As a creator herself, Ellen Yin knows what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur. She grew her boutique social media marketing agency from the ground up and is now helping over 9,000 young aspiring entrepreneurs do the same through her programming and educational content, including Cubicle to CEO -- an online membership teaching women how to monetize their passions and build a profitable business.
Ellen also hosts the Cubicle to CEO podcast, where creators and entrepreneurs join her to chat about their path to entrepreneurship, share their wisdom, and inspire others to achieve their business dreams. Last week, none other than Norby’s own Sam Safer Valentine was featured on Cubicle to CEO and talked about all things entrepreneurship, shared her story, and got into the nitty gritty on how Norby is helping creators and brands reach and grow their audiences. We’ve got a recap right here for ya, but go give the full podcast a listen here! Read on for a quick intro to Sam’s background and some key insights from her Cubicle to CEO Podcast episode.
After Sam’s 2 year tenure at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, she realized that although in some ways it was her dream job, it wasn’t totally the best fit for her. She and her coworker Susan left the MET simultaneously to pursue other opportunities and ended up starting their own boutique sales representation and marketing agency along with a jewelry and accessories line, which Sam considers her first Cubicle to CEO moment.
Taking what she learned from starting this boutique agency while also doing freelance consulting in retail and tech, Sam eventually started thinking about a career pivot into product management. Her professional career had led her to wear many different entrepreneurial hats – but just as she was thinking about taking the next leap, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and sent her consulting and wholesale gigs into a tailspin, losing almost 85% of her customers and consulting contracts.
While COVID may have closed one door, it also opened a whole wave of new ones. Through mutual connections, she met her two co-founders, Nick Gerard and Steven Layne, and started building a set of tools for creators, brands, and community builders that would eventually become Norby. In building these tools, Sam has gathered a ton of insight on the creator economy and what it means to operate in this space. Read on for some of her key takeaways she has put together since co-founding Norby.
In the game that is social media, it can feel impossible to win against the algorithm. Big tech has a way of getting in between a creator and their audiences -- unfortunate, but true. In building Norby, one of Sam’s biggest goals was to allow creators to start beating the algorithm by turning those numbers you see on your Instagram profile into real relationships.
"The algorithm isn’t always your friend. We’re really looking to transform your audience from a number on your profile into relationships that you can actually control. We want to help you get to know your followers. We want to help you grow your community and give you the power to reach them in the ways that you want to when you want to.” - Sam Safer Valentine
Activating your audience at the right moments is so important when it comes to engagement. In interacting with Norby users, Sam has gathered that brands, creators, and communities need simple ways to get quick and digestible content out to their audiences when they are launching something new without getting lost in the sauce of Instagram posts. It isn’t easy to get customers to opt into email or SMS marketing without them being worried about getting spammed--especially if they are newer customers that may not have an established relationship with you. Norby built its SMS feature with all of these things considered and has seen this direct line of communication do some pretty incredible things for users. Through working with sustainable clothing brand Harper Sage, Sam saw Norby’s one time SMS signup feature working firsthand. Harper Sage needed a way to get more of their audience to opt in for direct messaging, like emails and texts, for their product drops.
“Harper Sage was really able to leverage a one time signup. It’s an easy, light touch way to let customers know they will only be texted about this one particular product launch or piece of information because you opted into that. I think it’s really amazing that they were able to solve for that with this feature. They were able to drive 10x as many people to that launch on product launch day.” - Sam Safer Valentine
Brands, communities, and creators spend a ton of time, money, and energy in branding.The look, feel, and voice of a brand is how customers connect with the content you are putting out and maintaining that across every touchpoint of your brand is what really paints the picture for people. Sam has learned that through Norby’s highly customizable branding features, brands, communities, and creators are really seeing all the time and money they spend on branding paying off. Ellen and Sam discussed this and how the customizable features that Norby offers really benefits its users.
“I know something else that Harper Sage was able to benefit from using Norby was their social referrals. When they changed their link in bio to Norby’s link in bio, their click through rates went through the roof--they doubled in six months. What is different about Norby’s link in bio as opposed to the popular alternatives out there?” - Ellen Yin
“We really give you pure design freedom and it can feel really native to your brand. I think being able to customize it in your look and feel and be able to control your CTA’s in your own brand voice is really effective. You can really quickly with those 3 seconds of attention that you get from a social follower have that interaction. You just don’t get that with some of the other competitors in the space.” - Sam Safer Valentine
Collecting data on your audience and using it to inform your business decisions can be extremely valuable. Norby is actively building out its analytics features to give its users as much information on their audiences as possible because of how valuable this can be to marketing decisions, gaging what types of content perform best, and so much more. Sam and Ellen touched on the importance of these analytical features on Norby.
“I think data is really the value point in our information age. The more you understand your people, the better you are able to reach them and serve them.”- Ellen Yin
Being a leader isn’t all glitz and glamour. Building and leading a team takes a lot of dedication, patience, and hard, hard work. While it can be a challenge, a good leader can make significant impacts on their team and create the space for some really wonderful things to happen. Sam and Ellen wrapped up the podcast by talking about what being a leader means to them.
“Someone who is motivating and can inspire their team to produce amazing work. I think ultimately this is something I think about everyday. It is an honor to be able to build a team next to Nick and Steve. I am constantly learning from both of them all the time and I am in awe of what the three of us can achieve.” – Sam Safer Valentine, on what being a CEO means to her.
Craving more insights just like these? Be sure to check out the full episode here for more amazing conversation between Ellen and Sam to learn more about the ways Norby users are utilizing these tools to optimize, scale, and simplify their stack. 🛠 🥰