How to Use Online Courses to Create a Community Around Your Product or Service

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Get some fresh ideas for 2016 with this LMScast featuring Joshua Millage and Chris Badgett. In this episode you’ll learn tips on how to use online courses to create a community around your product or service based on real user applications.

In a previous LMScast Joshua and Chris interviewed Kim Albee, founder and president of WP Marketing Engine. Kim uses LifterLMS to create training, user guides, and community discussion forums for her marketing automation platform. She says online courses are a great way to help new users get on board with the software, and her BuddyPress user communities allow her to gain valuable feedback from customers.

Online courses can generate income, but they can also serve as an added value for helping users implement other products and services. Users will often find the help they need in discussion forums, so you spend less time and fewer resources on customer service. You also benefit from user innovations and can gather testimonials and case studies from your clients. And unlike a social media group, you manage and control your own communities and forums.

The LifterLMS demo is a great example of an online course used as a promotional application, providing a fully functional tour of the software with step-by-step instruction, so customers know exactly what they are buying and how it works for them before they purchase. Plus LifterLMS integrates seamlessly with most other applications.

Your online communities can help you improve your offerings by showing you how users customize their work with your product or service and incorporate those ideas into your future products. Having a VIP or Mastermind forum can further enhance the quality of information you receive and provide valuable user experience for your higher-end clients. Make sure you set up a FAQ section, too, as those interactions give you a foundation for designing your online courses.

Check out our LMScast interviews with Kim Albee and with Michael Eisenwasser of BuddyPress, to learn more about how to use online courses to create a community around your product or service. Then try the LifterLMS demo 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. I’m Joshua Millage. I’m joined today with Christopher Badgett. Today, we’re talking about how to use online courses to create a community around your product or service. Chris, you recently did an interview with a LifterLMS customer around this topic. You guys did an incredible deep dive. What are some of the key takeaways for you out of that interview?

Chris: That was an interview with Kim Albee. What she was doing is she was using online courses as a way of onboarding her customers for her product WP Marketing Engine into … She basically used online courses as part of a community that had online courses and user guides, some forms, and some other things to set up the people who purchased her product, her service to be able to successfully implement and use it.

What my biggest takeaway of all is that we could do online courses not just for teaching a course and selling it or giving away free access. We can also use as an online course not really as a money generator, but as a value add to our customers to help make sure that they are successful implementing our products and services in a more automated way without necessarily building a giant customer support team.

Joshua: Absolutely, I think the key too, is what I’ve realized in the last year or so of launching and building LifterLMS is that your customers are going to figure out ways to use your product, if you have a product, in ways that you never thought were possible. The best way to figure that, intake that information because it’s great for testimonials, it’s great for case study, it’s great for so many different things, is to have a community that you manage, that you control, not a Facebook one, but one that you manage and control. That’s something that we’ve done through our forums. We also have a Facebook group. That serves a different purpose I think. When you really have an engaged community and you stoke the fire, that community will add value that you just can’t.
Chris: Absolutely.
Joshua: We’re not in the marketing automation software space, but Kim is. She is using it in ways we never thought possible.
Chris: Absolutely and even with our demo, if you go to, it’s also to showcase our product and how it works, how LifterLMS works before people buy so they can see exactly what they’re buying. It’s quite a long course. It’s twenty video lessons. That gives you a really complete tour of the product. It’s also useful for customers who purchased LifterLMS to be able to use that as a setup guide of sorts, especially if they’re more visual or video inclined to successfully implement LifterLMS, which then saves us some frequently asked questions and customer service support time.
Joshua: I think the other thing, too, that I’ve enjoyed seeing is that around a service I think that it helps people who do custom work. If you have a community and you’ll figure out ways to make your services more profitable. What I mean by that is you’re going to have a place to look to see what was the most valuable thing I did in that service. Then you can go into the thought process of systemizing it and productizing it so that you can earn higher margins on that service.
I think that is actually a big opportunity in the service space right now is no one is really doing a good job, I think, of creating communities around service-based businesses. I think that that’s something that I thought about with the codeBOX, high-end clients. What if there is a VIP group or place for them to get value from each other because they’re all doing massive things online? It’s almost like a premium Mastermind. Our client base is. They don’t know it yet. I’ve thought about how do we do that there? I think it’s possible. I think it’s important.
Before I forget, if people want to go check out that in-depth interview with Kim, you can text the word customersuccess. It’s one word, customersuccess to 33444. We’ll send you a link where you can go and check out the interview that Chris did with Kim, which I was a part of it too. It was actually really fun, all three of us. It was a three-way, multifaceted interview, which was really fun. Chris, what is some of the actions steps? If someone is like, “Well, I hear what you guys are saying, but how do I start?” What would you say if someone who wants to create a community, maybe they have an e-book or an online training course or maybe they have a software product? What would you tell them to do first?
Chris: I would say take a good look at your frequently asked questions and use that as a starting point for an outline for an online course. Then put that somewhere either publicly so that it can be accessible and become a marketing tool for you or if you don’t want it public, just keep it private and invite all your customers to that. Then you can start building like with LifterLMS. We have a BuddyPress integration where you can build a community there if you wanted to. People could message each other become friends and so on.
You can turn off features as needed. If you want to learn more about BuddyPress, you’ll want to check out our podcast episode with BuddyPress expert Michael Eisenwasser. Just head on over to and you’ll find that. That’s where we get started. Just think about the place to start is a nice piece of content to serve your customers. Let’s solve some of their frequently asked questions and save you some customer service expense as a business owner.
Joshua: Absolutely, that’s great thought. Thank you everyone for joining us today on LMScast. We value you. You are a community. We’re so happy to serve you with these episodes. Reach out to us on Twitter. You can find me at @jmillage and Chris at is it @chrisbadgett?
Chris: Yeah.
Joshua: We’d love to hear from you. Send us some tweets. We’re always curious what you want to know more of. Your feedback means a lot. We do. We read everything that comes in. It doesn’t get put into some automation robot that never gets read. It’s genuinely by our team. Then we synthesize it and create better episodes, so reach out. Again, if you want to go check out that episode where Chris and I interview Kim, you just text us customersuccess, one word, to 33444 and we’ll send you that link right to your inbox. Thank you so much for joining us. We’ll see you next week.

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