Brittney Stefanic’s dream business came into being four years ago when she realized that two of her favorite roles – new mom and hard-core sleep enthusiast – just weren’t meshing. Baby Lincoln wasn’t sleeping, Brittney wasn’t sleeping, and postpartum anxiety and depression began to take a foothold. Until, at a well-baby checkup, Lincoln’s pediatrician told Brittney that new developments in sleep science could give Brittney the tools she needed to teach Lincoln how to sleep.
Bolstered by her own background in biology and science education, Brittney embarked on a sleep science journey that profoundly changed her family’s life for the better and led Brittney to a new professional calling as a sleep coach. Just a year after taking on her first clients, Brittney left her full-time teaching job to form the virtual sleep education consultancy Sleeper Teachers®.
Now, by efficiently extending Brittney’s coaching capacity, freeing her to think creatively about her vision for the company, and allowing more personal connection to her clients, Marco Polo Channels is helping Sleeper Teachers expand.
Visions for growth
When Brittney first began her solo career as a sleep coach, she didn’t realize the magnitude of the demand for sleep expertise. Parents are struggling! As she juggled clients and managed a growing waiting list, she thought about how she could better serve her current roster of families while also pursuing opportunities for growth.
She assembled a team of consultants strategically located across multiple (bed)time zones and developed a series of sleep support packages customizable for varying ages and needs. Then, with a solid infrastructure in place for one-on-one sleep education, she turned her attention to expanding Sleeper Teachers’ reach through group education.
Brittney’s challenge was that no single platform provided all the tools she needed to teach, nurture, and sustain her groups.
For instance, forming a Facebook group increased her following but didn’t offer an opportunity for meaningful connection. And hosting multi-family webinars over Zoom was great for live education and face-to-face interaction, but it required synced schedules and separate registration software.
“I also had no way to follow up,” she says. “I led a newborn sleep education webinar with 21 expecting families and at the end, I didn’t have a way to keep them on except by offering to touch base individually via Voxer or phone calls.”
Brittney knew there was an opportunity but wasn’t sure how to take it, and she didn’t want to spend precious time managing the mechanics.
The Newborn Sleep Support Channel
Brittney discovered Marco Polo Channels through The MOB Nation, a mom-owned business network whose founder had successfully shifted from producing a labor-intensive podcast to conveniently monetizing her audience connection via Channels.
Channels looked like exactly what Brittney was after – it could provide efficient one-to-many reach, face-to-face interaction, a flexible format for her content, and low overhead. “I could so use this,” she remembers thinking.
In spring 2020, Brittney launched a Newborn Sleep Support Channel comprising eight sets of second-time parents who had participated in Brittney’s webinars before and were looking for a sleep refresher. The Channel officially “met” three times a week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, although asynchronous communication meant that members could view and respond to new posts whenever it was convenient.
Content included core sleep education lessons, Q&A opportunities, weekly goal-setting, accountability check-ins, and lots of opportunities to discuss of-the-moment topics such as how to tune out holiday fireworks or re-establish routines upended by COVID.
Within weeks, families were reporting dramatic results, with many babies sleeping 12 hours through the night.
“Their parents were so pumped!” she says.
A firm foundation for success
Channels is shaping up to be just the tool Brittney hoped it would be.
It’s helping Brittney better serve more families through one-to-many coaching.
Brittney is now able to monetize ongoing, sustained group support – whereas before, she didn’t have a mechanism for maintaining a relationship with her clients once group or one-on-one training came to a close. “Now, every time I teach a sleep education webinar, I can pitch a graduate group on Channels for afterward, where I can provide things like weekly sleep education and weekly Q&A. I’m super excited to see where these grad groups can take us.”
With the help of Channels, Brittney has moved far beyond simply managing the load and instead, can follow her vision for the company. That includes her growing adult clientele – she’s the only member of her team certified as an adult sleep coach, but she hasn’t been able to focus on that passion until now.
“When I was running this solo, I was trying my very hardest to keep up. Now, I have so much more freedom and flexibility to be the creative visionary behind the business,” she says.
From a business owner perspective, I love that Channels provides such an efficient way for me to educate. I can serve people across the world without having to coordinate live video, and busy parents can catch up at a time that works for them.
Brittney’s top Channels features
#1. Authentic video connection. Brittney’s Channel provides education, but also social and emotional support in the form of face-to-face communication. “Right now, with increased restrictions, people can’t get out and about as much or access the in-person postpartum resources they usually would, like a group yoga class. Channels provides an outlet and a way to engage with others who are having the same experiences.”
#2. Asynchronous communication. “From a business owner perspective, I love that Channels provides such an efficient way for me to educate. I can serve people across the world without having to coordinate live video, and busy parents can catch up at a time that works for them.”
#3. The value and simplicity of a standalone app. “Because Channels is its own, ad-free entity, my clients are getting exactly what they asked for and invested in – expert content that is front-and-center and easily accessible. That’s a feature that isn’t available on any of the other platforms I’ve tried.”
March 2021 Update
Since we published Brittney’s original case study in August 2020, her Marco Polo Channels have multiplied and her membership has grown. This past fall and winter, Brittney offered a slew of one-time courses of varying lengths and price points geared toward sleep support for families as well as sleep support and well-being for adults. She’s up to 15 Channels and counting!
She says, “I’m all about taking an idea and running with it. I’ll have an idea on Monday, and by Friday it’ll be a new Channel.”
Courses included Getting Unstuck Together (designed to help adults through the challenges of 2020); Up Before the Sun 2021; Mastering Your Morning Routine; and Fall Back Without Falling Apart. Another course provided live Q&A with expert guidance on how to best tackle your sleep struggles and the time change.
On the graduate front, Brittney’s budget-friendly subscription-based Graduates Channel is now 25 families strong, with members dipping in and out each month depending on their circumstances and needs. Brittney also formed a Habits Graduate Group for those who complete her adult-focused courses.
Brittney says that for her, Channels completely validated the viability of the group coaching model. One-to-many coaching has given her the time she needed to develop and monetize creative new course content, but without compromising the quality of her offerings – she says her Channel members are seeing the same successes and benefits as her one-on-one clients.
Brittney has also been delighted at the ways in which her members support and sustain each other, particularly in the Graduate Group setting. Postpartum families have been grateful to connect with each other during the pandemic, and by learning from each other’s questions, they are gaining knowledge and expertise to help them as their families grow.
Interested in checking out Brittney’s latest Channel? Click here to join Sleepy Slumber Party: A Mom’s Night In!