Monika Reti of Hipcooks in the kitchen
Hipcooks founder Monika Reti emphasizes the need for businesses to constantly be open to change in order to meet the needs of their target customer. — Hipcooks

Known for its "measurement-free" cooking classes, Hipcooks has always been less about getting it right and more about getting together. So when COVID-19 hit, owner and founder Monika Reti faced a huge challenge: How could she translate the collaborative and creative classes she offered in her Los Angeles-based cooking studio to the virtual world?

"We weren't sure if we would be able to retain customers in a virtual setting when they were used to attending our in-person classes," Reti told CO—. "Digitally transforming Hipcooks truly felt like we were starting the business from scratch."

Catering to your audience: How Hipcooks adapted to new consumer needs

Reti's approach to marketing her new virtual classes was the same as making the perfect dinner: People eat with their eyes first.

Her first step was to revamp her website and build out a beautiful blog to host Hipcooks' new virtual classes. Then, Reti used online marketing platform ActiveCampaign to personalize her outreach for her online cooking classes.

Digitally transforming Hipcooks truly felt like we were starting the business from scratch.

Monika Reti, owner and founder, Hipcooks

Throughout the process, she engaged directly with her customers who were following her classes to see what worked and what she could improve on.

"It has helped me to focus on every aspect of the customer experience," said Reti. "It's not as simple as just putting up a new class — you need to consistently have unique ways of providing the best experience to your customers."

What she initially saw as a setback turned into a success and people from all over the world began to sign up for Hipcooks classes, including people who would have never been able to attend a class in person.

"I recently hosted a class for a group from Amsterdam — I never would have been able to do that before," Reti said. "What we originally saw as an obstacle, quickly turned into an opportunity to reach more people than we ever had being solely brick and mortar. Some customers have even said they like virtual classes better, and they're learning more by improvising in their own kitchen."

[Read: 5 Restaurant Industry Pandemic Pivots]

Any good chef knows that you sometimes need to taste and adjust your recipe along the way. The same can be said for marketing and shifting your business for COVID-19 or any unexpected circumstances.

Reti stressed that businesses can't be afraid to pivot their business strategies.

"Always be willing to change, and change again to fit the needs of your customer," she said. "Hipcooks wouldn't still be here if I didn't continue to find creative ways to reach and engage with my customers. By being proactive, we now anticipate having a permanent virtual and international presence from the success we’ve seen in the past few months." Follow Hipcooks on Instagram: @hipcooks.

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