How to Presell a Online Course (so you know what to teach)

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chris badgett: Hello everyone, we’re back with another episode of LMS Cast, I’m Joshua Millage and I’m joined here with this beautiful gentleman Christopher Badgett, and today we’re going to be talking about some marketing techniques and some ways of getting your course in front of as many students as possible.

I’m going to start this off by asking Chris, you know Chris, I’m curious. You’ve launched a lot of courses over the past few years. What are some of the things that you’ve seen people run into when they launch the course in terms of what are some of the difficulties?

joshua millage: Well for me and many of the clients I’ve worked with who are creating learning management systems and selling online courses, just the act of getting your learning management system together is a project in and of itself, but then what happens is people can get bogged down with actually creating their course. There’s an interesting way to move past that and also to test the market to make sure people are interested and willing to spend money on the course idea you have. That’s just called pre-selling.

chris badgett: I’m familiar with pre-selling a little bit. Obviously it’s selling something before you launch it, but I think your definition of pre-selling is a little bit different. What does that involved?

joshua millage: If you build an online course website and a learning management system, to really launch and get paying customers in the door, it’s good to validate your idea by putting a sales page up or putting your course offer out there. There’s a couple different ways to approach it.

One is to come up with a course idea, publish it, put a price tag on it which can either be one time or recurring monthly revenue, and Lifter LMS plug-in is set up to eaisily be able to do either one of those options right out of the gate. You can put your course out there and have the first lesson ready, or even sell it but the course doesn’t officially start until some pre-defined date in the future.

Another interesting thing you can do with learning management system like with Lifter LMS is set up drip content so  maybe you have one, two or three lessons in the clip, and then they’re designed to drip out once a week and then lesson 4, 5, 6, 7 and so on, you haven’t even created yet.

That’s what I mean by pre-selling, and you can do it that way or you can be totally open about it. Either way is fine, but be totally open about the fact that you haven’t finished creating the course, and that if you buy now, you’re going to get some kind of early bird discount in exchange for their trust in you to create the course as you move forward with your students.

chris badgett: There’s a really brilliant marketer out there named Clay Collins, who a while back, before he started his company Weed Pages, he was in the info product space and he created a product called the interactive offer. It was a method of actually going to a list that you had already created, that was kind of the key kicker. You had to have a list already built, but it was a way of engaging them to see if there was any demand for a product idea, and then selling it in such a way that was very honest and transparent but then also gave them time to create the product. I think his formula was there was the early adopter’s narrative, which was this idea that’s pervasive in western culture in particular, which is if you get in now, then you’re going to win. It’s the idea of an early investment in say a stock or a bond.

We instinctively know that if we can hit the right type of company or right opportunity early, we’re going to be better off than the person who comes down the line. There’s an aspect of that, which in the case of a course would be if you sign up now, it’s not totally created but because you’re taking a risk here, I’m going to give you more of my time one on one, something like that. You give someone a benefit there.

There’s the aspect of scarcity, which is I’m only going to allow 50 students in, or 100 students or 10 students. You make sure that there’s a small piece of the pie available for that first group.

It’s early adopter’s narrative, scarcity, and then there was one other, I’m blanking on it. Essentially those are the two main pieces of the puzzle, which is let me engage with you because you’re engaging with me, and there’s only a limited amount of a space or time.

Actually, these are things that we’re looking at doing with the Lifter LMS plug in. The difference with us is we actually do have a full blown plug in available. We’re not selling it and then creating it. It is fully created. We are limiting the amount of time the cart will be open from October 30th to maybe the 4th or 5th, we haven’t really decided, but we’re trying to capture the most engaged group because we want to engage with them over the course of the next few months up until our full blown launch, which is going to be coming up at the beginning of the year. The reason we’re doing that is we want to make sure we have a really focused group of people that give us good feedback, and that we’re building the product in the direction that adds value to their lives.

We’re even adopting this mentality. I think it’s really healthy. I think there’s some mindset things that people have to get over because I’ve worked with people who are like, well I just don’t feel like I’m being honest if I pre-sell. That’s the thing though, you need to be honest in your pre-sell. You need to be honest about a) here’s the idea for the course that I have. It’s not fully flushed out but I have the credentials, I’m a subject matter expert and I can speak to this content and I want to see if any of you are available or interested in taking this course. I think that’s the thing, you have to know what you’re going to be selling.

So many people in the internet marketing world that you and I have been a part of for so long sell something like hey, I’m going to teach you about facebook marketing. In reality they’re really good salesmen but they really don’t know anything about facebook marketing. That’s kind of given this whole theory about pre-selling a really bad idea.

The colleges and universities do this all the time too. Back when I was at Isuzu Pacific University, in my senior year we created an MBA program, I didn’t actually create the course content, but I managed the logistics. It was a 15 month MBA that went all around the world, and really we pre-sold it in the sense that we wanted to make sure we could get 10 people signed up before we put a bunch of investment in making sure we had all the locations for us to travel and setting up the tickets and all of that. We had more demand than that and we executed the strategy over the course of that 3-month summer, got everything ready and then things started in the fall.

I think it’s a good idea that I would encourage all of our listeners to consider when they’re launching their businesses. I’m sure they have core products out there that they’ll automatically be able to put in a system like Lifter LMS, but I think pre-selling, especially if you have a captive audience already is a great way to mitigate risk and also create a really stellar product because you’re getting feedback on the front end instead of releasing it from the back. It’s really cool.

joshua millage: I think that that interactive piece is really amazing and important because we has entrepreneurs and educators, we may think we know exactly what people need to learn and how they need to learn, but by being interactive and being more agile in our approach to developing courses and taking that feedback early on in the journey, we can course correct and really give the market what it needs and adapt to the learning styles that seem to get the most impact and engagement from the customer or student.

chris badgett: That’s huge. We need to do a whole other episode on the dangers of arrogance in education, but I think assuming that you know everything that a student wants to learn without getting any interaction from them is a disaster. I think that’s why we’re seeing such a resurgence in certain types of education, business education in particular. You go to college and they’re going to tell you what they think you need to learn.

In reality, you and I both know we’ve been fighting in the trenches here for 4 or 5 years and business has changed a lot from the industrial revolution of the last century. I think that the professors need to hear from us about what we’re experiencing and then lend their wisdom and expertise to it.

It’s a relationship. It goes both ways. We need everyone. The students need the teachers, the teachers need the students and we need to open up those communication channels. With a system like Lifter LMS, it’s really easy to do that.

I’m excited to get it out there for everyone, and hopefully with this little tidbit of knowledge, we get some stories about proofs up.

joshua millage: Absolutely. Just to close it out, if you want to be a part of our interactive offer with Lifter LMS plug in, we want you to know how much we value this group of early adopters and how much we’re listening to what you want and what you need, and you know we’re experiencing what it’s like to launch version one of something, but we’re not going away. This is a marathon, and that early adopter feedback is going to be really important to us and we value your opinion.

chris badgett: Let me do a couple of shout outs. I want to give a shout out to Peter, who sent us a couple emails, thank you Peter. John, who sent me a couple emails, so I’m really excited about the people who are listening to this content and reaching out and engaging. It helps us think about things. That’s what we want to do. We want to make sure that we’re hearing about the things that you want to know. We have a lot of knowledge between our team, and we need to know what you want to know first, second, third and fourth. When you engage with us it just makes this community much more robust.

I’m excited, so thank you for everyone who’s reached out to us. You can reach Chris at [[email protected]  00:10:03] and I’m excited. We’re ready to spread more good news about online education.

Until next time, we’ll see you later.

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.

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