses now, the better we position ourselves to attract the new startups on the other side of this crisis.

THE VERDICT

THE VERDICT

There are businesses that sit still in crisis and there are those that use crisis as a spark to drive progress. I challenged Squarespace to do the latter by sacrificing short term gains to prepare for the future.

I don't know what I'm doing, but I know how to figure it out.

Independent Study (11) copy 5