Create And Sell Courses Online By Mastering The Six Aspects Of The Business: Topic Selection, Tools, Production, Value Addition, Pricing, And Promotion.
According to GM Insights, the e-learning market size was at around $190 billion in 2018. It’s expected to grow at a CAGR (compounded annual growth rate) of 7% from 2019 to 2025. Every serious Knowledge Commerce provider needs to get into this space.
The reasons for the anticipated rise in e-learning are many. Technology-enabled teaching is increasing in sophistication. It is helping people upskill in areas of profession, lifestyle interests, or just hobbies.
Most people today love being on a constant learning curve, enjoying keeping pace with ideas of the future. They yearn to broaden their horizons and learn new things. Online learning makes it all possible, through any device they prefer.
By creating and selling courses, in your niche, you can empower, entertain, and engage your audiences – and become an authority brand at speed. At Solohacks Academy, we urge you to get your share of the golden opportunities in online course marketing. The demand for interesting and innovative courses is only climbing.
1. Topic Selection For Your Course
Topic selection is a stumbling block for many Knowledge Commerce marketers. This is especially so for first-time course creators. Your challenge is in finding out where you can have the biggest impact. You can never go wrong if you address your target audience’s main pain-points. Ask yourself: Which pain-points most trouble your audiences the most? How can you best help solve these for them?
a. Choosing The Right Topic For Your Online Course
As we noted earlier, the way to pick a great topic is to look at your target audiences’ problem areas. Don’t be general. Be as specific as you can get. If you are a fitness expert, it’s easy to say people have a problem “getting fit and losing weight”. But look at the problem practically instead of theoretically.
A lot of people would like to lose weight when a wedding or an event is to take place, and they want to wear great clothes. So could your course topic be: “How To Lose Weight For An Event That’s 4 Weeks Away”. You can teach them how much weight is possible and safe to lose in the short run and how to do it.
A lot of entrepreneurs are not sure how to find their audience’s pain-points, to begin with. Pain-points can usually be broken down into categories like these:
- Monetary: Financial constraints are often the biggest problem areas people have. They get frustrated when a lack of sufficient money stops them from progress or success in life. Lots of reasons may contribute to a shortage of money to act on something they yearn to. That’s why helping people find the money they need for something that vexes many of them – or suggesting cost-free or low-cost innovative alternative ideas – is so well-received. Money issues are among the eternal pain-point areas that your resourceful courses could help solve for them.
- Learning: Another typical area where audiences in your niche may suffer could be that they’re having trouble learning the many new skills they need. This gives room to teach them many new strategies, tactics, and tricks to do with keeping pace with an ever-changing world. When some technology is new, or some new trends hit the horizon, there is usually a heavy demand from people who want to catch up. For your own safety, stick to topics that look like they will endure … otherwise, your course too will be off the radar if the fad does a disappearing trick too soon.
- Productivity: All people on this planet suffer from problems of self-control and rigor to get work done. There are asked to build their persistence, patience, stick-to-itiveness, determination, or time and money management muscles. But all these are easier said than done. You could help people turn their areas of productivity-weaknesses into strengths by applying habits and systems. There’s perennial demand for productivity-related pain-points.
- Support: If you listen hard to conversations on social media or forums in your niche, you will invariably hear some target audiences lamenting about the lack of support in your niche. We live in an age of technology, which is fickle at best. Glitches will occur. So complaints are always aplenty. This could be your opportunity for building useful courses, if your niche is filled with competitors who like to act blind or deaf to support-issues.
By no means are all these the only kinds of pain-points people have. There could be more, but for starters, I wanted to give you some classic areas to look into. In general, the more you listen to people you want to serve, the more nuanced problems you’ll come across, which you can solve through differentiated and effective courses.
b. Making Sure There’s Good Demand For Your Topic
When you look at the potential demand for your course, you want to be sure a lot of people have the same problem, not just a handful, right? “How many people are there in our niche as a whole, and how many of them may be interested in our course?” is a preliminary question most new course-marketers ask themselves. That is an example of top-down thinking, where you begin with the whole market and think you have to corner a proportion of that for your course.
But then you start balking, because you have chosen a way to think of demand as coming from a bunch of nameless, faceless people who would be hard to convince on the value of your course. It could be that you may need re-affirmation of the value of your course yourself, so you see your recalcitrance as reflected in the market’s lack of eagerness for your course.
Using the bottom-up approach to demand estimation
Smart Knowledge Commerce entrepreneurs should instead begin with small demand estimates which they can later grow – as their own confidence in marketing their courses grows. For instance, you should ask yourself: “Who can be my first 5 customers?” Name them from among people you know and can contact. You will begin to see that some people exist who may be willing to buy the course – or you could at least try to make them do so. When you let yourself feel the potential in your course better, then ask yourself: “Who could be the next 50 customers … the next 100 … the next 500 … the next 1000?” By now you are locating not just individuals you know, but groups you know, who could become customers.
Thinking in this fashion helps your mind grow and swell with confidence to market to all those the right people … those 5, 50, 100, 500 or 1000 people. It’s often diffidence that makes newbie entrepreneurs see the potential for failure before they learn to try the bottom-up approach to demand estimation.
There are always a lot of people in this world with a common problem that your topic could solve. But often, your lack of faith in your course or your marketing skills, could make you hesitant to count them as prospects. If you start with small demand numbers and identify the most likely course-buyers you may have, your mind will open up to the possibility that there could be millions of others with the same problem and they can be contacted in bulk.
Getting very specific about the areas of potential demand
One of the best ways to validate the potential demand for your course topic is social media research. You can also check online forums, or Q & A sites like Quora. See if there’s a lot of chatter around a topic where a lot of people seem vexed. You can thus find nuances within your chosen topic area that have more demand than others.
If, say, your chosen topic is “Learning Hindi in 30 days”. Check if a lot of people are talking more about some part of learning Hindi that vexes them.
Once you’ve found a broad area where many people express angst, drill down the topic. Ask yourself: Why do most of these people want to learn Hindi? What are they specifically looking for? Are they looking for pronunciation help? Do they want real meaty Hindi lessons, or just enough to get by as a tourist in India?
Then see what the competition is offering. Maybe there are enough Hindi courses … but nobody is teaching how to bargain in Hindi with shopkeepers in India, when people travel through the country. See if such a course can give people practical lessons that can help them. Courses with the best demand are those built for practical usefulness in areas of audience vexation.
c. Stating How Your Course Can Help Your Audiences
Always state the benefits of your course using “verbs” and measurable results. People then understand exactly how they will gain from the course. People want practical, measurable outcomes. That helps them judge the value they get for the price they pay for the course. For example, if you state the benefit of your course as “better knowledge about home safety”, it sounds blah, doesn’t it?
But what if you stated the benefits of your course like this? One benefit could be: “You can increase the safety of your home for your kids in at least 15 ways”. Another benefit could be: “You can reduce home insurance premiums by 15% by adopting these safety measures”. See how the verbs and measurability help in quantifying the benefits.
Learn how to justify ROI for courses that you are going to price high
People always follow their hearts in their choices, but justify their heart’s choices with their heads. They may fall in love with your course, because it’s something they always wanted. But, if it’s a high-priced course, they have to have the arguments to tell their heads that it’s okay to follow their hearts. So, that means you always have to give them the financial Return-On-Investment (ROI) math. Learn to do this with confidence.
ROI benefits are usually stated like this. “You are going to spend $1000 on this course, but it can return $5000 worth of improvement in your savings within the next 10 months. Consider that. Isn’t that a good investment in yourself?” Being able to state an ROI benefit is huge when you are selling big-ticket items.
Learn how to justify short-and-long-term benefits for courses with high pricing
People also like to hear about both short-term and long-term value. When they are asked to spend a lot they want to see some immediate results and not always wait for 10 months to see a difference in their lives. It’s like going to a doctor for an ailment. You want him to give you immediate relief from the symptoms of the disease, as well as a longer-term cure for the disease.
So remember that your benefit-platter has to show some immediate improvements for people as well as some enduring gains. This is the formula that most fitness coaches offer, for instance. They always say, “My course will help you drop at least 5 kgs in the next month, and then steadily bring down 8 kgs. per month. It will also help you keep the weight off permanently if you follow the systems I show you.”
2. Tools To Aid Course Production
This is one area I have something important to tell you about. My views run contrary to what the popular market thinks, but that’s why it’s important for you to know.
a. Easy Video Production Studio For A Home Course Creator
Many Knowledge Commerce entrepreneurs, who are tentative about getting into selling courses, think it’s better to start with low-budget course production, and get better equipment and make more professional videos later. But alas, the world judges you by your first impression. That’s something many entrepreneurs I know have learned the hard way.
Even if it’s your first small course, don’t spare the money and make it ultra-slick
My sincere advice to you is to make your first course small, but make it look nothing less than a topnotch product … or you will never be able to sell pricey courses later.
No matter if your first course is small and low-priced for the customer, your brand cannot afford to give it a shabby look and feel. In fact, you can’t shortchange the initial impression you create, so you must dive into course-selling with at least a $500 -$600 set-up budget.
You have to take that risk upfront, and believe you will succeed at selling courses, if you stick with the game and learn what you have to for succeeding. Remember, courses sell for as much as $997 these days. You can recover your investment with just one customer willing to pay you $1 above what you have spent.
With all this in mind, let’s look at course formats
In the hierarchy of course formats, experts believe people react best to video-based instruction. They also like to see the instructor’s face, and see him or her speaking. Credibility is the highest for this mode of delivery. The likeability of the presenter also has a huge impact on people.
But if you are really camera-shy, you can opt to record your voice, reading out a script to match what’s on the screen. Add a photo of your face on a corner of the screen. This is the second-best option, but not as powerful. Some people even pare down courses to a voice-only format (like a podcast), or even make them text-based (which are difficult to learn from).
If your goal is to deliver the most value at a high price eventually, go for the video-instruction format with you speaking to your audiences on screen, with some inserts of screen captures for how-to instructions. So, what equipment and software do you need to create very polished courses?
The basic minimum hardware and software requirements are these
- A good video camera
- A good microphone
- Good lighting
- Video editing software that also allows screen-recordings when you demo what you are teaching
How I too built my home studio like the one in this video
Like all newbies I tried everything that said “make video courses for low-or-no-budget” till I was seriously worried by the results (especially compared to my ultra-professional-looking competitors). Then I came across a video on YouTube (shown below) that settled it all for me. This video shows how to easily and affordably set up a great home-studio for smart and easy course-video production.
See how simply this idea works … just one central post, with arms added to it can fit on any desk. The three extendable and rotatable arms each carry one device – your camera, your microphone, and your lighting. You just need to adjust these gadgets to the best heights and arrangement to get the most professional-looking videos you’ve ever seen.
Use this video (and its description box in YouTube) to get and set up all the equipment needed (works out to about $391 or thereabouts.
b. Simple Tricks For Looking And Speaking Like A Pro On Screen
How do some people speak extempore like they are born to be in front of a camera? It’s no secret. Industry-insiders, news anchors, and politicians, always use a teleprompter. What is that?
A teleprompter is a kind of slowly rolling screen that has your reading script on it in big font. You look directly at it and read aloud, and if your camera is just next to or slightly below, the teleprompter screen, it will look like you are speaking to your audience and not like you are reading from a screen.
How To Use Your Laptop As A Teleprompter For Course Creation
All you need is a laptop that can act as a teleprompter … which you can read your script from, while looking like you are speaking spontaneously. Follow this second video below for tips on how to set up your laptop as your teleprompter (costs nothing if you have a laptop as most of us do).
Decide how much of yourself to show and make sure you look great to the eye
Most speakers assume they are going in for just a head-shot, but remember you don’t want to look like a head on a neck when you’re trying to be authoritative. So let the screen show you at least to midriff level, so your pro-style clothes are also seen.
I can’t emphasize strongly enough that you must be dressed as if you are an authority, while also looking authentic and believable. So remember to keep a balance between formality and informality in your clothing, makeup, hairstyle and posture. Use camera-friendly colors on screen (preferably in sync or reflecting your brand colors in some little way) and see if you can make a certain look and style your own “in-front-of-camera” signature look.
You don’t need special tips to “be yourself at your best”. Use your intuition, feel comfortable in your skin, and so long as your look is non-fussy and well-groomed, you’ll be okay. If you’re basically tidy-looking, and your intention to help customers is in place, you’ll look and feel great to those who listen to you.
Practice, practice, practice … till you’re as perfect as you can be
Try out several trial videos on camera, and when the butterflies in the stomach have settled down, focus on recording your actual course videos.
It’s a good idea to shoot all the videos for the different course modules together – so your look doesn’t change from module to module and look like a fashion shoot of the same model in different clothes under different lighting.
c. The Perfect Video Editing Tool For Course Creation
What about the software for screen capture videos and editing? Camtasia is my first, second and third choice … it’s a hands-down winner. Make sure you get the latest version. It costs $249 or so (one-time payment). Over 24 million people use Camtasia to create videos. You can try it out before you buy it.
Camtasia 2020 for editing and screen-captures
Four things your course-videos can achieve with Camtasia:
- Record anything on your computer screen–websites, software, video calls, or PowerPoint presentations.
- Drag and drop text, transitions, effects, and more in the built-in video editor.
- Camtasia’s free customizable templates can speed up course-videos production time (you get a fairly substantial in-pack library of free screen design templates, video and audio clips, and images you can use).
- Most important of all, their tutoral videos are great, because they teach you to use all the features in their tool, in a way that both rank newbies and experienced video-producers find very useful.
3. Production Of Your Course
One key decision you have to make before you start producing your course is where it will be hosted. You have three options.
- You can host it on your own WordPress website, if you use a plugin that helps you build courseware (like WP Courseware). In this option, you have to set up your own pricing and payment systems via your plugin.
- You could create your course on one of the course-marketplaces (like Udemy), where all the ecommerce and payment collections are done by them. But, you have to comply with their terms and conditions, and you’ll often have restrictions like how much you can price your course.
- You can host your course on a dedicated online course platforms (like Thinkific). Places like Thinkific also offer to manage everything like ecommerce payments, but they don’t interfere with your decisions on pricing.
a. Plan Your Course Content By A Problem-Solution Method
Are you tempted to try and push all the research you’ve done into some course structure? That’s the contrary way to do it. Instead, plan the course by a problem-solution method. There are stages to solving a problem that you must follow for your course. Here’s an example.
- When solving a problem, first describe why the problem occurs. Try to list the reasons. People may find a point of identification with one or more of these reasons.
- Then explain your range of solutions. For each solution say why, and then how.
- After that, state what can go wrong with the solution – and if it does, how to solve it.
- Finally, give something extra for those who are willing to take more risks. Show them a 5X, 10X or 15X solution.
If you have a well-ordered problem-solving strategy as the backbone of your course, life becomes very actionable. The simple structure you see above will give you a clean, practical and immensely useful course.
Add an Introduction module at the beginning and a Summary module at the very end. In between, pack in the 4 main modules (with an intro to that main module plus 3 sub-modules under each). You can extend sub-topics or modules later when you feel ready to create bigger course content, or want to raise prices and value.
b. Scripting Your Course Modules And Lessons
Most of us, who balk at scripting, do so because we’re thinking we have to be as detailed and precise as Hollywood script-writers. That’s not needed at all. There’s no big secret to scripting. It’s just like blogging, except it can be more conversational rather than use stilted “writing language”.
If you’ve done a clear outline for your course model, just write a blog post on that topic, something long enough to read aloud in, say, 4-7 minutes. Once you’ve written it like a blog post, cut the overlong sentences, and make them shorter and smarter. Then read it all aloud to see if it sounds good spoken, rather than reading it mentally as text.
How to convert your content into scripts – the pro-method simplified
Once you’ve satisfied yourself that you’ve covered all ground on the topic, as you wish to, try to visualize the entire video to see where the visual and audio intercuts need to be fitted into your speaking headshots. Where do the screens change and what transitions would you use? Where will you start showing screen captures? Where will the background sounds fit in, if they are to be used? Where will the Powerpoint slide format be useful with bullet points? Where will you give pauses to show famous quotes or let people savor funny cartoons on their own, without your speaking over them?
Find your own format to insert images, audio or video clips, bulleted text, or other inserts into the script. I started out as an advertising copywriter writing TV commercial scripts, so my scripts tend to look like this one below … notice how easy it is to visualize your entire video, and its inclusions, if you separate the script into two columns as “Audio” and “Video”.
Image courtesy: ScriptWriting.biz
c. Make Your Course Modules Engaging, Entertaining, Educative
Assuming that each lesson module may be 4-7 minutes long, don’t let it get blah by just showing you speaking through and through. Videos that are one-dimensional are hardly engaging, entertaining, or educative. They make students drowsy after a while, and that’s when people begin fiddling around with video speed settings to get through it all fast.
Here’s a list of things you can and should add to your course videos for content variety
Keep the visual effects changing at a fluid pace, just enough to make the videos retain students’ attention spans, by using ideas like these:
- Start with signature music and title screens that can emphasize your brand. Then when on-screen talking starts, reduce the background sound to just 5% volume level if you want it to continue under, or silence it completely.
- Use screen transition effects that are elegant (not too jazzy, but still interesting) to move the screen between ideas that you elaborate as you talk.
- Use arrows animations, highlight effects or glow spots on the screen to highlight areas if you are explaining something intricate.
- Use screen captures in between your talking videos if you are demonstrating how-to procedures. Make sure you zoom into areas that are hard to read on-screen if people must see the text therein.
- When making one point after another you can use a Powerpoint type format, with your talking video as an inset picture-in-picture.
- Give enough breathing space between any two concepts you deal with in your videos, by creating title slides that can be slipped in to show the beginning of a new thread of thought.
- Add a cartoon or two in between, if it fits into the lecture, just to create a counterpoint. You can also use sound effects cleverly if they’re right for the milieu. Or add quotes from famous influencers if it helps reinforce one of the suggestions you are making in your course.
- Remember, people love examples and case studies of what you are talking about. They love seeing who else has followed a similar idea. They love seeing the websites of such people. They love a good story you can tell them.
I think you get my point. There has to be variety in your lesson modules, for both the eye and the ear. Monotony is the No. #1 attention-killer – but at the same time, too much on-screen action will reduce your gravitas and not allow people to assimilate what you are teaching them. Use a variety of engagement or entertainment tactics with a view to improve educational value, and not to detract from it.
4. Value Additions For Your Course
There are courses online that range from $97 all the way up to $2997 or even more. Those who charge so high have probably run many smaller courses before. They must have already built up strong trust and reputation. So, don’t aim for four-figure courses if you are starting out.
Wait till you have become a “noted expert” before you set sights too high. At the same time, don’t price a course just above an ebook at $10. What will that say about you? Here’s what you can add to make your courses seem more worthwhile to students.
a. Extra Learning Materials To Support Your Course
It doesn’t make sense to load your course with every kind of support material a competitor offers. Some courses have all kinds of add-ons, making the course a bit too much to handle.
It’s also not too smart to add assignments students can submit. You may not have the bandwidth to handle the workload if you get many students enrolled in each batch. You want to make the course as much of a “passive earning” item as you can … one that can earn while you sleep.
Some clever materials to add to your course, that students will perceive as greater value
- Offering a textual transcript of the course-video as a PDF downloadable file
- Offering a Powerpoint slide presentation containing the key elements of the lesson module – as a downloadable file
- Offering a worksheet to try out exercises suggested in your lessons – again as downloadable file
- Offering an online quiz for students to self-check lesson comprehension – this adds to engagement and interactivity
- Offering case studies linked to your topic, where you describe the challenges and ask the students to try bending their minds to find innovative solutions
- Offering links to your blog posts on the lesson topic that give information to students who wish to read more
- Offering links to ebooks that you can recommend (your own or by others) for students to get more on the topic
As I said before, don’t pack your course with all this … pick one or two really useful learning material additions. Adding too much makes the course look tiresome and difficult.
b. Reducing Chances Of Piracy By Making Yourself Accessible
Some marketers throw in a bit of free consultancy with their courses. They think it will increase the value perception of the course. They also believe it will create a validation for the money charged. But those are not the only reasons why you need to add some access to yourself for learners – there’s another important reason too.
Adding your personal availability to students to make your course piracy safe
People can copy every word of your video or its transcripts. They can copy your downloadable worksheets. But they can never replicate your monthly “after office” group Q & A discussion, masterminds or workshops.
This is where students have access to you directly. Add these free to your course, but don’t call them “consultancy sessions”. Make these interactive sessions about “getting doubts cleared”. This is because you should not devalue your consulting services, in case you may like to sell this separately as one of your services.
How often do you need to hold such “office hours” sessions? Once a week for 30-45 minutes could be ideal, but if you can’t do that, you may want to make it fortnightly. Just make sure you email your students at least three times in every fortnight, with pre-written emails that encourage progress on the course, reiterate your availability in person every fortnight, and point students to your course-dedicated community forum if they have doubts in the interim.
We’ll cover the students forum idea in the next section …
c. Creating Forums For Learners To Help Each Other
People like the feel of a classroom even if they are learning online. So, most marketers create forums. They place these within their courses. Or often, they ask students to join “exclusive” closed Facebook Groups.
Issues about creating student forums that marketers need to beware of
- One: If you have too few students (as most people have with their first course) you will feel defensive about this. I know of marketers who have to keep pretending to be various students. They do this to keep forum conversations going.
- Two: Once you create a forum, you think students will intermingle. You think you can be relatively free of having to support the forum. But in truth, you still have to moderate the forum, answer queries every day, and keep the bustle going. If you have a forum, be ready to be its daily energy-agent. Or if you have some students more pro-active than others, see if they will agree to take turns to be the forum moderators. Many students like to be given such responsibility.
It goes without saying that every forum must have strict rules. Make students understand the etiquette and decency you expect on your forum. Also remember to say that affiliate-product-selling is not allowed on the forum, or you will have students pushing products at each other.
The daily drop of the “brainstorming question” – an idea for marketers
Make sure you pop into the forum each day, for a couple of minutes, and leave one new question on your course topic that you’d like your students to wrack their brains on. It makes you look like a leader whose mission is to awaken others to think about the many topic-related issues. Tell your students that there are no right and wrong answers, as these questions from you are for encouraging brainstorming. When you pop by the next day to leave a new question, you can comment on a few of the answers students have left to your previous question.
This idea of dropping a “brainstorming question” every day is great both for you and for students. You’ll understand more about your students and their problems and delights, and improve your understanding of their psychology. Students will look forward to your new questions to answer, and feel attracted to visit the forum often. They will also feel your subtle presence in the background of the course, without your having to devote all your time to any one of the courses you offer.
After all, if you’re a Knowledge Commerce marketer, your aim is to make and sell more courses and other knowledge products – and not spend all your time handholding students from just one course.
When you add your questions to the forum, make sure you are not specific to any module of your course. Stay with your course topic in general. You want everybody to be participative in answering these questions, including both newbies and old students, who may all be working through different modules in your course.
5. Pricing Options For Your Course
The price of your course affects everything. It affects your brand, your revenue, and your quality of students. Charging too little downgrades the course’s value-perception. Charging too high makes you have to discount the course later, if you can’t get enough students. Here are three pricing strategies to think about.
a. Working Backward To Derive Your Best Course Price
Many marketers work forward to derive course-pricing. They see how much their course costs to create and market. They add a profit and check the competitor levels. Then they decide on a price that’s competitive and profitable.
Do you know there’s another way? It’s the opposite of this method. It’s about working backward.
Setting a price by estimating the ROI of the course
See if you can calculate the value a customer may get from learning your course. How much money can they make over what they do now, by knowing what you teach them? Or how much of wasteful costs can they cut down after your course? Survey audiences if need be.
Then based on their gains or savings, see if you can price your cost 5X or 10X less than the value they gain or save. You’ll then make an effective case when justifying your course price. Let people see the measurable value that if they spend on your price their gain will be 5X or 10X.
When you promote your course, use this same rationale to make people appreciate the value of the course.
Remember, your potential course-buyer is not your enemy trying to wrangle out of your grip without paying the price you ask for. If a potential customer isn’t interested in buying your course, they wouldn’t even bother mulling over the pricing. Customers are always looking for greater gains than what they invest. That’s why you have to show them the clear mathematical value for this return on investment (ROI).
b. Provide Options That Make Your Original Price Look Worth It
A Knowledge Commerce professional I know always has two variants of his course. One variant has no extra mentoring inputs. The other variant includes 2 hours of phone mentoring with added cost. When the two options are placed side by side, customers invariably choose the course without mentoring.
This is because there is a sentence saying students can add on the mentoring option later too. That makes the no-mentoring variant of the course seem like an excellent starting value. So, think about what you can offer extra as a way to make the original costs look smaller in comparison.
The idea that extra mentoring can be availed later as an add-on is also appealing to buyers. They feel like they have an open option they can use at any time after the course.
How to treat the sale when the student buys a course with an add-on
What if students choose the course-plus-mentoring right away? Will you have the time for it? In such cases, where you offer a course plus and add-on service (just to show a price differential to reinforce value), you have to be ready with the mentoring package in case someone wants it too. But don’t balk at the idea of having to create something more than the course.
You have to think of the situation as two purchases from the customer – one for the course, and one for the mentoring. One is about “passive earning” – the course. The other is about trading your time for money – the mentoring.
What’s to complain about, if you want to enjoy income from many different streams in your Knowledge Commerce business?
c. Improve Your Packaging And You Can Improve Your Price
Don’t ever discount the value of your course packaging. A slick-looking course does wonders for your brand. It helps you premium-price the product.
Many marketers think it’s the contents of the course that matters and not how smart it looks. It’s the opposite, I fear. Polish up your landing page, and your course curriculum page, and watch the difference.
People like enrolling in something that makes them feel they’ve chosen from the best-of-breed.
It’s human to crave the best products for yourself. This is particularly so when making a self-investment through training.
The operative word here is “self-investment”. Does your course look like it’s merely filling a gap in people’s lives … or does it look like it will be a lifelong investment in knowledge-growth?
The slicker your course feels, the slicker your customers will visualize themselves becoming, after the course.
6. Promotion Tactics For Your Course
There are three aspects to course-promotion. For starters, you have to nudge people towards the point of decision-making to buy the course. Secondly, you have to get them to a landing page that does a great final sell on the course. And thirdly, you have to keep tracking the performance of your course, to see if it’s delivering on the results you want. Let’s take up these three aspects, one by one …
a. Building A Sales Funnel For Your Course
What is a sales funnel? It is the progression of steps a customer may take leading to deciding on your course. Most people come online, not with an idea of immediately buying, but to lookup more information in an area of interest, need, or problem. The diagram below shows you the typical sales funnel any buyer of any product usually goes through.
They first get TRIGGERED to become aware of something that interests them. They CONSIDER deeper information. They then do some CHOOSING of a shortlist of sellers, and decide to give a chosen seller a TRY.
If happy, they BUY – and EXPERIENCE the service the get with the purchase. If they’re happy again, they REPURCHASE even more products from the same seller, and then start ADVOCATING the seller to their friends.
Here, you can further see that not everybody who starts on the buying journey will complete it. So the crowds that show initial interest thin out as they get nearer the buying stage, hence the narrow bottom of the funnel.
In marketing jargon the first few stage stages of the funnel are called TOFU (Top Of Funnel), then the next few stages are called MOFU (Middle Of Funnel) and the stages that go up to buying are called BOFU (Bottom Of Funnel). Beyond that it’s about customers being so delighted that they become hardcore loyalists, buying more from you or getting friends also to buy from you.
Now why are we looking at all this for your course-promotion? Just to show you that if your course is well-priced, people need a lot of trust in you as an authority to buy your course. They gain that trust when you can handhold them right from the TOFU stages down the MOFU stages and get them to your BOFU stages. Unless you are with them through the whole journey, you can’t grow the kind of trust needed for selling high-priced items.
An example of how the sales funnel should be used for a course
Let’s take an example: let’s say you have a great course on puppy training on your website called CUTEPETS.com. Clearly, those who have taken home puppies recently are the ones going to be worried about training. So, this is what you need to do:
- Start blogging about puppies of different breeds and their care, and get people to grow trust in your topic-knowledge.
- Then gradually, send an email sequence to subscribers who have read many of your blog posts and have joined your mailing list. Get them to receive your “PUPTALK” Newsletters”.
- After that, offer ebooks on puppy diets, or puppy potty-training, or other such subjects, to get people to buy small-priced ebooks from you.
- Once you know they have enough trust in you, then launch the Pup Training course in front of them. By then they may have become so accustomed to following your advice and buying small things from you, that it becomes possible to expose them to your higher-priced course. They know they will get full value from you, because you always deliver more than they expect.
Once you sell one course, it then gets easier to sell another one – like “Handling Dog Training For Grown Dogs” or “Physiotherapy for Old Dogs”. You can also ask people to refer friends to your site – which they will, because you know dog lovers tend to congregate at parks and on-street walks.
This is how promotion should be done. Build trust in yourself and your brand gradually, to build up your big-earning potential.
b. Creating A Dedicated Landing Page For Your Course
The landing page on your site for your course is the sales-clincher page. It’s the page where you want people to click the “BUY NOW” button with total confidence.
Landing page construction is an art in itself, because it is where the rubber hits the road. It has to do a splendid job of converting last-minute ditherers to make that decision in in your course’s favor.
What should go into a landing page – and what should not
Let’s stay with our pup training course example, to see how a landing page needs to be constructed to get the final buy-in. See the the example below to know the elements that any good landing page should have.
(Click the image above to see an enlarged version.)
Keep all the elements you need on the landing page to seal the deal, but brevity is important. You don’t want to delay a customer from taking action by giving him or her too much to digest.
Most important: Notice how a landing page never has anything else that’s clickable, other than the BUY BUTTON. That’s why landing pages are usually standalone pages that never show you site’s navigation bar, or sidebar, or any other distraction.
c. Evaluate Your Course For Students’ Goals Achievement
There are many ways to track the performance of your course. Most often Knowledge Commerce entrepreneurs see if the course is meeting their own business goals. But isn’t it smarter to see if the course is meeting your students’ goals? If your customers succeed, you automatically succeed.
Nothing can ever be better for your course than the word-of-mouth advocacy of a delighted student who goes on to achieve big success. The student won’t wait for others to ask. That student will burst at the seams to tell the world about you and your course.
One simple but powerful way to measure students’ value-perception of your course
There’s just one thing to add to your course to get answers from students on whether the course was a positive inflexion point in their lives. At the very start of the course, ask your enrolled students for their No. #1 goal in taking your course. Also, make sure to ask them how far they already are towards achieving their goal … are they 20% there, or maybe 30% there? That way you can assess the typical starting level, and the outcome expectation level, of each student starting the course.
Then at the end of the course, remind them of what they stated as their No. #1 goal at the beginning. Ask them how much further they feel they have come to achieving their goal, now that they’ve done the course. Do they say 60%, 70%, or 80%? How do THEY evaluate the value they have received, in the context of the goal they stated earlier?
Why is it important to remind them of the goal they stated at the beginning, when you ask them the evaluation-question at the end of the course? That’s because humans have a tendency to forget why they started something, and their goal-posts keep shifting. If the reference point for the evaluation shifts, how will they rate your course? They may evaluate based on changed goals, which will give both them and you a wrong picture.
Remember this truth. How your customers perceive value is the real value of your course. No other measurement parameters matter when your customers have their own evaluating metrics.
In Summary …
- You can never go wrong in your course topic-selection if you address your target audience’s main pain-points. Ask yourself: How can you best help solve these for them?
- No matter if your first course is small and low-priced for the customer, your brand cannot afford to give it a shabby look and feel. Buy topnotch tools for course-videos recording and editing.
- Decide where to host your course, plan your outline using a problem-solution method, learn course scripting, and make course modules engaging and entertaining to raise educational value.
- Add useful extra learning assets to your course, but not assignments for students to submit. You won’t have the bandwidth to handle workloads if you get many students enrolled in each batch.
- You can “work backwards” to derive course price, or offer extra add-ons to make your original price look worth it. Either way, slick packaging enables premium-pricing of your course.
- Get and hold potential students from the early stages of the sales funnel till they buy, build a smart landing page, and let customers’ goal success be your measure of course performance.
So What Are Your Thoughts? Do Share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of Knowledge Commerce solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us, in the comments field below this post.
This post is part of a series that elaborates on “How To Create And Sell Online Courses Via Knowledge Commerce“.
Other related posts you may like to read are these:
- How To Pick Online Course Topics … 10 Clever Strategies
- How To Create Engaging Online Courses … 10 Pro Techniques
- How To Produce Tutorial Videos For Courses … 10 Tactics
- How To Structure An Online Course With Ease … 10 Hacks
- How To Market Online Courses To Drive Sales … 10 Tricks
- How To Teach Online Courses With Great Skill … 10 Ways
- How To Build A Sales Funnel For Online Courses … 10 Steps
- How To Price Your Online Course For Big Revenue … 10 Hints
- How To Protect Your Online Course From Thieves … 10 Ideas
- How To Evaluate Your Online Course As A Student … 10 Keys