Where Does Marketing Start?

Source of spring water. Where does marketing start?

Here’s something I haven’t done lately – and I am going to go out on a limb and guess you haven’t done it either: called up five to ten of my customers and asked them to tell me about the challenges they are facing these days. And then listened.

And listened some more.

And ideally, I’d call up five to ten people who I would like to have as a customer, and another five or ten that I have not been able to win as a customer (yes, I confess, it happens!)

This is different from sending out a survey, or conducting a focus group. These tools have their place, but even at their best they tend to be fraught with potential errors and biases.

It’s different from e-mail, though that may have to do in a pinch.

And it’s different, even, from using some of the great social media approaches that are now available for validating your market and “listening” to the Web.

Nothing beats good,  one-on-one, personal conversations for helping us to break down assumptions and put ourselves in the shoes of our customers or members.

That, in my opinion, is where marketing starts: at the place where no assumptions exist.

Which Type of Online Course Business Are You? (And Why It Matters)

Photo of man surround by question marks thinking "Which online course business type am I?"

Getting into the online course business is all the rage these days. You can find any number of newly-minted experts with advice on how to do it, and the market for platforms to help you create and sell online courses is booming.

It’s precisely because there is so much going on out there that it is important to step back and be clear about which type of online course business you represent. Doing this before starting to make critical business decisions will make your life easier in many areas, but I’m going to focus on one area in particular for this post: choosing an online course platform.

You see, choosing the right platform to sell online courses is highly dependent on identifying platforms that were actually designed to work well for the type of online course business you represent. That sounds easy enough, but it gets mucked up all the time out there on the Web.

I continually see lists and reviews that lump together platforms that were designed with very different businesses and audiences in mind. This is confusing for prospective platform customers and apparently it is even confusing for Google, which – for all its supposed smarts – doesn’t seem to know how to keep these types of misleading lists and reviews out of its top rankings.

So what are some major types of online course businesses? Currently, I put them into five categories:

  • Solo or Small Business Edupreneur
  • Traditional training firm going/expanding online
  • Trade or Professional Association
  • Continuing Education Department
  • Corporate Extended Enterprise

These aren’t meant to be exact or exhaustive, but hopefully as I provide a little more information on each, you’ll understand why it is important to distinguish among them. Keep in mind that when I say “online course business,” I am talking mainly about businesses that market and sell online learning to adult learners. So, I’m not focused corporate training departments and I am also not focused on most traditional academic programming.

Now, here’s a bit more detail on each category. [Read more…]

Thinkific Review by a 20-Year E-learning Industry Veteran

Screenshot of Thinkific Web Site for Thinkific Review

First published October 24, 2018

If you are selling or thinking about selling online courses, you don’t have to do much searching to come up with a Thinkific review. There are plenty of Thinkific reviews out there. The main difference this one offers is that it is written by someone with:

  • More than 20 years experience in the e-learning industry, with a specific focus on businesses that sell education (as opposed to, for example, corporate training departments, that do not have to convince their learners to buy)
  • Extensive experience designing, developing, and implementing online course platforms (I was the founder and CEO of an e-learning platform and course development company.)
  • More than a decade of experience tracking and researching online course platforms and helping organizations and individuals pick the right platform for selling courses

I’ve been closely tracking Thinkific and other providers that have emerged as a new class of online course platforms in the past several years. These are platforms that are much more user-friendly and less costly than traditional learning management systems, or LMSes. They are a real boon for solo edupreneurs and small companies that want to get into the online course business. Over time, I think they also have real potential to disrupt the traditional learning management system market.

I plan to do in-depth reviews of a number of these platforms, but I have chosen to do a Thinkific review first because (a) I think the company currently has the most momentum out of any of the comparable online course platforms in the market, and (b) I consistently hear from Learning Revolution readers that they have had a good experience with Thinkific.

So, having said all that, let’s get started. [Read more…]

Camtasia Review – The Go-To Software to Create Video Tutorials

Screenshot of Camtasia dashboard for Camtasia Review

Camtasia is a great tool to create video tutorials.  It offers remarkable screencasting and video editing capabilities at a very reasonable price.

If you are looking to make video tutorials a part of your business model then you have probably noticed there is an abundance of software to choose from. We now have access to a range of tools that make it easier than ever to create video tutorials that not only look amazing but are engaging for your students.

However, the wide variety of options available can make it overwhelming and difficult to know where even to begin. If you are struggling to find a tool that will meet your needs but doesn’t require you to go to film school to learn how to use it then I recommend Camtasia as the first option to consider. [Read more…]

7 “Must Dos” for Running Successful Webinars

Are Webinars part of how you create and deliver online education?

If they are, then you probably realize you are far from alone – the Web is jam packed with Webinars, many of them free, and a lot of them of pretty low quality. Whether you are trying to make money directly through selling Webinars or indirectly by using them as a means of lead generation, you need good ways to stand out from the crowd.

Running successful Webinars isn’t rocket science, but it does require some basic knowledge about the medium and attention to details. To help you out, here’s an excerpt from Chapter 6 of Leading the Learning Revolution, updated and adapted slightly to reflect my ongoing experience with Webinars. [Read more…]