The Color of 2023: Head of the Table

Nov 16, 2023

"Think" In Color 2023 has officially been concluded! We're grateful and happy that you took the time to take in our line-up of outstanding women as well as BIPOC creators and innovators in the industry. We'd like to think that by the end of the evening you were impressed by our speaker's experiences and gained insight into how to create a successful virtual community, expand your offerings and grow your business and expand your reach, among other things.

While many subjects were discussed at the event, we've done our best to present the best of them to you. Find out our key takeaways from each of the speakers.

Skip ahead:

Creating Cozy & Collaborative Virtual Communities

Cicely Blain, the Anti-Racism Specialist and Founder Bakau Consulting. Bakau Consulting

Description of the session: While remote work was prevalent prior to the COVID-19 was discovered, it accelerated the need for businesses to shift to a virtual environment. By extension, businesses that wanted to maintain a close connection with their clients set up online communities in which similar-minded individuals can share their knowledge and support each other. It can, however, be difficult to build an online community as intimate like a physical one.

In this presentation, Cicely Blain shares their journey to build their virtual community called Living Room. They shared the method they use to create a cozy and welcoming vibe within a virtual space creating safe and inclusive communities. They also discussed how they use digital tools to meet people's needs.

  The most important takeaways are:  

  Find out who your customer is and what they are looking for.  

Before establishing Living Room, Cicely had identify the audience they wanted to build an online environment for. Because their work is rooted in the fight against racism and oppression, Cicely was aware that the community was primarily geared towards people such as DEI experts, consultants and HR professionals that do similar work.

Following, Cicely had to figure out what the people actually desired.

      "I was thinking about, 'What are these folks looking forward to, in particular at this pivotal time where so things are shifting, and being referred to by different names?    

      The people are clearly looking for community, a feeling of connection, solidarity, and unity even when they feel isolation. People are also seeking resources and looking to learn."  

  Be relatable to your audience  

The best way to get members to join your virtual community is to provide them with something that they are able to relate to. For Cicely, that relatable thing was their living space. They were looking to recreate exactly the similar cozy and comfortable feeling that their living room provided them.

      "I wondered, "What is it that I want people to experience as they enter the space?' I thought, hey I would like them to feel the same way they might when they walk into the physical space. It should be comfortable and warm, and inviting. I wanted them to feel relaxed, content, supported, connected, and understood."  

Cicely imbibes this vibe into the community by:

  • Beginning each meeting with a 10 minute reflection. They ask a simple inquiry on screen to encourage participants to do some self-reflection.
  • Soft music playlist based on R&B to help users relax and settle into the call.
  • Making each phone call as if you're enjoying a casual conversation with their closest friends. While making video clips for the online course, Cicely might be doing makeup or making a cup of coffee in their kitchen.

  Give a range of options for community members to get the information they require  

Although people who belong to a virtual community are ideally people with similar interests, they may possess different requirements as well as strengths and weaknesses. In your own enterprise, you'll need figure out different ways through which you can meet the demands of your members, despite the differences.

Together with Living Room, Cicely met the demands of its community through:

  • Engaging in various ways (e.g. chat forums, live discussion as well as online-based courses that provide comprehensive information and more. );
  • Defines collective values and community guidelines;
  • Lets people show up as their true selves;
  • Removal of unnecessary stressors for example, time restrictions and meeting agendas;
  • Consider accessibility requirements (e.g. disabilities and neurodivergence), etc.

Funds In The Funnel: How to Maximize Sales With a Customer-Focused Funnel

Ellie Diop, Content and Coaching Coach for Funding for Ellievated Academy

Session description: To build an effective business it is essential that customers take a purchase or use with your offerings. However, many enterprises make the mistake of creating content that they believe they would like their ideal clients to want rather than what their customers actually want. In this talk, Ellie explains how you will grow your business and increase sales by creating a funnel that attracts your ideal customers and caters to their needs and wants.

  Key takeaways:  

  Every single piece of content matters  

The process of creating a funnel that's focused on your customers will help you build a rapport with your customers. One of the best ways to accomplish it is by creating material that is educational, useful, relevant and valuable for customers. A funnel that is focused on the customer has five stages:

  • Awareness
  • Discovery
  • Consideration
  • Conversion
  • Retention + Relationship REPEAT

On the importance of creating the right content Ellie states, "Every piece of content you create is a member in your team selling. Therefore, whatever you published in the last three months is doing the job of moving users through the process... Being consistent and presenting every day with a consistent tone creates something predictable for customers to comprehend and help them navigate through the funnel."

  Define your brand  

If you don't know whom your goods or services are catering to, there's no way anyone will purchase from you or work with them. Therefore, before you build a funnel, define your brand's mission and purpose beginning with the ideal customer. Consider:

  • Who do I serve?
  • What can I do to help them in resolving their problems?
  • How do I do that?

These answers are the basis of the business decisions you make. Ellie suggests a basic template that can be used to assist [YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE] to meet [YOUR GOAL] with [YOUR PRODUCT/SERVICE]

Based on her experiences in growing her business Ellie states, "For me, it could be 'I help women to build prosperous businesses by giving them strategies and financing skills '... In the past I kept this information in a post-it note in a corner, so each time I attempted to record a video I remembered who I was speaking with."

  Build your social media followers  

Social media is considered to be one of the most successful ways to build brand awareness and generating leads for your company. It's so effective that most customers will visit the profile of your company's Instagram profile (or the other social media profiles) prior to visiting your website.

Hence, you need to spend money (and possibly money) in your social media content to boost its exposure. One way to do it is:

  • Making engaging, informative and easily shareable content (especially videos)
  • Ads that run paid
  • Collaborating with influencers with the same target market as you

  Utilize lead magnets to grow your email database  

When you're making content, you want to bring most people from social media on your email list. When you sign-up people to your list of email subscribers will give you a way to communicate directly with them - that's more beneficial rather than just hoping that they stumble upon your content and videos as they scroll through Instagram or X (formerly Twitter). That's where lead magnets are useful.

With lead magnets you're handing out value for free in exchange for people's details of contact (usually their email and name address). You can also request other items as well. In the beginning of her company, Ellie offered free 1-on-1 sessions to customers in exchange for reviews. Ellie used the testimonials she received to secure her first set of paid clients.

      "You've gotta look at, 'What is an area that I can deliver high-quality free services that can make someone happy? Make that your primary incentive. [In my business], I've recently implemented a new strategy in which instead of taking the customer directly towards a particular product, we direct the user to sign up for a free deal that is a free masterclass. Then we sell on the back end. The results have been great."  

  Maintaining customers who are already there is easier than acquiring new ones  

Every new lead you acquire You go through the process of pushing them down the sales funnel -- which is a lot harder than convincing an already existing client to buy from you again. Thus, focus on retention of customers at the same level, if not more, than acquiring customers.

To keep your customers, follow these the steps you can take:

  • Deliver high-quality customer service
  • Utilize surveys from customers to get feedback
  • Get testimonials from happy clients (offer incentives, if you can)
  • Create a second product that will fill market gaps

In creating the second offer, Ellie shares, "I made my first credit for business class for 15 dollars. Then I started hearing the feedback of my customers about what they] need in the future. Then I created Business Credit, which is Business Credit revamped. Later, I came up with the Business Credit masterclass, and later the complete collection. What happened is, a majority of the people who bought the first one purchased the second to fill in the gaps. They then bought the third because they grew in skills, they wanted to know more."

Growing both B2C and B2B Businesses to generate multiple revenue streams

Jessica Chen, Global Communication Expert & CEO of Soulcast Media

Session description: Businesses, generally speaking, have three major sales and revenue determinants: their products/services as well as the content they develop to describe those products/services as well as the platforms through the channels they share that information. In this presentation, Jessica discusses the power of LinkedIn to assist businesses in connecting with customers (B2C) as well as other companies (B2B), how to craft your content to speak to both types of audiences and the best way to grow your offerings and services in order to meet the needs of both groups.

  LinkedIn is an effective platform for distributing content and grow your visibility  

Many professionals and entrepreneurs have profiles on LinkedIn however, they aren't considering it a platform where you are able to increase your reach and distribute information. Instead, they view it as an avenue for enhancing resumes, locating new opportunities and communicating with friends and acquaintances.

In reality, LinkedIn is a social media platform, similar to Instagram as well as X (formerly Twitter), and must be treated as such. Only difference is what kind of content you publish.

The appeal of LinkedIn, Jessica says, "The benefit of LinkedIn is this it reaches a certain set of audience who is engaged in the process of personal development and are eager to learn."

Jessica also shares her journey from speaking about her experiences as a journalist in the year 2018 before becoming accredited Top Voice and a LinkedIn instructor within five years. The reason she explains this is being consistent on the platform and connecting with a broad range of people who can profit from her services of helping others improve their communicating abilities.

  Tweak your messaging to meet the needs of both B2C and B2B audiences  

Most business owners believe they'll only get noticed when their content is targeted to consumers who are merely individuals. It's not the case.

The strength of LinkedIn is that it allows you to reframe your messaging to cater to both B2B and B2C audiences. The content itself does not need to change, but changing your language used to describe your business can improve the visibility of your business and draw business and individual customers.

"I am aware that if I want to speak to my audience B2C, I use language like "you," "your" and have ever considered this? ...?'""you"?" asks Jessica. "My style of speaking is clear, so anyone who reads my material feels as if it's a personal message.

      "[With the B2B marketinstead of using  the words 'you' and "your", I'm presenting my message using things like, 'the team' and 'the organization'. It's more positive-driven and [less personal."  

  Make yourself known as a thought-leader in order in order to attract B2B buyers.  

Unlike individual customers who only want a great product, B2B audiences need to know they're getting the best. In order to attract their attention, you'll have present yourself as a professional or thought leader within your field, regardless of whether your offer is generally geared toward B2C audiences.

If, for instance, you're a photographer, you can make and promote a photography course for your B2C customers. To get B2B leads, you could create thought-leadership content working in the field of arts or about establishing a business as an artist. Also, if you are offering 1-on-1 workshops that teach people how to improve their productivity and efficient, you could appeal to B2B viewers by publishing content about improving workplace productivity.

This way, you can go from selling B2C products like e-courses and one-on-one classes to offering events and speaking opportunities.

Making a personal brand using video

XayLi Barclay expert and Visual Content Coach for Start Shoot Expand

Session Description as a business owner isn't it easy to not be noticed, especially when you're in a highly competitive marketplace or in a crowded industry. However, you can get over this by creating an image for yourself through videos, whether it's shorter TikTok videos, Instagram Reels, or long-form YouTube videos. In this presentation, XayLi explains how you could use videos to advertise your online course to increase sales and establish your name within the minds of your clients.

  You don't need too much in order to begin.  

In the process of making your first livestream or creating your first livestream, you don't have to be perfectly. Start with the footage you have. In the beginning, viewers forgive your video quality and poor editing skills because they know that, over time, you'll become better.

XayLi herself got started using her laptop, simple white backdrop as well as a ring light that was ripped from the mill.

"This is where I started, even when approached me as one of their experts" she states. "I was eager to wait until I set up my newsroom to begin teaching others. I used what I had because I knew what I wanted to teach was not just about how stunning the set would look.

      Now I'm using a Studio built into my house However, this is the place the place where I began a few years back."    

  Get more resources as you grow  

When you see more attention through your video content and earn income, you can start building up your collection and enhance your equipment for video. As an example, you could purchase a higher quality camera/webcam, a tripod stand (worth about $500 to $1,000) as well as a green-screen, eCamm Live, a teleprompter app along with a Adobe Premiere subscription for editing.

In a discussion about upgrade options for equipment and sets, XayLi explains, "[At this stage], you can have multiple camera angles and the list goes on. You can start investing in these items because you're making money. Many of us believe that we have to be attractive before the money comes. No. You must get in the marketplace, and the money will come."

Once you have earned enough money, you could outsource your video recording production, editing and distribution to contractors or an internal team.

  Concentrate on one thing at a time  

It's common to think that you need to be doing everything you can to increase the size of your business. You must post on every channel, get on every trend, and speak about a range of subjects. However, this isn't always true. It's best to concentrate on one thing at a time as you build your personal image. It not only stops the possibility of burning out however, but also let your viewers know what to expect from you every when you upload the video.

In accordance with XayLi Barclay's "Rule of 5 Ones", here are the five things to focus on in establishing your digital plan of action:

  • One item or service
  • One target market
  • One lead conversion tool
  • The most important traffic source
  • One objective for business

Memberships - Memberships - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Teri Ijeoma founder of Trade & Travel

Summary of session: If executed right, memberships are excellent for businesses to develop deeper connections with their clients, as well as generate extra revenues. Teri Ijeoma created the membership program that she developed that focuses on Trade & Travel and she is now able to enroll over 35,000 customers who are enrolled in her programs and 185,000 subscribers to her email list. In this session, Teri shares the benefits of establishing a membership system, and explains how businesses can establish and utilize memberships the right way.

  Learn when it is time to move from a no-cost group to a paid membership model  

If you're not a well-known business, that you'll have to begin your own membership program, offering value for free. Teri started hers with a free Facebook group. But, as you build your community, you need to know when to transition from a community that is free to a membership-based model.

Here are some signs you should be looking for prior to turning a corner:

  • The group you are working with is growing in size, but the members pay an annual fee to receive your offer -- in contrast to having to pay for the additional benefits your group provides, e.g. year-long customer support, etc.
  • Members of the group start independent groups or meetings, which makes difficult the administration of the group.
  • Group moderators are hired as coaches to offer consulting for group members without generating additional revenue through your group members.

  Your Membership program is an item that is an item in and of it's own  

A lot of companies that offer online courses also offer subscription programs to the courses. Although a membership program can be an effective method of making your course more valuable, you should treat it as a complete product- not a mere add-on.

When discussing Teri's Trade & Travel membership, Teri admits "In early on, I was thinking that the membership was an extension of my training. This isn't the case. the membership is a service completely on its own. It should have its own marketing team, promotional, marketing schedule... it's best to consider it as a product itself."

  Be intentional with your pricing  

In the transition from a no-cost group to a membership model, take note of the income goals you have and price your offer according to this. At this stage, it's possible to make your offer lower in order to draw more people. However, if you're confident that your program's packed with worth, you shouldn't hesitate to set a higher price for it.

For example, if your aim is to generate $10,000 each month, you'd better have 500 people pay $200 per month rather than 1,000 customers to pay $100/month. It's true that the higher your costs are, the fewer people will sign up for it. This also means you'll be able to meet your earnings goals faster, while finding it relatively easier to manage the program.

Head of Discussion Panel for the Table

Diandra Marizet, (Host) the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Intersectional Environmentalist

Description of the session: This panel discussion will feature panelists Cicely, Ellie, Jessica Cicely, Jessica XayLi giving their opinions on the importance of inclusivity and diversity in the business space. They will also discuss the difficulties women as well as BIPOC entrepreneurs face when they take up space in the creator economy and the best way to value their offerings ethically within a capitalist system.

Here are a few of the poignant questions and the answers to this debate:

  Many women of color entrepreneurs are coming into financial security for the first time. What challenges, emerging issues and opportunities does the future hold for them?

Ellie Diop: Just like you've experienced poverty trauma, there's wealth trauma, too. When you're the first one within your family who owns a 6- or seven-figure company, there's not any examples for you to emulate. There's still a stigma around speaking about money, specifically in the case of a person of color making more money than what most people can imagine in a lifetime.

When I made my first million, I was afraid to get out of my mom's house. I didn't want to spend the money since I was unsure of what to do if it was gone. It was also a bit scary to inform my family members because I was afraid they'd see differently of me.

What I'd love to see more of is collaborative areas like this, which can eliminate that stigma and say "Hey, what's going on? If you're struggling to make money and what to spend your money for do not be scared to discuss it". The stigma that is perpetuated is a reason why many people earn lots of money, only to then go back to where they were.

  Oftentimes, in business settings it is easy to feel the pressure to integrate, code-switch or remain silent, or put aspects of ourselves aside. It is not always easy to think that we belong to the notion of professionalism. Did that experience influence how you serve your local community? How do you integrate that experience into your work as DEI professional? DEI professional?

Cicely Blain: In the system we were raised in, when we see a particular kind of person on media, television, and social media, and when certain online creators get traction while others get banned, you begin to think that you have be a certain way of being and speaking.

In the event that you are in a position where you are seen for who you truly are, by those around you and the those in charge (even even if they're not having the same experiences that you) is truly liberating. But, even though there is a growing number of representations and opportunities are more readily offered, there's still an unwritten rule about what people are expected to do. It's not uncommon for us to internalize the two norms (even though they might be untrue) and they hinder us.

On TikTok there are a lot of people who aren't polished and put together all the time. Though it's great, I feel like that chance is available only to certain folks as there's an elevated expectation of others, and in the manner they portray themselves.

  What happens when you realize that your current path does not align with the direction you're able to take you and what your passion is, and then decide to move into full-time entrepreneurship?  

Jessica Chen: All of us have a point we reach where we realize that the dream we had to achieve is completed and we're now ready to try an entirely new experience. Myself I was working in an excellent job that I enjoyed, however after ten years, I realized that there was more out there. I've always been a kind of person who has the ability to design my own way. Therefore, I began to think about ways I could teach the skills I've learned to other folks.

My initial career was in journalism, which you might consider a "proper" career that doesn't allow you to share your opinions, you aren't able to express yourself and are merely reporting on other people's experiences. It was a jarring transition for me to develop my own voice, and to show my personality. This was definitely a growing steeple.

  How can you price your services or products in order to draw people who share your values, are eager to take a lesson from you and see the value in the product or service you offer?

XayLi Barclay The majority of times we price low however we can overwhelm those investing- and that is an injustice to the person. It's tempting to believe that there will be a large number of customers if you set your price low, but chances are, you're getting overwhelmed people who aren't ready to take action.

I hired a coach for my business to determine how much I could make which then determined my price based on the volume. It's common for creators who launch an online course for $7 and earn 6 figures off that course however they don't have an amount. If you're a less experienced creator, you need to know what your goals are as a business so you can price according to your goals.

If I offer 5 online courses for $1,000 each course, I'll make $5,000 -- versus selling 500 courses for $10 per course. Think about it that way. This is the procedure I had to go through.

Watch Think In Color 2023 sessions available for on-demand

And there you have it an overview of the most important insights from the three-hour-long event created to help budding and experienced entrepreneurs in the creator economy. We invite you to dig further into those topics that caught your curiosity.