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How One Determined Faerie Saved Her Small Business by Overhauling Her Entire Offer—Interview and Case Study

At DigitalMarketer, we know that our customers are amazing. 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 other times it’s someone who worked hard to troubleshoot a struggling strategy.

This time, it is Fae Gershenson, founder of Happily Ever Laughter, stepping up in a global catastrophe to save her business.

Fae posted in DM Engage about her success, and we decided to showcase her work (and give her the credit she deserved).

A screenshot from Fae's Engage Post

We asked Fae a few questions about her business and her recent pivot, 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 case study below to see exactly what she did!

Download 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 can’t grow up to be a Faerie Princesses.  There aren’t any jobs for those.” 

So, I made one.  *laugh*

In 2006 I opened Happily Ever Laughter, a children’s entertainment company. 

I’ve sent my Professional Faeries to entertain over half a million children at 17,000 events, and pulled in over $1,000,000 in sales each year.

Fae's dressed up as a faerie

What level of Lab are you in and how long have you been a subscriber?

It all started in 2017 when my business tanked in a matter of months. After more than 10 years of 20% growth year after year, I had no idea what was going on. 

Then, I figured out what happened. And I was paralyzed on how to fix it. I can twist a mean pink poodle balloon, but solving this problem was a whole new territory for me.

Traffic to our site had plummeted because of sites like Thumbtack. They were destroying entertainment companies 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 down into the dark depths of Google that no one would ever find us.

I realized I needed to get to people long before they were actively looking for entertainment.  I needed to find them further up the funnel. I needed to get to them on Facebook.

That’s when I found the podcast Perpetual Traffic.

Molly’s voice filled my car for hundreds of hours. Even my children started picking up on marketing tactics. There’s nothing like hearing a 5-year-old say, “Mama, the benefit of me picking out my own snack is that you don’t have to do it for me.”

I was hooked. I started talking about what I was learning with one of my employees, Meadow, and her eyes lit up. She said, “Show me where you’re learning this and let’s take over the world.”

We’ve both been in DM Elite ever since.

What has been your biggest struggle with your business over the last few weeks/months?

On March 1st we got our first cancellation due to COVID-19 fears.

By March 12th, we had lost everything.

On March 13th I faced the reality that we were not going to be able to perform in person with children for a very, very long time. 

I frantically reached out to Meadow, and before I even had a chance to hit send on my Slack message, her identical realization popped up on my screen. 

“We have to flip this business on it’s head, 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 business to adapt with this global crisis?

I had to let some of my favorite staff go with no notice.

I called every single bill we had and either canceled it or begged for mercy. 

I am lucky, I moved quickly. Most people I called hadn’t even realized what was about 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 worried because so many other entertainers were already flocking to YouTube with free content. 

What could we offer that was valuable enough for people to pay for? 

How could we pull it off quickly? 

How would we make people understand why we were the better option? 

What strategies were you using (that worked well) before things started to change in the world?

I relied on a lot of face to face marketing (performers meeting families at events), and over the phone sales (people calling to inquire about our offerings.) 

Because my staff is trained specifically on how to be super fun to talk to, that has always worked well.

What strategies are you using now?

The phone stopped ringing.  The in-person bookings were gone. 

So, we turned to talking to people via email blasts and social media campaigns.  All of which we learned from DigitalMarketer.

Meadow and I turned to each other and said, “Everything we’ve ever learned from them, we need to use right now. This is our ultimate test.”

Do you see yourself continuing to use these strategies once things go back to normal?

We’ve always dabbled in trying to do big marketing campaigns, but we are just two people.  

The rest of our company deals with the bookings, or is a performer, so we are generally too busy managing them to focus on marketing.

I would love to see that change.

What is your game plan for the near future?

Before this crisis, we only performed in California, USA. 

Since we started performing online, we’ve booked shows all over the world. It’s unreal. 

Cousins who’ve never celebrated birthdays together due to distance are able to party together. 

Grandparents who live far away are gifting them to their children, and then joining the playdate to see their grandkids laugh.

There are so many possibilities now that travel isn’t an issue for us. My heart swells when I think of all the children we can make feel special (and parents we can help snag a much needed break).

I’m going to start campaigns for other states soon, and that feels super exciting!

What has been your biggest success through all of this? Brag a little!

I’m really, really proud. 

It is hard for me to feel proud. But I’ll hold onto this feeling for as long as I can. It is a light in this darkness all around me right now.

I have a very hard time being a perfectionist, and it slows down a lot of my ideas. 

With this one, Meadow and I kept pushing each other because we had 50 employees relying on us to move fast. 

So, like DM says, “Done is better than perfect.”

What DM training has helped you the most? What other outside resources (not DM) have been helpful?

Funny thing. I’ve only done half of one cert. Shhh… don’t tell Ryan.

I’ve spent most of my time listening to Perpetual Traffic and doing Elite workshops. Those touch on all elements from the certs, but don’t push me to take a test afterward. I’m not the test taking type.

The message that those things drilled into my skull was that no one cares about what I do or what I have. 

They only care about how they can be entertained, transformed, or elevated, and if the product does that, I have to make it beyond clear how it works.

Also, Storybrand (different company) helped with our messaging, too.

The best help was having Meadow to learn with along the way. We yell at each other, hash through hundreds of ideas, and send each other ad examples (multiple times a day) from other companies to point out what we have learned. A human partner is key. 

My husband also sits on our porch with me every night and helps me sort out all my thoughts. He is a saint.

Oh, last thing. FRIENDS. I asked so many friends to pick apart the website, messaging, and anything I could get them to give me feedback on. It was terrifying to do, but everything I have is on the line right now, and I can’t afford to mess this up. So, I had to get really, really brave. And fast.

What is your best, most sagely advice for other small business owners and marketers right now?

Make a list of everything you offer. All of it. 

Go down that list and pick the ones that you think make your product incredibly special. 

Then, pick one clear pain point that it solves, and exactly how it solves it.

Take that message and run.

We got very distracted by trying to solve too many problems in our messaging. We ended up distilling it down to:

“Parents are doing everything right now and need a break. Online playdates give them some ‘me’ time, while their children get our full attention.”

It was hard to not talk about the missed birthdays, children not being able to see their friends, and of course, just how fun the playdates are. Adding too much into your message can lose the message altogether. Instead, put different messages into different campaigns. 

Want to know even more? Download the case study HERE to learn more about her business pivot and what worked (or didn’t)!

Becky Zieber

Becky Zieber

Becky Zieber is the Content Strategist at DigitalMarketer and is in charge of managing and building strategies for all DM content. In 2018, a year after graduating from California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo, Becky traded out her job in education publishing to move to Austin, Texas and join the DM team. She has since made it her mission to ruthlessly hound her coworkers about commas and dashes. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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