014: A Membership Business Born from an Accidental Partnership

Ward chats with Elisabeth Young and Cami Monet, founders of Biz Birthday Bash about how they forged their business partnership, growing an audience by giving away free content, and relying on social media platforms for your business.

Show Notes

Show Transcript

Ward: [00:00:00] Hi , Cami, Elizabeth. Thanks for joining me.

Elizabeth: [00:00:02] Hi. We’re so excited to be here. Thanks for inviting us.

Cami: [00:00:05] Yeah. Thanks so much for having us. Can’t wait for our discussion today.

Ward: [00:00:09] Yeah, so why don’t you give the the people listening a quick overview of what your business is and what you do?

Elizabeth: [00:00:17] I’ll go ahead and let Cami take this away.

Cami: [00:00:19] Okay, perfect. So so Elizabeth and I are both custom stationery designers, but together we have a business called Biz Birthday Bash, which is all about making big strategy a piece of cake for other creative entrepreneurs in the stationary our industry. So we really are big on celebrating your business birthday and helping you get to your first business birthday and celebrating those Milestones year after year. So we provide a bunch of. Sources webinars different Services any way we can help out podcast and for our audience.

Ward: [00:00:54] Awesome and and for if each of you could separately answer this what sort of your [00:01:00] professional background or education in that area that that led you here?

Elizabeth: [00:01:05] We were actually chuckling about this question a little bit because we were like hmm professional experience very much. We’ve forged our own paths. I would say since graduating college to be honest. I only had a year and working for a real estate company before I decided to go full time with my business. So I don’t have a whole ton of professional experience. I’m just kind of figuring it out as I go and loving the trip and the journey to be honest and I was really fortunate to grow up with a dad who has owned multiple businesses. So I feel like I had so much of that guidance growing. So he’s kind of like my built-in Mentor that if I ever need additional help I can kind of go back to him. He’s kind of my home base. But yeah a year in real estate and then fall of 2016. That’s when both Cami and I went full time and I’ve been full-time doing [00:02:00] this ever since.

Cami: [00:02:01] Yeah, and the thing is we both went full-time on the very same day with our art businesses. And that is how we became friends and really kick-started our business. So we had never even met in person before and then September 16th was our one-year business anniversary and we met up together and decided, hey, we should make this not just about us but make it helpful for other girls as well. And we did a free webinar series and that just kind of snowballed into our business. So I know that was a little. More backstory about our business. But yeah, it’s kind of interesting and then for me I worked as a travel editor for I don’t like 6 years before I went and did my business full time. So I’ve been doing this three years now and then professional experience wise I guess my dad is a watercolor artist. So I grew up watching him grow his art business and grew up in an art gallery. So I feel like I’ve [00:03:00] seen the ins and outs of it and didn’t really think it would come into play later on in life but here we are.

Ward: [00:03:04] So right so my guess my next question would be how did you to actually meet each other? So it sounds like you’ve been collaborating for for a little while.

Elizabeth: [00:03:14] Yeah, we met in a Facebook group which sounds so like so Millennial so Millennial it was a Facebook group for creatives. And somebody was asking a question along the lines of how did you go full time with your business and neither Cami and I had commented. Well, we just went full time last week on September 16th, and that’s how we connected was on. And so it wasn’t until a full year later, September 16 2017. We actually met in person and been friends at entire time through like text message Instagram phone calls all those type of things. So that was when we met in Savannah Georgia for the [00:04:00] very first time and have seen each other in person multiple multiple times since because we’ve built this business now.

Cami: [00:04:07] Yeah, it’s funny because when we we first met through that Facebook comment, and then I think it was just like, oh I’ll message you let’s keep in touch since we’re both going full-time. Maybe we can help each other out as we go along and honestly, we’re like best friends now, it’s the best so Facebook groups can totally change her life. But yeah, and now we see each other a lot. I think most people assume that we’re in the same city because we’re very close and. I don’t know our friendship just awesome. And it really funnels into the business really well, but we actually I’m in Orlando. She’s in Atlanta so we don’t get to see each other every day, but we do talk on the phone pretty much every day.

Elizabeth: [00:04:42] Yeah, we do.

Ward: [00:04:43] Awesome. So when it cut when it comes to Biz Birthday Bash, that’s its own business and you both kind of had your your own separate thing going before that. So how long has Biz Birthday Bash actually been around?

Elizabeth: [00:04:57] It has been around since September 20 [00:05:00] September years, right? 2017. Yes. So more than two full years now and the very first webinars we did were free. We actually didn’t charge for them. We called it. That’s where the name came from because we called it our Biz Birthday Bash because we had been full time for a year at that point. So the name kind of stuck that’s where the name comes from and then we kind of started. Discussion of okay, we did his birthday bash the first year. Do we continue to do this every year and from there it grew into a full-fledged business. So Cami and I both operate our businesses separately for custom wedding stationery and have this Birthday Bash together.

Cami: [00:05:43] Yeah, it was totally an accidental name and we’ve talked about changing it. But now it’s just become like so well-known and our industry and we use the birthday party as part of The Branding we do like little cake things like it all kind of works out and it’s very different than anything else you here. So we’re like, you know [00:06:00] what we’re just going to own it and stick with it.

Ward: [00:06:03] Very cool. So when you when you two got together around two years ago and you launch this this free webinar, what was the thinking behind it? Like was there it. Our strategy to the webinar or are you just trying to be helpful or was it both?

Elizabeth: [00:06:17] It was actually a little bit of both and I think it was mainly testing the waters right kind of Dipping our toes like is anyone even interested in what we have to say, I mean Cami and I had no idea and the fact that we had how many people sign?

Cami: [00:06:32] We had 500 people sign up for our free webinar. So we were blown away by the response.

Elizabeth: [00:06:38] Yes, and then I think we really realized. Wow if 500 people sign up for something for free obviously not all of them are going to buy something from us, but there’s a chance that if you build that trust and they love what you’re saying that they will come back to buy something from you that there’s so many people that always say that in business if you give first before you [00:07:00] ask, you know for your customer to purchase something from you that you have a better chance of building that trust. So that was kind of the strategy and the thinking behind it and just to do something for fun to celebrate being full time for a year.

Cami: [00:07:12] Yeah, I think it started out as just a fun idea and then we’re like wait a minute. This is actually working for something and we have been following the free free free marry me model ever since then because it works so well in the first place, but yeah, I think we kind of got lucky with our strategy but also we’ve used that same strategy as we’ve grown our business and it’s built so much trust from the get-go because we didn’t have the underlying thing like, oh, yeah, we’re going to sell you something at the end. Like that was kind of our thing is like, oh we’re just giving to giving this to you. Her free really want to share what we know help you guys learn along the way and because we were really genuine about it because we truly didn’t have an agenda of selling anything yet. I think that really helped us grow our audience.

Ward: [00:07:53] And the point of the webinar or Iguess the topic was what exactly?

Elizabeth: [00:07:58] It was called the. [00:08:00] Five Lessons we learned in our first year of business. So Cami and I both shared Five Lessons we learned and we made sure that the topics kind of work together well to build a cohesive basically an hour-long discussion about all of the things we had learned.

Ward: [00:08:17] Right and was this targeted specifically towards female entrepreneurs or just kind of entrepreneurs in general?

Cami: [00:08:24] Entrepreneurs in general but I would say our audience is very heavily female. It’s just tends to be the nature of this wedding stationery industry. So but yeah, not necessarily geared towards them.

Ward: [00:08:35] okay and was this the beginning of how you built the audience for Biz Birthday Bash because it sounds like you the this webinar without too much of an agenda and it just kind of like you said test the waters out see if anyone’s interested, but from there since you had around 500 people or so was that your initial list that you started with for your audience?

Elizabeth: [00:08:56] Yes, that’s correct. That was our original mailing list [00:09:00] and this Birthday Bash didn’t have its own email segment at that point Cami and I.

Cami: [00:09:07] Your website or Instagram or anything really because it was are two separate businesses, which is Elizabeth is Eliza and calligraphy and mines Cami Monet. So we were really pulling from our own audiences and then forming a new one. But yeah, so I think it kind of started with separate ones and then came together and then we were like, okay, let’s start making this into a true email list and captured all their emails obviously. So it was a really great way to build our email list quickly from the beginning.

Ward: [00:09:35] Right and how did you continue? You to build that list and grow that audience over time.

Elizabeth: [00:09:41] We actually made a freebie and it’s called top 100 tips and tricks every creative business owner should know and how long is that PDF Cami? Do you remember?

Cami: [00:09:52] I think it’s like 20 Pages? Honestly, it’s so long and I still reference it all the time. Like it was I was like Elizabeth. We need to blow them out of the water. [00:10:00] We’re doing a hundred tips and tricks and it’s super helpful. There’s lots of things about taxes and pricing and all these different types of things in there that we get questions asked a lot so that became our freebie to get people on our email list and it has worked wonders.

Elizabeth: [00:10:15] Yeah, because it was almost unintentional because that’s what we gave away at the end of the webinar. So as if we weren’t giving away enough for free. We also gave away this PDF that’s like 20 pages long. All of these things about small business creative small business specifically that we basically held onto and kind of updated to reflect our new branding and revamped it as our official freebie download on our site and we still get people downloading that. Yeah, probably daily to be honest. I’d have to go back and look at it. But people love that resource.

Cami: [00:10:47] Yes and fun little side note. All of our freebies are called party favors kind of goes with the birthdays theme. So like I said, we work it into our branding with a lot of different things like it.

Ward: [00:10:57] Yeah. I actually really loved that whole idea of the [00:11:00] the hunter tips and tricks. It’s your kind of recycling something in a way. So it’s one it’s a useful piece of content on its own to it’s like an FAQ of sorts for some of your customers, right? And then and then three it’s this Evergreen piece of content that people can come back to that you can reference that will continually Drive new people into the audience which is so it’s like a really really useful thing that other people listening should really try to take notice of building like a nice solid asset like that.

Cami: [00:11:31] Yeah, you totally nailed it and we really wanted to be not necessarily General but in our industry, we have a lot of different calligraphers watercolor artist designers stationary designers. I mean, there’s all different they fall under the same umbrella, but all kind of slightly different. So we wanted it to be broad enough. It would work for any of those Industries.

Ward: [00:11:50] Right that makes a lot of. And so these days it doesn’t sound like that that PDF is the main driver of new folks into your audience. So what are you doing [00:12:00] now, or what was kind of the step from from that from there till now that that’s been building the audience or keeps building?

Elizabeth: [00:12:05] Well, when we talk about the free free free mentality that is definitely something we still apply all the time. We threw something earlier this year at the beginning of the year called the New Year noobis challenged and we did all of that via email. So that kept people very engaged as well and also got them on the mailing list.

Cami: [00:12:27] We like to do a lot of Instagram email challenges. So basically we did New Year, hashtag new year new base and hashtag the ideal project challenge. So both of these different challenges were a series that lasted five days and all the prompts would come via email and then our audience will participate over social media on Instagram follow along the hashtag and that got so many people engaged in on our list because you couldn’t participate in the free. And really get the meat of things the free content unless you’re on the email list. So we had tons of people signing up for [00:13:00] that. So we would promote. Hey, we’re doing a free challenge get on the list. If you want to transform your business this way figure out your ideal project your ideal style. And yeah, those have been really great and really fun to actually interact with our audience to and build engagement on email and social.

Ward: [00:13:15] So yeah, I guess question I have is regarding the social media aspect of this. It sounds like Instagram is a big Channel. You too, you know I’ve heard I’ve heard some pushback online and from other people just in general about some of the privacy issues concerning Facebook AKA Instagrams through the same thing and and and also like, you know, probably recently you notice right there was that that outage of Facebook and Instagram temporarily, what are your thoughts on having a third party, especially a social media third party basically kind of control part of your audience. Like you’re obviously you get to interact with them and they follow you and see your content. But at the end of the day they do kind of own that audience in a sense. So what are your thoughts [00:14:00] are there any concerns?

Elizabeth: [00:14:02] I don’t think we overthink this too much. I think were very aware of the fact. It could disappear overnight. We might not always have it which is why we have put so much effort towards that mailing list and which is why it’s smart to every quarter or every month every week. Whatever you decide to do download that list so that you have it in an Excel sheet or CSV on your desktop so that you always have those people’s contact information, but yeah, even though it has had some technical difficulties lately and there are so many other things surrounding Instagram and Facebook and complications. We continue to leverage it while we have it because it’s free and it’s a way you know that we are able to connect with like-minded people.

Ward: [00:14:50] Right and you to it sounds like are not running advertisements on Instagram or Facebook?

Cami: [00:14:55] No, not currently. We haven’t quite dealt into running her own advertisements [00:15:00] yet, but we are very active on Instagram. We actually made a conscious decision to not necessarily put as much effort into a Facebook page. We have a Facebook page, but all of our audiences on Instagram, and we wanted to, we like to do things a hundred percent and we knew we wouldn’t be giving a hundred percent to a Facebook page. So we pretty much went all in on Instagram and email marketing and I think that strategy is really paid off that we aren’t spread too thin over a ton of platform. Just trying to be present on a mall. We’re trying to be present and active and engaged on a few solid ones.

Ward: [00:15:34] Right, that makes sense. All right, so let’s shift a little bit to talking about about pricing. So the gist of what I’m getting from you is the strategy is provide a lot of free high-quality content via email and social media mostly Instagram and that’ll dry people to the site that will drive people to join the email list if they’re not already on it. And then from there I assume there’s some kind of upsell or product that’s pitch to them at [00:16:00] some point. So one, you know, what is it that people actually do purchase from you and to what’s the pricing around that?

Elizabeth: [00:16:07] I’ll let you start this one Cami.

Cami: [00:16:09] Okay, I’m so we probably release a new product. I’m doing product with air quotes around it every quarter. So last year we tested the waters with our first paid thing which was. The second round of Biz Birthday Bash webinars, which we did pricing productivity and what was the processes processes? Yes, so pretty much three huge topics. We did three webinars on and PDF party favors for downloading with that. And at the the way we did the pricing we wanted to be really affordable. And this was the time we were testing the waters to see if we could even sell something to our audience who has was so used to free content. So we did a bundle of forty seven dollars and you could buy them individually for 19 trying to remember all the numbers exactly but everyone purchased the bundle and I [00:17:00] think we sold 400 tickets to that.

Elizabeth: [00:17:04] Somewhere like that between 350 and 400. I don’t know exact amount.

Cami: [00:17:09] Yeah, so they were live webinars. They could ask questions during them. We do it over the same weekend as our business anniversary. So everyone was kind of expecting it and that was kind of our like the free one was, you know, definitely dipping our toes in this was just like, okay now we’re going like up to knee-high now and then are the next thing we release Elizabeth you want to talk about our last launch.

Elizabeth: [00:17:35] The one we did most recently.

Cami: [00:17:36] Yes.

Elizabeth: [00:17:37] Yes, so most recently. We were able to use memberspace to build an online member platform that allowed us to launch a directory to our audience because we have so many people who ask us questions about. Where do you print your work? Where do you get tea towels manufactured or greeting cards so many things and in [00:18:00] the creative industry, there is just endless possibilities of what you can create. So Cami and I made this directory it has more than 200 vendors on it and there’s a private Facebook group with it as well. So people love that Community aspect and we wanted to protect it. We wanted to make it a paid membership. We were able to do that with members faces amazing and we are very proud to say that we had a five-figure launch. We actually I’ll go ahead and just say it. You know, I’m proud of it. We made to twenty thousand dollars on our launch and so it went from like dipping our toes to knee high to almost being scared. Is that the right word Cami like almost being like shocked of okay. Wow, we’re actually doing this. This is it got so much bigger than we could have imagined and now we of course have plans to do even bigger launches in the future because much bigger [00:19:00] what’s together fight of that?

Cami: [00:19:04] Our strategy definitely is built around a launch sequence. Like we don’t we have things you can purchase it your round but most of the time it’s like this is when you get it. This is the week. We’re doing a launch like we’re building up to that like having that scarcity mentality and usually offering a discount for that week and then closing the doors like that’s been our strategy with anything we’ve released and it’s worked really well. So we’re going to just keep continuing using that same strategy with the pricing model where you get in early you get you get money off. So yeah, we’ve really enjoyed doing that and it works well for our personalities to I think to have that like hype week leading up to it. Yeah. Very much.

Ward: [00:19:42] So so so for the this directory premium directory just so I’m clear. It’s clear people can’t just sign up for it anymore. It was a temporary release?

Elizabeth: [00:19:54] It actually the scarcity factor for this one was that they would get $50 off if they sign up [00:20:00] during launch week. So it is still available. It’s on our website. It just costs a lot more. So every you know week we might have one person who finds it or hears about it and decides to join. We made a very purposeful decision that we wanted to keep that resource live. We think it’s super valuable and it’s not the same thing as a course or something else where you you know, you would see someone close the doors. For an entire year before reopening it because it just lives on that web page. We wanted people to have access to it. I hope that kind of clarifies.

Cami: [00:20:31] Yeah, this is more of an evergreen resource than a course or a live webinar Series. So this was a little bit different. Yeah, and the the launch week. It was 97 then went up to 147. And then we also for our members from that they have an affiliate program. So we wanted that to be part of it as well and keep it open the doors open so they could keep earning as affiliates.

Ward: [00:20:52] And so for the pricing there, so it was 97 during launch week after launch week It’s 147. Is that a one time fee or is [00:21:00] that a recurring monthly charge?

Elizabeth: [00:21:02] It is yearly actually we decided to do it on a yearly basis mainly because our audience came in kind of Cami and I have to take into consideration that our audience is a lot of new creatives. They can’t really afford to drop a ton of money, especially at the beginning of their Endeavor. So we decided to make it yearly.

Ward: [00:21:22] Understood. Yeah, that makes sense. And I’ve heard you know, I’ve done some research on some of these pricing strategies as well and annual has a lower churn rate. And for those who listen, I don’t know what churn is turn means like cancellations. So the number of people, when someone sees a bill once a year as opposed to seeing a bill, let’s say 12 times a year if you were charging monthly there is a higher chance are going to cancel simply because of the fact that they’re seeing a bill multiple times, even if it was for the exact same amount for the full year. It’s just the idea of seeing. Hey, you’re being charged how you’re being charged each month. It’s something about that tank. Yeah something about that gets people to cancel. So [00:22:00] I don’t know if you did that on purpose, but that also the benefit of char being.

Cami: [00:22:04] Yeah, we did think about that as well and also with our pricing structure in our industry. It’s kind of either you’re going to pay $2,000 for something of course wise education wise or it’s going to be free and we want to be in that sweet spot of in the Middle where newer entrepreneurs. Maybe this is a stretch for their budget and then other entrepreneurs who maybe are further along it’s a no-brainer purchase. So either way we’re still getting both of those people who are in different seasons of their business.

Ward: [00:22:32] Right that makes sense. When it comes to the actual number of okay. So 97 was the 197 a year was the launch week number was the was the main consideration you’re trying to make this affordable for new creative. Like you said, was there any other data or surveys or research you did it come up with that number?

Elizabeth: [00:22:50] This is a brand new idea to our industry completely actually Cami and I did research to see if anything like this existed for creatives where they could [00:23:00] have a membership membership access to a list of vendors, and we could not find anything. So we were kind of blazing. The trail essentially in this area Kami and I have done a lot of research on pricing psychology though, which is why all of our prices include sevens like sevens nines and fours. There’s something about those numbers that are less scary to people and make them sound more affordable. It’s very interesting. There’s like a whole bunch of articles about that.

Cami: [00:23:33] With the 97 price point we wanted it to be just under $100 to so it’s like okay I got to get in on this like I can afford this but yeah, and then the seven we just we just love our sevens for things Elizabeth explained as well. But Elizabeth’s Dad, we also, he is an entrepreneur and we are always asking him for advice on pricing and different strategies like that.

Ward: [00:23:54] Yeah. Yeah pricings tricky. It’s always it’s there’s always some amount of guessing right because you’re never going to know [00:24:00] perfectly but so.

Cami: [00:24:03] It is one of those what feels right because I think sometimes.

Ward: [00:24:06] So for this Price He launched obviously it went well, Is there any thinking around the price going forward as far as increasing it decreasing it running like any kind of A/B test or what are your thoughts currently on the pricing?

Elizabeth: [00:24:22] We’re pretty happy with where it is right now mainly because we’re already starting to think of the next things. We’re going to be releasing later this year. So we have a couple things coming up but anyone who paid for the $97 price. Will renew at the $97 price that was part of that was another big part of the incentive if you get a now the price doesn’t go up for you. Whereas now if they were new for 147, they have to pay 147 again. So basically next year in February when we have the year anniversary Cami and I might run another promo. It wouldn’t be as [00:25:00] good though is the previous one or Black Friday or something, right?

Cami: [00:25:03] The $97 always going to be the best deal which is why it’s closed the doors on that but anything moving forward with just be like a 20% off for the year or something like that. But yeah, that’s kind of yeah.

Ward: [00:25:16] One thing that we always hear from people is you’ll hear either, oh that price is so low or this is such a great deal or you’ll hear that super expensive. Did you hear any feedback like that? That was predominately one way or the other?

Cami: [00:25:30] Yeah, we get both ends of the spectrum. It is very interesting because we are speaking to people who literally just started their business today and people who are very seasoned in the industry. So we do get a lot like I just can’t afford it and or yeah, this is such a steal. It’s really it’s quite funny actually, but people’s perception is so we really just try to not just sell them on the price. But so I’m on the end result the impact the value they’re truly getting where it makes it like they have to. [00:26:00] It because there’s going to be such a great end result that’s going to truly grow their business. So we are definitely selling the story of that and not just trying to get them in on a price that they think they can afford.

Ward: [00:26:09] That makes a lot of sense. All right, I think we’ll end it there Cami Elizabeth thank you so much both of you for joining if you just let everyone listening know what’s the best way to learn more about you and your business.

Elizabeth: [00:26:21] For sure. Yeah, you can follow us collectively at Biz Birthday Bash on Instagram or Biz Birthday Bash.com, and then we also have links to our personal profiles through they are but that’s the best way to find us.

Cami: [00:26:36] And our podcast the biz – podcast, which we have come out every single Tuesday with lots of different business strategy and tips for entrepreneurs.

Ward: [00:26:45] Awesome. Well, thanks again you two.

Elizabeth: [00:26:46] Thank you so much.

Cami: [00:26:47] Thank you so much.