In this blog we cover a 5-step plan to create a course to sell. In five steps you’ll have a course that will be profitable and effective.
It may sound simple, but there’s a big difference between creating a course, and creating a course that will be profitable and effective. You need to understand your market and your target customers, how your course will differ from your competitors, whether there is a need for your course and the desired outcomes of your audience.
Follow these five steps to validate your course idea before you launch it.
5 step plan to create a course to sell
Research your competitors
If you’re not sure who your competitors are, then a good place to start is with a quick Google search of your keywords (ie. “senior leadership communications course”) to see what else is out there. For a more comprehensive result, consider using a keyword research tool such as AlsoAsked, Moz or Google Keyword Planner.
Look at what courses your competitors are running and then think about how your course will be different. From there, create a spreadsheet with a list of your competitors, their courses, prices, and what they offer. It’s also important to take note of what they don’t offer, as that’s where your biggest opportunity lies.
Know your audience
When it comes to creating a course it’s important that you don’t try to cater to everyone. Figure out your target audience and cater specifically to them. Once you’ve figured out your target audience, it’s time to really get to know them. Seek to learn their goals, influences, motivators and paint points. Understand the knowledge, skills and attitudes that are important to them. Figure out how they best like to learn – this will help you cater your content and your delivery method accordingly.
If you’re unsure how to gather this information about your target audience, Arlo’s team of learning designers can run a discovery session with you to uncover this information. From there, they can help you create learning personas that will help drive strategic learning design decisions, such as the type of courses you should be offering, and the best way to deliver them.
Nail your unique selling point
Go back to your spreadsheet where you did your competitor analysis. Look at what your competitors offer and pinpoint the gaps in the market. Look for key benefits that could fill with your course that your competitors don’t offer. For example, do you host an online forum to connect with other learners? Do you have an extensive resource library? Are you certified in your field? Do you offer direct access to your instructors, to answer tricky questions? Do you offer a follow-up course to further extend their knowledge and skills?
This information should help create clarity around your unique selling point (USP). Once you’ve nailed that, push that point until the cows come home. Use it on the homepage of your website, on your course listing, use it in your social media marketing, on fliers, brochures, and in your emails. Make sure that message is communicated clearly, delivered consistently every time, and is in your brand tone of voice.
Your USP is what will make you stand out from the crowd. And more importantly, from your competitors.
Validate your findings
You’ve already researched your competition, so you know there’s other companies out there that have already determined that there is market demand for similar courses. That’s a good first step.
The next step is to talk to your target audience and find out if they would be interested in taking your course.
Ask about their pain points and challenges, their learning outcomes, and the skills they’re seeking to learn. Ask what type of learning experiences they enjoy, and how much they’d be willing to pay your course.
If you don’t already have a group of customers, or an email subscriber list, that you can reach out to, then look for these people in relevant community groups and professional networks. LinkedIn is a great place to start.
You could even run a free webinar on a similar topic, to test demand. An added bonus of this is that you now have a list of email addresses you can promote your course to.
Pilot your course
Piloting a course is a great way of testing out your course on a real audience, before launching it to a wider market. You could offer your course for free, or a discounted price, to some of the people you talked to in step 4. Keep your audience small.
Be upfront and clear that the course is a pilot and that you’re seeking honest feedback in return for the discounted registration. Run multiple polls and surveys throughout the course, and after it, to learn how your course can be improved.
You can also ask your pilot audience to provide written testimonials for your website, write online reviews, and promote the course to their own networks.
There you have it in five steps – how to create a course to sell. Once you’ve got that nailed you can move onto ways to market your course, and ways to help manage your course registrations and the other logistical aspects of running a training business. When it comes to the latter, a training management system like Arlo will take care of that. Try it for yourself with a free 14-day trial.