You’ve got an idea for the perfect digital course.
It’s focused on your sweet-spot clients and buyers and you can envision exactly how it will transform their lives by solving a common problem.
Meanwhile, it feels like every Tom, Dick, and Harry—many with far less savvy than you—is offering up a course.
Should you or shouldn’t you buckle down and build yours?
Here’s the skinny on whether you’re REALLY course-ready.
You have an existing audience who will buy from you. This is numero uno. If you haven’t got a vibrant digital list or an engaged social audience (who has proven they’ll buy from you), don’t invest your time and capital in a course just yet. Not sure if you have the right-sized audience? Read this and do the math with your audience and your rough price point.
Caveat: if you have an existing client base that has been asking you for the contents of your course, you may be able to make this work with a very small digital footprint. You can reach out one-to-one to gauge their readiness and the perceived value of your offering. Just remember that when you want to expand your reach, you’ll need to master digital and social tribe-building.
You enjoy the give and take of teaching a course.
Teaching is not for sissies. You must know your content far better than your students (know you’ll learn from them too) and be 100% ready to share stories, tidbits, action items—and to inspire or kick butt. Remember your favorite college professor? Channel that kind of quick-on-your-feet intellect with practical, hard-won wisdom from the trenches.
You’re ready to dive in and learn a whole lot more than you bargained for. Unless you are prepared to invest a tidy sum, you’ll develop the course content yourself. Which means you must constantly evaluate what you’re delivering and to whom. Is your course for business owners? Then you’d better talk like one and show a clear line of sight from your course to their results. You’ll have to choose the right delivery platform. Your website? A learning portal (that you lease and customize)? Or simply a group webinar or phone dial-in series to start?
You are willing to pivot. One of the lowest risk ways to start a course is to pitch an idea to say 20 people you know in your target audience. Not the course, just the idea. What do they like about it? What is less appealing? How would they want to learn? What do they most value from you? Your perfect idea may not survive this intensive, but a variation that will actually work and sell just might emerge. In my first course I listened carefully to this feedback and offered a pricier option—which over half the enrollees wound up buying.
You go deep not wide. For some of us, this is the hardest part. Because as you work on your course content, it is oh-so-tempting to keep broadening your topic. Focus on depth instead. And once you have successfully launched your first course, resist the shiny ball syndrome—reaching for something new because this one is done. Your next step isn’t a new course, it’s doubling down on the one you have. Make it richer, with improved content (not necessarily more—just better). If you did a bootstrap launch, now is the time to enhance your learning materials or how you share your wisdom with your students.
You know exactly how this will fit into your business and revenue model This falls into the “be sure you have a plan” category. It’s not just how you price your offering—which needs to tell a story when all your services and products are arrayed before your clients and buyers. It’s that it has to fit with how YOU want to deliver your value. Will you position this for a subset of your sweet-spot or all of it? Does it replace working with you 1-1 or supplement it? Is it a precursor to your deeper content or does it come only after they’ve experienced you at lower price points? Your plan can change—plans have a funny way of doing that—but you want to start with a clear strategy and position before you embark on course creation.
You will devote as much energy to marketing and selling your course as you did developing it. No lie. For a new course, that’s EXACTLY what the metrics look like. Your first stop: developing the sound bites that will capture the essence of your course and match it to your sweet-spot’s need. Once you’re clear on your message, then you’ll do whatever it takes to entice the right people into your course (and yes, that also means saying no to the wrong-fits). You might—like I did for my ConsultantBrand beta —talk to 42 people (I counted) on the phone to spread the word. We’re talking direct 1-1 emails, phone calls, webinars, Facebook Live, Twitter chats, posting in Facebook and LinkedIn groups, even instagramming to get in front of your ideal buyer. If you can’t commit to this one, you’re dead in the water.
For consultants, courses are the new books. They allow us to shepherd our tribes through a choreographed personal experience that bonds us tightly together.
They don’t work for every consultant—but if you’re truly course-ready, they may be just the right investment.