Imagine starting your business from scratch.
Zero leads. Zero clients. Zero momentum.
After Chaitra Radhakrishna had 18 months of maternity leave from her design studio business last year, that’s the situation she faced.
“When I got back to business in 2020, everything had dried up,” she said.
As if that’s not intimidating enough, she was also pivoting into a new niche—designing websites for Shopify businesses (and selling an online course on product photography).
And yet, before the year was over, she hit record sales for her business, passing six figures in revenue for the first time.
- Starting from scratch.
- Totally new niche.
- In the middle of a pandemic.
- Best sales year ever.
The best part?
She did it without depending on ads, creating complicated funnels, or using super advanced tactics.
Instead, she used two simple partnership marketing strategies that any business can implement—even if you’re just starting out.
Want to know how you can do the same?
I hopped on Zoom with Chaitra and she walked me through the entire process step-by-step.
In this interview with Chaitra, you’ll see:
- How she quickly became a respected expert in an entirely new niche for her business
- The 2 types of partnerships that fueled her growth to 6 figures in course and design service sales
- How she identifies the right companies to partner with
- How to ballpark the number of sales you can generate from any podcast interview
- Why partnerships work much faster than traditional growth tactics like blogging and SEO
- And more!
- Go here to check out Chaitra’s business, Pinkpot Studio
- Get Chaitra’s free product photography course
Want a Closer Look at the Partnerships That Fueled Pinkpot Studio’s Sales? Let’s Break Them Down…
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 partnership types Chaitra mentioned in the interview.
But first, let’s take a look at the mechanics of Chaitra’s design studio and online course business in order to understand how partnerships drive sales for her.
Her Business: Pinkpot Studio — Pinkpot Studio is a design studio for product-based businesses. Chaitra creates high-converting Shopify websites that help her customers grow their sales and income.
She also sells an online course called Product Photography School. It helps the same audience (shop owners) take great product photos to stand out and increase sales:
Chaitra’s course and services were both targeted toward a niche in which she didn’t have experience or an established name.
Like I mentioned earlier, even though she had been running her design studio for a few years prior to maternity leave, her services had never been targeted specifically at product-based businesses and Shopify stores.
Chaitra was able to quickly establish credibility and expertise in the product-based business market—while simultaneously generating high-quality leads—by borrowing other people’s audiences.
Instead of putting all her time and energy into building a brand new audience from scratch, she simply identified companies and influencers who already had her target customers in their audience. Then, she partnered with them to get her business featured to those audiences.
There were 2 types of partnerships Chaitra focused on:
- Podcast interviews – She pitched podcasts that her target customers listen to on interviewing her about product photography.
- Guest workshops – She pitched businesses and influencers who serve her target customers differently on co-hosting online trainings about product photography or Shopify store design.
With partnerships as her #1 growth strategy, Chaitra was able to generate:
- $75k-80k in revenue from Shopify design projects
- ~$24k in sales of her online course
That’s a great year for many businesses even when they’re not having to start from scratch!
Now, let’s take a closer look at the types of partnerships that have fueled Chaitra’s growth:
Partnership Type #1: Podcast Interviews
When Chaitra started listing out her dream partnership targets, it didn’t take her long to think of a company called Privy.
Privy is a software company that makes a variety of marketing tools for ecommerce stores. They have the #1 most reviewed platform in the entire Shopify app store. In other words, they have TONS of users who would be perfect fits for Chaitra’s products and services.
At the beginning of 2020, Privy also launched a podcast called The Ecommerce Marketing Show that quickly established a reputation as one of the best ecommerce podcasts available:
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that getting interviewed on this podcast would be a pretty big deal for any business owner in the ecommerce space.
Chaitra was planning to wait a little before pitching such a high-profile company, but then she saw an opportunity:
The CEO of the company posted in a Facebook group asking who they should interview on the podcast.
Chaitra may not have had the most experience, but she knew that:
- She had the knowledge of product photography…
- Privy has an audience that would benefit from that knowledge—because all online shop owners need great product photos to stand out
In other words, she knew it would be a win-win. And that’s what gave her the confidence to leave a comment suggesting herself as a guest:
“I said, ‘I saw you were looking for podcast guests and I think I would be great because I can teach your audience about product photography, which will help them increase sales.’”
That’s all it took to get the conversation going. A few months later, her episode was live:
In the coming months she received four inquiries for Shopify design projects (often worth 5 figures each) as a direct result of the interview.
But the cool part is that the promotion from Privy didn’t end with the podcast.
Later in the year, Privy came out with a physical book called The Ecommerce Marketing Handbook:
Since people loved Chaitra’s podcast episode, they decided to include her as one of the featured experts in it—giving her a massive boost in credibility and exposure:
To this day, Chaitra is still getting leads and customers from her inclusion in the book:
“Just a few weeks ago, I landed a Shopify client,” she said. “It was a big project. It was a 5-figure project. And she was telling me, ‘You know what, I was deciding who to hire for the Shopify project. I just clicked on your Instagram and I saw that you were on that book, and my husband was like, ‘She is your girl, you’ve got to hire her because Privy is a big deal.’”
This is another great example of the “halo effect” that Dustin Riechmann described when sharing about his own experience driving $30,000+ in sales from podcast interviews.
It’s such a powerful medium that you never know where it will take you.
In fact, podcast appearances can be so meaningful to your potential customers and clients that they literally show up in testimonials on the Pinkpot Studio website. Check out this one from a business Chaitra designed a website for:
Never underestimate the power of podcast interviews to connect you with your dream clients.
Partnership Type #2: Guest Workshops
The second type of partnership that fueled Chaitra’s growth over the last year was guest workshops.
Her approach was simple:
- She identified businesses that targeted a similar type of customer (but served those customers differently)
- She pitched those businesses on delivering a free online training/webinar for their audience
- Each one results in fresh leads and online course sales (as well as design projects)
- She would typically give her partner 40% of any course sales generated from the webinar
For example, here is a guest workshop she did with Paper and Spark, a business that helps Etsy store owners with bookkeeping:
It’s easy to see why this is such a great partnership fit.
Pinkpot Studio and Paper and Spark both serve the same type of customer (product-based businesses), but in completely different ways. They’re complementary businesses rather than competing businesses.
When you’re able to get in front of the right audience for a guest workshop, the results are powerful. For example, in addition to generating online course sales, Chaitra said she would typically end up getting inquiries for website projects as well (even though she wasn’t pitching that service directly):
“Every time I would finish a partnership webinar, I would have three new inquiries in my inbox for Shopify websites,” she said.
So, how did Chaitra find businesses to target for partnerships?
One of her go-to strategies was to look for business owners who had spoken at the same events as her. Not only did that mean those people were targeting the same types of customers—it also gave her an easy way to break the ice when reaching out since they had been featured at the same event!
This is a strategy any type of business can use to find potential partners, even if you’ve never spoken at an event or conference before.
All you have to do is research the popular conferences/events/virtual summits in your industry, go to their websites, and look for the list of speakers they’ve featured.
If you’re interested in more ways to find target partners, I listed 15 in my Partnership Marketing 101 post.
How Many Partners Do You Have to Pitch Before You See Results?
When we’re helping a coaching client land partnerships, one of the first things we do is work with them on creating a “Dream 50”—the ultimate list of companies and people you would absolutely LOVE to get to promote your business.
So far, Chaitra hasn’t even pitched half of the companies on her Dream 50.
“I’ve barely done like 10…and that itself has led to tremendous growth,” she said. “What will happen in my business if I actually get through the entire list?”
I can’t wait to see what happens when she does.
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