What’s the best way to market online courses?

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What’s the best way to market online courses? Or any other courses, for that matter?

I recently responded to a question on this topic that I received from a newsletter reader. I’ve already shared that response with my subscribers, but I decided it was something I should also share here on the blog.

The person who contacted me already has a course up and running on a platform and was trying to figure out how to market it.

Now, I didn’t actually give my #1 answer to this question in my response. If you have read Leading the Learning Revolution, you will know that my #1 answer is to build an audience before you build your course. If you wait until after, you will be fighting an uphill battle. Ideally, you want to have a decent-sized group of people who have already shown they are interested in what you are doing – preferably by signing up for your e-mail list – and who will be likely to buy when you launch the course.

But, of course, that answer isn’t of much help if you hear it once you have built the course.

So, what’s the best way to market online courses if you haven’t already built and audience?

Based on my own experience selling a variety of educational products, one of the first places I would look for opportunities is with “mid-tier” podcasters and bloggers. These are people who have a decent-sized audience in the niche you are targeting, but have not yet jumped into the big leagues. Definitions of “decent sized” can vary greatly, but I’d be looking for at least 1000 subscribers, and preferably a lot more. (Lower numbers can be okay if the audience is really targeted to what you are offering.)

(You can, of course, also aim for the big leagues, but my aim here is to suggest a strategy that I feel is readily achievable for most of the people reading this post and that will have substantial impact.)

These people are almost always looking for content, and if you have developed a course, it should not be a stretch for you to do a brief audio or e-mail interview in which you provide three highly useful tips from the course. Easy for you. Easy for the podcaster or blogger. High value content for prospective buyers of your course.

And, by appearing on someone else’s platform, you get a nice does of social proof and validation of your authority – two key elements of influencing your market and winning over your audience.

A real bonus is if you can find individuals or companies running Webinars successfully in your niche. Offer to present and discuss some of your key course content through a Webinar and you may also be able to get the registration e-mails for the Webinar to help with building your own list. At a minimum, get a link to the landing page for your course included in the host’s follow up e-mail for the Webinar.

Teachable-smIf you are interested in how to launch a profitable online course as a vehicle for your subject matter expertise, I recommend Teachable’s free weekly Webinar on 7 Steps to Create and Launch Your First Profitable Online Course. And check out the Teachable platform in general. You can create a free course right away, and I know you will like what you see. – Jeff

Don’t hold back.

When you market online courses, it’s critical to put some of your best stuff out there so that people will trust that they will get even more value from the actual course.

“Amplify” the podcast episode, blog post, Webinar – whatever it is – like crazy in the social media channels where you have the most traction.

And make sure you always provide a link to a well-designed landing page to drive actual sales.

That’s what’s worked for me. How about you? What have you found to be most effective in your efforts to market online courses? Drop me a line and let me know.

Jeff

P.S. – Looking for great tools that can help you to market online courses (as well as building and growing your online course business in general)? Check out the Learning Revolutionary’s Toolbox.

The Key to Long-Term Success: Actually Creating and Demonstrating Educational Impact!

Picture of bowling pins as ball hits them

An article in the Wall Street Journal a while back highlighted how corporate training programs are often a waste of time and money. With “little practical follow-up or meaningful assessments,” the article argued, “some 90% of new skills are lost within a year.”

You can debate the validity of the research highlighted in the article if you want, but I know from first hand experience – and you probably do too – that training and education too often gets treated as a “nice to have.” And that viewpoint applies whether you are dealing with a big corporate budgeting department or an individual customer.

Why?

I’d argue one key reason is that people question intuitively whether most training and education offerings really have any impact. It’s not hard to see why when, as the the WSJ article suggests, we often do very little to create or demonstrate educational impact. (Corporation are hardly alone in this: research at my company, Tagoras, shows, for example, that very few trade and professional associations do anything to assess the impact of their educational offerings.)

As a result, potential purchasers may put off buying decisions or – arguably worse – undervalue training and education and shop based on price.

Naturally, these are circumstances you want to avoid if at all possible.  If your goal is to thrive over the long term, you need to create real impact with your offerings and you need to be able to show that you are creating impact.

3 Keys to Demonstrating Impact

So how can you demonstrate more impact with your learning products?

First of all, of course, you need to develop and facilitate great learning experiences that follow the adult learning principals and design approaches I’ve advocated in various places (including, of course, Leading the Learning Revolution). In other words, you need to start with a great product.

But even great products usually need some help when it comes to communicating their value. So, here are three steps to make sure you are taking.

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