Last month I partnered with Jeff Sauer of Jeffalytics on my first “joint venture” webinar. I’d wanted to try this format for a long time, as I’d heard it described as the “ultimate online marketing tactic.”

I partnered with Jeff because I noticed that a huge proportion of my audience are freelancers, entrepreneurs, or have aspirations to join these categories. But I’m not the best person to create courses on how to start a business. Jeff has years of experience, including building one of the fastest-growing agencies in the U.S. I realized his online courses were the perfect complement to mine (web analytics, online advertising, and building service-based businesses).

His course Agency Jumpstart trains people how to build and scale a service business, drawing on that extensive experience.

Watch the full webinar recording here (requires signing up for Jeff’s email list)

In this article I’ll share with you how we planned and executed the webinar, and what I learned.

The Results

Total projected revenue (which will need to take into account any refunds) for the whole promotion was just short of $20k:

Jeff and I both sent a few emails to our respective lists (12,000 and 3,000 respectively), which generated about 450 sign-ups. Around 100 people attended live at the peak. 13 people ultimately made a purchase, either during the webinar, or after watching the recording or receiving a follow-up email, which we both also sent out.

These are pretty good numbers for a 2-hour online event selling existing products. Let’s look at what went on behind the scenes to make it happen.

The Strategy

Joint venture webinars have emerged as one of the most powerful online marketing tools ever conceived. That’s because there are very strong incentives for everyone involved.

Here is the logic of the JV webinar:

Two content creators who have spent a lot of time building trust get to expose their respective audiences to a highly relevant product or service.

The hardest task in online business is customer acquisition. Yes, you have access to billions of potential customers just a few clicks away. But so does everybody else. Cutting through the noise and building a loyal following is difficult when you can only reach people through a computer screen.

By “swapping” audiences, joint venture partners can meet the needs they’ve identified over many interactions, without having to solve the problem themselves. I saw the need for a “how to do freelancing” course for some time, but knew I wasn’t the ideal person to deliver it.

What this kind of partnership does is allow people like Jeff and I to specialize. Online courses are no longer static drop shipments of content. They require constant improvement and building a community. Better for Jeff and I to stay immersed in our own fields and create a referral bridge between them.

Create incremental revenue by selling existing products

The most important quality of information products is that they have little or no marginal costs. That is, it doesn’t cost anything to serve one additional customer. This completely changes the economics behind sales.

Because I’ve already incurred almost all the costs of creating the product, it actually makes sense to sell an additional unit at any price. It’s pure profit. In practice I won’t sell at any price because I need to protect the brand, but it does make the incremental revenue of joint ventures especially attractive.

We packaged up our courses together and added juicy bonuses, making the whole thing much more valuable than the sum of its parts. Then we made it a limited-time offer, to create urgency and avoid diluting future sales.

Integrate content at a deeper level

It’s one thing to give someone an affiliate link (which allows them to collect a commission on any sale they refer) and call it a “partnership.” It’s an entirely different thing co-creating what is essentially an online event. We spent many hours on calls and emails between different members of our teams, crafting everything from the sales pages to the promotional emails to the offers themselves.

The bonuses required an even deeper level of integration. We actually needed to take each others’ courses, familiarizing ourselves with the concepts, terminology, and approaches we were each recommending. This showed in the 2+ hour webinar, as we were able to refer to specific lessons, not just the course as a whole.

Create a live experience

There is something special about creating a live, “big tent” experience, even online. So many communal events have disappeared, it’s rare to be part of something happening in real time with other like-minded people.

Part of the value of a live webinar is that it is necessarily constrained. It is a certain amount of time, with a certain number of people, with a certain kind of communication. The scarcity and urgency is not just to push sales. It is also to help people clarify their priorities and commit to something: first, a 2-hour webinar, and next, a 5-module course.

For both Jeff and I, interacting live with our audiences exposes us to all sorts of signals about what you all are interested in, and how we can help solve your problems. We also get to polish our presenting and interviewing skills.

The Details

Here are the three packages we offered, at different price points:

This one graphic contains a wide variety of sales and marketing techniques:

  • Anchoring: showing the higher-priced packages and “full price value” of individual items frames the pricing as relatively inexpensive
  • Overcoming objections: lifetime access, 60-day money-back guarantee, and payment plans address fears and concerns over committing
  • Loss aversion: listing the bonus items in lower-priced packages with an X next to them highlights what you’re missing out on by opting for a less-expensive option
  • Scalable support: offering private forums and email-only support allows us to provide forms of support that can be done asynchronously and at scale, while providing a safety net

We split the revenue 50/50, so about $10k each. We also gave each other affiliate links (used in this follow-up post) so we can refer each other customers in the future.

The webinar service we used was WebinarJam, which provides most of the tools you need. One of those tools is a webinar funnel, which directs people through a sequence of automated emails designed to introduce them to the content and prepare them to make a purchase.

The 3 basic phases of the email campaign are:

  • Opt-in: people submit their email addresses to register for the webinar
  • Education: we introduce people to the context and purpose of the webinar in small chunks
  • Reminders: we make sure they have it on their calendars and it’s top of mind
  • Follow-up: we send emails after the webinar with the recording, and final pitches

Here’s the blog post I published to announce the webinar, and three emails I sent to approximately 3,000 email subscribers:

The Learnings

This was a first-time JV for both Jeff and I, and we learned a tremendous amount. Here’s a selection:

Each person needs to market to their own audience

It became clear through this process how much I know about my audience. I am immersed in your communication, your concerns, your problems, your feedback all day, every day. In the future, I’ll take more ownership of creating the context and making the pitch around what we’re offering.

A longer, more intensive education process is needed for offers at these price points

$1k-$2k is a lot of money for anyone to spend online. Besides the money, it requires a huge time investment, especially because we’re offering two separate courses. Each one requires exercises to be completed, worksheets to be filled, and mindset shifts to be had. With such a large commitment required, people need to have absolute confidence they made the right decision. In the future, I’ll make that process an education unto itself, whether they ever make a purchase or not.

Need to warn people they’ll be pitched to

My first requirements for the webinar was that it provide upfront value for everyone that attended. I think we delivered on that: Jeff talked about three of his top learnings running service-based businesses, and I gave extensive commentary on how productivity and personal knowledge management could accelerate the process.

But people also want to know when they’re entering a sales conversation. Next time I’ll be sure to tell attendees that there will be an offer made.

The Offer

By now you should know this was coming…

You can still sign up for our combo package of Agency Jumpstart with Building a Second Brain. It doesn’t include the “unlimited email support” bonus from before, but still represents an outrageous amount of value.

Click here for more information, and to enroll

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