So, you’ve been considering starting an online course in your area of speciality. There’s much to consider: how much information to give, the format of the course, where to host it, and how much to charge. But, perhaps most principally, in creating an online course, it’s vitally important that sellability is considered throughout the development process.
This means a few different things: one, the value proposition of the course needs to be so obvious from a marketing standpoint that customers are naturally drawn to it, and two, the content of the course itself should be compelling enough that there are natural referrals, as the best marketing is word of mouth.
There are a few ways to create an online course that simply put, sells itself.
How to Design an Online Course That Sells Itself | Stephanie Burns
1. Build a community before the launch.
Especially if you’re a newcomer in a certain industry, the best way to prove course value is to start to build a community of your ideal audience. Scott Cooper noted on Elucidat that this is the best way to have a “tailor made audience” so that the selling is done for you. Community creation can be done through a Facebook group, social media page, or any type of online forum.
The trick is to start to offer tidbits of helpful advice before the course comes out. That way, a potential customer in the community can get to know your style and confirm that you do, indeed, have the tips to propel them to success, so the course would be worth the investment. Establishing this trust is critical for not only converting your community members to customers, but encouraging them to recommend your course to others.
2. Gamify the course to motivate your consumer.
The best form of marketing is referrals, or word of mouth. The more that initial customers get from the course, the more likely they’ll be to rave to their friends and connections about how helpful it was. It’s not always easy to motivate your customer to actually complete the course, though – even if they’ve already paid for it.
Course consultant Megan Harrison recently helped with the Tony Robbins and Dean Graziosi Knowledge Business Blueprint Course, and incorporated gamification to ensure that every participant would get through the course and ultimately share their genius with the world. “While you can’t force someone to do something, you can incorporate key elements that leverage basic human psychology to motivate your customers to take action, retain what they learn, and engage,” she shared in a conversation.
She recommends that an element of the course is “gamified” to motivate and encourage completion. “I call these things action igniters, stick strategies, and engagement amplifiers. A few examples include worksheets, contests, private facebook communities, live office hours held over virtual Zoom meetings,” she specified.
3. Offer tools for completion, such as digital badges.
It’s estimated that 70% of online course students never end up finishing the course, which means they never achieve the impact they invested in. Carolyne Rattle is the co-founder of the Client Engagement Academy, and they focus firsthand on ensuring students reach their objectives when they purchase and pursue an online course. Online badges are one of their tools for ensuring this. The premise is simple: upon completing a course, the student is given a digital badge that they can share on their Linkedin profile or website, proving their proficiency in that area.
“The Client Engagement Academy’s core principle is building better lives, and we do this by ensuring learners achieve the transformation and outcome they set out to achieve,” Rattle shared in a conversation. “The end result benefits everyone. The more learners master their objectives, the more referrals the courses receive.” In turn, students may be 40-60% more likely to get the outcome they paid for by completing the course – and, the digital badges they sport on their profiles work as a marketing tactic to get more potential customers to your course.
4. Offer a payment plan
Finally, pricing a course can be challenging, because you want to appeal to a wide range of people but also command your worth. If your course is a higher ticket item, consider offering a payment plan. It’s likely that there are customers out there excited and willing to invest in themselves, but feel uncomfortable with such a large investment upfront.
Steve Chou wrote in an article that “there are always going to be people intimidated by a price tag, even if deep down they know it’s worth the money.” Payment plans do a great job at, as Chou says, “making your product as obtainable as possible.”
Your online course is just waiting to sell itself – and help everyone who purchases it!
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