Last updated on February 1st, 2022
Attn: experienced launch copywriters — if “offer optimization” is NOT a line item on your service menu or proposals, then you are letting a monster-sized authority-building opportunity pass by. Online course marketing IS part of what you do.
Knowing HOW to optimize an online course offer is ESSENTIAL.
Here’s the thing…
As launch copywriters, we are seasoned excavators 👷⛏ of persuasive messages.
We know our way around sales and landing pages like the back of our hand.
We weave in and out of conversion principles and psychological triggers with enviable dexterity.
But we sometimes skip a beat when it comes to something pretty fundamental to our clients and their business as a whole—the offer.
And if you’re a course creator, then…
…before you fling more money at ads, examine the most important piece of the puzzle – yes, the offer.
How important is optimizing your offer when marketing online courses?
A poor offer can leave you feeling stretched thin. It flatlines growth, bleeds conversions, leaving you to question if what you’re doing is worth it.
Before you start to rework a client’s copy, take the time to scrutinize their offer. Identify everything that can be improved or optimized.
There can’t be a sustainable business without a solid offer.
Optimizing your client’s offer positions you as a strategist.
It bolsters your authority, from an order-taker to a collaborator.
But, more importantly, it helps your client by providing them incredible value, not only for their launch but their business as a whole.
Mayank and I LOVE offer optimization! We obsess over our clients’ businesses because we want to bring ALL the value we possibly can to the table.
Creating, let alone perfecting, an offer is a significant hurdle for SOOO many online course creators and service providers.
Offer optimization is integral to online course marketing and sadly, can stump creators over and over again, whether at the start or even years into the business.
✔️ They might be starting from square one and have no idea how to confidently package their expertise into a deliverable.
✔️ They might feel that their offer should keep pace with what their competitors and all the cool kids are doing.
✔️ Or worry that their offer is too lean and add in “more stuff” (more is better, right?!)
✔️ They might struggle with forming another offer for previous students, so would-be long-term clients don’t slip away.
You haven’t sworn an oath per se, BUT when you have the know-how and experience… you have a duty to help your clients as much as possible.
Because you know that all the wordplay and fancy frameworks in the world won’t help a limp offer.
Why Copywriters Should Focus on Online Course Marketing and Optimization
When you add what Mayank and I call “Offer Optimization” to your list of services, it’s an automatic indicator of your intent.
It tells your clients you 💯 care.
A strategist is a collaborator and an ally- not a fly-by-night freelancer or clock-watching contractor just waiting until they can finish the job and move on.
When you provide this offer, you’re telling your clients that you care enough about their business, not just your piece of the 🥧 pie.
Think about their business like it was your own.
The distinction between “your end of the deal” and “their end of the deal” softens because you show up as an all-in invested 🤝 partner – not an order taker.
You’ve got some skin in the game!
Because you know their offer will ultimately shape the message and the impact of the copy you create.
As a strategist, you are there to provide as much value as possible to support their business as a whole, not just the sales page, landing page, or funnel and deliver a better experience for the course creator.
So… What is Offer Optimization?
Offer optimization means looking at your client’s offer with a discerning eye and evaluating how to make it stronger, better, clearer. 🙌🏼
An offer that highlights their genius while meeting their audience’s exact wants and needs. BRILLIANT!!
It means you go through their offer with a fine-tooth comb to understand HOW you can make it faster to say yes to you and position it as a no-brainer for their audience.
Consider things like:
📧 Are their promo emails too lightweight on sharing the essential decision-making details?
✏️ Do they need another content asset or fast-acting bonus that gets a resounding
“YES! TO THE DRESS” buy-in?
🤔 Or, on the other hand, is their core offer so deeply buried under a triple-layer bonus sandwich with a side of extras that you find yourself wondering where the actual meat is?
🔎 What has the research shown you? If prospects need more hand-holding – is accountability baked into this offer? Do prospects need extra office hours to help get them unstuck to stay on track?
The offer is the OG of sales strategies
A calculated offer is the ultimate win-win when it comes to online course marketing skills.
🥇 It’s a win for your client because it will sell easier AND attract motivated right-fit prospects.
🥈It’s a win for their students because it means a higher course completion rate, better results, and better quality feedback. “I didn’t finish it. I stopped halfway, then, I took another course,” and “I didn’t get past Module 1,” aren’t the love letters they’ve been pining for.
🥉It’s a win for YOU because your client (and their students) had a better overall experience, which means rich, outstanding testimonials and a long-term relationship with your client instead of a one-and-done job.
Your client may have run the gamut of offers from middling to totally terrible before being gifted with your strategic, service-led brain.
✔️ Their offer might not get picked up at all. Zero Takers.
✔️ They might have a mediocre offer that converts respectfully but it has a substantial minority of students full of mismatched expectations and a tinge of buyer’s remorse (and a wisp of resentment to boot).
✔️ It may have taken them months (or nay, YEARS!) of growing pains before they finally polished an offer that works for them, their business, and their students.
The Offer is the starting point
Offers underpin the success of the course.
It comes before nailing their brand voice, before research, interviews, and surveys, and scaffolding your copy, clarity, and editing sweeps.
You examine their current offer, the funnel, the launch mechanism used, client feedback and testimonials, and previous launch controls.
Your client’s offer optimization could need a multi-layered leave-no-stone-unturned approach, or the solution may present itself early on in the process.
It can be as complicated as changing course platforms or as simple as adding a bonus workshop or additional office hours.
You need to look at the WHOLE enchilada to optimize their offer.
- Is the BIG promise clear?
- Do they need to include risk reversal mechanisms?
- How have they positioned their guarantee?
- Do they need an in-depth customer journey map to better understand the jobs to be done and their prospect’s wish list?
- Will you need to run another student survey? Perhaps you need data from people who attended their sales trigger webinar but didn’t enroll?
- Is there a gap between what students expect and what previous offers delivered?
- Do you need to look at their competitor’s offer more closely?
It’s your job to show up with your recommendations and insights to the table.
So you need to bring it!
But don’t do this…
Online course marketing mistakes: Two ways offer optimization can go very, very wrong
Despite best intentions to capture ALL opinions and well-rounded advice, using random, largely anecdotal feedback as the basis of your strategy (instead of data) is a bad idea. Here are 2 things you want to avoid when putting together an offer.
Problem 1: The collective chime-in.
You ask everyone in your audience under the sun for their opinion. Here’s how it may show up:
Crowd-sourcing. You post on IG asking for feedback about platform, pricing or tiering choices and everyone jumps in with feedback.
It’s OK to bounce ideas off people or field preliminary loose-leaf ideas!
But here’s the catch: unless these are people who would actually buy your product or use your service, this feedback isn’t valid.
It’s can also create a misleading consensus. Opinion A sets the trend with a chorus of replies in agreement (this is especially true if Opinion A is voiced by someone particularly outspoken or a couple of rungs ahead of the pack). Consciously or not, others’ opinions and less popular advice often stay in the shadows.
Caveat – You crowdsource BUT from people who legitimately are your audience of interest for the course AND could potentially use your product or service in the future.
When you ask for feedback, make sure to provide context.
You don’t have to drop a link to your Executive Summary, but you do have to paint a picture so people can connect the dots and get the full picture.
👉🏾 If you want to ask about pricing, make sure you share the value and deliverables your prospects will get.
👉🏾 If you want to ask about an opt-in (or what we in Ready-to-Sell call a course-specific content invite), frame it as it relates to your offer and prospect’s stage of awareness.
👉🏾 If you are asking about the length of the program or how many group calls you should include, shade in the nuances of accountability, the size of your cohort, and your target audience’s expected level of direct interaction with you.
Problem 2: Ad hoc advice
The perils of listening to your aunt’s cousin’s neighbor’s brother
You listen to everybody and their Labradoodle!
Everyone has their 2 cents 💰 and your ears are wide open, soaking 🧽 it ALL in!
You want to wrap all the suggestions and recommendations into your offer so that it’s super inclusive and leaves nothing on the floor.
You might think you’re doing your due diligence by making the rounds, being comprehensive and thorough.
If you listen and follow what everyone says, from what your upsell should be, to your sales trigger and what (and how many) bonuses you should include, you’ll have a pick ‘n’ mix of features and selling points.
If foundational facts aren’t guiding your offer creation, that’s no bueno.
Instead, try looking at 3Ds: Data (your metrics and hard data), Details (your brand & USP) and Depth (how you respond and evolve), to build the initial foundation and guide your strategy.
Following untested advice that may not even apply to your scenario can push you further behind as you continuously need to revise, fix and update your offer.
Or, eventually, cause you to start all over again.
Thankfully, there’s an easier way.
Our 9-part Optimization Matrix
If you’ve ever started to write copy and you find your focus has started to trail off because the offer in your mind is still this half-formed, nebulous thing or (yikes!) you entirely lost aaaalllll sense of the offer… here’s help.
A 9-part Offer Optimization Matrix!
We use this Matrix for every single element under the sun before we’ve even written a line of copy or looked at branding, voice, or voice of the customer.
And yes, I walk you through the entire process in Ready-to-Sell.
It ALL hinges on what we call “offer optimization”.
- ONE promise – What is the program’s one promise? Is it clear? Does it align with your overarching brand promise?
- ONE theme – This is what I term Copy Branding. You want to stand out but also ensure your copy sounds like you – who you are and reflects your Cool Quotient – what you are known for and your value system.
(In Ready-to-Sell, we make this SUPER easy by showing you HOW to create an A.B.C Docket that includes your Audience Profile, Brand Equity AND Cool Quotient!! )
- Offer branding – This is where you dig deep into the offer name, tagline, the bonuses, the process, and the pricing.
- Core outcomes – Your offer needs to identify the main outcomes your offer promises.
- Launch mechanism – Your webinar, challenge, a quiz, hybrid, PDF – whatever you use to get people into your funnel to learn more about your offer and services.
- Previous launch data – You refer back to previous metrics and goals. For first-time launches, you will need to set launch benchmarks and goals for emails, sales page performance, audience engagement.
- Risk Reversal – Guarantees, policies, refunds, and trial periods.
- Social Proof – What social proof do you have? Case studies, unsolicited feedback, testimonials, and previous student videos. Go beyond the gut check. Are they all gush, glowing testimonials? Are they relatable? Do they speak to your prospect’s objections and hesitations?
- Urgency & Scarcity – This is where you identify and decide on your FOMO-free triggers: live launch, limited seats, spots, exclusive bonuses, and other time-bound value-adds.
Optimizing your offer takes a massive cut of your 🧠 mental and emotional shares to conceptualize, position, and market your own offer.
NO surprise why so many course creators find themselves in endless pick-up, put-down revision cycles.
Offers get mulled over, polished, put on the back burner again, and then slapped together at the last minute with a dab of Elmer’s glue.
That’s why it helps to have a framework to help you analyze offers critically and objectively.
One of the reasons online course creators find it SO difficult to optimize their own offer is… because their business is their passion and their passion is their business. 🤷🏻♀️
It’s hard to see the full wide-screen picture of their offer with fresh eyes when they live, breathe, and think about their course and offer.
Even though we use the 9-part Matrix when optimizing client offers… There is no one way to approach offer optimization.
In fact, our 9-part Matrix is always evolving.
The main and MOST important ingredient is to have a fresh perspective (yours!).
You, as a sales copywriter, bring the care-and-conversions factor, so your client knows you got their back. 💯
The offer is the foundational first step.
Optimize it with intention, thoughtfulness, and tangible data points.
We do ALL of this and more in the very first module of Ready-to-Sell. Drop your details below to be the first to know when doors open again.