Once upon a time there was management guru (or fitness expert or small business owner or lifestyle coach — you get the idea) looking to connect more and more deeply with her audience.
So she whipped up a course outline, hired a designer to make it look all pretty, and partnered with a top-notch consumer learning enterprise (that would be us) to launch her online school.
Lo and behold, customers started enrolling. They gobbled up the content, bought the guru’s products (through the nifty e-commerce feature) and raved about how great her e-course was. “This is exactly what I needed! When will you offer more courses?” they asked.
Sound too good to be true? Yeah, we didn’t buy her story, either.
That’s because Ms. Management Guru left out the unexpected plot turns. The time spent tweaking learning activities, reviewing design concepts, shooting videos, sorting out pricing structures, and setting up backend admin. You know, the fun stuff.
Don’t misunderstand. For sure, an online learning program can boost your revenue, increase customer satisfaction, and help spread your message.
Plus, with the rapidly growing consumer-focused and B2B e-learning market — projected to reach $1 trillion in sales by 2017 — it’s smart to consider adding a consumer learning product to your business portfolio. But all the happily-ever-after hoopla can distract from reality. As with any business venture it takes more than fairy dust to launch and run a profitable e-course.
Before you gallop off into the sunset, get clear on these myths about e-courses and your business.
1. If we build it, they’ll come.
Not so fast. Let’s say you’re a thought leader. You’ve been published, presented at some industry events, maybe done a couple laps on the speaker’s circuit. Your target audience knows you’re in the business of sharing knowledge, insights, and information and they’re happiest connecting with you in person.
So, yes, you’ve got a decent following for your live events. But how receptive is your audience to learning with you online? If they are up to e-programs, what delivery model fits your brand and business goals? Paid a la carte or subscription? Freemiums? If you’re not sure, then maybe it’s time to subscribe and get our free Turn Learning Into Profit e-book and start figuring out the answers.
2. My customers will love anything I produce.
Imagine you’re a veterinarian. You specialize in alternative, non-invasive treatments, like acupressure and homeopathic remedies. After years of making a name for yourself locally you’re ready to branch out. You know that your customers appreciate and expect your one-to-one service.
The big question is: How will you re-create your personalized approach and deliver a comparable experience online? Could your course include recorded content mixed with some live calls with you? Would a member’s forum make sense for your e-course?
3. You don’t need a bundle of time or money to create an e-course.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither is a top-notch e-learning course. Sure, you can quickly produce a recorded webinar in a couple of hours. But if you want to wow your customers with a more robust e-course experience, you’re going to have to dedicate time, money and resources. If you’re lucky, you’ve got creative, tech-savvy designers, developers and editors on staff. If not, you may very likely need to pony up for professional services that you don’t have in house. Even if you go the DIY route, you’ll still run up a tab on things like setting up an adequate home recording studio.
But there’s another inventory that’s just as important as sorting out what skills you have in your wheelhouse and which tasks you’ll need to outsource and it’s has to do with your own motivation. How committed are you to doing what it takes to get your e-school up and running? What priority does it have in your business model?
When creating an online school, keep these tips in mind so you can create your own happy ending.
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