Pailor- HubSpot Implementation to Community Launch
The Insight Studio and Pailor Build a Community to Support Women Entrepreneurs
Pailor is a nonprofit helping its members, who identify as female and own a business, to grow through community, learning, and raising capital.
"I am endlessly fascinated that playing football is considered a training ground for leadership, but raising children isn't."
Dee Dee Myers, former White House Press Secretary
Jump to: The Pandemic and The Pivot | The Power of Listening | Increasing Search Rankings | Finding Your Voice Also Means Being Heard | Continued Growth
Creating Resources to Help Women Thrive
Pailor, a non-profit founded in January of 2020 by serial entrepreneur Stefanie Sample, exists to guide women-owned businesses towards growth through education, access to capital, and community networking. Pailor works to increase female-led businesses' economic contribution, believing that even a 1% uptick in revenue can put around $18B under the stewardship of female business owners in the US.
After a decade of experience launching businesses, Sample says the idea for Pailor grew out of her "frustrating experience joining a network of all-male business leaders in Montana, one that I was highly qualified for, but, when I applied, was treated like someone with zero qualifications. It was a wake-up call. Before this, I'd thought that people didn't see me as any less capable because of gender. I realized how large the problem is and that it warrants people going above and beyond to help fix it."
First, Sample researched the scope of the gender imbalance across US businesses. The data she found was startling: 42% of domestic businesses are owned by women and, by comparison, grow twice as fast as the aggregate of US businesses.
Despite this, only 3% of female entrepreneurs receive venture funding from VCs.
She knew from experience in Montana's emergent tech-sector that women often need to work twice as hard to receive half the credit -- especially to validate start-up concepts. In response, Pailor quickly specified its mission to help more women-owned businesses generate over $1 million in annual revenue and built their goals around a founding question:
What can the waterfall effect be if more women own growing businesses that employ more people?
The Pandemic and The Pivot
Pailor launched in May of 2020 during the pandemic shutdown, which "was a mistake," Sample says, "but we learned and adapted quickly." Originally, Pailor's business model aimed to use a $250 per year community membership fee to fund the nonprofit. As COVID-19 took its toll on budgets, however, their list of 500 prospective members began to shrink.
Sample, seeing an even greater need during the shutdown for women in business to communicate and support each other, decided to add this value first and figure out the economics later. Pailor found itself bootstrapping out of necessity. With one part-time employee, the nonprofit was resource-constrained when it came to staff and looked for outside guidance.
Thankfully, they found The Insight Studio.
With The Insight Studio, Pailor gained a like-minded collaborator who started by setting up a HubSpot account. The newly formed team, led by Insight consultant Riley Horigan, zeroed in on developing a media site with resources relevant to their core audience. Most of their original content shared information on grants: both how to write them and where to apply.
But the site began developing content around raising capital because, collectively, their community members spoke to financing as their foremost pain point. "What we're seeing in our community is that women have had so much content teaching them how to start a business, which is actually crazy because there's very little out there saying specifically, 'Hey male, this is how you start a business,'" says Sample.
Pailor's content shifted its focus from "how to start" to "how to finance an existing business," because that is one of the biggest barriers women leaders face.
“I think having a community, a network, and mentors is pivotal to get you out of [the lows that can be very lonely] and to help run ideas by people who get it. It's like-minded people going through similar things. And I think having a mentor and a community is great because there's only so much you can share with your partner and your family. You don't want to unload on them all the time. It's crucial to have them as part of your community, but I think it's important to reach outside of that, too.”
Michelle Huie, Founder and CEO of Vim & Vigor and Pailor Member
The Power of Listening
Seeing a trend in the feedback from a growing membership who felt isolated, Pailor then launched their core offering of “Flight Crews,” one modeled after Sample’s experience in the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) with its community forums. Believing that smaller communities in honest dialogue could nurture business success, Pailor limited groups to 8 members.
Flight Crews consist of virtual communities who meet in an atmosphere of confidentiality and openness to share business, family, and personal experiences through conversations rooted in peer-to-peer support. The groups connect monthly over Zoom with one moderator, and members stay in that same group for the long-term.
Flight Crews offer two categories of support:
- Growth-centered groups for businesses with five employees or less
- Established groups with over five employees or $1M in annual revenue
“I think women growing their businesses can also solve many problems that we face like the gender pay gap and getting the benefits we need to stay in the workforce. Not to mention it's good for the economy since female-owned businesses fail at a lower rate than those owned by men.”
Stefanie Sample, Pailor Founding Member
Increasing Search Rankings, Member Sign Ups, and Website Traffic
The Insight Studio then got to work on the challenge of driving traffic to Pailor’s website so their blogs would rank organically. To cover costs, Sample applied for a Google grant specific to non-profits and got it, increasing their budget for Google Ads to $10,000 per month. “This was a huge strategic move,” says Sample, “because at that point, we really had no money, and the world was in chaos [due to COVID-19].”
Boosted by that Google grant, the team embraced the same growth mindset they encourage in members and soon increased blog traffic. Every piece of content concluded with Pailor's simple call to action to join the community at no charge. Less than a year after launching, this nonprofit with humble beginnings is self-sustaining thanks to the Flight Crews fee model and site ad revenue. Their success means they spend less time asking for donations and more on building up community members.
Sample credits the Insight Studio as being instrumental in creating the Pailor website and developing a content strategy. And the partnership isn't finished. Horigan still directs content for the 15 blogs published each month while managing Google Ad Words and Facebook ads to drive eyes to those blogs.
She also assists with the online community through her experience using the Mighty Network platform. Then, of course, there's HubSpot. When a new member joins Pailor's community, that person's contact information in HubSpot places them in an onboarding nurturing campaign. They receive information like Pailor's weekly newsletter, the "Weekly Roundup." In short, says Sample, "The Insight Studio helps us manage everything."
Once the team's site changed from a promotional page about their community to being a media site, Pailor's traffic jumped from around 10 daily site visitors to 200-300 a day. Sample says, "Before we made the switch with the Insight Studio, we were getting maybe one new member a week. Now we get 5-10 new members per day, all through Calls to Action within our blogs."
Customer increase over Pailor’s lifetime
“We’ve seen a pretty incredible across the board increase in website visits and blog views since implementing the new Ad Words strategy,” notes Horigan.
Blog views from March of 2020 - March 2021
Pailor site visitors since launch
Finding Your Voice Also Means Being Heard
To develop a brand voice for Pailor that spoke to member concerns and hopes, Horigan suggested they choose a brand archetype. Today, Sample and Horigan define all of Pailor's efforts through this lens. While not new to story lovers or English teachers, the application of Hero's Journey archetypes in brand marketing has become a popular process for helping businesses define their messaging.
Pailor decided on The Sage archetype: a guide and mentor to their community members (not unlike The Insight's Studio's role in marketing -- hence the natural fit). Sample says, "The reason it's so great to work with the Insight Studio is you feel the ownership of your brand. Riley cares just as much about our success as I do."
The team then drew from a color palette representing Pailor's branding and an energy reflecting what they do best: foster community through empathetic guidance.
“[For motivation,] I think about succeeding in a world that was not designed for women of color. That’s what keeps me going because my girls are women of color. If I don’t level the field for them, they won’t be able to respect me.”
Yasmin Khan, CEO & Founder, Khalm Oud Infused Skincare and Pailor member
The organization isn't done iterating to serve its members, but the team is thrilled to see female-led businesses find value in their offerings. As a result of the collaborative efforts and bonds formed through communication between members, the answer to Pailor's founding question became clear: more thriving female business owners decrease the gender pay gap and improve benefits to keep working women in the workplace.
However, what won't change is the way Pailor's leadership and members promote the belief that when one female-led business thrives, it benefits those to come next.