Many of the clients we work with see online learning as a fantastic opportunity to add a new or complementary product to their offering, and rightly so. When done well, an online course can be a fantastic asset for your business.
Most people already have a few ideas about what sort of online course they want to offer and how this will fit alongside their existing product range. But for the majority, just knowing where to start is the real challenge. Often, they’re worried about what learning platform to use, what kind of learning experience they want to create, what content to include and what features are going to make it attractive to buy.
We’ll let you into a little secret. We’ve found that the best starting point is far less complex, less technical and far more effective than all of this – and it’s a simple sales page.
What do we mean by a sales page? Well typically we mean a standalone web page, that sits on your website and communicates what your product is, what it does and how it will help your target customer.
Now, it might sound a little strange that before you even start writing content for your online course, or working out what learning platform you’re going to use, you’d start creating a sales page. But in our experience, there are several strong reasons why this is the best place to begin:
A value proposition is a fancy way of explaining why customers should buy your online course. How will it solve their problem? What benefits will it deliver? And why should they buy from you rather than your competitors?
Leading expert, Alex Osterwalder, says that great value propositions focus first on understanding customers, and then on designing products and services that will serve them well. He came up with a handy tool called the Value Proposition Canvas which offers a simple way of teasing this out – we often print one of these out and talk our clients through it when we’re thinking through their ideas.
The process of creating a sales page will force you into getting under the skin of your potential customers, and think in detail about the problem your online learning product will help them overcome. It’ll help you work out what features are important to your customers (and what aren’t), and as a result, help you create clear boundaries on what the first phase of development will involve.
As a side note, if you’re selling your elearning course into other businesses, it’s worthwhile considering the different stakeholders involved in any potential sale. What your ‘customer’ is looking for (e.g. the HR department) and what the actual students are seeking help with (e.g. the company employees) may not be the same thing!
Often it can be a big challenge in communicating what your products and services do. You may think you know in your own head what it does, but verbalising this can be tough at times, particularly when you want to be as clear and succinct as possible.
Creating the content for your sales page will help you refine this and make sure your ‘elevator pitch’ is memorable!
As you create your sale page, compare your online course against what your competitors offer. Dig deep to find your ‘objective hat’, then take a cold, hard look at how your proposition compares. How does it stack up against the rest? In what way(s) does it shine more brightly? What do you need to change in your plans?
There’s no doubt about it, an online course is a significant investment, but knowing where to spend your money, time and resources can be difficult to gauge.
Use your sales page to gather valuable feedback by showing it to a selection of trusted customers: it’s best to go with those you know well and who won’t be afraid to tell it like it is. Ask them whether they think your proposition would solve their problems – and if not, what changes would make that vital difference? Do they think there’s anything missing? Or anything that might cause problems for them or for others?
This way before you’ve invested a single penny into your new product, you’ve got confidence it’s going to hit the right notes.
The advantages of this approach don’t end with the planning stage. Indeed it’s a sales page, so use it to… (*drum roll*) sell!
Once you have the confidence that your elearning course is going to resonate with potential customers, put the sales page on your web site, and allow potential clients to register their interest. This will help you to build excitement prior to launch, and even offer a pre-sale discount to fund some of the course development!
Hopefully, we’ve convinced you that a sales page is a great place to start when planning your online course project. If we can help you turn your elearning idea into a revenue-generating product, we’d love to hear from you!