5 Ways to Avoid Marketing Your Next eCourse to Everyone

  • March 26, 2013 by Guest Writer
  • 28 Comments

If you design a course for everybody — and try to sell to everybody — you’ll dilute your voice, neuter your material, and be stuck with lackluster sales and unhappy customers.

One size has never fit all!

You probably know this already, right? You know about targeting your market, nicheing down and all that.

But if you’ve created a product, you also know the the desire to share your creation with the whole world, the desire to wield a wide net for more sales instead of a sharp knife.

Here’s 5 ways to stay sharp and, ultimately, make more money being brutally clear about who your course serves — leaving everyone else out. You’ll find tips here to help with both your program design and your copywriting.

Note: this post is by Jennifer Louden. You can find out all about her at the end of her article. We love her “no B.S.” approach to this topic.

1. Find and Sell One Core Idea

Your course or e-book is going to teach people how to do one thing. Not 7. Not 17. Just 1.

And teach them how to do it very well, very simply, or very quickly.

It might be how to write articles that build your list, or how to collect stamps that double in value, or how to tie largemouth bass flies. The key to building a business that includes training is to go “an inch wide and a mile deep” with each offer, and with each lesson or step within your offer. Focus sells!

Honing in on your one core idea helps you identify students who are just-right for your course, and then you can write your sale page to appeal to them. For example:

  • The core idea behind Fizzle is: Expert training + a community of online entrepreneurs.
  • The core idea behind my TeachNow program is: Teach anything with more ease and success, starting NOW.
  • The core idea behind Mark Silver’s Sacred Selling is: Discover how your open heart, your integrity, and the right structures bring your best clients to happily say, “Yes, I’m ready! How do I pay?”

Stuck?

  • Look at 3 courses you own and figure out what their core ideas are.
  • Or go look at the sales pages of courses you never bought. Can you find their core ideas? And if you can’t, is that why you haven’t bought them?

2. Do The Sales Page Dance

Write a rough draft of your sales page – preferably before you design the course. Imagine what your just-right customer wants and needs. Name the take-aways and benefits you can actually provide.

Next pop over to your course outline and add in the material, stories and exercises that will fulfill the promises and benefits you just described on your first draft of the sales page.

As you do this, keep an eye out for “appeal creep”. Are you starting to add in more elements because you think that’s what you need to sell to everybody? Focus in on your just-right students. If you forgot who they are, share your first draft of the course with 3 people who fit the bill, and after they have a chance to look the content over, share the sales page. Ask them: have you created what they want and need?

Once you get your course design roughed in, rewrite your sales page to fit what you actually created.

3. Be Selfish

Keep in mind why you want to create this course as you write your sales page and design your offer. Trying to please your customers – especially all possible customers – takes you out of your center and away from what you have to offer: your voice, your experiences, and your stories.

What jazzes you? What makes your heart beat fast? What makes you livid? Keep that front and center. Marie Forleo didn’t lose her New Jersey girl, her love of hip-hop, or her interest in spirituality. She owned it all and used it to create a hugely profitable brand. What she teaches isn’t unique – not at all – but her voice and style – like yours – is one-of-a-kind.

4. Exclude Boldly

Not many people are brave enough to exclude anyone in their sales copy– and that creates a great opportunity for you if you are willing to be bold and craft a sales page designed to attract only your just-right students. Consider it a form of teaching: You’re educating people so they know whether your course is a good fit for them or not.

Choose testimonials from only your just-right clients and edit those testimonials – with permission – to reflect the benefits you are most proud to deliver. Write your FAQ to not only address objections but also to weed out the people who don’t want what you’ve got. You can even add in a “this is not for you” clause.

Brand Strategists Abby Kerr and Tami Smith of Empathy Marketing are bold:

The Empathy Marketing approach is not right for every business owner. It’s not for people who:

  • Can’t enjoy the freedom of a few constraints
  • Want to serve multiple audiences through one brand or one offer
  • Only want to work in the 1:1 time-for-money model
  • Are ambivalent about wanting to make a profit or aren’t convinced they want to be a consumer-focused business
  • Want to market inspiration instead of concrete solutions
  • Are intent on creating content solely by their own definition of successful instead of making their audience’s needs as important as their own

You don’t need to be negative to exclude – but you do need to claim what you deliver, who you deliver it to, and then continue to hone your copy if you learn you have new or different just-right students. It’s a process!

5. Aim for Graduation

In some marketing circles the aim is to make people dependent, to hook them into believing you have the magic bullet, and the next one, and the next.

When you teach, dare to aim for something much more effective – and difficult to achieve – which is to deliver on your promise to teach one thing so that people become confident in understanding and putting this one thing into practice.

Do that well, and keep offering more courses that build on what people need to know next, and you’ll be rewarded with strong loyalty and stellar sales.

***

Hopefully, I’ve made a good case for driving your “not-right” people away from your next course or product – so you can grow your business and your impact.  And here’s a fab side benefit: you get to work with grateful and happy customers!

Instead of trying to please everybody, concentrate on creating content that serves, and reach out boldly and decisively to only those people who can learn it best from YOU.

I can’t wait to hear what you think – is this crazy talk? How will you adjust it for your courses and offers? Do tell!

Jen Louden is the best-selling author of 6 books, including the pioneering best-sellers The Woman’s Comfort Book and The Woman’s Retreat Book. She’s also the creator of the popular course TeachNow. You can sign up for a free sampler of the TeachNow course here.


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Damain March 26, 2013 at 6:25 am

Your advice is getting me back on target with my own e-course. And you’re right, it easy to try and add too much to the sales letter… focus on one thing and do it great! Thank you.

Jennifer Louden March 26, 2013 at 9:21 am

you bet!

Davis March 26, 2013 at 6:53 am

Great advice Jen! I definitely agree at segmenting your audience. How do you handle the fact that you realize you could be reaching more people?

Jennifer Louden March 26, 2013 at 7:47 am

great question Davis. I have found that if you focus your marketing on the niche or segment or whatever words we want to use, the reach more people can happen because you can see where to reach out. In other words, trying to reach everybody is overwhelming and your marketing efforts often disappear like water in desert sand but saying “I want to reach stay at home moms who want to have a part time business earning between 15,000 to 30,000″ starts to open up ideas and channels. Does that make sense?

Tamal Anwar March 26, 2013 at 6:55 am

Hi Jen, your post sparked me some great new ideas for my eCourse I am working on. Just like others I had targeted large audiences, “Everyone” -and I am learning it on the way.

I need to learn how to narrow down my target audience and create a course focusing them. Your valuable expertise shared on this post will be great help for me, thanks!

Jennifer Louden March 26, 2013 at 7:48 am

Good! After writing this post I created a fab PDF inside the TeachNow free library – if you sign up at the sales page, you’ll get an email with a link to the library and you can snag it. Might be helpful!

Tamal Anwar March 26, 2013 at 11:17 am

Awesome! Gotta grab that before it’s gone! On my way.

Curt March 26, 2013 at 7:01 am

I totally dig this.

Having 1 idea is key, and too many people forget this in their quest to do everything and see all of their ideas come to life at once.

That you will never please everyone is also great advice that is often forgotten – you waste resources trying to convert those who will never be converted, at the expense of those people who would convert with a little TLC.

Good post.

Jennifer Louden March 26, 2013 at 9:22 am

thanks Curt, I appreciate the feedback.

Vicki March 26, 2013 at 7:02 am

Great article, applicable to nearly any venture. Being specific helps us and our intended audience stay focused, and leave feeling like we all got what we needed. Brilliant. I will be using these ideas to get clear about how people can (and enjoy) participating in an upcoming fundraiser. Thank you.

Mike Kawula March 26, 2013 at 7:06 am

Extremely helpful and I heard a podcast recently that the interviewee kept saying take your Niche and double-down and do it again to make it as specific as possible. Helpful yes!

What are your thoughts if you have 2 different courses but advertising them on the same site? Like Fizzle is one exact message, yet Thinktraffic has couple different ones?

Jennifer Louden March 26, 2013 at 7:51 am

Mike for me, offering lots of different courses and retreats and speaking over the last 21 years, the key (at least since the web began :) is to weave them all back to me, to what I care about. And not promote them at the same time. So that people who read my blog or follow me, they know I do different things at different times and they appeal to different people who follow me. My writing retreat has some overlap with TeachNow which has some overlap with the Shero’s Journey stuff I do and my work on resiliency…

So i don’t advertise, I produce content and share me and weave in respectful launches of my stuff. Does that offer you any ideas?

paul March 26, 2013 at 7:37 am

In a sea of ecourses, this is great info. Too often I see them with no focus or even clarity (so I can’t even tell if they’re for me or not). I love the idea of writing the sales page before the book/course, I’ll probably do that myself next time.

Jennifer Louden March 26, 2013 at 7:52 am

I always do it and it really helps. Thanks Paul for your comment.

Sarah Russell March 26, 2013 at 7:49 am

I am totally guilty of trying to create “one size fits all” products – with the obvious end results being that I overstretch myself and wind up creating courses that don’t really resonate strongly with anybody.

Another downside is that, when you create a product that tries to do everything for everybody, you don’t have anything left to create follow-up products on! It’s hard to build out a sales funnel when you cover everything you know in a single product :)

So thanks much for the tips – I’ll do my best to incorporate them into future launches!

Jennifer Louden March 26, 2013 at 7:52 am

We’ve all done it Sarah. It’s scary to focus. It means taking a stand. Do tell me about your next offer!

Carmen March 26, 2013 at 8:31 am

This is great info, Jen! I especially appreciate the reminder to “be selfish” – to not leave out what nourishes me as I go toward what will be useful for others.

I also think getting clear on who the course isn’t for and communicating that will be really useful in other areas of my business/life!

Jennifer Louden March 26, 2013 at 9:22 am

good Carmen, happy it will serve.

Sapna March 26, 2013 at 8:42 am

Hi Jen,

Awesome!

I’ve not given a thought of starting the ebook/ecourse but your post has given me enough idea of how to start and target the right audience.

Sapna

Jennifer Louden March 26, 2013 at 9:23 am

That’s exciting! Have fun creating!

Bobbi Emel March 26, 2013 at 9:47 am

Wow, Jen, this is a really timely, helpful post for me! I’m just at the beginning of creating a teaching product and this post has really given me some great guidelines to think about and follow. Thanks so much!

Jennifer Louden March 26, 2013 at 9:59 am

Good! And there is a great free PDF with more info in the Teacher’s Path library you can sign up here http://theteacherspath.com/ – thanks!!

Mark Butler March 26, 2013 at 2:20 pm

A really great post, Jennifer. The decision to exclude can be terrifying, but your thoughts on focused features and audience really strike a chord. Such extreme focus will cause some to love us and some to hate us – but hopefully no one will forget us. :)

Thanks for your hard work on the post.

paul March 26, 2013 at 5:15 pm

I like it, for courses seems fine and cross-selling other targeted niche courses to your buyers, do you have any thoughts on membership sites?

You mention fizzle which seems to be very broad in it’s remit. ‘Online Business’ is a huge area, information, apps, ecommerce, software, consulting etc the site seems targeted at a tonne of people. Had it been ‘building your info product business’ then it would have been one step more niche but it’s not.

So any tips for memberships?

Angela March 26, 2013 at 5:35 pm

“Teach people how to do just 1 thing.” Brilliant, thank you so much! I have been working on a course for about 6 months now. It could have been done in 1 month if I had stopped adding more and more to it. Stop, focus, do! Thanks

Megan Pangan March 27, 2013 at 4:44 pm

I’m so glad I decided to read this email in my inbox! I’m in B School right now trying to figure out what and how to focus my efforts for the course I want to make. It’s so cool that even when Marie Forleo can’t get something in my head clear there are other just as awesome sources out there to hammer my brain! Thank you. I took so many notes from this one post.:)

Alexander March 28, 2013 at 1:18 pm

“One size has never fit all!” So true, learned it the hard way. In my experience it is a quite common mistake to choose a too broad niche.

Bojan - Alpha Efficiency March 29, 2013 at 4:39 am

Solid article, stellar delivery. It’s so funny how we logically know all of these tips, but when it comes back to applying them, we fail miserably. Wonder why is that so?

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