What’s the difference between Master Shifu and Mark Manson? Master Shifu didn’t have to market his lessons.
In the real world, Mark Manson had to build a following on his blog over several years before he could publish a global bestseller, charge for access to his website, and create a successful paid online course.
But as an online teacher in 2020, your marketing path isn’t as difficult as his.
Since the pandemic, listings for teaching-related roles on the Indian job portal naukri.com have increased four-fold. Every other connection on LinkedIn is either teaching or learning new things online.
The surge only means that the initial phase of convincing a new audience about the credibility of the offering is over, it is now just about convincing them that your personal offering is worth their money and trust.
Secondly, everyone is a social marketer today. Your social media profiles are essentially marketing for yourself, so you’re not exactly new to marketing. If you too have a great online course but not a great marketing plan, here’s where you can start.
Homework for marketing your online course
1.Establish your expert authority
You are the face of the online course. You need more than just a LinkedIn profile to convince students. It starts with simple things such as posting advice on social media and engaging in conversations on Quora and Reddit.
There is something for you to capture on each platform. Make a list of your achievements and promote them strategically on each of them. More importantly, keep reading and sharpening your skills to stay fresh and updated.
2.Profile your target audience
Every good marketer starts with profiling their target audience. Determine who your best prospective student is, and create a few sample profiles based on the following questions.
- What age group do they belong to?
- Where do they live?
- How much do they/their parents earn?
- What are their hobbies?
- What kind of content do they consume online?
- What attracts them to your subject matter?
- Who makes buying decisions for them and how?
Once you establish your online authority, it’ll be easier for you to
interact with, study, and profile your target audience.
3.Identify problems and solutions
Once you know your target audience, you will understand what exactly they need in your subject area that they aren’t getting from your competitors.
Let’s say, you’re a soft skills instructor. There is no dearth of your kind. But you find out that middle-aged professionals with a considerable amount of work experience, mothers returning after a break, or people making drastic career changes all have their specific needs.
Is there anyone who is catering to the nervousness that comes with being out of touch for a year or two, or the uncertainty of changing industries at 35? Can you delve deeper and tackle these?
Conduct thought experiments, talk to your audiences, and zero down on a core purpose for your course that you can spell out in one comprehensive sentence.
For example, “My course will help busy working mothers learn a set of 7-10 quick, healthy recipes that they can prepare for themselves and their children”.
10 Ways To Market Your Online Course
Once your homework is done, you can start drawing your real marketing strategy. If you’re completely new to marketing, take it as you are learning something new yourself in the process of teaching something new to others!
1.Optimize your website
If you create a course on any popular online course marketplace, you will have to play by their rules at every step of the way. With a customizable platform such as FreshLMS, your website will become your voice. Everything from the colors and fonts you to lesson plans will be an extension of your marketing plan.
Think about how each of these decisions reflects upon your brand, and make the most of the following features of FreshLMS.
- Heavy on-course personalization
- Ideal user journeys
- Prompt quizzes and assessments
- Custom domains for every course
- Effortless payment unification
- Smart third-party integrations
- Completely Whitelabel and re-brandable features
- Next-gen reporting and analytics
2.Start your own blog/podcast
Think carefully about everything from the name of your blog to the content. Once you build a strong following for your blog or podcast, your expertise will be established. Prospective students get a glimpse of your teaching abilities from the way you explain concepts in your articles and podcasts.
3. Sales funnel
A sales funnel, as technical as it sounds, is a very simple model depicting a consumer’s journey from knowing about your product to finally buying it. The generic sales funnel is divided into 5 steps.
Create a custom funnel for your target audience, and decide the
touchpoints you can explore at each step. For example, your blog might be the prime touchpoint for the awareness phase, while social media can help your target audience in shaping opinion.
4.Social media strategy
It’s time to use your personal accounts to market your online course, as you are the essence of your offering. These 5 platforms are a must in your marketing plan. You can add other niche platforms depending on your course content and audience.
- Facebook: Audiences across age groups and professions are active on Facebook. You can explore features such as Facebook Live, Stories, and interest-based groups to drive your course.
A business page linked with your Instagram business page could also be a good idea for targeting the right people.
- Instagram: An Instagram page is a must for creative course teachers. That doesn’t mean business and strategic online courses cannot be marketed on this platform.
With features such as QnA, polls, and the immense creative potential of Instagram, it becomes a great place to interact with your audience and register yourself in their minds.
- YouTube: You can treat YouTube videos as practice course videos. You could even upload these and send them only to a select few people for feedback. Or you could publicize them on all other social platforms and gauge reactions from your social circle as well as the audience on YouTube at large.
- Twitter: Twitter can serve the same purpose as your blog or LinkedIn page, in a limited number of characters. Comment on new developments in your course area and use trending hashtags, mainly to add to your credibility and online exposure.
- LinkedIn: If not to connect with your audience, LinkedIn is surely a great place to connect with fellow teachers and experts, to keep track of businesses in your field. Having an illustrious LinkedIn profile in addition to creative Instagram pages and blogs can help in adding to your professional credibility.
5.Give and take: testimonials and guest blogs
You can give influencers in your field free access to your course and ask them to publish an honest review on their pages. Additionally, you can contact credible blogs and pages, and find out if you can publish a guest blog, a guest post, a handle takeover, or a video post based on your subject matter. They should generally allow you to promote your social handles, website, and other content.
Online teaching need not be a solo endeavor. Through social conversations, you can get in touch with fellow teachers, combine your strengths, and publish collaborative content.
If you are putting together a comprehensive cooking course and know an expert baker, you could have them conduct one special lesson in your online course. Collaborations help both parties and give them access to each other’s audiences.
7.Live webinars and events
Live webinars can give you a good classroom test. Reading your blogs and posts is one thing, but watching you speak and interact is what can truly convince people that you can be a good teacher.
Once you have a good following on your blog and social accounts, host a live webinar, and look for opportunities to take part in events as a speaker, panelist, etc.
8.Discounts: to offer or not to offer
Even after being one of the most successful teachers in the world, Mark Manson sells online course in a package along with exclusive blog articles and other content. Discounts and offers are not necessarily a bad idea, whether you’re starting out or are established.
They only increase the number of registrations, which means increased exposure that helps branding in the long run. Just make sure to not over-discount and maintain your standards.
Audience interaction doesn’t just consist of personal responses to messages and comments. It also includes regular QnA sessions, actively seeking feedback, sharing positive feedback that you receive, and rewarding loyal audiences.
Rewards can be something as small as sharing screenshots of their positive feedback, their well-made assignments, or sharing personalized advice.
This step is not extremely necessary, but it can provide a great reach. Paid Google ads, social ads, YouTube ads, and website ads give you great access to your audience.
Spending money to make money might not be everyone’s idea of a great marketing plan, and you can take your time to evaluate this option.
Your marketing plan is almost as important as your online course design. The good thing is that none of the above-mentioned online platforms are alien to you. After a few more days of racking your brains and you will have made your perfect marketing plan.
So go on, become the world’s next favorite music teacher, business strategist, brewer, or any other kind of teacher, and enter the marketing hall of fame simultaneously!