Creating an online course is a challenge in itself. Building an actual modulated learning course for online course does have its own demands and problems but, if you do it right, you might just end up with a course that not only will attract a lot of people to your platform but will maintain some sort of relevance to be a sustainable product for your online business.
However, creation of the online course is just the first hurdle you would have to clear in order to make your online venture successful. The next challenge is actually generating enough interest for your course that people will actually subscribe to it. This is where the art of selling comes into play and, in regards to online courses, there are several basic concepts that you have to address first.
Finding Your Niche
The first thing you have to understand is that your online course (or any online course to that effect) was not made for everyone. The value it brings differs from person to person and the overall value that your online course should offer is one that centers around solutions for very specific problems or other real concerns. To niche your business properly, there are a few tips to keep in mind.
- 1. Identify the Problem
This is quite basic but your online course must be built from the ground up to answer a problem or, at the least, a very specific set of problems. By identifying what kind of challenge or scenario your course aims to address, you might just get an idea as to the kind of people you would actually want to sell your online course to.
For example, you might be an expert outdoorsman/hunter and you want to make an online course that teaches people how to survive in the wild. To have an idea as to what your online course might look like, you should first lay out what kind of problems do people of your kind face when you go outdoors. This might be finding a perfect spot to set up camp, fending off scavengers and large predators, conditioning the body for the tough outdoor weather, or assembling a basic survival kit.
The goal here is to give your would-be online course some sort of direction to follow so you’d have an idea as to the kind of niche you want to hone in on the market.
- 2. Mark The Target
After setting up a general direction that your course would want to take, the next step is to hone things down a bit further. You can do this by identifying the kind of people who would actually face the same set of problems that your course is trying to address.
Going back to the Survival online course example. A quick glance at it would tell you that your course was made for people who have an interest in going out in the wilds. However, you can make your target even more specific by segmenting your general target into different demographics.
When it comes to survival, you can divide your target market according to their skill levels like Beginner, Slightly Experienced, and Veteran. So, in this regard, you can make your online course target beginners by offering basic survival tips or experienced survivalist by introducing more advanced lessons later on.
You can even divide your target market into other sub-interests. For instance, survivalists have different needs and concerns compared to backpackers, hunters, and climbers. If you really want to, you can even divide your market into the basic demographics of age, gender, income status, and region.
It’s up to you, really, to mix and match the demographics your online courses will target. Just make sure that those people will actually find your courses to be helpful once they start subscribing.
- 3. Set Up the Angle
Selling your online course involves more than just finding the right people to focus on, it’s also about making your own offerings stand out from the competition. This can be a challenge in itself especially if the course you are offering talks about a subject that has been tackled countless times by other course creators in the past.
Apart from making sure that your work does not plagiarize others, the best strategy here is to find an angle unique enough to make your ideas seem fresh and new to your audience. It really boils down to your own set of skills and expertise as you might have a different perspective to other course creators to make your solutions just unique yet equally effective to what they offer. Perhaps you’ve been tackling the same problems other face in a different way and you want others to know about it, too.
For instance, you might offer your course to beginners who have little to no experience in the field or to experienced people who want to venture new territories. Adding a few more qualifiers to your target market makes your online course more unique in its offerings which should make it stand out from the competition. At least, it should have more personality than those basic, generic online courses that tackle very broad subjects.
The Rules of Promotion
There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to selling your online courses. However, it would still be better to keep in mind a few things in order to make your sales strategies all the more effective. Here are two that you should really remember:
- 1. Sales Funnels Matter
When it comes to online courses, it is not enough that you generate enough interest for whatever course you offer. Sure, fame is preferred as being more recognizable tends to increase sales but it’s not enough. Your potential audience should complete the process of being converted to people merely interested in your brand into paying customers or students if you want the course itself to be a sustainable venture.
This is where a sales funnels comes into play and the best often follow the same scheme:
1. Attracting audiences
2. Establishing a Relationship
3. Offering Value
This narrative is easy enough for you to follow which should help you turn a problem a person is currently facing into a learning opportunity for them (and an earning opportunity for you).
- 2. Service Will Matter, Too
Here’s the thing: Most of your audience could care less about the objectives you yourself have set up for your online learning course. You might have put up a lot of effort setting these goals up yourself but if they don’t resonate with your target audience, they won’t matter.
As far as promotion for your courses are concerned, they all should answer the same basic question that a person might have: What can I get from it? The promotional message itself should center around the fact that your course is giving the audience some value. As to what that value is, that’s up to your audience to determine and not for you to dictate. To put things simply, your course should give them an opportunity to change their perspective on something or, at least, equip them to address it themselves.
The Different Selling Strategies for Online Courses
Visibility is the name of the game for selling online courses. You should generate enough interest in it beforehand so that people will eventually come to you and subscribe to whatever you are offering.
As is with anything, there is no definite strategy to selling your online course meaning what works for others might not work for you and vice-versa. With that said, however, there are some nifty selling strategies that you can use to drum up enough hype for your course.
- 1. Video Promotions
It makes sense to go where people gather and vide-sharing sites often have the largest communities comparable to that of social media. This is what makes video promotions an effective selling tool for your online course as you can quickly convince others to subscribe to your course in no less than a minute with a well-made video promo.
The best place to host your vide promotion now is YouTube as that site averages at 30 million visitors per day with goals ranging from education to entertainment. As for creating your promotion, you need not worry. It can be as simple as you talking for 30 seconds or a minute about the course you have and what people can expect from it. If you want something a bit more elaborate, there are a number of video recording and editing tools out there that can help you create a highly engaging piece of promotion.
- 2. Podcasts
This is where Repurprosing starts to come into play. If you have audiences that respond well to audio-visual media, then you have a portion of that same audience that prefer to listen to you on purely a visual and auditory level. This is where a podcast can come into play as it caters generally to audiences of the auditory kind. Basically, you take excerpts from your book and allow other people, especially influential people you have befriended or at least invited to the podcast to chime in and provide their own perspective on the same subject.
Not only does this allow your course to be reformed into another form of content but the core message of it can be enhanced and enriched as you take in other opinions. In other words, your podcasts are not only a promotional and selling tool, they allow you to generate feedback from your work which should help you improve on it later one.
A podcast is also an effective tool to build your reputation in the market. By inviting people to it, you can make the connections necessary to expand your reach in the market which, if done right, can boost sales for your future online courses. Simply put, you can sell yourself as well as your product if you start hosting podcasts from time to time.
- 3. E-Books
If podcasts cater to audiences that prefer to consume content on an auditory level, an e-book will cater to those that prefer their content to be purely visual in nature. Simply put, an e-book is a repurposed version of your online course made to fit the confines of a typical digital book often sold in sites like Amazon. This means that creating one should be easy as you are necessarily transposing your modules into text-based content divided by several chapters.
Of course, this does not mean that you have to tell everything in that e-book. There might be some topics that require further elaboration that only your online course can tackle. This can be an opportunity in itself to convince your audience to subscribe to your lessons in two different platforms to get the best possible learning experience.
- 4. Early Access
Here’s a tried and tested selling strategy that has been used even way before online courses were a thing. Basically, teasers and trial versions of soon-to-be-released products can generate a lot of interest for you as they give consumers an idea as to what they can expect from your product once its full version is released in the market.
This is basically a bite-sized version of your online course, tackling the introductory portions of it. Of course, the key here is to convince your audience to buy basically the same product twice. This is where incentives come into play as you can offer perks to those students that availed of the pre-release version like access to later modules at an earlier period or discounts at their monthly subscription fees. It’s up as to how to incentivise the act of subscribing early to your course. Just make sure that the rewards are quite considerable to keep your early students interested enough to stick around for the full version’s release.
What other problems and opportunities do you see in selling/promoting your online courses? What other strategies have you used to reach out to your potential audience? Let us know in the comments below!