How to Connect Online Courses Together for Increased Income and Impact

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Today’s LMScast is an international location-independent broadcast with Joshua Millage in New Zealand and Chris Badgett in Montana. In this episode they’ll show you how to connect online courses together for increased income and impact simply by realizing your potential.

When you’re building an online course it’s easy to get immersed in necessary details like design, marketing, and delivery, but you also need to visualize a bigger picture of what you want your business to become.

One of the best ways to scale your business is to connect courses together that students may want to pursue when they finish the current one. You probably already have several courses in mind or already developed, but you may not have thought about relating those courses or subjects to each other in a cohesive progression.

It may seem natural to offer beginner, intermediate, and advanced courses, but often the first course satisfies the student’s interest in that subject. But while they are looking over their choices they are in the mood to buy and might consider a second course – related or not – especially if you offer a package deal.

This buyer psychology has been proven with fast food meal deals. The buyer usually doesn’t want two burgers, so a BOGO offer is not so appealing. But people will usually round out their meal with fries and a drink. An up-sell like this represents an amazing increase in profit.

Apply this concept to your course offerings, and you can see how a package deal can offer more value to your students while increasing your profit significantly. It’s an easy strategy to implement, and setting up a promotion like this is a simple task if you build your courses with a platform like LifterLMS with up-sell capabilities built in.

Automating your offers is highly effective, and that’s also built into LifterLMS. You can have a set of related courses appear below a course description when a customer views the page. These would be sorted in response to the search terms, so the courses shown would be complimentary to the interests of the student.

Knowing some basic business strategies and fundamentals like up-selling, down-selling, and cross-selling can enhance your student experience and expand your business. Our LifterLMS course development platform has these strategic tools built in, so you can quickly learn how to connect online courses together for increased income and impact. Try a demo of LifterLMS and see for yourself what it can do for you.

Remember that you can post comments and also subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us.

And if you’re an already successful expert, teacher or entrepreneur looking to grow, check out the LifterLMS team’s signature service called Boost. It’s a complete done for you set up service where your learning platform goes live in just 5 days.

Episode Transcript

Joshua: Hello, Everyone. Welcome back to another episode of LMScast. My name is Joshua Millage, and I’m joined today with Christopher Badgett. We are still on our few month stint now of international episodes. I’m on the other side of the globe in New Zealand, and Chris is broadcasting from Whitefish, Montana. It’s exciting, because we are actually practicing what we preach here about being location independent educational entrepreneurs.

Today we’re going to talk about a really interesting subject, and it’s how to connect online courses together for increased income and impact. Chris, I’ll let you have the mic first to talk about this idea, and then I’ll offer some strategies.

Christopher: Absolutely. I’m proud to announce that with our WordPress LMS plugin, LifterLMS, we recently released a feature where you can actually create or trigger what we call an engagement, which can be a certificate, a gamification instance, like a badge, or an automated email based off of the completion of a collection of courses. Not only can you string courses together with LifterLMS, you can also trigger a certificate program, or something like that. I’m really excited about that feature that bubbled up from our customer base, as in we kept seeing the request over and over again, so we just went ahead and built that right in.

I think it’s really important as an education entrepreneur, you got to focus in, you got to get the work done, you got to focus on shipping your course, but there’s some real magic that happens when you take a step back, look at the big picture and start connecting courses together for a greater cause, or greater purpose.

As an education entrepreneur, education is all about impact and the entrepreneurship is also about impact and creating value, but it’s also about building a business and generating income. When you connect those courses together, you can get that double win of changing lives and more money. I want to turn it over to you, Josh, on some strategies about how to go about all that.

Joshua: In a recent episode we talked a little bit about this, but I wanted to kind of drive the point home, because I think that a lot of people have multiple courses, and they do a really poor job of selling together, selling their course suite. A lot of times what they do is, they take a beginner course, and if they up-sell at all, which they probably don’t but they should, is that they offer the next thing in that learning progression. They offered the beginner’s course, and that’s what’s someone buys, and then on the check out page they offer the next, the more advanced course. That usually doesn’t work, because in buyer psychology, if I have a pain that you’re solving, let’s talk about gardening for a second, if I want to know everything about permaculture design and permaculture gardening, and I come and buy a course, then I’ve solved that pain by that purchase action. But I am in a buying behavior, I’m in a ‘yes’ mode. I’m probably highly likely to buy something else. Usually it needs to complement that first thing, but not be the next, more advanced version of it. Psychologically, I’ve solved the pain of gardening, what else might I be interested in that because I’m in this buying behavior, that if you offered me would be an interesting buy that I might take advantage of, because I’m already in that buying behavior.

A good example would be beekeeping. Beekeeping is in the same realm of gardening, but it isn’t the same thing as gardening. I solved my pain point of gardening. I didn’t even really know I had a pain point around beekeeping. It maybe wasn’t even on my radar, but your pitch was something along the lines of, “Hey, great complement to growing a great garden is beekeeping, because bees can pollinate the garden, and you can also get some honey that could help with, local honey’s known to help with allergies and that sort of thing. Right now you can purchase that course for a one time offer of X, Y, and Z.”

That’s a really strong offer. You solved the pain point of gardening, and you got them curious about something that they might not know they’re interested in, but they’re in that state of, what they call … I’m blanking on the term … hyper-acceptance? They’re in a ‘yes’ mode, basically. They’re willing to say yes to more things. We see it all the time. “Would you like to super size that?” McDonald’s has made so much money.

I saw an interesting study about this, and I’m not a huge fan of McDonald’s, but I do admire their business model, because they’re such an optimized machine, for better or for worse. They don’t make a lot of money when you go and buy a cheeseburger. The profit on that cheeseburger is next to nothing, it’s a few pennies. When they say, “Would you like to super size that?” On the Coke and the fries, they make like eighty to ninety percent profit. I don’t have the exact stats, so don’t quote me on all that, but it’s something crazy. They actually make a lot of the cash on the up-sell. They’re not offering you another cheeseburger. You bought the cheeseburger, but they’re not offering you, “Oh, would you like another cheeseburger? Or would you like, actually, a double-decker cheeseburger?” That doesn’t make sense. My hunger is being satisfied by the cheeseburger, so I don’t need another cheeseburger, but fries sound nice, and of course I want a drink, because I’m going to be thirsty.

If you take that model into your online course, you could have some wild productivity. It’s also a way of selling that doesn’t make you feel shady, because you’re just offering more value at the right time, and you’re positioning it to be a bigger value package for the online student.

Christopher: I guess that’s why McDonald’s calls that the value meal, right? It’s like a combination.

Joshua: Yeah. They’ve totally got it dialed. That’s one thing, too, that I try and do. I look at customers and say, “What are they actually doing here? Why are they doing it?” And see how I can model that into online courses. It’s kind of a known fact, and I have parents that are educators, that teachers aren’t always the best business people. That’s okay. They’re not supposed to be. I think with this podcast and what we’re doing is, we’re trying to offer easy to implement strategies that people can implement right away with systems like LifterLMS, it’s really not that hard to set up that kind of up-sell like I talked about.

Christopher: Absolutely, let me just speak to that point. With LifterLMS you could actually set up an engagement where at the end of the course beekeeping, once they’ve completed it, an email goes out where you structure this message or this offer while they’re in that buying behavior and that satisfaction of completion, recommending another course. Have a link there, and they can just easily just continue on and explain why you think that’s valuable. Not only can you implement that, you can also automate that with LifterLMS.

Joshua: Yeah, absolutely. There’s a lot we can do, and I think our feature set in the future will actually offer more features around this exact thing. I’m excited. It’s an exciting time to be in this world of online education. It’s really the wild west. These tactics, like the one we shared today on how to create online courses together for increased income and impact, is something that’s huge. I think the impact too, I don’t want to shy away from that point, but by putting these courses together and then using the technology that is available, like in LifterLMS, to engage people to get them to complete that 101 course and get them to complete that next course, the impact that you can have with your students is magnified, for sure.

Christopher: I just want to throw out another point, too, like your using the example of McDonald’s. I think it’s really important that however you feel about McDonald’s, positive or negative, it’s actually a really good opportunity to look at a company that you may not agree with, like McDonald’s or Walmart or, I’m just pulling this out of my hair, the pickup artist community. If you’re not really into marketing or sales, go look at what you see as like shady salesmanship, whether it’s a used car lot or whatever it is, and there are valuable lessons in there. You just need to do it with style and do it with ethics. Always have an open mind, especially in the world we live in today where we’re getting bombarded with advertising. You can learn from that, and you can learn how to do sales in a very respectable, ethical way where you’re adding value, and you feel really good about your messaging.

Joshua: Absolutely.

Christopher: I just wanted to throw that out there.

Joshua: Yeah, I think it’s a great point. I think that one of the ways that I’ve learned marketing is to go to the extremes. The extremes show the … like the old direct mail sales letters are a good example of this, the stuff that’s like, “Rub sickness out of your stomach using only the palm of your hand.” Or something, like crazy stuff. There’s some of these sales letters that did millions of dollars, and you’re like, “Really? People bought that? What did they do?” I’m not saying I agree with that. It’s clearly, I mean, maybe it works. I don’t know. I don’t want to judge, but the thing is, it’s like it worked. Psychologically it caused someone to pull out their wallet and buy.

If you go and you read through those, you’ll start to see some commonalities about how sales messages are structured. You can decompress that, and you can use that to learn how to sell whatever it is you’re passionate about. I think it’s good to learn at the extreme and then taper it back to you and your personality. Of course you don’t have to be a, “Buy now. Sunday. Sunday. Sunday,” sort of guy, but it’s good to understand why they do that.

Christopher: Yeah. Don’t look at marketing and sales as evil. Some of the same tactics are used in the letters you get in the mail trying to get you to donate money to the nature conservancy.

Joshua: Oh, absolutely.

Christopher: It’s the same stuff.

Joshua: Absolutely.

Christopher: Have an open mind. Maybe just to wrap it up, Josh, I’d turn it over to you. Sales is one of your expertise. This is a really value packed episode. Help us understand the difference between the up-sell, cross-sell, and down-sell and just drop one more knowledge bomb on the crew here at LifterLMS and LMScast.

Joshua: Let’s start with up-sell and down-sell. Cross-sell’s a little different, and it can mean different things to different people. An up-sell, to me, is something that you offer in the buying process that complements what you’re selling, but it’s not exactly the same.

Christopher: “Would you like fries with that?”

Joshua: “Would you like fries with that?” Yeah. It doesn’t have to be more money, but usually it is an up-sell. It doesn’t have to be though. It could … if your initial product’s fifty dollars, the second one could be a hundred. That’s where, if you’re doing that progression, like fifty to a hundred, so fifty dollar course, hundred dollar course. Your down-sell would be if they said no to the first sale, the first up-sell, then you offer a down-sell, which is actually a cheaper product. So maybe fifty dollars to a hundred to twenty-nine, or it could be fifty. There’s no hard and fast way. Basically up-sell is something that you offer in the sales process, and a down-sell is something if they say no to that.

A cross-sell would be a way of selling a complementary product, but it’s not usually in the buying process. It’s usually after. At the end of a course, you cross-sell to another course. “If you like this course on gardening, check out our beekeeping.” It’s a little different. It’s not in the sales process. That’s my observation, there’s definitely other interpretations of that, but that’s what I view those as. Whether or not I have the terminology right or wrong to a T, they’re powerful concepts either way. I hope that people take advantage of them and start to use them to increase their income and their impact.

Christopher: Awesome.

Joshua: Yeah. You have any final thoughts?

Christopher: I would just say, if you haven’t already, try to master the fundamentals of marketing and sales. And I’ll just point you to a great book, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. The author’s name escapes me at the moment, but just Google that.

Joshua: John Trout, I think his name is.

Christopher: Jack Trout. Yeah.

Joshua: Jack Trout.

Christopher: Yeah, there you go. That’s a great one, and it actually references some of the bigger brands like McDonald’s or Coke or whatever. There’s some valuable lessons in there to help you in just figuring out this ascension model and how you’re going to sell and cross-sell and all these things.

Joshua: Right on. All right. Thank you, Everyone, for listening. Until next week, we’ll talk to you then.

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