Margreet Wibbelink manages an online membership, database and training resource for midwives. Though giving birth, by its nature, is so in-person, Sensitive Midwifery is a great success.
Hear about the workings of the business, from its driving purpose to marketing to website design, in this inspiring interview.
Margreet Wibbelink is not scared of a big wave. She charges them, much like she charges other challenges in life. As she puts it, Take the drop of commitment and then enjoy the ride.
Fellow surfer James, of course, can relate. In this episode, he’s invited Margreet to share one of the challenges she’s hurdled – that of growing an online business tied to a largely offline field of expertise.
A never before touched-on topic
Margreet is a trained midwife, a specialist in natural pregnancy, birth, life after birth and the full reproductive life cycle. In an ideal world, she says, every woman should have access to a midwife, who will do all the checkups during pregnancy, empower her, and coach her, the whole philosophy being that pregnancy and giving birth is a natural life event, not a sickness.
Midwives are skilled, too, to pick up on complications that need referral to a doctor. They are the first line of care when it comes to natural births, and they actually train up the doctors.
Leveraging an opportunity with the net
What’s interesting is that Margreet has taken a very hands-on activity and moved many aspects of it online. How did she make that transition?
Having a decade’s worth of practice, Margreet saw that a lot of things in her field were not happening the way she would like them to. In South Africa, where she lives, there’s a very medicalized approach to pregnancy and birth, together with other challenges.
For her own credibility, Margreet took the academic path, and has been a few years transitioning into content creation and writing articles while still being in practice.
During this stage, she was presented with an opportunity by a woman who had built up an amazing database, 30 years’ worth of material on midwifery. Sister Lillian, as she is called, actually founded Sensitive Midwifery, Margreet’s current business, and approached Margreet as a possible successor.
Margreet saw it would take a lifetime to build up what Sister Lillian had already done. The approach was just a bit outdated, like something from the 80s. Margreet thought, if given to her, she would do things a completely new way. She also realized she’d need people to help her.
Sister Lillian was still doing magazines, and face-to-face conferences. Margreet saw that they needed to move online, and that was done in 2019. Fortunately they had budget which would allow them to get professional help.
With the help of a great team, says Margreet, they were able to build a structure that could reach many more people through different modalities, including the next generation of midwives and women. The pinnacle was when they launched an academy last year, Margreet’s first online experience of such.
Do it yourself versus hiring help
“A trap lots of people fall for is thinking, they’re going to do it themselves.”
What James likes about it is that Margreet saw from the beginning that she would need help. A trap that many fall into is thinking they’re going to do everything themselves, diving into web development and coding. It just delays things.
You have to recognize what you’re good at, and that you need to hire someone to do the things you’re not good at or don’t want to do.
“Everyone’s chasing the lowest cost solution.”
The other problem James often sees is that everyone’s chasing the lowest cost solution, or free, free, free. As soon as he sees that, he knows they’re dealing with an amateur hobbyist, and it’s going to be slow and under-resourced and not likely to get the result they want. It was good, he says, that Margreet’s business had resources and the will to invest.
The experience of going the agency route
What was it like working with an agency? It was a beautiful synergy they had, says Margreet. She was just getting to know what she wanted to develop. It was for them to understand that, and what they had already.
Margreet realized the agency knew better than she what was possible, yet they recognized what had been done years before. They did an incredible job, she says, of marrying some of the old structure with a new vision, and enabling them to enter the online space and generate income.
They’ve achieved a lot, and feedback has been good. The business is visible, and making impact. Doctors are wanting to engage and set up midwife networks, seeing Margreet as the leader in the field in South Africa.
How hands-on do you have to be?
Margreet does quite a lot of content creation, being the expert, and the agency builds a structure where it will fit in and make her look and sound good. She’s very hands-on in that regard, and also initiating what needs to be done for the year, planning and so forth. It’s definitely teamwork.
And then she has, obviously, a small team for herself, just on the admin side. The registrations, the courses, the admin, the customer service kind of things, that’s where her girls jump in. So it’s a good team effort.
Getting people to buy a course
One of the thing Sensitive Midwifery currently offers is a certified course. It’s meant to fill a gap wherein midwives need to be scaled up, especially in a natural approach and woman-centered approach.
They piloted the course with 10 midwives face to face, then went to her team with the material to launch online.
Margreet was dead scared, she said. She cringed at the sales pitch her agency recommended, and would have been happy to get 10 registrants. They got 52 from across the country and even outside of South Africa.
People were ready for it, she thinks, and the approach was attractive. She’d seen a gap, a real need that was badly wanted, that’s why it succeeded.
The course was user-friendly as well, built on 10XPRO. It’s gotten good testimonials, and is now selling itself, without them advertising. They have 20+ people on their waiting list, just from word of mouth.
The platform that makes it easy
James is excited for Margreet, especially with the 10XPRO platform. He just recently launched his own book funnel on the same platform, where they give away a copy of Work Less Make More, as a PDF digital download. People get the options for the print and audio copies, and conversions are through the roof.
Then of course, they get added to the email sequence, and other things can happen, viral shares, for instance. With 30 years’ worth of material, there’s any number of book funnels Margreet and her team can create.
It’s convenient for customers, as well, with a single login, everything in their membership portal.
A nation-wide unifying effort
Another success story Margreet can tell is of their goal to unite the independent midwives in South Africa, who to date are not united or regulated.
Sensitive Midwifery has started memberships for that. People have entry to a portal, where they can access different things. There Margreet builds up an independent midwifery starter kit. In that process, she’s been approached by an obstetrician gynecologist dreaming similar things for independent midwifery in South Africa – bringing the community midwife back, for instance, and access to midwives.
They’ve got all those foundations right to scale out, because with the academy and the memberships, they plan to empower midwives on a large scale, and then be able to mentor and coach them till they are independent and can practice everywhere. The membership is now naturally just taking off, because they all want it.
The possibility of going global
The website where all this takes place is sensitivemidwifery.co.za. Does Margreet have any plans to take it global?
Absolutely, she says. They’re already putting feelers out, reaching out to Namibia and Botswana. What they offer is applicable for any midwife, anywhere, so they’re not limiting themselves to South Africa. It’s for whoever is keen to become part of this and can jump in. That’s the beauty of online – already Margreet’s been surprised by people looking in from unexpected places.
How they’re getting the word out
A lot of their advertising is through committed followers, with email and social media. They’ve also launched a podcast and YouTube channel. They also advertise with more structure for events and courses. Their agency helps out with sales webinars.
They’re actively promoting their symposium through Facebook target advertising, to try to reach new target groups that are not part of their database. And they also still use old school methods. Margreet’s girls will pick up the phone and call hospitals, because they realize that not all midwives are engaging online. So face-to-face still works, phoning someone, and so forth.
The biggest surprise along the way
In closing, what is the most surprising thing that Margreet has learned along her online journey?
What’s surprised her is simply that it works. On her first sales webinar, she couldn’t believe how many people engaged. When people responded to an email sequence, she realized there was thought and intelligence behind the approach. That was the biggest surprise.
“This whole online thing is such a life-changer.”
James started online in 2005 and still sometimes pinches himself. The whole thing is life-changing.
Out of curiosity, would Margreet recommend 10XPRO to anyone looking to house their info products, memberships or funnels?
Absolutely, says Margreet. It’s so worth it to have the platform and the team behind it.
Big shout out to John Lint and 10XPRO, who brought James and Margreet together. And great job to the agency helping Margreet, who are actually in SuperFastBusiness.
If you want to learn more about Sensitive Midwifery, their site is sensitivemidwifery.co.za.
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