Thinking big and learning from the experts has helped put Real Entrepreneur Mums on the path to greater success.
Former change-management consultant Sophie Musumeci runs Real Entrepreneur Mums, a supportive community providing a safe, collaborative, non-competitive space for female entrepreneurs to meet regularly and grow their business profile and network.
Starting in August 2016 with a couple of groups in Sydney’s Hills district, Real Entrepreneur Mums now has 11 communities in Sydney and one each in Adelaide and Melbourne, and online support group members all around the country.
Inside Small Business recently caught up with Sophie, one of our 2018 Top 50 Small Business Leaders, to find out how she has managed to drive engagement so successfully.
ISB: You quickly established a loyal following in your local area, but I know you have big plans – what was the biggest challenge in growing the business outside that area?
SM: We realised that if we are to hit our goal of 100 communities globally in five years, we had to look at how we positioned ourselves in the marketplace. We originally ran around the country doing events day after day, spending a lot of money on Facebook advertising and hoping people would sign up.
We spent $20k on these events last year and didn’t get a workable ROI – 50 people might register for an event, perhaps 20 of those would turn up, and then only a percentage of those would actually sign up.
ISB: What have you changed to address this issue and enable you to grow your membership to the extent you now have?
SM: If you want to grow big, you have to think big. We knew we needed to invest more time, money and learn like never before. So we connected with experts in online advertising and marketing campaigns, scaling a business and social media. After testing, failing and trying again we now know we have the right business plan.
ISB: How has this manifested itself, in terms how newcomers engage with you on your website when they first hear about Real Entrepreneur Mums?
SM: We’ve built an online marketing funnel to direct them to specific landing pages rather than having to negotiate our website. They go through a series of quick steps to direct them to the specific aspect they’re interested in. They can book an appointment, register for online training or sign up to the membership scheme.
ISB: How about diversification beyond the original concept of face-to-face community get-togethers, to make it easier for time-poor mums to “dip their toe in”?
SM: We’ve created webinars that potential entrepreneur mums – many of whom still work full-time and/or have childcare responsibilities – can access any time. These are supported by testimonials from existing members, and we don’t just put them up and hope they work: we can analyse not just how many people watch the webinar but how many watch it all the way through, and at what point they drop out – we can then tweak them in the relevant places to improve retention.
The webinar topics are:
ISB: And how do you attract people to the webinars?
SM: We promote them through email marketing, social media posts and some paid social media advertising. Existing members are also offered a referral bonus for getting friends and business associates to sign up for the webinars.
ISB: Social media has cropped up a few times in our discussion; it’s obviously an important part of your marketing strategy?
SM: It is indeed, but not just for the sake of it or because it’s the “in” way to communicate. We look to build relationships through true engagement on our social-media channels. When consumers are looking for a new product or service they’re likely to jump on to Google and Facebook. If they see two well-crafted websites with nice pictures and good content they’ll pick the one with the most engagement in the form of comments and testimonials – social proof is as important today as word of mouth. It builds trust and shows consumers they don’t have to go “into the unknown” to find out if a service or provider is reliable.
Inner Circle is a recent initiative by which we bring all our members into contact with each other, irrespective of where they are in the country. It’s run on Facebook so members can access resources at any time, combined with “live” online events such as an online Q&As I host myself so members can interact with me personally. As soon as someone joins us they’re given access to the group.
ISB: Finally, how is the Real Entrepreneur Mums ecosystem developing, and does that drive further growth?
SM: We’ve started partnering with businesses started by members, with membership of Real Entrepreneur Mums given to clients of those businesses. We don’t have time to be everything to everyone so I see partnering with organisations with different skillsets in the same target market as the way forward. Our strength is building relationships and creating a community of women who have each other’s backs, and these businesses have clients who would benefit from membership with us but who didn’t know about us.
Our members still meet in their own local community group, but technology now allows them to do this virtually so they don’t have to miss out if they can’t get childcare or are stuck in the office.
Tim Ladhams, editor, Inside Small Business