Creating an online course is hard work. It can take hours to plan your content, create your lessons and put each module together into a course format. And once you’ve created the course, how can you be sure that people will buy what you have to offer?
Unfortunately, many course creators have learned the hard way that creating a course in a vacuum often results in zero sales. If you want your course to launch into the hands of excited buyers, you need to get familiar with an important launch strategy: preselling.
Matt Kohn, an online course creator with Thinkific knows a thing or two about preselling. Matt founded Different Hunger, a business dedicated to helping creatives and agency owners build successful online businesses. While creating his own online course, he made $30,000 preselling his content before he had created a single lesson. From there he went on to productize his offerings and scale up his consulting business.
To learn Matt’s strategy for pre-selling an online course, and the benefits of productization, watch the video below!
Why You Should Presell Your Course
Before we get into the ‘how’ of preselling, let’s make sure we understand the benefits, and why it’s so important to your success as an online course creator.
First, preselling acts as a way to validate your course concept. By talking to prospective customers and getting their feedback on what you plan to offer, you’ll gain invaluable insights about customer preferences to help you refine your content. This allows you to position yourself as a premium provider for your material, standing a cut above the rest in your industry.
Second, it saves you time. A lot of time. Creating an entire course without testing whether or not anyone will actually buy it puts you at risk of wasting 100% of the time and energy you’ve put into your course content.
Third, going through the steps to presell your course forces you to be methodical in your approach to business, keeping you away from making emotional decisions.
“One of the worst mistakes you can make when launching your course is to fall in love with your own product before you even ask your customer whether it’s useful to them.”
– Matt Kohn
Strategies For Pre-selling Your Online Course
Here is a handy framework Matt suggests to use for preselling your online coaching program:
Step 1: Decide who your dream client is, and seek to understand them
If you’re a coach who enjoys working with a diverse group of clients, you’re may have to tweak your strategy when it comes to putting your program online.
The more specific you can get in articulating who you want to help, the easier it will be to craft an online course that compels them to enroll. Between all the clients you serve, think about who you enjoy working with, and who you feel best positioned to help.
From here, aim to dive deep with this particular client. Seek to understand their life problems, as well as their business problems. This leads to step two…
Step 2: Identify the most painful, most common problems your target audience is facing
Once you’ve nailed down exactly who you want to serve through your online course, you need to get really specific in describing which of their problems you’re going to address.
Here are a few ways of gathering these insights:
- Ask your community. If you already have a group of clients you coach, ask them about their challenges and take note of any themes.
- Ask online communities. Don’t have a community of the right people to tap? Post your questions on Quora, relevant Facebook groups, or other forums online and monitor the engagement you get with each.
- Search on Google. Take the insights from your initial research and search for those terms on Google. If you find there are a lot of questions related to your course idea, or that many other businesses are tackling the same thing, great. Competition indicates people willing to pay for what you have to offer.
“Don’t worry too much about market saturation. If you are committed to being the best, you don’t need to care about the competition. Just focus on providing value in your own way.”
– Matt Kohn
Step 3: Make sales calls to test uptake for your offer
At this point, you need to clearly outline the transformation and start getting on the phone to test out your hypothesis for your online course idea.
You should be armed and ready to explain exactly who you’re going to help, and what results you’re going to achieve. For example, if you’re a career coach, you may have an idea to develop a course that helps women in their 30’s accelerate their leadership skills and achieve more influence in their workplace.
When having conversations with this audience, focus on the outcome they can achieve (more influence), not the content you’ll take them through. You want to emphasize the gap you are closing for them.
Also, don’t be surprised if you hear objections to your course content on your first few calls – this is a good thing. The sooner you hear them, the sooner you can revise the content in your program.
On your sales calls, make sure to hit on details like the full price of your course, and the beta price you’re offering the user. It often works well to position the offer with a discount in exchange for them providing you feedback.
Let’s take a closer look at Matt’s story to hear an example of how he did this.
Related article: Want more tips on how to presell your course? Check out this article on How to Sell Online Courses Before You Create Them.Want to know how to presell your #onlinecourse? Great interview with Matt Kohn on how he presold his course for $30k! @DifferentHunger Click To Tweet
How Matt Kohn Made $30,000 Pre-selling His Online Course
Matt started out as a freelance designer working with a variety of clients. After building up his business to six-figures, he decided to evolve into an agency model to build more leverage into his business. That’s when other freelancers started to take note.
Other freelancers in his network also wanted more control over the types of clients they worked with, and the number of hours they worked each week.
Realizing there was an opportunity to help others move their businesses forward Matt started to gather insights on what freelancers would want in a course.
Matt’s preselling approach consisted of asking a lot of questions to his community and compiling themes from the answers. This prep work revealed a common theme that many freelancers were feeling burnt out, experiencing low profit margins, working crazy hours, and wanted to spark change towards a healthier lifestyle. Matt conducted a number of exploratory calls to further validate these assumptions.
After two months outreach, ten people signed up to go through his program. These 10 students also helped refine the content for the course, enabling him to finance the course creation process.
For more details on how Matt pre-sold his course, watch the video above!
Challenges with preselling, and what to do about them
Matt also shared some of the biggest challenges he faced while preselling and productizing his course. Here are some of his lessons learned:
1 – Have confidence in yourself.
It’s normal for thoughts of worry, anxiety or comparison to creep in when launching something new. Whether it’s doubts expressed by friends or random people on the internet, there will be voices trying to dissuade you from following your dreams. Matt shared the mindset that helped him push past those voices.
“You have to learn to quiet those voices, and tether yourself to a larger mission. If you don’t believe you are capable, who else will? Just focus on getting out into the market, and get out of your own head.”
– Matt Kohn
2 – Get clear on your niche, fast.
If you’re not clear about your ideal niche and the client from the get-go, you will make the process much harder for yourself.
While it might seem counter-intuitive to niche down at first, the more you can dial in the specifics around your customers and speak to those, your audience will grow.
““You need to be clear to the world who you’re going after, and really commit to it. Otherwise, it will take forever for your business to grow. Go after one niche at a time, very methodically and based on the data points you’ve gathered, and you’ll grow much faster.”
– Matt Kohn