Emma and Carla Papas are the Merrymaker Sisters, providing Yoga and Pilates programs to more than 500 members of their Merrybody membership.
How the lively pair got into the fitness arena and turned their launch-based business into the recurring income-generating passion project it is today is the subject of this podcast interview.
Podcast: Download (Duration: 38:56 — 35.8MB)
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In the podcast:
01:43 – How the merrymaking started
03:23 – Because growth isn’t everything…
05:25 – You don’t have to be ready
06:50 – The give and take of being sisters
09:05 – A shift in business model – again
10:45 – Launches versus recurring income
13:21 – The SuperFastBusiness experience
16:21 – How many are getting merry now?
18:04 – A look at the technical side of things
19:57 – Want a guaranteed 100 percent open rate?
22:15 – Getting an app and the impact it’s had
25:28 – Other tech tools that make a difference
26:28 – The training modules that helped massively
30:23 – How much better are things going now?
33:14 – The role social media plays
35:07 – Some advice to the sisters’ past selves
Tune your business to generate the income you need, for the lifestyle you want, with help from James
James: James Schramko here. Welcome back to SuperFastBusiness.com. This is Episode 708. And we’re going to get “merry” today. That sounds kind of weird, but we’re having a membership growth case study story. And for that, I brought not just one guest, but two guests. Welcome the Merrymakers. It’s great to have you on the show.
Carla: Yay. Thank you so much for having us, James. We feel so honored to be on your show..
Emma: Yeah. Super excited to be here.
James: Yeah. So I met you at Chris Ducker’s event in the Philippines many years ago. And you’re quite bubbly and enthusiastic about your journey in business. And you’ve incorporated the name, “Merry”, into your branding. I’d love for you to just give us a brief overview of what you’re actually doing and how it came to that, so that we can talk then in more depth about what you’ve been doing the last year.
How the merrymaking started
Carla: Yeah, yes. We met in Tropical Think Tank and you scared us.
James: I scared you?
Carla: We were so not ready for James yet. That’s what we thought. We were like, Oh, he’s amazing. Like, we want to be able to learn from him. But I think we were just like, at that level where just everything flew over our heads at that.
Emma: Oh my gosh, we didn’t even know what a sales funnel was at all. We didn’t even know we were content marketing. We were like, Oh, this is weird. But yeah, it started all in 2012. Literally, we just changed our lifestyles and started Instagramming about it. It was all healthy recipes. And at this time, Instagram was just new and the word “paleo” was non-existent. And now it’s, like, the most-googled word ever.
But it just kind of took off. And we noticed it and fell in love with sharing online. And we just delved deep into blogging, learning everything we could. Literally we googled, “what is a blog”, followed by “how to start a blog”, and we didn’t look back.
Carla: Yeah. And then I guess from 2012, it was all about learning how to create an online business through blogging. And we did things like, we made apps with Jarrod. And we published books, hardcopy and ebooks. We ran challenges and programs and worked with aligned brands. But it got to a point about two years ago where it wasn’t feeling right anymore. And by right, I mean, it wasn’t bringing us joy. So the word Merrymaker literally means, to bring joy to. And by some odd reason, we called our blog that back, way back when we started, and it kind of has just been this backbone of our business ever since. And I think we’re so grateful that we named us this weird thing, because it really has kept us aligned to our true joy and what lights us up.
Because growth isn’t everything…
And so two years ago, we just thought, wow, we need to create some space; we need to stop doing what we’re doing. Even though on paper, if someone looked at our business, they would be like, You’re stupid; like, it’s growing. Look at this growth. You shouldn’t stop now. But it just wasn’t bringing us that fulfillment. And so at that stage, I was doing my yoga teacher training. Emma jumped right into her Pilates teacher training, with no intention to create a business behind it. This was just self development. We wanted to learn; we wanted to just kind of delve into this yoga ancient philosophy and Pilates, this really amazing way of moving. And little did we know that we were then starting a new side, or I guess, a new kind of, what is it, the momentum of Merrymakers Sisters, which is now all about yoga, Pilates and meditation. And what started off as four-week programs has now, since March 2019, turned into a membership model. And we have loved every minute, and we’re just delving again into learning everything that we can to create a membership model that not only feels good for us, and we love to create, but also impacts our members in a really great way.
James: So you moved from food into more the fitness side of things.
James: And you noticed that people were buying all your products. You’ve built such a tribe, a community, that people wanted more. They were like, give me more Merry.
Emma: Like, we didn’t notice the pivot at the beginning. We were like, this makes sense for us, because it was exactly what we were doing in our personal lives. So we didn’t actually notice the pivot until someone one day was like, Girls, that’s a big pivot, like, going from food to this. And we were like, Is it? And then we were kind of like, Oh, yeah, it is. And we then realized it was like starting from zero with this new business model. But as you said, yeah, we’d created such an amazing group of Merrymakers, like that, they kind of just believed in us and jumped right in our first program. We had, I think it was, was it over 300?
Carla: Yeah, yeah.
Emma: Over 300 people joined that first program. We were like, what? Oh! And we were only even teaching, like, six months or less.
Carla: Oh my gosh.
You don’t have to be ready
Emma: Like, when Carla said to me, we’re going to film classes and put them into a program, I was like, Carla, literally, I’ve only taught two real-life classes. Like, it was really fresh. And I think this has been our kind of biggest skill, I guess. Call it a skill. Of just, like, doing it before we’re ready, and just, like, putting ourselves out there and knowing that, yeah, it’s not going to be perfect. It’s not going to be the best Pilates and yoga program. We’re not the best yoga and Pilates teachers. But we know that we’re going to connect with the right people and people will see us as not the “best”, and actually love that about us. And I think that was where we’ve just like, won every time. We’ve just tried and like, jumped in, even when we’re not ready. Even though we have so much self-doubt and fear, we just do it, and it just keeps on working. And it’s really quite an amazing journey.
James: You know, it’s the second time I’ve heard that theme today. I opened an email from a friend and client of mine, Sorelle. And she was giving advice to her younger self. And she was saying, in the beginning, she didn’t actually have belief in herself, but she just started the journey.
Emma and Carla: Yeah.
James: And over time, you’ll get validation on it, because your audience will resonate with it, especially if you’re in the sort of market you’re in where you’re putting a lot of yourself onto the internet. So people get to know you quite well. You have a pretty strong social media following. And you have strong personalities.
The give and take of being sisters
And it’s interesting there’s two of you. Do you want to just explain the setup there between how it works with the sisterhood?
Emma and Carla: Yeah.
Carla: We always say, there’s not really been anything lucky about our business, except the fact that we get to do it together. And it was so lucky that we have each other. And the most amazing thing is that we have really different strengths and weaknesses. So everyone’s always like, Wow, you’re so similar! But if they really get to know us, then we’re actually so different. So I, and this is Carla, I’m really like, analytical and logical. Like, Emma will have this grand idea, this like, stupid idea, like, out of the park, and I’ll be like, Yes, Emma, but how are we going to do that?
Emma: She’ll be like, she won’t like my idea. And I’m like, Excuse me, be excited about my idea. And she’s like, I’m just thinking about step one, step two and 100 more steps that you just ignore, because you’re like, just focused on this big picture. And I mean, like without each other, it wouldn’t work, obviously. But we work really, really well together. And I mean, we have arguments. Like, far out, we fight. But we get over them really quickly.
Carla: And I think what the business has actually done is brought our sisterhood even closer. Like, we were close ever since we were little. We had businesses when we were little – we made jewelry and we sold handmade cards on the driveway. Like, we were always very much so like, we want to do something ourselves, and we want to do it together. But running the business has made us really overcome the small things that get in the way of usual sibling, and I think, any relationships. Like, anything where we might take things personally, we’re like, Hey, you’re taking that personally; I didn’t mean it like that. And then we get over it. Whereas like, I think if we didn’t have the business, we would still be those sisters who like, dwell on a lot and everything kind of gets shoved under the rug until it explodes.
James: And you have a lot of context and back history, whereas business partners who come from different families…
Carla: So true.
James: You know, they’ve got a lot of different upbringing and values, and they’re often different pace in life. You’re probably closely spaced.
Emma: That’s so true.
James: I’m sure each of you have, you know, branched off into different partnerships and get distracted from time to time, but you really have a strong core operating system to work off. And something happens when the two of you get together. You’re always appearing in the pictures, the videos – you know, it’s part of the magnetic force that is around the brand.
A shift in business model – again
So what I’m really interested in is, what happened when Carla and Emma got tired of the sort of constant launches and challenges and you started looking at the trend of your customers buying lots of products? And when we were having some discussions, you set about to change your business model again, which sounds like you’re not that scared of, and it seems to have worked out okay. Let’s talk about what happened.
Emma: Yeah. So, with Merrybody, which started out as four-week programs, kind of challenges where people would sign up and then just for four weeks, and they would leave. So the trend that we noticed was like, 30 to 40 percent of the people were coming back. And then we only ran three, but by the end of it, we had like, a good chunk of about 80 people who’d done all three. And we were like, Oh, these people want consistency. And the thing with yoga and Pilates and meditation is, it doesn’t work unless you’re consistent. It doesn’t work unless you have a consistent practice, whether that’s daily or whether that’s three times a week, four times a week. But you can’t just do it and then stop doing it and expect to see results.
And so monthly recurring revenue was such a word that we’d heard so much about, ever since Tropical Think Tank and Chris Ducker’s event. And with you especially, James, we were like, oh, maybe Merrybody could be something like that. And I mean, like people had done it before as well. We could see it was working in the world of fitness all around us. I mean, there’s people who have had great success with this business model. And we just knew we had to jump in. And we knew we needed help as well. That’s why we joined SuperFastBusiness, because we were like, we’ll freak. We’re out of our depth here. Yeah, we can Google our way, but we know there’s an easier way, too.
Launches versus recurring income
And I mean, it’s been so exciting to work on something different. Like, the launches just got really, really boring and we got so sick of that emotional side of it as well. Because every time, without a doubt, one of us would have a breakdown. Like, some kind of complete whammy. Both of us were actually saying like, oh my gosh, we’re four days in and it’s not working.
Emma: And we would just have this freak out. And then in the end, it would always work, but there would always still be that freak out.
Carla: And it would be like this massive thing where we would just like fall apart for like a half a day. And we’d get back up and we’d be stronger than ever, but we just realized like, that was a pattern. And it was like, okay, but we needed to make a change. Not just for our business, not just for like the people who want, like, consistency, but for our emotional and mental health as well. It just made more sense. Instead of like, really extremes and lows, it was like this more steady and just something we could always continue to grow and evolve as well.
Emma: I think the idea was very shiny to us of like, wow, a one-pointed focus, which is very Yogi of us, like to have that one-pointed focus to put all of our energy into. And we’ve never had that. Our past was, let’s make this thing. Let’s launch it, let’s do it and then spike, and Okay, now what? And it was always like, And now what? And we were always like, trying to think of something different. Whereas we loved the idea, and we couldn’t even really imagine what it would feel like to have this one thing that we could just focus on to grow, to nurture, to nourish, and then to also help so many people along the way. Like, we just want to make an impact on everyone who comes into, whether it’s just the blog or the apps or Merrybody, we want to just make sure that they leave with some kind of impact that is positive into their lives.
And that excited us, and so then we launched the… First of all, we announced it to those people who’d done the previous programs, and we had a foundation membership. And we ended up getting like, 56 members in the foundations. And that was enough to kind of, I guess, validate the idea that, okay, people want this. Let’s start making it. And we worked really hard over the summer holidays of 2018.
Carla: It was so funny though, because we were living in a place with zero internet connections. Zero.
James: Oh. Welcome to my life.
Carla: So we worked from cafe, and my boyfriend’s floor of his apartment. Like, that’s how we made Merrybody. And I mean, we can look back on it in fondness now, but now we’re like, thank God for internet.
Yeah. So we launched the membership in March 2019. And that was so exciting and so scary.
The SuperFastBusiness experience
And it was also the time where we went to our first event of yours, James, where again, our eyes were opened to the potential and we met amazing people, and amazing people doing amazing things.
James: That was SuperFastBusiness Live. In Sydney.
Emma and Carla: Yeah!
Carla: In 2019. And it again, it just up leveled out, I guess belief in what we were doing because we saw so many people are doing amazing things.
James: It’s a very strong community, right? The people that come there…
Emma and Carla: Yeah and so nice!
James: Some of them have been there five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 years, and they’re just so solid. Really good quality. We don’t hype that event. We don’t push it very hard. It’s like the global SuperFastBusiness members meet-up and and a few new people come each year to see what’s going on, and they tend to come back, which is great.
Carla: Yeah, well that was us. Like, that was our first kind of like, we bought the tickets first and then we became members. And again, we’ve made such great connections through that event and your membership and people who, like, we met for what, the two days, and we’re still in touch with them. Like, I’m checking in and they’re checking in with us. And it’s so beautiful.
Emma: And I mean, it was such, I mean events have been like, they’ve played such an integral role in our business. They’ve always kind of like, allowed us to level up and see a bigger picture, like, broaden our perspective on business and the potential that what we can do, and It also gives us a sense of, like it just strengthens our sense of self-belief. Because you tell someone your idea and maybe they’ve been in business like 10 years longer than you, and like, maybe they have that great success that you vision for yourself. And then they say, Oh yeah, like that’s a really good idea. Wow, you girls have something. And like, that’s magic. That’s pure magic.
Carla: We randomly ended up sitting on the dinner table, like on the VIP table. And they were like the best people and we loved them.
Emma: Yeah, I was like, this is a random table. It was like, who are we sitting with? But it was like, the most fun night ever.
“It’s about figuring out what problem you’re solving, and then telling people how you solve it.”
Carla: Yeah. And so since launching, I guess, the Merrybody membership, we have just been really delving into learning more about memberships, like how to nurture our community. I guess it’s a whole different thing that we’re selling now. You know, it’s not that join for four weeks and you will see results. It’s all about educating them about how to create a consistent practice and how Merrybody will solve the problem of Oh, like, you don’t like going to a studio? Or like, the schedule doesn’t fit your schedule? and that kind of thing. So it’s more about figuring out like, what problem are we solving, which I know you always talk about that, James, and then telling people how we solve it. So it’s been a really big learning journey these past 10 months, which I counted the months yesterday and I was like, wow, 10 months, that’s exciting.
James: It’s gone quickly. And of course, we’re talking about GetMerry.com as a resource, people can find out more about your information.
James: Because I’m sure people will start googling now and find out.
How many are getting merry now?
Now how many members do you have now? Just out of interest.
Emma: We have 544 members now.
James: Five hundred and forty-four members.
Carla: What the hell?
Emma: How exciting. Oh, my God.
James: Done in less than a year. That’s very impressive.
Emma: Thank you.
Carla: Yeah, we get very excited about it. And the biggest, amazing thing is these members are seeing amazing changes and they love it. And they’re the ones talking about it. And I think that’s the best thing.
James: It’s the best thing of a membership, isn’t it? When people get results, you can feel proud about the work you’re doing.
Carla: Oh, I feel so proud.
Emma: Like, some of the comments we receive every single day, bring tears to our eyes. They make us cry all the time. And then we’ve been running these like, interviews, and getting video testimonials, and oh, wow, that is game changing, not only to hear from them, but it makes us realize, yeah, what we’re doing is important, and it’s making an impact. So keep, keep going.
Carla: And not only that. The human connection that they get to receive, like by us just giving 10 minutes of our time to chat with them, ask them about their day and ask them about their journey, they feel seen, and therefore again, more connected to us. And through an online space, I think that’s really important. We have to create that connection. Like, it needs to be that real. I guess that’s why we’re always really big on replying to our members, as you are, James. Like, you reply to everyone, and I think that’s really powerful.
James: Yeah. I see it as your job, if you’re the community founder, and if that’s part of the sales offer. If you mentioned that you’re going to support people, then you should support people. And it’s interesting, a lot of the people I coach at a high level, the main thing they want to know is how they can have all the benefits of the membership but not have to do anything. And there are people who do it, but it can really affect things like retention and reputation.
Emma and Carla: Yeah.
A look at the technical side of things
James: Let’s talk technical for a minute. What are some of the things that you did with your membership that caused it to get the members and to keep the members, that you feel you probably got a heads-up on rather than having to try and discover for yourself? What are some of the technical implications involved with a membership and things that you’ve innovated there?
Carla: Okay, well, one thing that we did quite early on is, one member requested, like, a 30-day yoga challenge inside the membership. And Emma was like, Okay, I’ll make this for you. And so Emma just made it like, that day, and we put it in. But then what happened was, not only this one member did the challenge, but like, lots of the members wanted to do the challenge. And not only that, then we started promoting the fact we were doing this challenge inside the membership on social media and on the blog and on our podcast, that people joined because of this thing we were running inside the membership. Not only did they join, and then they stayed!
Emma: Yeah, we got like, a hundred members, like just from me making this. I remember on a Sunday afternoon, I was like, I can do this. I can make this. We’ve got these classes already there. So it was just repackaging, repurposing the content inside the membership and then promoting it as a member-exclusive challenge, and boom, we just had our strategy of how to get a big influx of people. And we’ve done that ever since now.
Carla: We’ve run now four member-exclusive challenges, which have been a really good, I guess, a pin point for us to go big on the on the sales messaging within our social media. Because one thing we’re pretty, I guess, aware of is like, we don’t want to be seen to just like, sell, sell, sell, sell, sell. So we like to have the breaks of where it’s just educating and inspiring. And of course that’s obviously a sales tactic as well, as we’re nurturing, but we don’t like to always be like, Come and join, whereas the challenge allows us that time to actually have those moments of, Come and join, and it’s quite urgent as well, because we’re starting, you know, on Monday.
Want a guaranteed 100 percent open rate?
Emma: Yeah. And we also send like, little gifts as well to our members. And I mean, we’ve done this right from the start. I remember, we got postcards and sent people stuff with our food challenges. Like, we just like to send people presents. And we did not know how much people loved this. Because it’s just out of control. Like, when we send out this real-life package in the post, everyone is talking about it. Everyone’s posting about it on their Instagrams for their friends to see – Oh, I just got sent yoga socks; here’s a photo from the Merrymaker Sisters. We’re like, wow. Like, this is really cool.
James: I’m so glad you’re doing that. I notice you commented on one of my videos, where I’m saying I’m always at the post office. It’s one of my favorite places. When I’m sending out packages to new customers, then I know some value’s being created, especially if it’s a surprise and it’s not expected. That really bolsters it.
Carla: It so does. And I loved what you wrote on there, like, guaranteed 100 percent open rate. I never really thought of it like that. But now it’s like, oh, yes.
“People aren’t using physical mail like they used to. So you get high cut-through.”
James: I see the post lady when I’m going for my surf, and she doesn’t have much stuff in her little cart anymore. People aren’t using physical mail like they used to. All our bills are electronic. So you get high cut-through. And most mail we get is just like, it’s usually your local real estate agent, pretending they’ve got a buyer for your house, right?
James: No offense, real estate agents, but that gets tiring after the first 300 letters. So when you actually get something of value in the post, that really stands out, you know? It’s like, how exciting. This isn’t an offer. It’s not some local takeaway leaflet. It’s actually something useful. Yoga socks sound fantastic.
Emma: Yeah, yoga socks with grippy so you don’t slip on your mat,
James: Right. I picked up one of those mats the other day – it was really heavy. It’s like, way heavier than I expected. I was in my favorite store, Lululemon.
Carla: Oh, we love Lululemon.
James: They have, like, really good stuff for guys, too. Like, everything.
Emma and Carla: Yeah.
James: Socks, and these shorts, shirts, hoodies. Like, I could just be sponsored by Lululemon, I’d be happy.
Carla: Us, too.
James: So yeah, if someone’s listening to this, hook me up. I’ll rep the merch. I’ll put a sticker on my surfboard, like Malia Manuel.
Getting an app and the impact it’s had
So let’s talk about some other things, not so obvious stuff that might have made a difference. In particular, I want to know what sort of impacted you having an app. You were dealing with Jarrod from TheAppMatch.com?
Carla: Oh, my gosh, yes. Okay. So when we started the membership, we didn’t have an app. It was a desktop version. And one thing that we really wanted to do was an app and we’d already worked with Jarrod from TheAppMatch on our first app, which is a GetMerry recipe app, which was amazing. It was so much fun to make, and Jarrod is like, the best. Like, we love Jarrod so much. We’re always talking about him and sending people to him.
James: I hope you send him some yoga socks.
Carla: We want to send him a new hat. Hopefully he doesn’t hear this. It’s a surprise.
James: I agree.
Carla: He’s probably going to listen. Hi, Jarrod.
Emma: Hi, Jarrod, we love you.
Carla: We love you lots and lots.
James: I saw the picture of him at my event, with the same hat that he had on at Tropical Think Tank. So Jarrod is a one-hat man. Let’s change it. We’re on a mission.
Carla: So funny. It was early on, actually it was when we went to your event, we had dinner with Jarrod on the night before the event. And he was like, oh, girls, like you should make an app. And I was like, Yeah, but Jarrod, like, we couldn’t because of X, Y, Zed and blah, blah, blah. And he’s like, no, Carla, what I’m going to do is this. I’m going to make it from already the site that you’ve made, where it’s going to pull from that and make the app. And I was like, Yeah, but what about downloads, they want to download the classes. And that’s weird, because then they can send it to their friends. And he’s like, no Carla. Like, when they download it natively to the app, they can’t send it to anyone. And once they don’t have access, the downloads go. And I was like, Oh, you’ve solved all my problems, Jarrod. Like, thank you, when can we start? And so it was like, the very next week, we had our call with Jarrod, and he’d already pretty much designed the app. We didn’t even know, we were like, having this discussion about what we wanted him to like, Oh, okay. Yeah, you thought of everything.
James: He knows his apps. He’s like a walking tech almanac.
Carla: It was the funniest meeting, though, because we didn’t know we’d be discussing this stuff. And we’re like, Jarrod, like, you could have given us some heads up. Like, we would have thought a bit more about the design. And Jarrod just came up with everything. So it was like, All right, we’ll let you do that. Thank you. We don’t have to think. And so then it took less than a month for this app to be made. I mean, the members were so happy, because it was the big thing that they were all asking for, like, how can you make it easier to access? I don’t want to have to log in every time. This is a big problem, people having the login, like, logging in again and again. They want to stay logged in.
James: It remembers them. So they just tap on the icon sitting on the homepage of their phone and they’re in.
James: Yeah, I found the app increased retention, it makes it easier to use and more useful, which is the two major things you want in a membership.
Carla: Yeah. It just simplifies everything.
Emma: And I think as well, because like looking at what other people are doing too in the fitness world, like everyone that you know of who’s kind of like, big in that world has an app. So it’s like, we want to keep up with what is like, preferred for consumers.
Carla: Yeah. And so, making it so easy is like two clicks, or two presses, I should say, on your phone. You can get to your class instead of having to look it up on the URL, having to log in, having to find this. So it just made it so much easier. So that was a huge thing that we added.
Other tech tools that make a difference
I think another few things that we’ve added, we use Bonjoro, so we do welcome videos like you, James, and people freakin’ love that – they write back and they’re like, wow, you sent this just for me?
James: So, personalizing the video. They know it’s not a canned video that goes to everyone.
Emma and Carla: Yeah.
James: It’s for them.
Carla: Exactly. They’re like, you spent time doing this? And then I think the most recent thing we have done is we’ve installed Intercom, so like the one-on-one chat. And not only is that helping us like, with our customer service, being super fast, super speedy and being able to help people when they need it, but it’s also just allowing us to target people. You know, if they haven’t logged in, we can then send them that follow-up email.
James: Slipping away follow-up.
Emma and Carla: Yeah.
James: And geographic segmentation’s pretty good with Intercom. I like that. You can do local meetups and things.
Emma: Yeah. And it’s just fun as well. Like, you can send people GIPHs, and people love that.
Carla: Yeah, we send them GIPHs all the time. GIPH, not gifts.
James: Digital yoga socks.
Emma and Carla: Yeah, GIPHYs!
The training modules that helped massively
James: You also said you went through some of the training modules that I did. Having looked at memberships for over a decade, and working with quite a few, I’ve innovated a few things, like the cart abandonment process that works well for memberships. And you also did a change campaign, I think, which is something I innovated earlier in the year as a way to have buyer input for pivot, and also to resell past members, which isn’t really a challenge for you yet, but when you’ve been around for a lot longer, those campaigns, they’re worth this membership for most people because they’re going to put money straight into the bank account, if you just activate them. You get some results from installing them.
Carla: Yeah, 100 percent and we totally agree. Like, those two things, what do you call them? Lessons?
James: Yeah. Well, I do monthly trainings.
Carla: Yeah, trainings, that’s what we call them.
James: I basically add about 12 modules per year to my membership. And I try and focus on things that are going to have the most impact for members where they’re at right now. And so I get a lot of like, Oh, wow, this is exactly what I needed right now. And that’s because I’m having hundreds of conversations every month, I think I do 1000 posts a month, so I’m pretty finger on the pulse, you know?
James: So they worked for you?
Emma and Carla: Yeah.
Carla: We implemented both of those. And we got so many action steps as well from that. And it just felt, you know why it’s so great having those trainings? It’s because it makes you feel really supported and it makes you feel like your ideas are validated as well, and that you are on the right track. Because sometimes it can feel like you’re really alone in business, and I think having that external point of view where we can like, just ask you a question, James, and you’re like, Yeah, I like this. Even, like, that kind of makes us feel really good.
Emma: And from someone who’s done it before, right? Like, that’s the best thing – you learn from someone who’s done it and achieved what you want to achieve. And yeah, it looks completely different from what it is, but it’s the same thing, the same similar business model.
Emma: It was so nice to have all those emails.
James: Also, if you’re going to go down a path that’s dangerous, I’ll also usually point out potential pitfalls to watch out for and you can go in prepared, you know? Like someone says, I want to hire a sales person and put them on commission only. Then I can tell them quite a few things about the pros and cons of going down that path and what other options they might choose from based on what I’ve already seen work before.
Carla: Exactly. It’s so helpful. So those two trainings really helped us, and we followed it step-by-step and we saw some great, I guess, increase in members. We still use the cart abandonment strategy, like when people don’t finish their purchase, we still have that all set up. And I think the change campaign was my favorite one, though, and, and it was kind of like we did a weird kind of idea with the change campaign. So what happened was our membership, like, the subscriptions was in the wrong, we kind of didn’t own the subscription that wasn’t on Stripe or PayPal. So that was a bit of like a warning bell. And we were like, Okay, we need to get people moved to this new system. And so we implemented the change campaign in order to do that. But little did we know, we also got like an influx of about 80 new members because of that.
James: Yeah. It drives members. It does two things. It allows you to make changes and for it to be acceptable.
Emma and Carla: Yeah.
James: So from a pivot point of view or a framing point of view, it’s a fantastic process to have people be happy about the change. And the other thing is, it attracts back people who have been sitting on the sidelines for whatever reason, because it gives them a good reason to get on board. So that’s what the change campaign was. And I’ve fully documented all the emails and the process. And I’ve taken a lot of SilverCircle members through that hand-holding style in the last few months. So far, it’s worked every single time. It’s had a massive impact on positioning and sales influx.
So, well done for executing. Because that’s really the big difference, and that’s what I love about you girls, you are taking information and then applying it. And then you’re like, Okay, what’s next?
Emma and Carla: Yeah.
James: You’re applying kaizen, you know? This law of never-ending improvement, where you’re just going from link to link in the chain and strengthening it and strengthening it, and you end up with a strong business.
How much better are things going now?
So in summary, what does your business look like now compared to a year ago? So, compare membership mode with 544 members to spiky launch mode, like what’s the next idea and I’m a bit exhausted because things are, you know, up and down and spiky?
Carla: Yeah, it’s just, it is completely different. It feels stable and steady.
Emma: And it feels scalable. Like, we can actually look to the future now and know where we’re going. And I mean, and also allow space for the extra magic to come as well, like, the new stuff to be welcomed in. But we can see this bigger vision. And we always knew that it was going to happen, we always knew that there was something bigger coming, but we didn’t know how. And now we have the how. It’s all there, and it’s all created ready for growth. Like, it’s just like, waiting.
Emma: For us to take action.
Carla: Exactly. And I think it feels just a lot more exciting for us, because we know where we’re going. Because the unknown of trying to come up with a new idea and trying to do something different is actually quite stressful. So like, I believe that we’re both a lot healthier mentally and physically as well, which is a really big thing. Like, we don’t want to make businesses that cause disease or like, an unhealthy body or mind. And that’s been something that stuck with us from the very beginning. Like, we have to enjoy this journey. We want to enjoy this journey. And we’re just going to keep working towards making this membership better for our members, which is, you know, our big mission.
Emma: Yeah. But I would like, underline that health aspect as well because I mean, the emotional and mental health is so much better in the business side, hundred percent better just from changing to a membership model. Just that like, level of up and down-ness from the launches, like the constant stress, then the lack of work kind of thing, I mean, like it was just like too extreme. And now it’s just like this steady, more enjoyable process where we can plan our lives better as well. Like, it’s more balanced.
Carla: I think that’s a big thing. Like, yeah, compare it, even if we were to compare this month to like, December now and December last year, like, we can look at December and forecast what’s coming in, whereas last December, it was, what are we doing? Like, how do we do this? And we’re going to run out of money. And you know, there were stages where we ran out of money. And now we’re not going to let that happen, because we know exactly what we’re doing next year, the year after. We’ve got goals, we’ve set them and we’re going to grow, and we’re just going to keep taking those steps and keep doing it in a joyful, loving kind way.
James: Right. So you’re really clear on your message, and now you’re starting to get on some outreach, some social media, some podcasts.
The role social media plays
James: You’re still posting prolifically to social media, especially – is Instagram your favorite platform?
Emma: I would say Instagram and Facebook.
Emma: But yeah, Instagram for the story aspect.
Carla: Yeah. I love stories.
James: You have a strong Facebook group, right? You had, like, 50,000 members?
Emma: We had 50,000 on our page.
James: Oh, so you have a page.
Emma and Carla: Yeah.
James: That feeds your membership. How do people go between the Facebook page and the membership? Do they feel like they’re getting everything they need from the page, or is there some extra value in the membership that they’re able to add?
Carla: When they join the membership?
James: Yeah. Like, I suppose that’s where you’re housing your training content and doing the challenges and things. So the question really is, the difference between Facebook and having your own private membership in terms of assets?
Emma and Carla: Oh.
“The membership is where everything lives, of where you create your consistent practice. That is where the magic happens.”
Carla: Oh my gosh, like it’s ridiculously, yeah, they can’t get the classes. They can’t get the meditations. They don’t get the one-on-one chat with us. Like, that isn’t existing on Facebook, so 100 percent, like, the app is where everything lives. Yeah, the membership is where everything lives, of where you create your consistent practice. That is where the magic happens.
James: Great. And the Facebook is a good place to draw members from for you. Terrific.
Carla: Yeah. And we post, like we blog every week, we podcast every week, we still share recipes every week, because we know people love that content. And it’s still super aligned, like eating healthy and having a great exercise practice is still really aligned. So we still do all of that as well. So I would say most of our focus is on blogging and the newsletter and then Instagram and Facebook is just, I guess, amplifying that.
Emma: And then we’re going to be introducing more free video content. So more just like, I don’t know what we’ll be doing, like tutorials on moves and talking about breath work. Just getting us on video out there more, because obviously, the classes are all video-based, so people need to see what we’re like on videos to know more about it.
Some advice to the sisters’ past selves
James: Yep. Cool. So what sort of advice would you give to someone listening to this? You’ve gone from nought to 544 members in just 10 months with your membership. What would you tell yourself if you went back 10 months ago?
Carla: I would say that, remember, Carla, you want to be hardwood. Like, you want to be that steady growth. So don’t let your impatience impact you.
Emma: Yeah, Carla’s really impatient. Like, honestly, from the beginning of this year, I’ve just known that it’s going to work. I had this weird thing that I was just like, I know this is going to work. Like, I know it’s going to be difficult, we’re going to take action, but I think it’s just having that self-belief, like, just keep the self-belief. Keep going, and find the right people to help you.
And don’t be afraid to ask for help. Like, it’s pure courage to say, I don’t know what I’m doing. I need extra help. Like, that’s not a bad thing, that’s a great thing. And we have access to these people everywhere. Like, there’s a thing called the internet. We can Google everything. And then we find people like you, James, to help us. And then we connect with an even broader community. And it’s just amazing what someone, like a chat, can do. Like, that chat can then motivate me to take a step forward. And that single step creates that momentum. It’s like, it’s just that one step, like one step after another step after another step.
Carla: Yeah. So I guess the thing that you’re saying Emmy, is, like, if you believe in it big enough, and you’ve got to keep that unwavering faith…
Carla: …even through those darkest moments, even through the hard times. Because, yeah, it’s going to get hard, and there will be things that you don’t know how to do. And then you’re going to have to figure it out, and then you’ll do it and then you’ll feel great again, and then that might happen again. But if you keep the unwavering faith, and if you believe in your product, and if you’re making a positive impact, like of course, your business, of course your product is needed, then. If you’re making a positive difference, if you’re bringing more goodness, like of course! And I think unwavering faith, persistence, and action-taking has been our biggest superpowers in business from the very beginning.
“You don’t have to have all the answers. You just have to start the journey and you can take guidance and adjust course as you go.”
James: That’s so inspiring. You don’t have to have all the answers. You just have to start the journey and you can take guidance and adjust course as you go. Wow, thanks so much, Emma and Carla. Carla and Emma. I don’t know what the preferred…
Carla: Emma and Carla.
James: Emma and Carla.
Emma: Yeah. I was like, what is it?
James: Who said that?
Carla: Mom and Dad say Emma and Carla, I think because Emma’s older.
James: Is it? But it’s not alphabetical. So I guess….
Emma and Carla: No.
James: Okay, well, I’ll leave that up to you to discuss. Important business meeting coming up. This is Episode 708. You can find out more at GetMerry.com. Such a joy to speak with Emma and Carla, the MerryMaker sisters. They’ve had such a stratospheric journey in the time I’ve known them. And in particular, in the last 10 months, just very exciting. I’m sure you’ll get to 1000 members in the short term, and I wish you the greatest of success on that journey and all the lives you’re improving. It’s just a lovely thing to do for the world. So thank you.
Emma and Carla: Thank you!
Emma: So grateful for this opportunity to share more with your listeners.
James: I’m sure they’re going to love this episode. Feel free to comment at SuperFastBusiness.com if you’re listening to this, or leave a review on iTunes; spread the word socially, tagged The MerryMaker Sisters. What’s your Instagram account girls?
Carla: Yeah, it’s @themerrymakersisters. Yes. We would love to hear from you.
Emma: Yeah, comment and like, message us, talk to us.
Carla: Yeah, talk to us. Tell us your biggest aha moment.
James: There you go. Thank you so much.
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Marianne Kane Fass says
Very inspiring! Love them, and turns out we share some followers <3 Yoga/Pilates complement Kettlebells/Strength very well!