Online course creation top tips: Two reasons your online course isn’t selling

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Ginette Tessier helps us to overcome that challenges of our courses not being popular in-house or not bringing in the money

As a trainer, there’s a very good chance that you are reasonably comfortable with the idea of creating an online course. There are definitely things you want to know about, but the process of creating training will not feel like an insurmountable challenge for you. Of course, you might not want to create an online course – but that’s a debate we can have another time.

However, there’s a good chance that the thought of selling your course is not something that sits high up on your ‘can’t wait to start this’ list. This can apply whether you are selling your course for money, or ‘selling’ places on a course internally in your organisation.

While there are many factors that can affect successfully selling online courses in a predictable and sustainable way, with trainers specifically I’ve noticed two common reasons sales are not where the trainer had hoped they would be.

These two things are neither difficult to understand nor implement, but they are prolific. I could probably write another article on the possible reasons why this is the case, but my shorthand assumption is that trainers love being helpful and hate being ‘salesy’.

I’ve strung this out for long enough though. The two things that I most often see preventing decent sales of online courses are: a poor choice of title and not telling people (often enough or even at all) about the course actually being available.

Poor choice of title

Choosing a title for your course seems like a really simple thing to do – and in lots of ways it is, but only if you understand what role the title is playing in the overall course evaluation experience. This is not the evaluation that takes place once the course has been completed though. This is the evaluation of whether or not someone wants to take the course in the first place.

The title is otherwise known in marketing terms as the ‘hook’. It is the likely first point of self-selection in the sales funnel (the journey all learners will go through if they are to buy or buy into your course). If your title is too wordy or too ambiguous, you will likely confuse or bore potential learners before getting a chance to impress them with the content.

Your aim is to create a title that makes it quick and easy for your potential buyer to establish if it’s worth reading further, or time to move on. Either way is a win for you – you only want to have those who are potentially interested in your course content to be reading all about it. There’s no point in trying to impress someone who is never going to buy!

So how do you go about creating such a title? The start point is understanding what your potential buyers are most likely to be searching for – assuming this is something that is answered by your course. If they are searching for something that you cover, but don’t mention in your title, you may not get past the first hurdle of them considering your course in the first place.

I often talk about this being a case of understanding wants versus needs. Your title needs to talk about what they want, even if you know that this might not be what they need. It’s best illustrated with an example: imagine you are a fitness trainer who specialises in helping new runners achieve their bucket-list goal of running a marathon. One of the core things you know they will need to be successful in this pursuit is strength training. The problem is that almost all new runners have no clue that they need to do more than just practice running to be successful in a marathon.

Imagine your online course is called ‘Strength Training for Running a Marathon’. Technically, it’s a ‘correct’ title as this is what the course is about. The trouble is, new runners are unlikely to know to search for strength training and even if they did see the title, they would be forgiven for assuming it’s for more experienced runners than themselves.

So let’s change the title – even a subtle change can make a world of difference: ‘Essential Training for New Marathon Runners’.

See the difference? Tiny, but mighty! You don’t have to mention strength training – as that will become obvious inside the course itself, but you do have to mention the importance of it and who it’s aimed at.

Check your course title – is it technically accurate but missing the mark? What tiny but mighty changes can you make?

Did you tell anyone?

The second most prolific reason I see for trainers not making as many sales of their online course as they would like is that they simply haven’t talked about it enough!

Because we most likely see every marketing message we send, we assume that everyone else has seen them all too. This means our perception of when we’ve talked about something ‘too much’ is generally wide of the mark.

In marketing, we used to talk about a message needing to be seen up to seven times before it ‘registers’ in someone’s brain. More recently, this number has been increased up to fifteen. That’s the equivalent of sending fifteen emails talking about exactly the same thing before someone realises what you’re talking about!

Don’t worry though – I’m not suggesting you send fifteen emails like that. What I am suggesting is that you mention your course at every available opportunity:

  • Put it in your email signature
  • Add it to the bottom of every social media post
  • Create regular social media posts about it alone and intersperse them with your regular posts
  • Add it into your proposals, even if they didn’t ask about it
  • And more!

Whatever you do, never assume that people know what you’ve got. After a concerted campaign that feels like you’ve talked about it until you’re blue in the face, there will always be someone who expresses surprise that they ‘didn’t know’ about your course.

The answer? Keep talking about it – even when it feels like no-one’s listening.

Ginette Tessier

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