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Online Course Building Trick: Ask Your Customers What They Want?

As an online course building consultant with years of working in the space, I run into many business owners who build an online course and they wonder why it won't sell. They made decisions about what online course to offer and what audience to serve based on their gut. They didn't do the research. They didn't survey anyone and now they have an online course that won't sell.

It's like they are wanting to discover what sells wearing a blindfold. That isn't going to work.

There are three things my team and I recommend when considering an online course. That is that you talk to your target audience about their fears, frustrations, and challenges concerning your topic. Then you build your course and offers around that instead of teaching based on what you, the expert,

  • want to teach,
  • think your audience wants and
  • expect people to buy.

As you explore these three, you'll make some interesting discoveries. And you have to get ready.  You'll hear things that you as an expert may not expect and this is typical. We experts and I include myself in this, have known what we know about our topic for a very long time. We haven't thought like any of our potential customers in a very long time. I like to say we are contaminated with our own knowledge and that keeps us from seeing our customers go about buying what we have to teach.

So let's explore what their fears, frustrations, and challenges can tell us about their buying our online course.

Our Customer's Fear

Fear about our topic tells us a bit about how our customers see their future. They have a problem they need to address. That lack the necessary knowledge to address their problem so they are looking to learn about it from you. They aren't wanting to become an expert like you are in the topic. They aren't your future competitors. They are someone that wants to learn enough about your topic to solve their problem.

So they fear what will happen if they don't solve their problem. Let's take something simple. Let's say they want to improve their golf game. If you are a golf pro, you are already thinking about what you want to teach them. That's great, but what you need to do first is get them to pay attention. If we talk about the fear this person has, it could be one of the following. (I'm just making a few up to illustrate.)

  • You fear looking like an idiot every time in front of your father-in-law.
  • You fear that you'll never get the college golf scholarship you want to help pay your way through school.
  • You fear that your putting will keep you from making the amateur circuit that will enable you to take your career to the next level.

These are all potential fears that you could consider offering a solution for. If you think about it, each one could be delivered by a similar online course, but selling to each one of these would require taking a different approach to match the fear each one faces.

Our Customer's Frustrations

Frustrations will typically point out issues that have come up in the customer's attempts to solve their problem. They have taken an approach that has led to failure and in describing their frustrations you should hear things like, "It frustrates me that even though I've spent a lot of time improving my golf game, I still can improve my score." Then again it could be you hear things like, "It's frustrating that only a 5-point improvement in my golf score could drastically raise my father-in-law's impression of me."  You may hear, "It's really frustrating that I've taken lessons from really good golf pros and I still suck."

What you think about frustrations, you'll rarely hear things that have to do with your topic. It will most likely be related to something personal in their lives. This means that the course you offer needs to be described to them in terms of what they are feeling. They need to hear that you get their frustration and you have a solution that addresses exactly what they are feeling.

Our Customer's Challenges

When you think about it, we are asking our customers about the same thing using three different words. Depending on your topic and your audience, a different one of these will bring out more information from the people you talk to. You may have people that don't really have a fear. You'll run into others that don't have a frustration. They just can't come up with something relating to that word. Then you ask them about their challenge and they light up.

Think about the problem in light of your customer. They are climbing up a hill. The hill can be their overall challenge. They are wanting to get to the very top. They may describe their challenge in terms of that big mountain climb. They may describe their challenge in relation to the obstacle that's got them stuck right now. So their challenge might be how do I pay for college. The challenge could instead be that they just can't put well enough to improve their score and that's what keeps them from paying for their college via a golf scholarship.

More than anything I'm wanting to give you some insight on how to come up with the right online course offering so you start selling your know-how. I'm sure your teaching is up to snuff, but if you cannot connect with paying customers, you won't be teaching many people.

Hope this helps.