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Doubling Your Business in 12 Months Through Authentic Social Media Connections: The Grace & Able Story


In this episode of the Harvest Growth Podcast, we dive into the potential of social media groups and communities on business growth and how new businesses can leverage the benefits of small communities against larger competitors. Our guest is Sarah Dillingham, an amazing entrepreneur who credits much of her business success to a Facebook group she runs.


Sarah is the CEO and Co-Founder of Grace and Able, which sells stylish compression gloves, brace covers, and other products to ease joint pain without discomfort to wearers at work or home. In the last 12 months, her business doubled, an achievement that her Facebook group has contributed immensely to. Though initially formed to help women with rheumatoid diseases connect, inspire, and support other women, it soon became the best resource for Sarah to refine product ideas, learn everything about her prospects, study her market, develop a relevant product, and market her product. Tune in to hear how Sarah used this to her advantage.


However, Grace and Able's success is not only because of Sarah’s impressive social media marketing activity. In this interview, you’ll discover the other top business and marketing strategies that have helped Sarah build a well-loved and promising brand that is winning against intense competition. Join us now!




 

In today’s episode of the Harvest Growth Podcast, we’ll cover:


  • Strategies for building brand loyalty and increasing product sales through social media engagement

  • Insider secrets on how emerging businesses can thrive against industry titans by forging strategic partnerships with reputable organizations

  • The art of transforming your social media presence into an invaluable competitive asset that sets you apart in a crowded marketplace

  • How to elevate product quality by involving your target audience in your product development process

  • The power of multi-channel marketing for product companies in 2024 and beyond

  • And so much more!

 

You can listen to the full interview on your desktop or wherever you choose to listen to your podcasts.



Or, click to watch the full video interview here!


 

Are you tired of grappling with persistent joint discomfort? Discover the best-selling compression gloves and joint-support products from the Grace and Able website at www.graceandable.com. Plus, exclusively for our listeners, enjoy a generous 20% discount with code GROWTH20.


To be a guest on our next podcast, contact us today!


Do you have a brand that you’d like to launch or grow? Do you want help from a partner that has successfully launched hundreds of brands that now total over $2 billion in revenues? Set up a free consultation with us today!


 

Prefer reading instead of listening? Read the full transcript here!



Jon LaClare [00:00:00]:


Today's guest has doubled her business in the last twelve months. She shares three key strategies that drove this tremendous growth, and she also discusses the power of online communities to not only build revenue, but also to improve your product development process.


Announcer [00:00:15]:


Are you looking for new ways to make your sales grow? You've tried other podcasts, but they don't seem to know harvest the growth potential of your product or service as we share stories and strategies that'll make your competitors nervous. Now here's the host of the Harvest Growth podcast, Jon LaClare.


Jon LaClare [00:00:35]:


Welcome back to the show. I'm really excited to be speaking with Sarah Dillingham today. Now, she's the CEO and co founder of Grace and Able, which is at graceandable.com and they have a line of joint support products, especially for arthritis sufferers and many other things. We're going to talk a bit about her products and some of the successes she's had along the way and learnings as well. It's going to be a lot of fun. So, Sarah, first of all, thanks for joining the show today.


Sarah Dillingham [00:01:00]:


Thanks for having me on the show. I'm really pleased to be here.


Jon LaClare [00:01:04]:


So can you tell us about, let's talk about your main product, your compression gloves, first.


Sarah Dillingham [00:01:09]:


Yeah, sure. So we make colorful compression gloves for anyone who's suffering from hand pain and swelling. And they work by using compression therapy to support joints, flush out fluid from the fingers, so reducing inflammation. And they also do that thing, you know, where if you bang your elbow and then you rub it and it confuses your brain about the pain signals, they give you a little bit of that as well. So our customers mainly wear these to reduce hand pain and swelling. And they wear them when they're doing their everyday activities and they wear them in bed overnight. And what differentiates us from other compression glove products on the market is that we have a high cotton content in our gloves so that they're super soft on sore hands. And we also come in a range of eight different colors so people feel really comfortable wearing them when they're out and about or at work.


Jon LaClare [00:02:11]:


And for those who can't see the video, she's been showing the gloves. But your fingertips are free, right? They're open, so they're open fingers. Is there a reason for that?


Sarah Dillingham [00:02:20]:


Yeah, it's so that people can text and type and, you know, go about their activities of everyday living without having, you know, cumbersome glove tips. Yeah.


Jon LaClare [00:02:33]:


And are they meant to be worn? Do you wear them all day or most of the day?


Sarah Dillingham [00:02:37]:


Yeah. So it depends on the person. We do have a lot of customers who wear them, perhaps just when they're at work typing or when they're doing a particular activity. We have a lot of customers who wear them when they're doing things like crochet and knitting. Things where you're doing a lot of repetitive motion with your fingers. But then we have other customers who are living with really painful conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, trigger finger, who might wear them for longer periods of time. So we do have customers who wear one pair in the day for six to 8 hours, and then they'll take them off and then wear another pair at night while they sleep. And the purpose of that is it just keeps the painful swelling in their fingers down.


Jon LaClare [00:03:22]:


And I like this origin story. So I'd love for you to share with the audience because it's always nice when there's a personal connection to why the product exists. So can you share that with us?


Sarah Dillingham [00:03:32]:


Absolutely. So I have rheumatoid arthritis myself, and a few years ago, I needed to wear a wrist brace to do the first dance at my wedding. It was a particularly twirly first dance, and I found as I was being twirled, I kept wrenching my sore wrists. And so I grabbed a wrist brace, but it was incredibly ugly and uncomfortable, so I redesigned it to match my dress. And then when I shared the photos online with other women with arthritis, I got bombarded with messages for people saying, could you make something more attractive for me? And that's when I realized that there is a market for attractive joint support products. So joint support products that are medically effective orthopedic products, but also look more like apparel and fit into your everyday life.


Jon LaClare [00:04:27]:


Yeah, it's a great example, I think, is preparing for a wedding, especially a bride, you care about every meticulous detail of your appearance and should. Right. It's a big day, a big memory. But in life, we also care about our appearance on a daily basis. And, you know, I don't have, have arthritis now. My mom does. I'm very familiar with it. But I've had other issues where I've worn, like, foot braces and things like that, and they never look right.


Jon LaClare [00:04:48]:


You just kind of deal with it like, it's a little bit embarrassing when I wear my foot brace around the office or my big boot that I've had and that sort of thing. So I love the fact that you've got an issue. Right. Arthritis or whatever the source of pain might be. But it doesn't mean that you have to wear something ugly, especially when you're doing it on a daily basis, something that's going to be probably for quite a long time, specifically if you're a sufferer of arthritis.


Sarah Dillingham [00:05:10]:


Absolutely. And you know, that you talked about if you've got, like, a temporary issue where you having to wear, like, a foot boot. The thing with that is, you know, you only have to put up with embarrassment or mild awkwardness for, like, you know, a few weeks. But when you have a chronic condition that's indefinite. And, you know, we do have customers who've even been teased at work for wearing orthopedic products. We have customers who just feel a bit awkward about it. And I really liken it to wearing glasses. So when you go to the optician, if you need glasses, you come out and there's a wall of different styles and shapes and colors, and you get to pick them.


Sarah Dillingham [00:05:51]:


And why shouldn't orthopedic bracing or joint support products be similar to that? Why can't you have products that are attractive and fit into your life?


Jon LaClare [00:05:59]:


I love that analogy to eyeglasses. It just makes it so simple. And it's one of those things where you realize as you, the more you understand your product, why didn't this exist before? Right. That's a great question with new products, when there's a reason for it, like, there's a clear reason that people, you know, you want to look attractive in your outfits, et cetera, and braces sometimes can conflict with that. So this is a great way around that. I love that you also developed the product not alone in a vacuum, but with the help of a community. Now, can you talk a little bit about the community that you ran of arthritis, specifically females suffers?


Sarah Dillingham [00:06:35]:


Absolutely. So before I started Grace and Able, I was running an online Facebook group called women with rheumatoid Disease. In fact, we still do run that, and that's a completely voluntary, patient run and led and participatory group. And when I started doing Grace and able, the first place I went to get feedback and understand what people might want was to women with rheumatoid disease. And I said, hey, I'm thinking of doing this. And this is, you know, kind of where we want to go with it, and just got all this really incredible feedback. You know, people in the group were very, very vocal about what they want to see in these kinds of products. You know, we've talked about attractiveness, but comforts, the other big thing.


Sarah Dillingham [00:07:26]:


And, you know, as we've been going on working with this group. You know, we have this amazing group of women that we can always ask questions of, and it works because it's not our primary reason for running the group. The primary reason for running the group is it is a supportive community of women who are all dealing with the same chronic health issue, who share information and, you know, listen to each other and support one another and sometimes have a bit of fun. But that also means that I can ask real women or real arthritis patients what they want and they will tell me very honestly, and that's huge. When you're developing a product, I love.


Jon LaClare [00:08:11]:


That there's so many things we can talk about with your community that I'd love our audience to understand. And one of the things I want to bring up is you talked about how it's not selling the product is not the main purpose of the group. And even if that weren't true, so I would love to give the advice to our listeners of finding some sort of a community where you can connect with your audience and not make it. You know, if your ultimate goal is, hey, I want to grow my business, great, right? But the point of the group is to educate or connect or if they feel like it's just sales, they're going to leave the group. But if there's value for them in the community, they'll do a couple things. One is they'll buy your product or service. Right. So they'll build trust with you.


Jon LaClare [00:08:51]:


But as you mentioned, that will also help you to make it better. You've got an audience you can talk to as opposed to, we've got customers, clients that sell products on Amazon, a lot of them exclusively, maybe before they come to us. And we help grow beyond that into website, a lot of other stuff. Right. But on the Amazon front, one of the issues is you really don't have any connection to your customer. Every sale you make is an Amazon customer, not your customer. You could kind of sort of get some of the info, but it's difficult and you got to watch terms of service, but you just don't have that community. So anything you can do to build community, build connection, whatever your business is, can truly help overall, can you talk more about what other advantages, I guess, have you learned? So you talked a little bit about product development and getting them involved, but how else has this community been helpful for you and your business?


Sarah Dillingham [00:09:44]:


Really understanding very deeply what the problems are that these individuals are dealing with and what the priorities are. So it's not just about, okay, well, and we do do this, you know, what color do you want the next lot of compression gloves to be? And they'll vote for it, which is fantastic. But it's also really understanding that as we grow our business and look at a wider product range, are we making things that are going to meet these people's needs and solve their problems? You know, really our whole mission is to empower women with arthritis through non invasive therapeutic products. And so understanding what works for them and what doesn't helps us avoid going down rabbit holes of business strategies or product development that aren't going to resonate. And it's not just about product. It's also about how we talk to them. It's about the marketing. It's everything around the customer journey.


Sarah Dillingham [00:10:47]:


It's understanding the terminology and language they use, it's understanding where they shop, it's understanding some of the social media channels they use, but also some of the influencers that they enjoy working with or listening to their content. And all of that really informs our decision of how can we deliver things that are going to empower these women to live their best lives.


Jon LaClare [00:11:15]:


Love it. And let's talk about your competitive advantage as well, because you've got a product that is relatively simple, right. It's something that somebody could manufacture. Right. They could copy you and learn from. But you've got to find what has helped to drive your success. And I don't mean that's not a negative thing, right. You've got a great solution that is easy to see the benefits right away.


Jon LaClare [00:11:37]:


But what has helped you to stand out against competition that may have deeper pockets, that may have been around a longer time, or whatever it might be, makes you stand out and be better than them.


Sarah Dillingham [00:11:49]:


Yeah, great question. Because absolutely. Someone could copy what we do, not just with our compression gloves, but also with our wrist brace products as well. So there are two things. The first we've talked about to a certain level, which is the trust and understanding of the customer. The number one thing we hear from our customer base, who are mainly midlife and senior women, is that they feel invisible and unheard generally. And being a brand that connects with them and listens to them and cares about what they need is very powerful. And it's something that's just really at the heart of everything we do.


Sarah Dillingham [00:12:28]:


That's the first thing. The second thing is we know we can't outspend our competitors. Just we can't. Many of our competitors are large corporate companies, but what we can do is we can be nimble and we can do things like build partnerships with other small brands and to help us reach each other's audiences and also, again, build credibility and trust, and we can also build relationships with charities. So I have two partnerships with arthritis charities. And the reason we can do that quickly is because we're small and, you know, we don't have the corporate infrastructure, which means you need to, you know, everything takes longer, getting approvals and back and forth. You know, if we decide we want to reach out to someone, we can just do it and see if we can make that partnership work.


Jon LaClare [00:13:22]:


That's a great answer. And, you know, it reminds me of one of our clients from many years ago, the squatty potty. If you've heard of that, it's a little stool you put in front of your toilet to raise your legs up and make it easier to go to the bathroom, essentially. Yeah. So that's been a massive success. You know, tens of millions of dollars in revenue driven by that. But in the early days, I remember when we were first talking to them and helping them with their initial strategy, getting their business off the ground, they had just come off a relationship with another agency partner or whatever that stole their idea. It was simple.


Jon LaClare [00:13:54]:


So they made a stool that was the same thing. It wasn't patented or they got around it somehow or whatever. And the interesting thing is, you look at the two, that other one does not exist today. It's gone. So they copied them. It seemed easy, but as I look back, part of the reason that the squatty potty has been so successful, there's been a lot that went into it, but it was that relationship with their, the trust that they build up in the very early days, it's not just the product, right? So we've got to, as marketers, separate ourselves from just the business, the product or service, whatever it might be. It really is about the relationship we build with our customers, both to have them buy more from us, right, or talk to their friends and family and get the word out, et cetera. And that can drive massive success, but also one of the tools that can be used to keep competitors at bay that otherwise.


Jon LaClare [00:14:41]:


Otherwise might be a threat for us. So you, over the past year, doubled your business, which, congratulations. That's phenomenal. That's awesome. It's funny, I just did a solo podcast last week that my audience has probably heard by now, but it's how to double your business by going small things. If you take your traffic, your conversion, your revenue per customer all up by 26%, then you can double your business and go into all these details. But it's still hard. I love talking to people that have done it right in the trenches.


Jon LaClare [00:15:13]:


So I guess what one thing stands out as a big driver of success recently that's helped you really scale up.


Sarah Dillingham [00:15:21]:


So. Yeah, well, actually, it's interesting you're talking about those small things that you dial up. Actually, that has been a lot of it for us. When we first went out to market, we were very much a passion project business. We had particular products we wanted to get out in the market and we weren't. We were just, you know, really looking at getting them to people we knew would find them useful rather than let's grow business. But last year, I participated in some accelerators and, you know, learned some new skills through those. That really helped us to, first of all, do what you just described, which is really tighten up that customer journey.


Sarah Dillingham [00:15:58]:


So making sure things like the email flows were working correctly. You know, we were maximizing our conversion rates on our website and, and all of that good stuff. The second thing that's probably equal weight is what I mentioned previously. So we have built partnerships with versus arthritis big UK arthritis charity, and then here in the US with AI arthritis.


And so by doing that, we've really been able to punch above our weight because they've, a, given us an enormous level of credibility, the fact that we have these partnerships and b, allowed us to reach such a wider audience. So I would say those are the two biggest things. And then I know you only asked for one, but I'm going to quickly throw in a third, which is marketplaces. So one of the things that we know is that when customers come to look for a product, you know, there's the rule that they usually want to see eight touch points with your brand before they're going to buy from you.


Sarah Dillingham [00:17:07]:


And so you could do that with advertising dollars. Right? So you could, like, be pushing out loads of ads on Facebook and Google, which we, we do that, but also having us across multiple marketplace platforms or with other partners. So, for example, yeah, we're just on a few different websites and also with one catalog that goes out, you know, just enables people to see us around so they get familiar with us without having to invest a lot of money in getting the ads in front of them. So that's been a really cost effective way to do that, too.


Jon LaClare [00:17:42]:


Love it. And I would call that traffic. It kind of fits in the traffic silo, right?


Sarah Dillingham [00:17:47]:


Absolutely.


Jon LaClare [00:17:48]:


A lot of times we think of, hey, how do I grow my traffic? Part of it is ads, as you mentioned, driving people to our website but realizing that it doesn't have to be just your website. Additional traffic comes on marketplaces like Amazon, Walmart.com, comma, et cetera.


And the more places we can be, even if it's a destination, not going necessarily to our website, although even driving people to Amazon, what happens a lot of time is they'll now google you. They want to see your full website, get all the details and they all connect. But it's part of that growth in traffic or that part of that process. And I know next, as a next step in your business, you're getting ready to scale up even more. And sometimes that requires access or more funds. Right? So you've gotten to this point, you doubled your business.


Jon LaClare [00:18:31]:


That's fantastic. And then to really catapult your growth further for you, it's made sense to now bring in some funds. Any learnings from that process that you think could be helpful for our listeners?


Sarah Dillingham [00:18:42]:


Yeah, I think IP and protecting your business is a really important topic for us. It's been really critical to identify the products in our business that we have been able to patent. So while I can't protect compression gloves because there are already plenty out in the market with our wrist brace product, we have two design patents and the utility patent on it.


And in doing that, we're also very, very aware that, you know, if we were to get knocked off on that product, you know, we have limited funds to fight any kind of like patent litigation, but having that patent really does act as a deterrent. You know, you are going to be deterring some people from doing that. And then on top of that, the one thing I think everyone who runs a business should make sure they're doing, and that we did right from the start, was to trademark our name, which I know is a very, very obvious thing. But we did actually have someone try and use our name after we launched, and I was able to just send them a letter and say, hey, this is a trademark brand name. And they did stop.


Sarah Dillingham [00:19:59]:


And, you know, being able to do that, I think is really, really key. And it's not just about defending your assets, but I think it also really signals if you're going down the route of raising funding that you are serious about this and you've taken the time to put these things in place.



Jon LaClare [00:20:20]:


Great suggestions. I'll add one thing on the trademark front, because we went through an issue with a client recently where they did the trademark early on and sat on it for a while because they didn't launch for years later with that brand and what they didn't do at the time was just secure the website address or URL for that trademark.


And what people will sometimes do is they will comb through those trademark databases and as soon as they see one come across, they will book those URL's because they know they can sell it to you sometimes for thousands of dollars or more. So just as I would say, even before you apply for the trademark, once you've got clearance, you're going to start the trademark, secure your URL and anyone's around it. Like the brand with buy shop, try that kind of stuff. It's really, really inexpensive. It could be $1015 a year kind of thing for these URL's, but they're crucial to lock up, even if you abandon the trademark. Okay, then let that stop the $10 a year.


Jon LaClare [00:21:11]:


But think of that early on. So I would just add that one piece which is we've proven helpful to a couple of our clients over the years and hurtful to some other ones.


Sarah Dillingham [00:21:19]:


I'll just say that's a top tip because I did not know people did that, but it doesn't surprise me. So yeah, good to know.


Jon LaClare [00:21:28]:


Yeah, it's too bad, unfortunately. But I do want to tell our audience, please go to graceandable.com and Sarah's been nice enough to share a 20% off promo code for all of our listeners. And it's an all caps growth g r o w t h. Like harvest growth. Right? Growth 20, the number 20. So growth 20 in all caps. Again, 20 is the numbers not spelled out. So growth 20.


Jon LaClare [00:21:53]:


It's in the show notes as well. So if there's any questions or if you're driving, you'll refer to it later. Graceandable.com dot. You can see Sarah's full line of products and learn more about this great business that she has built and is growing still. So Sarah, thanks again for your time today.


Sarah Dillingham [00:22:08]:


Thank you. I really enjoyed it.


Jon LaClare [00:22:10]:


Did you know you can meet with a member of my team absolutely free for a 30 minutes strategy consultation? We've launched and grown hundreds of products since 2007 and learned some of our strategies while growing oxiclean back in the Billy Mays days. We're here to help, so please go to harvestgrowth.com and set up a call if you'd like to discuss further.


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