Passionate Students Become Passionate Customers: How to Use Teaching to Grow Your Business

Posted by on Apr 22 2018

It’s getting harder and harder to get your customer’s attention. They are deluged with information, so they scan-click-delete.

Yet they cry out in the night for someone to explain things simply.

The rules of modern marketing have changed, and it’s only going to get worse. You’d better find the most effective, most efficient marketing techniques to nurture your leads and build trust and loyalty with your audience, or you’ll be left behind.

One technique stands out above all the rest – teaching. 

Offering free classes helps you sell your services and products, and fill your mastermind groups and your paid classes as well.

But there are tricks to doing is right or you’ll lose your lovely customers in a heartbeat!

Getting to Know You, as a Teacher and Expert — and Human Being

Teaching gives your audience the personal interaction with you that’s missing in most marketing techniques. When they get to experience you in a very personal way — whether it’s through a in-person presentation, a video conference or a webinar — it builds a connection that lives on long after the class ends.

Whether at a live event, or through a webinar or video live stream, teaching helps you be seen as an expert in a very crowded marketplace. It helps you expand your reach — and your revenue. Your students remember you as the person who has the answers.

Best of all, you get to share what you know with your audience, which empowers and inspires them.

You’ve Got to be Well-Prepared

Want to run an excellent class to use as a marketing tool — one that students talk about and share with their friends and colleagues?

Start with a brilliant class plan.

Not only will you cover amazingly helpful content, but you’ll be more relaxed and teach it better if you have a plan.

Here are the six steps to designing a class to use as a marketing tool:

  1. Start with what the audience wants to learn. Students don’t care about what you want to teach. They only care about what they want to learn. So do your market research and ask your audience what challenges they have, then design a class around solving those problems.
  2. Write a sizzling lesson plan. Map out what you’re going to say, in a logical order that simplifies the information. Take the information that’s overloading your audience, and sift it into what’s most important, with usable action steps.
  3. Design a red-hot opening. You’ve been in those “salesinars” where the teacher spends the first 20 minutes talking about themselves. Your eyes roll back in your head and you mumble, “When will this teacher ever get to the important content?” Don’t do that to your students — they deserve better for committing their time to attending your class. Start with a big bang: huge, useful content in the first 5 minutes. Then they’ll be saying, “Oh, I can’t wait to hear what comes next!”
  4. Make it interactive. Create discussion questions, tell stories and create exercises so your students don’t fall asleep halfway through. Adult students need you to change the pace of the class every 10 minutes or so. “All lecture” classes are a thing of the past, and there are dozens of teaching strategies that put some jazz into your class design. Remember that there’s a high ratio of lurkers to participants, so learn how to reach both introverts and extroverts and learn how to engage them in the learning conversation.
  5. Set your marketing goals. Whether you’re offering a free class to build your mailing list or you’re introducing your audience to a new product or service, have specific marketing goals for your class so you can measure if it’s working.
  6. Have a plan for what you’ll do, after the class, to continue the conversation. Your class isn’t a one-off marketing technique, it’s part of a bigger marketing plan. Decide how you’ll follow-up with the participants. Consider a post-class email marketing campaign that provides them with recordings, handouts and resources to cement what they’ve learned and remind them of the products or services you offer.

Choose a Teaching Method

Once you’ve designed your class, it’s time to decide which delivery method to use.

In 2015, I asked thousands of small business owners, “How do you prefer to learn?” From the results of my Learning Survey, I found that people have strong preferences about how they prefer to consume your educational material. (You can get the results of my Learning Survey here.)

People’s learning preferences change over time, so pay close attention to how you prospects react to your class offerings.

There are several effective teaching methods, so let’s look at the pros and cons of each:

  1. Live event – There’s nothing better than meeting your audience face-to-face. Unless you’re strictly inviting a local crowd, timing, weather and cost can play a role in attendance. If you’re inviting an out-of-town audience, consider making it a one- or two-day event, even if you have to charge them a small fee to cover your costs. This gives your audience the ultimate experience in learning deeply from you, but may limit your audience to those who have both the time and money to leave their office and home for a day or two (or more, if they’re traveling).
  2. Webinar – A webinar is a live, virtual event where you show slides as you teach. The best part about webinars is that there’s both an audio and a video feed, so participants are engaged on two levels. Most interaction happens via text chat unless your participants have microphones in their computers (or they connect to the webinar via a teleconference line so they have audio capabilities, too.) A big problem with webinars is that most of the time the audience is looking at a slide, not you. There are ways to juggle back and forth between face-time and slide-time to mitigate this problem.
  3. Video Conference and Live Streaming Events – When your audience can see your bright, shining face on their computer screen, it’s the next best thing to a live event. As with webinars, if they have microphone capability (either through their computer or if they’re dialing in via telephone), nearly anyone can ask questions. And of course, if they also have a video camera, you can see their face and have a real conversation with them, too. It’s easier than ever to do live streaming videos through tools like Zoom or Facebook Live.
  4. Self-Study – Teaching via self-study format, from pre-recorded webinars, videos to ebooks, has been around for decades and it’s an established way to deliver training material. It allows your audience to learn when it’s convenient to them. However, it negates two of the principles of Education As Marketing: they don’t get to experience you directly in a live environment, and you can’t be sure they’ll consume the material, even if they download it.

Afraid? Don’t Be! Just Teach

Start with a smart plan and remember: you were put on this planet to help other people, and there’s no better way to help than to teach.

You’ll be surprised how much you love it!


  • Capture your audience’s attention, and gain their trust and loyalty.
  • Deliver usable content in a logical way they can use immediately.
  • Teach them what you know in a free class, and create passionate customers.

12 comments for now

12 Responses to “Passionate Students Become Passionate Customers: How to Use Teaching to Grow Your Business”

  1. Alicia

    Thanks Karyn! The especially good point for me to remember is to have a plan for what to do for marketing AFTER the class!!! I am usually so crazy getting people in the room, and exhausted when it is over… feeling rather anti-climatic… that I forget to figure out what my next steps are until a week later…. Better to have a plan in advance!

    04 Feb 2016 at 6:10 am

  2. Karyn Greenstreet

    That’s the way to think about it, Alicia. If you’re doing free classes as a marketing tool, that’s just the first step in your overall marketing campaign. LAUNCHING a free class feels like a huge project (and it IS!), so planning in advance and automating some of the post-class process will give you a little break after the free class but before your paid offer.

    04 Feb 2016 at 9:55 am

  3. ilaria vilkelis

    Excellent post, thank you.

    04 Feb 2016 at 6:21 am

  4. Karyn Greenstreet

    You’re welcome, Ilaria!

    05 Feb 2016 at 11:12 am

  5. Solid teaching guidance from an outstanding teacher in her own right. As usual, well done, Karyn.
    You reinforce the old adage: Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.
    I’m reminded of that adage because of your emphasis on the importance of and techniques for preparation.

    04 Feb 2016 at 2:12 pm

  6. Karyn Greenstreet

    Thanks, Gary. Everything runs more smoothly if you do a bit of prep work up front. It’s not glamorous, but it makes the glamorous possible. 🙂

    04 Feb 2016 at 3:59 pm

  7. Thanks a million time for this great educative post. I have been trying to build my mastermind class all this while but to no avail. With this information, i am going to excel with the tips here…..thanks again. I am Hope Uchemadu, a youth motivational speaker from Nigeria.

    05 Feb 2016 at 5:08 am

  8. Karyn Greenstreet

    You’re welcome, Hope, I’m glad you found the post helpful in the work you’re doing.

    05 Feb 2016 at 10:15 am

  9. Thanks for this, Karyn!

    I’d like to add something to your #4: ‘Make it Interactive WITH A LEARNING PURPOSE.’ If you align the activities in your courses with the desired end-learning in mind, your students will be engaged with the content in a way that makes their learning stick. Interaction simply for the sake of mixing things up so as not to bore your students often ends up falling short of a good learning experience for them. But if you design your curriculum right, the activities will serve the greater purpose of learning.

    The average adult retains only 5% of what they hear and 10% of what they read, but retention jumps to 75% when they immediately put into practice what they’re learning, and a whopping 90% if they turn around and teach someone else what they’ve just learned.

    So when planning your curriculum make sure your participants are immediately DOING something with the information you’re conveying. They can take time to reflect either in writing or talking with a partner, complete a written assignment that includes an answer key, go off for 10 minutes and practice something on their own … the list is endless. Pair the activity with the goal of what you want them to learn, and your participants will truly learn, and be able to apply that learning back in their ‘real’ world, which will also mean they’ll continue to thank you for helping them out with tangible, lasting results.

    One might think this isn’t possible in an online event like a live webinar, teleconference or video conference – not true. I’ve had great success with giving an assignment that takes 5 or 10 minutes, then taking that quiet time right there ‘on the air’, and then when coming back getting participants engaged in what they learned during that time. Using the chat feature in this way, for example, can be really effective.

    Teaching is fun!! 🙂

    06 Feb 2016 at 4:20 pm

  10. Karyn Greenstreet

    So important to get them to DO something to cement the learning, Joan. Otherwise they walk away with new knowledge that dissipates over time.

    And I agree…there’s no reason not to take 5 or 10 minutes in a virtual class to have them do an assignment immediately. They’d do it in a physical class, so why not in a virtual one?

    13 Feb 2016 at 4:30 pm

  11. What a wonderful post Karyn. Such wisdom from an outstanding instructor and coach. The after class marketing piece was a great reminder for me.

    Thank you again for all you do and give.

    12 Feb 2016 at 5:09 pm

  12. Karyn Greenstreet

    As always, Debra, I’m happy to help.

    13 Feb 2016 at 4:28 pm

Category: Creating, Marketing & Teaching Classes, Marketing