Case Examine: How One Decided Faerie Saved Her Small Enterprise
At DigitalMarketer, we know that our customers are great. But occasionally someone in our DM Engage community does something so great that we feel the need to brag unabashedly.
Sometimes it's someone with a new incredible ad set, and sometimes it's someone who has worked hard to fix a difficult strategy.
This time, Fae Gershenson, founder of Happily Ever Laughter, finds herself in a global catastrophe to save her business.
Fae reported on her success in DM Engage and we decided to present her work (and give her the recognition she deserved).
We asked Fae a few questions about her business and her recent linchpin and put together a case study of what she did and how it worked.
Keep scrolling to read the Meet a Marketer interview with Fae and download the following case study to see exactly what she did!
Download the case study HERE
Meet a marketer: Fae Gershenson
What is your company Describe it a little:
When I was a little girl my family warned me: "You cannot grow up to be a fairy princess. There are no jobs for her."
So I made one. *Laugh*
In 2006 I opened Happily Ever Laughter, a children's entertainment company.
I've sent my professional fairies to entertain over half a million children at 17,000 events, and I've had sales of over $ 1,000,000 each year.
What lab level are you in and how long have you been a subscriber?
It all started in 2017 when my business recovered within a few months. After more than 10 years of 20% growth year after year, I had no idea what was going on.
Then I found out what happened. And I was paralyzed how to fix it. I can turn a mean pink poodle balloon, but solving this problem was a whole new area for me.
Traffic to our website had dropped due to websites like Thumbtack. They destroyed entertainment companies on the right and left by throwing us into a searchable database and then charging us when people found us there. Then they used that money to outbid all of our own website ads, which pushed us so far into the dark depths of Google that nobody would ever find us.
I realized that I had to reach people long before they were actively looking for entertainment. I had to find her higher up in the funnel. I had to reach her on Facebook.
Then I found the podcast Perpetual Traffic.
Molly's voice filled my car for hundreds of hours. Even my kids started learning marketing tactics. There is nothing better than hearing a 5 year old say, "Mom, the benefit of choosing my own snack is that you don't have to do it for me."
I was hooked. I started talking to one of my employees, Meadow, about what I was learning and her eyes lit up. She said, "Show me where you learn that and let's take over the world."
Since then we have both been in the Elite.
What has been your biggest struggle with your business in the past few weeks / months?
On March 1st, we received our first rejection due to COVID 19 concerns.
By March 12, we had lost everything.
On March 13, I was faced with the reality that we would not be able to perform personally with children for a very, very long time.
I reached out desperately for Meadow, and before I even had the chance to send my Slack message, their identical knowledge appeared on my screen.
"We have to turn this business upside down and we have to do it NOW."
She showed up at my house 10 minutes later to start brainstorming.
What changes did you have to make in your company to adapt to this global crisis?
I had to let some of my favorite employees go without notice.
I called every single bill we had and either canceled it or asked for mercy.
I'm lucky, I went quickly. Most of the people I called didn't even notice what was going to happen to them.
Next, I had to face the reality that we could no longer perform in person with children, so it was time to figure out how to do it online, but I was concerned because so many other entertainers were already streaming to YouTube with free content.
What could we offer that was valuable enough to be paid for?
How could we do it quickly?
How would we make people understand why we were the better option?
What strategies did you use (it worked well) before things started to change in the world?
I have relied on a lot of personal marketing (artists who meet families at events) and phone sales (people who call to inquire about our offerings).
Because my employees are specially trained in how to have fun talking to them, it always worked well.
What strategies are you using now?
The phone stopped ringing. The personal bookings were gone.
That's why we talked to people about email explosions and social media campaigns. We have learned all of this from DigitalMarketer.
Meadow and I turned to each other and said, "We've got to use everything we've ever learned from them. This is our ultimate test."
Do you still see yourself able to use these strategies once things have returned to normal?
We have always tried to run large marketing campaigns, but we are only two people.
The rest of our company deals with bookings or is a performer, so we're generally too busy managing them to focus on marketing.
I would like to see this change.
What is your game plan for the near future?
Before this crisis, we only played in California, USA.
We have booked shows all over the world since we appeared online. It is unreal.
Cousins who have never celebrated birthdays together because of the distance can celebrate together.
They give grandparents who live far away to their children and then take part in the game date to see their grandchildren laugh.
There are so many options now that traveling is not an issue for us. My heart swells when I think of all the children we can find special (and parents we can help take a much needed break).
I'm going to start campaigning for other countries soon, and it feels super exciting!
What was your biggest success in all of this? Brag a little!
I'm really, really proud.
It is difficult for me to be proud. But I will keep this feeling as long as possible. There is a light in this darkness around me.
It is very difficult for me to be a perfectionist and it slows down many of my ideas.
In this case, Meadow and I put pressure on each other because we had 50 employees who could count on us to act quickly.
So, as DM says: "Finished is better than perfect."
Which DM training helped you the most? What other external resources (not DM) were helpful?
Funny thing. I only got half of a certificate. Pssst … don't tell Ryan.
I spent most of my time listening to perpetual traffic and doing elite workshops. These touch all elements from the certificates, but do not force me to take a test afterwards. I am not the test type.
The message that these things bored into my skull was that nobody cares what I do or what I have.
They only care about how they can be entertained, transformed or enhanced, and if the product does so, I have to make it clear how it works.
Storybrand (another company) also helped with our news.
The best help was to have Meadow on the way to study. We shout at each other, scour hundreds of ideas, and send (several times a day) ad samples from other companies to show what we've learned. A human partner is the key.
My husband also sits on our veranda with me every evening and helps me clarify all my thoughts. He is a saint.
Oh, last thing. Friends. I asked so many friends to take apart the website, the news and anything I could get feedback on. It was terrifying to do, but everything I have is at stake and I can't afford to mess it up. So I really had to be very, very brave. And fast.
What is your best and smartest advice for other small business owners and marketers right now?
Make a list of everything you offer. All of it.
Go through this list and choose the ones that you think will make your product special.
Then choose a clear point of pain that it will resolve and exactly how it will resolve it.
Take this message and run.
We were very distracted when trying to solve too many problems in our news. In the end, we distilled it to do the following:
“The parents are doing everything and need a break. Online game dates give them some time for me while their kids get our full attention. "
It was hard not to talk about the missed birthdays, children who couldn't see their friends, and of course how fun the game data is. If you add too much to your message, the entire message may be lost. Instead, insert different messages into different campaigns.
Would you like to know more? Download the case study HERE to learn more about their business pivot and what worked (or not)!