Create an Outline Course | The Payoff
If you have something to offer (and I am sure you do) consider creating an online course in 2015 to showcase what you know, give back a bit, and help grow your platform. As a bonus, an online course can give you a raving fan base, which is always a good thing.
Bullseye: Give Your Clients Exactly What They Want
One of the reasons I am so bullish on online courses is because they have the ability to give your ideal client exactly what they want.
You can ask your ideal client what they would like to know, and then package this as an online course for them.
Using Content to create a fanbase
If you have an offline business, you might set up shop on main street, create great signage to lead people in, and greet them with a team of sales representatives who do an excellent job of evangelizing about your brand. They'll physically shake hands with your potential customers, look them in the eye, and listen to what they need. Then they'll provide the potential customer with what they need, and that potential customer turns into a customer.
Modern online marketing takes this relationship into virtual space. Because of the work of people like Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki, and others, the idea of permission marketing or evangelism marketing has taken hold, both online and offline. The idea is to share your brand with your ideal audience in such a way that they become your evangelists, not just your clients.
Online, businesses curate and create content in different forms to share with potential customers: white papers, blog posts, infographics, slide share presentations, podcasts, videos. Once you have enough to share, you might consider writing a book.
Creating this sort of content has only been possible for small businesses for a few years. Podcasts, for example, were unattainable for most of us just a few years ago. In fact, as Brian Clark noticed during a recent podcast I listened to, even signing up for a podcast meant you were a pretty geeky tech guy. Now, though, you can create a podcast with minimal investment of time and money. However, in digital marketing years, this is so old school as to be ancient - dinosaur times stuff.
Permission Versus a Stark, Raving "Yes, Please!"
Creating a book or other content creates the beginning of a potential relationship with a potential client. Depending on what you have created, they have given you something in exchange. For a blog post, they have given you their time. For a white paper or mini book, they have given you their email address. For a podcast, they have subscribed.
And now, you have their permission to try to keep selling them your wonderful stuff. And that is, absolutely, a wonderful thing.
An Online Course is More Than Permission
However, if they sign up for a course written by you, they are saying "Yes!" a thousand times over.
An online course is not just permission, it is a stark raving, "Yes, please!".
Permission Marketing All Grown Up
The difference is really huge: With permission marketing, you stop yelling at your potential client. Hopefully, this 20-year-old news has sunk in. But what you really want is for potential clients, your fans, to not just sort of passively "permit" you to market to them. You want them to become your fanbase. Share your wisdom. Be devoted to you. Forever.
An Online Course is a Commitment
One way to do this is through a commitment that goes both ways. An online course, for example. It's not a one-time thing that you offer to your potential client, hoping that they value whatever it is as much as you do.
And it's not a one-way street. Even something like a newsletter or a podcast, something that your potential clients subscribe to is essentially a one-way relationship. It's less in-your-face than an old school hard sell, but essentially, it's you wooing your client and hoping your client says "Yes." Your potential client is willing, sure, but still quite passive. Not an ideal relationship.
With an online course, a potential client is signing up to participate with you and actively create something under your guidance. And, because they are invested in what they are learning and producing, they are more invested in you as a brand, in what you stand for.
Creating Brand Evangelists
Depending on what you create, you have the potential to co-create evangelists of your brand. (h/t to Guy Kawasaki) After all, through doing your course, they have put in the hours, actively created something bigger than what you put out there, and, if you have done a good job, they will want to share this. Widely. Not only because they think you are awesome, but because they think they are awesome. And, think about this. They also come to the conclusion that you, together, are awesome-er.
Online Courses - Part of a Larger Package
Here's the thing: If you create an online course, you can't stop there. You need a strategy behind it. But the power behind an online course is exponential compared to a simple book, app or other piece of content.
2015 is coming up soon. You'll no doubt have lots of ideas about how this year is going to be the year you make things happen. I encourage you to include creating an online course in your 2015 to-do list.
Online Course Resources:
Here are a few resources to get your started. Let me know if I've left anything out, or if you think you've got a better idea of creating evangelism in 2015.
- Create Your Own Course at Versa.
- Udemy - Take Online Courses or Create Your Own. - I actually took "The Complete Web Developer Course" by Rob Percival this summer, and taking this entire course was the start of the idea for this post. Rob's great, his course convinced me of this, and I'd be happy to help him promote anything he does in the future.
- David Siteman Garland & The Rise to the Top - This guy loves online courses.
- A Forbes Article on How to Create an Online Course - Great information here.
- Open Learning - Create an online course.
- Straight from Google - All the Code You Need to DIY.