In my many years of teaching university level classes, if there is one thing I've learned it's that you need to make sure your methods are actually working, before someone is paying you hundreds or thousands of dollars to learn from you.
Have you ever heard of the philosophy that SO many online marketers preach: "Sell Your Course Before You Create it!"?! It is my belief and philosophy that this approach actually dangerous to your reputation and the quality of your courses. So here are THREE tips that will help you create the course of your student's dreams!
#1 Survey Your Audience
...or ANYONE who suffers from the problem your course is trying to solve... So as you might already know, I am a branding and design expert and have been for decades! I thought I knew what my target clients and students wanted and needed. That was until I surveyed them, and heard the same answer, over and over and over again...and none of these answers were something I just knew intuitively!
These repeated answers guided me in a different direction for creating lead magnets to actual courses. The result? From listening to their woes, it got me out of my "expert-mind" and into their "struggling mind" and it allowed me to create products and courses that truly solves their problems.
#2 Beta Test, and Test again.. FOR FREE!
I get so much push back from entrepreneurs about this! "BUT I CAN'T DO THAT! GIVE MY COURSE AWAY FOR FREE!!! I HAVE WORKED SO HARD! If I do that, NO ONE WILL BUY FROM ME!" I find this to be hilarious that they think by finding 10-80 beta testers OUTSIDE of their current list that somehow that will translate to no one ever buying from them. I then put my finger on their pretty little lips and tell them to shush and LISTEN....
There are a million awesome benefits of doing a beta test for free!
First, motivating someone to pull out their credit card for a $15 product can be equally as difficult as for a $500 product! Shocking I know. If you truly have a course topic that people want (and you'll know this from surveying) your beta test will be FLOODED with tester applicants.
If your beta test application is basically crickets, then you know the topic isn't hitting them in the gut, you aren't using the language from the surveys. You won't think, Oh they didn't buy because of price. (See how crystal clear that makes things?) If you can't even sell this multiple hundred dollar to thousand dollar course for FREE, then you know you have a serious topic issue.
The beta test for free, (with a strict application process) makes your testers more committed to the test, they feel grateful and special, and to not accept everyone is important. Instead of demanding... If your tester answers application questions with "one-word answers" you KNOW they likely aren't going to do the work in the test.
The feedback that you get step-by-step through the course, will allow you to make the best course ever! You will be truly co-creating a course that makes them feel like you created this product just for them!
Did I mention that having 80 testers can be a great way to find out "Can I handle this many students?" "What systems do I need in place to handle this many students?" .... and my favorite the feeling of "OH HELL YES, 80 people WANT my stuff!"
The best survey responses I got in my own personal beta tester of my program "The Course Launcher" was .... "I finally have the confidence and skills to not just create my course, but sell it, because I know what people want now! I feel great taking their money cause I know my stuff REALLY works.."
You want to have as MANY testers as possible as a "stress test" for yourself, a guarantee that enough students will get through the information and to ensure you will get amazing testimonials!
If you only have 5 beta testers that "paid" well... good luck with that! The sheer number of testers will make the data more valuable than your fewer paid beta testers.
#3 Turn Your Beta Test into a Testimonial Creating Machine
There is nothing more tragic than when I have witnessed students / clients / peers create a beautiful brand and website, only to find that their products would flop. They'd be left scratching their heads to why no one came (feeling like a complete failure) when ultimately if they would have just followed a few key ingredients this would not have been the case.
The problems usually are... First they didn't spend enough time creating a warmed up involved email list of raving fans (with JV webinars, give-aways, compelling opt-ins, and creating relationships in Facebook groups...or doing more traditional FB ads, or Pinterest marketing.)
The second part is that they didn't survey those fans, and create a course of what they truly need.
The third part is that they DIDN'T test and COLLECT testimonials, with PROOF that the course actually works. This process is imperative for any course success. People need proof that your stuff works! With a paid beta test, there is no guarantee... people pay, they disappear.
With a real free beta test, where you can kick them out, you don't have to worry about refunds or people having crazy expectations ("I PAID FOR THIS!!") and instead you become the master of this circus! Change the entire course topic on a whim! Kick them out! Quit the entire course and start over, you don't owe anyone a thing!! If your course completely fails, then you can easily dust yourself off and try again.
All these things become a lot easier when you don't have the "paid obligation." And guess what? As their role of tester, they will be brutally honest with you, cause their payment is a filled out survey form after every module... it can be difficult to hear these reactions, but it will be the best thing you've ever done for course creation!
In the comments below, share with me some of your experiences with surveying, beta testing, and testimonials!
If you want a sneak preview of The Course Launcher, the course starts the first week of November.