EP160 – Marketing Your Online Course Amid Course Overwhelm

Hoards of people have signed up for every course they can, hoping to use their time well during the “New Normal of COVID-19.” But, they are also overwhelmed. They’ve got 99 courses but your course ain’t one. So, how do you appeal to them, stand out, and market your online course?

This episode, Jason and Bridget are joined by Chris Badgett of LifterLMS. He’s very active on Twitter as well as YouTube. So if you’re thinking about designing an online course, go check those resources out. You can even watch his 13 video playlist of starting an online course.

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Integration Age

Historically, we’ve had revolutions and evolutions: the enlightenment age, the industrial revolution, the information revolution. Now, Chris says, we are in the integration age.

“So the, the way I look at it is that they were kind of transitioning out of the information age into the integration age. And that includes integrating information, boiling it down, getting past overwhelm. And, honoring the limited lifespan we have and attention we have. So the old model of education is really around getting access to the best information. The new model is about getting results efficiently and going direct as the shortest path possible to the ideal outcome.” Chris Badgett

We all have access to thousands of libraries — free, thousands of courses — free. Yet, how many of us take advantage? Few. We’re overwhelmed with information. We need to know how this information is relevant to our lives.

“When you design around your expertise in the information and not the learning journey and the result of the person, once you end up with these like giant, I call them, resource courses, like giant courses that are extremely dangerous and get abandoned a lot.” Chris Badgett

Support the Learning Journey

Supporting the learning journey with your online course means you design the course with the end in mind. What are the expected results?

Being overwhelmed is a factor of motivation. Why is the learner taking the online course? Is it to get a certificate? There are two types of motivation when it comes to learning: extrinsic and intrinsic.

Extrinsic motivation could be a monetary reward (raise at work) or earning respect (credentials on LinkedIn). Intrinsic motivation comes from a desire from your soul to improve. Knowing what motivates your learner, helps you design your course.

Adding a map for your online course, reverse engineering it from the end result, with milestones helps with course retention.

An easy way to do this is to have a challenge. They lend themselves well to steps and pre-training/gamification.

“One of the things that’s exploding in marketing right now is what are called challenge funnels. …Why is it, why are challenged funnels exploding? Well, what’s the challenge? The challenge is designed around a result and a challenge is time bound. So, you know, there could be like a 30 day challenge, a 90 day challenge, a four day challenge, whatever it is, health, wealth, relationships, whatever.” Chris Badgett

Transformation is Over-Hyped

Not every course needs to lead to a caterpillar-to-butterfly transformation. Most of the transformations we see, in nature or otherwise, aren’t overnight anyway. Rather, they are a series of steps, completed.

When it comes to marketing your online course we tend to pitch transformation. But when it comes to any kind of product, the marketing has to revolve around one question:

“What’s in it for me?”

Creating early wins and adding support for the learner as well as community will help retain learners to your online course. You can even move to the coach model with weekly office hours in a group format. You spend the same hour a week, with many learners.

“The easiest way to do that add a weekly office hour call that you don’t have to prepare for, and they just show up with questions. It’s a group format so it can scale, like, okay, if you have a lot of people that follow you or in the program, it’s still just one hour on your calendar.” Chris Badgett

Coaching Over Information

Information is great. But if you create 10 courses that is simply a vault of your information, without any coaching, you won’t have a high course completion rate. Further, you’re not supporting the learner in their journey.

An important part of coaching is the right fit. This isn’t about a good fit for your online course. It’s a fit between the learner and the coach. Do their personality and communication styles match? How about the learner’s style of learning? What about loyalty?

“Real coaching, whether that’s business coaching, life coaching, relationship coaching, it’s about fidelity.” Chris Badgett

We tend to have these types of courses that circle around and around, like a spiral road going to the top of the mountain. There is no personalization or way to test out. That’s frustrating for the learner.

When your online course includes personalization, you are supporting the learner’s journey and reducing frustration. When you can tell a client to take this course over that one, then they are no longer overwhelmed.

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Chris recommends his YouTube Traffic System course.

Jason recommends Descript.com. It allows you to edit the transcript and the video. Super cool.

Bridget recommends her blog post with a tool to calculate your in-house rate (Google Sheet).


Weekly Watercooler Discussions about WordPress and it’s community.

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