When Should You Add an Online Course to your Marketing?

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Kathleen Celmins is the CEO and co-founder of Amplified NOW, a video-first content marketing and strategy agency. She sat down with Melody Johnson, The Course Consultant, to talk about how she is doing marketing differently. Melody is the owner of The Course Consultant. She is also the host of the podcast, The Course Consultant Show, and she has weekly streams on social media where she posts about course creation and small business marketing tactics. 


Melody doesn’t believe that marketing has to be “salesy” or that you have to uses traditional “bro-marketing” techniques to be successful. 

Her primary focus is on helping business owners or entrepreneurs create and sell online training programs and courses. Her online DIY courses and templates are available to purchase on the fly, and she also offers one-on-one coaching and consulting. 

Melody has a new program that will be rolling out in the upcoming months focusing on group coaching. She will focus on helping clients find their marketing message and create a really powerful program.

Should you have an online course?

Melody is asked a lot: “Who should create and market an online course?” Her short answer is that anyone who is an online business owner can use an online course. However, she has found that consultants and service-based business owners can really benefit from one. 

When entrepreneurs in these areas want to scale their business and already have clients they are serving, they tend to notice some things they are repeatedly saying. If you find yourself in this position, an online course can be helpful for both you and your clients. 

Melody loves working with a lot of different types of people. She has worked with financial advisors, coaches, marketing agencies, and many other people with different areas of expertise. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to courses if you’re a consultant or freelancer. There are so many different options available.

When should you add a course? 

No matter what industry you’re in, the best time to think about adding a course is when you already have an audience to sell to. That’s when you get the most bang for your buck. When you’re completely new to online business with no website or audience yet, it’s important not to rush into creating a course. You want it to be part of a larger business strategy. 

A course should not be a stand-alone income source. First, you want to make sure you choose a business plan and model that works for you. Second, you want the course to be a business decision. If you’re not interested in starting a business, then course creation is not right for you.

What should you do before you begin creating a course? 

Melody believes that you have to work to understand your audience first, so you can create offers that will be profitable, rather than trying to create something and then sell it. If you’re not solving a problem that people are willing to pay to have solved, you’re just doing work that isn’t going to pay off in the end.

When working with a one-on-one client for consulting, Melody likes to encourage them to create their course or program with marketing in mind. Rather than creating the course and hoping to sell it and enjoy all the profits, first think about what your email list looks like, who your current audience is, and what your content marketing strategy includes.

If you have a blog, think about how you can look at your blog and begin to prepare and warm people up for the sale of your course. Think about your social media content. What are you currently posting on Instagram, and is your audience in a place where they would be ready to purchase a course from you? 

Melody believes that it is powerful to walk through some of these questions and do some marketing research. Think about what kind of offers are out there right now? Are there competitors for your course? If there are, how can you stand out and be different?

Many offers are similar, but you have to focus on sharing why yours is unique. For example, why is your course something that people will want to spend money on?

Some courses are less successful because the creator didn’t take the time to do this pre-validation work. Melody wants to save people the headache and hassle of creating something that people might not even buy. 
After doing this work, when it’s time to launch, you know you have a validated offer that’s going to sell. 

What kind of course is best?

There are a lot of different types of courses. Right now, templates are popular, as well as swipe files for email marketing if you are a business-to-business company. If you’re a business-to-consumer business, Melody recommends small and mini-courses. 

Melody says it can be a good idea to consider using a tripwire — a limited-time discount on a smaller-price product — to get people into your newsletter and funneled toward a larger offer, such as a signature course or one-on-one coaching program. 

This can be a great way to get them on your list, grow your audience, and connect up with people. With so many emails coming into potential customer’s inboxes, it’s important to create something that stands out.

What platform is best for courses?

When it comes to tools for creating courses, Melody loves Thrive Cart. It is currently her favorite because it allows you to create a strong affiliate marketing program and create unique affiliate links for your affiliates.

It is great because you can also attach multiple URLs to the checkout. If you have a tripwire, you can share a blog post or a landing page for a freebie, converting to a tripwire. On top of that, it’s lifetime access, so you don’t have a monthly recurring fee. 

Thrive Cart is what Melody recommends for all of her clients who want to scale with courses and products. In addition, she has a special, new onboarding bonus for people who buy Thrive Market through her affiliate link. You can find out more here.

Learn More!

Learn more about Melody at The Course Consultant.

We’d love to hear how you and your business are doing marketing differently! Get in touch with us and be featured on the blog.

When should you add an online course to your marketing?
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