Episode 17

GGC'S PANDEMIC PIVOT + PLANNING FOR 2021

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Phoebe welcomes you into 2021 with a look at how GGC navigated the pandemic and pivoted from in-person events in 2020. She gives details on how they brought their events online, created new offerings like this very podcast, how they managed brand partnerships virtually, and premiered their holiday directory which doubled their typical craft fair profits. Transparent as usual, Phoebe gives revenue numbers and an inside look at her thought process as lead her team with flexibility and creativity. She leaves you with tangible advice on planning 2021.

After taking most of December off, Phoebe is back and ready for action. The podcast will continue to premiere every other Thursday with every other episode being an interview with a female founder, and solo mini lessons on topics such as marketing, time management, biz organization, and mindfulness. 

 

Phoebe opens up the 2021 season with an inside look at how GGC navigated the pandemic and pivoted from in-person events in 2020, leaving you with tangible advice to plan 2021. 

At the beginning of the pandemic, GGC had 3 spring time events planned in LA, Oakland, and Sacramento. GGC moved back the dates twice, and then of course canceled. We kept clear communications with vendors and managed expectations as best they good. 

In April we designed the  GGC Guide to pivoting, a 6 page guide designed to help our community navigate the pandemic. It touches on ways to clean up your content + offerings, and what sort of paid and free content you could create that is adjacent to your current brand. 

 

This guide is considered a “freebie” so our community had to sign up for our email list to access it. This was a great way to build our list in this beginning of shelter in place.

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We wanted to do something fun for the GGC vendors, so we did a “Secret shelter in place”  with almost 70 participants. Each person received a gift and gave a gift. It was a fun little moral booster.

The podcast premiered in April, not quite a pivot as this was in the plan for 2020, but it became essential to growing GGC and even more importantly it became a resource for the small business community in a wild time.

 

Benefits of a podcast. 

 

  1. It is a resource for people already in your community. This creates value and trust. When you give out value, your community will learn to trust you as an expert in your field, and then can opt in for paid content like classes, courses, conferences etc.

  2. The podcast is  a great way to bring new people Into the community. 

  3. Whether you are offering straight commercials to your partners,  or not , a podcast just looks good. It is an extra arm available for promotions. So when we put together partnership proposals it may include a couple podcast commercials, maybe an IGTV spot, with a couple stories. Whatever. You can put together options across all your channels for your partners. 

 

Also a bonus benefit: SEO. When you have summaries or even transcripts of your episodes on your site that helps people find your brand. 

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PHOEBE SHERMAN 

I was scared. I had no idea what 2020 was going to bring.

 

GGC procured PPP and Phoebe received unemployment for a few months for stability during the pandemic. She stopped her unemployment in September when GGC started to make money again. 

 

Phoebe had been teaching one or two basic branding workshops in person a year the past couple years. So she decided to bring the class online.

 

We had 40 people signed up, and gave 5  away free scholarships to Black creatives.

 

She wanted to step up the class content and created 2 new classes on email marketing and content. This was a more affordable offering  just to test the waters. We had 65 paid spots, and offered 62 free spots to Black creatives. 

 

We then added one new class to the roster: Brand Partnerships and these 3 classes were marketed as “GGC Summer School.” Our community could sign up for 1 or all 3. The summer school brought in about $4600 with 72 signups (17 of those spots  going to Black Creatives.).

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Phoebe loved teaching these classes, but wanted to get a little more intimate. These hour and a half classes weren’t enough. She wanted to get to know the students and create community. 

 

In comes Level Up. A 6 week cohort program focusing on topics like Entrepreneurial mindset, Biz tools, content planning + creating, Email Marketing, Brand Partnerships + Showing up, with access to our FB group, 2 office hours and an option for one-on-one coaching with me. We had 35 students in the Academy, 5 of those being scholarship spots. Level Up brought in $6700 with an $1500 in coaching. 

 

Phoebe loved getting to know her students on a personal level, to be able to answer specific questions, to be able to really tackle the challenges they had. Plus they all created community with each other-collaborating on giveaways, or getting together to read through each other’s bios. This was community online. 

 

Collectively class revenue for 2020 was about $18,000 and we taught over 250 students! 

 

Quote: “We capitalized on something I loved doing, AND the community needed. Plus the revenue was proven.  When these things align, you know you’re on the right path”


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PHOEBE SHERMAN 

I absolutely believe with my entire heart that we set GGC up for greatness as we move forward.

 

During this time GGC was also managing other projects.

We were working on brand partnerships

And also live events. 

 

When GGC started to figure out how to even tackle partnerships this year, we wanted to create experiences and content that our audience could relate to. In the past our partnerships have been mostly for events, big brands like Square, Getaround, Topochico have paid premium booth prices to have a presence at events either targeting our attendees or behind the scenes with the creatives. 

 

This year since we didn’t have physical events we had to get creative. We offered social media slots, podcast commercials, design opportunities, blog posts, and spots on our holiday directory. I’ll give just a couple examples:

 

We teamed up with Adobe Spark and our now friend Kitiya Palaskas to create a 3 part series on how to use Spark for creating content.

 

Moving forward Phoebe has teamed up with Spark for a year contract as an ambassador, and GGC posts content monthly on how to use spark to grow your business.

 

In 2020 GGC teamed up with Slutbox to design an exclusive for their subscription box. We worked with Eaze on creating a blog post about 5 products to spark creativity, and we collabed with Flodesk on an affiliate plus a newsletter that highlighted tips for great email marketing this Holiday season. 

 

The affiliate with Winc led us to host a series of panels with amazing founders from the community. The panels are best looked at as a marketing expense, mixed with educational value for our current community. GGC acquired new community members, as the panelists helped market the events so we got introduced to their audiences. To watch the events, creatives would have to sign up for our email list. Thus, the events served as a funnel, and a chunk of these listeners ended up in our classes and on our holiday directory. 

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The year wrapped up with the GGC Holiday Gift Guide. This was the solution to not having a craft fair for the holidays. It was an absolute success with 160 small brands featured from all over the country.

 

The directory brought in about $ 21,000. And expenses were minimal, so we profited about twice as much as we make for an in-person craft fair. 

 

There were 6000 site sessions and 4000 unique visitors.  With an average site session of 32 minutes. (which truly is HUGE!) Between November 12 and January 2. The directory will be up until January 12. 

 

These numbers do not count social or newsletter engagement that directly linked to the vendors. 

 

The directory made sense. Small business lovers could casually scroll the site and shop for their loved ones on their own time. The site was easy to navigate and share.

20:55

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PHOEBE SHERMAN 

DON’T COUNT ON IN-PERSON EVENTS. If you are an event host or event participant, I personally think you should count on them not happening this year. Yup.

 

Phoebe’s advice for planning 2021:

 

1. Most importantly, but maybe the  most controversial. DON’T COUNT ON IN PERSON EVENTS

 

2. Plan your year now. 

Pull out that calendar and schedule your year. So if you have virtual launches or product launches, put that on your calendar. When you schedule a date, everything can be built around that, and you are more motivated to make it happen. You want to make sure your audience has time to breathe between launches. You want to make sure you are not always selling, and in the in between times you are serving. 

 

So if you’re a product based biz, go ahead get out your cal and plan some dates. When does your spring collection come out? What new product ideas do you have? When are your product drops? This way you can build your tasks, marketing, and content around these dates. This serves as the structure for your year, and it helps to have a bit more direction.

 

If you’re a service based biz, maybe you open up slots for a service on a certain date. Maybe you have a new offering you want to launch. These dates go on the calendar.


 

3. Be flexible. Yes this sorta contradicts #2. But you’re gonna put everything on the calendar, and then as we have learned from 2021, you’re gonna make room to be flexible. So for us, if we find out in April we are going to have an event, we can make those applications happen,  and maybe we need to hire help etc. 

 

4. Brainstorm. If you don’t know what your plan is for next year, get out that paper and pen and brainstorm. How are you going to serve your audience this year? Who even is your audience?  What else could you do for money that is adjacent to your current work? Or maybe something that is completely different? What skills do you have that you are not utilizing right now that are of value?

5. Have multiple levels of paid content. You want to have free content ( think social), Free content that converts into email subscribers (think virtual events or a freebie), Paid content (membership, classes, courses) and premium content (like coaching or a mastermind). This can also apply to a product based business, have items that can be intros to the brand. Or even content about your physical items- behind the scenes of your making practice on social, and perhaps detailed tutorials or classes that are paid. Think about creating multiple revenues streams.

 

6. Create systems that can grow with you. What apps are you using for communicating with yourself or your team? If you are using just to-do lists, is this method working for you? Can this method expand with you? If not, try a planning app (we use Asana).

 

7. Outsource. What can you outsource to a human or an app? What tasks are wearing you down, take up too much of time, or just something you are not good at? Can these be outsourced? (for more on outsourcing check out episode 11)

 

8. Lastly, and maybe most importantly. Get your money in order and Get your taxes done early. Make sure you know how much you are profiting in your biz, and more importantly, which revenue streams are working for you financially. (Grab the Moneywitch course on Taxes + Accounting)

 

Be kind to yourself, and please be kind to others. Check your privilege, and if you find yourself in a position with extra cash or extra time on your hands, maybe find a way to give back to your community. 


You can follow Phoebe Sherman's personal journey @phoebesherman on Instagram

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