We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Sara Grossman a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Alright, Sara thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. Let’s jump to the end – what do you want to be remembered for?
I hope my legacy will reflect on the combination of my innovation and kindness. Everything I do with CODE-mktg, I do through the lens of making the world a little bit better through my work. Whether that is raising money through a marketing campaign for a nonprofit, shining a light on the struggles of the LGBTQ+ community, or simply volunteering my services or time for organizations that genuinely help people, I’m happy to do it.
The way I see it, I’ve worked on both the nonprofit and for-profit side. For the first, I’m an advocate. For the second, I’m an evangelist. And at the end of the day? They’re both exactly the same. To be a great marketer is to truly be a cheerleader for the cause or brand.
Sara, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
I provide everything marketing-related. Whether it’s a poster for a drag show, PR for a product launch, branding for a new business, or a fundraising campaign for a nonprofit, I’ve learned everything I’ve needed to be successful in my field.
Since I had my humble beginnings working in communications and marketing for nonprofits, I had to learn everything from graphic design to content creation to public relations to press to public speaking and back. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to hone these skills for the greater good and to be able to offer them to a bevy of different businesses and organizations across the country.
If I don’t jive with a brand’s core values or direction, it’s a no-go. That’s the benefit of owning my own company, I suppose! Being able to pick and choose who I work with and when is really beautiful.
How about pivoting – can you share the story of a time you’ve had to pivot?
I am a founding member of a nonprofit organization called The Dru Project, which was started to honor my friend Drew Leinonen, who we lose at the Pulse Nightclub shooting in 2016.
The first several years of the organization’s fundraising relied heavily on in-person events, so when the pandemic hit, we were really nervous that we wouldn’t be able to reach our fundraising goals to be able to give out our annual $25,000 in scholarships to LGBTQ+ students.
I also noticed that nightlife all but screeched to a halt, so a lot of friends and clients who were drag entertainers were suddenly out of work and income.
I sat down with our board and we hatched a plan to be able to raise funds for our scholarships, as well as help out some performers who were losing out on their livelihood. We launched a fundraising campaign on Facebook and challenged drag performers to start fundraisers for The Dru Project. They could do live performances online, sell merch, or do whatever they could to raise as much as possible — because at the end, they’d get to keep half of what they raised.
We ended up raising almost $25,000 in 4 weeks and were able to help both our queer students as well as the performers who generally help us fundraise. It was a win-win!
Any thoughts, advice, or strategies you can share for fostering brand loyalty?
Whether you want to blame my being a Gemini or an ENFP on this, I have always been excellent at staying in touch with people. Friends, family, clients, random people I met at a bar, you name it.
There is something that has become very lost in the age of social media, and that is direct connection. (I think that social media enforces indirect connection; a bystander effect if you will.) So simply reaching out to say hello and ask someone how their days is goes a lot further than you’d think.
As I am the “face” of my brand, it’s important for me to make sure I’m honoring and nurturing those connections always.