“It’s more fulfilling, more rewarding, takes way less time, makes a lot more money.”
It’s rare to hear someone describe a marketing strategy with words like “fulfilling” and “rewarding,” but that’s exactly what came to mind for Shannon Mattern when I asked her about her recent successes with partnerships and guest workshops.
(And hey, the whole “less time, more money” aspect sounds pretty good, too.)
The best part?
Shannon had already tried all the typical ways to grow her online course sales—from SEO, to Facebook ads, to Pinterest, to Instagram, to “endless content creation” (as she put it).
While those weren’t totally ineffective, she’s been able to rapidly accelerate her growth (with less effort) by learning to borrow other people’s audiences via partnerships rather than trying to build her own from scratch.
In this interview, she breaks down two of her most successful partnerships (both were guest workshops) so you can apply the same approach to your business.
In this interview with Shannon, you’ll see:
- 2 recent partnership wins that have already led to over $27,000 in sales
- How she finds non-obvious partners with audiences full of her ideal customers
- The step-by-step process she used to convince both partners to feature her business to their audiences
- Why borrowing other people’s audiences can work for you even if you have little to no following of your own
- Why Shannon prefers partnerships over traditional growth tactics like SEO, ads, and blogging
- And more!
Want to Get More Course Sales by Borrowing Other People’s Audiences? Here’s a Closer Look at How Shannon Does It… 🔍
If you want to give yourself ideas for partnerships that could work for your business, the best thing to do is study examples of successful partnerships and drill down into why they worked.
That’s exactly what we’re going to do below with the two partnerships Shannon mentioned in the interview.
But first, let’s take a look at the mechanics of Shannon’s online course and digital products business in order to understand the function partnerships perform for her.
Her Business: ShannonMattern.com — Through her website, Shannon helps entrepreneurs and bloggers build DIY websites to market their businesses. She also has another side of the business that’s focused on helping web designers monetize their skills through freelancing.
Her Products: Shannon generates revenue through 3 primary sources:
- Affiliate sales — Since she teaches people how to build websites, she naturally recommends the essential products/services required for the process (for example, hosting, email marketing software, website builders, etc.). When people purchase through her links for these recommended products/services, she receives an affiliate commission. This revenue makes up about 50% of her business.
- Online course sales — Shannon has courses related to both website design/setup and building a freelance web design business.
- Website templates — Last but not least, she also sells website templates and digital products that help people in the process of building their website. Templates and courses make up the remaining 50% of her business.
Her Best Fit Customers:
Shannon’s best fit customers are women who are non-techy. They know they need to build a website and an email list, but they don’t know how to get started.
Over the years, she began to organically attract a second segment of customers—web designers aspiring to carve out a full-time freelance career.
However, both of the partnerships we’re going to look at in this case study were designed to attract the first type of best fit customers.
Type of Partnership: Guest Workshop
While the partnerships highlighted in this case study were slightly different in their format, they both fall under the same broad category of guest workshop.
- Shannon identified target partners who already have her ideal customers in their audience (non-techy solopreneurs who need to build a website)
- Both target partners aren’t focused on teaching their customers the more technical aspects of website creation (we call this a “content gap”)
- This creates a point of friction for those target partners—their customers need websites in order to be successful, but the partners would rather someone else just show them how to do it
- That’s where Shannon comes in—she pitched the target partners on giving their audiences a free online training session on website creation
- This created a true win-win: each target partner got to help their audience solve a problem (that might have been holding them back from buying), while Shannon got an influx of warm leads who instantly trust her
Let’s take a look at each partnership so you can understand the finer points around how they came together.
Partnership #1: Kayse Morris, The CEO Teacher Academy
Kayse Morris helps teachers market and sell their own teaching assets like lesson plans.
On the surface, it might seem like that has nothing to do with Shannon’s business. But when you look closer, there’s a clear overlap—almost all of Kayse’s customers need to have an online presence for their businesses. At a certain point, that means they need a website.
This was a big enough challenge that some customers were even hesitating to invest in her program out of fear they would get stuck on the tech piece. Kayse’s specialty, however, is NOT the technical, nuts-and-bolts side of creating a website.
With that in mind, it’s easy to see why this partnership made perfect sense for both Kayse and Shannon.
What Shannon and Kayse’s Guest Workshop Partnership Looked Like:
After realizing a collaboration made sense (more on that in a sec), Shannon and Kayse came up with the idea of a 5-day website challenge training called the Teacher Blog Blast Off:
The format was simple:
- It was 5 training sessions over a 5-day period
- Each training was done via Facebook Live in Kayse’s Facebook group
- Shannon simply showed up, taught a customized version of her existing training, and answered questions
As Shannon put it:
“To show up for two hours a day hanging out in someone’s Facebook group might sound like a lot of work to some people, but…I just had to show up and do what I do. There wasn’t a whole lot of preparation. It was way better than spending that time in my office by myself writing a blog post and hoping people would see it.”
Initially, this partnership got Shannon:
- $6,000 in sales
- 600 new email subscribers
But the best part is that the workshop content was set up to be evergreen, which has led to an additional $1,000 per month in sales for Shannon since the initial 5-day training.
“It’s ongoing, it’s definitely an evergreen thing,” she said. “We set it up to where I’m consistently bringing in new subscribers and sales from that since we did it last September.”
So, where have all those sales come from?
During the Teacher Blog Blast Off, Shannon referred attendees back to a full version of her free training since she couldn’t cover every last detail during the Facebook Live sessions.
This leads to affiliate commissions (via services/products she recommends in the training), and upsells of her website templates and courses.
The cool thing is that leads from this partnership tend to convert SUPER well. And it’s easy to see why…
Since Shannon got recommended by someone these leads ALREADY trust (Kayse), it’s basically a no-brainer for them to buy from her.
“Kayse is basically saying, ‘This is your girl and you should do what she’s telling you to do,’” Shannon said.
This instant transference of trust is what makes partnerships such a powerful sales tool.
Partnership #2: Kathy Goughenour, Expert VA Training
Shannon’s second recent partnership success came with Kathy Goughenour, who trains people to become virtual assistants.
Much like Kayse, many of Kathy’s customers need to create their own website, but she’s not focused on helping them solve that problem.
So Shannon pitched Kathy on doing a one-hour webinar training for her students. It was specifically focused on building a WordPress website for their VA business:
Although the format was different than the first partnership, the way it drove results was similar.
- Shannon solved a problem for Kathy’s students
- The students instantly gained trust in Shannon as the go-to person for website help
- They went to Shannon’s website and bought from her
Since this training was for Kathy’s customers (not her entire audience), attendance was relatively small at about 50 live attendees.
Remember though—these were all proven buyers. And when that’s the case, you don’t need a massive crowd to drive serious sales.
While this partnership may not have driven the volume of leads that the first one did, it still generated over $20,000 in sales for Shannon in the weeks following the training.
Again, this shows the power of getting in front of the right audience rather than the biggest audience.
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