Last updated on June 1st, 2021
They’re a minefield of decisions and choices.
As online course creators, not only do you have to navigate this minefield with strategic precision but you also want to do it with ease and intention.
One of the things, Mayank and I are passionate about is STRATEGY.
And we had the opportunity to dig deep into all things marketing and launch strategy when we chatted with Tyler J. McCall 🥰 on episode #39 of The Online Business Show.
We had A LOT to say about how online course creators should show up, the importance of standing behind the integrity of your values, going deep on your offer, and the problem with overly ambitious goals (and how we use our S.M.A.R.T. framework to stay on track), under-promising and over-delivering on ALL your offers (yes, especially the bonuses). We ambled into many other juicy tangents, such as dodgy, toxic marketing tactics, and the rise of ethical marketing.
Read the Coles Notes version below.
2020 was a challenging year for entrepreneurs. Let’s dive deep into what worked, what didn’t, and the big changes you can expect from online businesses and course creators for 2021.
Here’s what you’ll find and learn in this post:
- 5 Trends that you’ll be seeing a lot more of in 2021
- Creating stronger offers and bonuses that are worth their weight in gold
- Getting real with your goals so that they’re actually attainable
- How we use the S.M.A.R.T. framework to set & track realistic goals
- 3C’s of copywriting – and the demise of hyperbolic copy
- What real ethical marketing does and doesn’t look like
- The importance of going all-in and really showing up and sticking around to serve your clients & communities
The Landscape of Online Launches for Intentional Marketers in 2021
Definitely not business as usual: the rise of empathy & values as the new brand keystone.
2020 was the year everything changed.
Everyone hit the pause button, took a breath, and a moment to re-evaluate…everything.
We saw incredible shifts – 🤗 people reaching out, helping each other with fundraising, changing their pricing models to include pay what you can and interest-free options, and even rolling back to their original fees.
Not everyone made this shift…for some, nothing changed. 🙄
They may have said the right thing, but at the end of the day, they were still chasing people for late-payments and quibbling over refunds.
Prospects, too, took a step back and re-examined their values and the bigger picture.
The truth is…
Your prospects want to know: Who are you? What do you care about? What do you believe in?
They want to see IF your values align with theirs and they want to know HOW you stand behind them.
Your values and how you demonstrate them matter to your prospect.
We’ve always believed values aren’t buzzwords that look good on a plaque.
Values aren’t meme-material.
Values are what you live, breathe, say and do.
How do your values show up for YOUR brand and business?
Online launches and goal-setting: Overly-ambitious vs. reality
There’s a push in the online world to “Go Big or Go Home” and to “stop playing small” with a smorgasbord of axioms promising success on a 🤩🌠🤩 grandiose scale – but the issue is…reality.
We MUST be aware of the truth of our reality and align our goals with our season of life.
Let’s be clear, we don’t want to discourage big dreams or tell you to “play it small”. It’s great to be inspired by other people’s success but beware of the lure of the unattainable.
Honor your season of life.
Consider your life as it really is. If you’re busy homeschooling your kids for 6 hours a day OR if you’re juggling a full-time job you’ll need to be intentional and specific when setting goals.
Pursuing overly ambitious goals that you can’t reasonably sustain doesn’t honor your season of life. It leads to burnout.
Time is a finite resource (unless you have Hermoine’s Time Turner or Marty’s DeLorean, then carry on).
Here’s how we manage goal-setting for launches and marketing initiatives:
We run each and every project through the ever-popular S.M.A.R.T. framework to make sure we’re setting & measuring realistic goals.
Here’s the skinny:
✔️ Specific – look at your audience, your situation and be extremely specific with what can do well. Pick 3-4 clear, ultra-specific goals that are considerate of your circumstances and limitations.
✔️ Measurable – Avoid Data Deluge and keep it simple. Select 5-7 metrics, establish a baseline for comparison post-launch, and ONLY collect data you will actually use with tools you already have.
The essential metrics: your open rate, your click-through rate, and look at heat maps to see how users interact with your content. Don’t forget to debrief post-launch!
✔️ Attainable – Consider what goals can you achieve AND still be able to create an exceptional experience sans burnout?
✔️ Relevant – Relevance depends on your values, stage of your customer, your overall marketing plan, where you are in your business. Does it tie into your other goals or the bigger picture?
✔️ Time-bound – Goals need to be time-bound. Are your goals actually possible with your available time and resources?
Keep in mind: attainable goals mean attainable wins.
All without feeling like an exhausted, dried-out husk of a person.
Go deep to build rock-solid offers for a launch that leads the way
It’s the end for cookie cutter offers.
Be specific, strategic and ensure your USP readily translates in all your marketing and communication not just on your sales page.
The strength of your offer rests on your prospect’s perceived value of what it is you’re offering. It’s not enough to model someone else’s blueprint or inflate your packages with flimsy bonuses dressed up as premium content.
You’ll want to deliver exceptional value everywhere: your emails, your opt-ins, your free content, your debrief, and your bonuses. Especially your bonuses.
Don’t. skimp. on. the. bonuses. ⭐⭐⭐
Bonuses are often treated as sticky little after-thoughts, puffing up your packages to inflate their value. Ideally, your bonuses must be sooo good that people will pay for the program just for the bonuses.
All of your content should be supporting your brand credibility and your position; helping people understand who you are for and who you are not for.
In other words, think like a customer.
Make the decision easier for them.
Your course is a big ask of someone’s time and resources – how do you make it easier for them to say yes? What’s your satisfaction policy? Do you have a 14-day or 30-day guarantee or refund? What do they need to build trust? A sneak peek? A tour? A preview premium content?
Help fuel the feel-good factor that won’t leave them feeling pressured
with a nagging sense of buyer’s remorse.
Replace hyperbolic launch copy with the 3Cs
You’re going to see more natural language replacing over-the-top hyperbolic marketing-speak.
You want to be persuasive, yes, but not manipulative.
This is where 3Cs of Copywriting come in:
Keep your message simple, setting the tone and expectation.
🧠 Clarity ties in with your USP; being crystal clear about who you are, what you do, and who you can (and can’t help). Clarity is a natural filter, setting up the expectations and simplifying who your Big Promise, Big Offer, Big Outcome is for.
💬 Conversation in your messaging (everywhere, not just your sales page), helps grease the wheels and keeps the engagement friendly, approachable, and natural. You talk to people like you would a friend, you treat them with respect – so there’ll be no more scarcity FOMO or disingenuous sales tactics.
📖 Creative storytelling builds rapport, trust, and weaves personality into your brand….but it needs to be backed up by facts and evidence for everything you claim; even your small asides. Telling a story means being honest and backing it up.
You wanted happy post-launch customers. That means being clear and setting the groundwork and expectations at the beginning of their journey. Striking a balance using the 3C’s is miles easier than dealing with damage control with a dissatisfied customer.
The rise of “ethical” marketing: Is it the end of toxic market strategies?
This trend really deserves its own show.
We have a lot to say about how we demonstrate our values.
Because our values will forecast whether we are perceived as ethical marketers vs. being seen as ethically vacuous or borderline villainous.
Saying “I don’t do politics” doesn’t cut it. Neither does placing vague values on your About page.
People are watching to see if you stand behind the values you espouse, act ethically responsible, OR if you do the bare minimum to see what you can get away with.
It seems simple enough: do what you promised, teach what you said you would, show up, demonstrate your values, right? 🤷🏽
We did note, however, that it takes a certain amount of “unlearning” of those toxic, sneaky marketing practices and biases. It might mean diversity training and re-addressing what you do (and are willing to do) to acquire a sale.
Sometimes marketers have found themselves caught up in the ebb and flow of the influence of online power cliques and people they view as mentors.
What they believed to be “standard” practice for driving conversions ( read: exaggerated urgency, hustle language, empty promises, shoddy tripwires, the questionable value of upsells, and the usual suspects of FOMO marketing, AWOL course creators) created a HUGE trust gap.
Prospects are savvy, aware, and quite frankly tired of dubious marketing.
And as we said before, all the marketing and messaging can’t save a damaged reputation from word of mouth.
The importance of showing up (and why you shouldn’t play Russian Roulette with trust!)
Don’t promise the moon and deliver moondust.
Every single asset, freebie, email should deliver SOME value, SOME quick-win.
People have higher and higher expectations of these programs. They’re more market aware, they’re sophisticated and they’re leveling up. And they expect you to do the same.
Are you over-reaching or do you really have enough knowledge to teach your course with confidence?
People are relying on you to have that confidence to deliver and course creators shouldn’t take that lightly.
Take the time to find out what your clients/students need (accountability buddies, regular check-ins) for success and course completion so that they will actually be able to implement and use what they learn.
🙋🏽♀️ Show up, invest your time, and serve those who’ve trusted you to teach them something that they’ll actually be able to use.
For instance, if you promised to be there in the community responding and engaging with your students, YOU (not your moderator) should be there.
Treat Your Audience with the Respect They Deserve
An online launch isn’t an excuse to hurl manipulation, guilt, fear at your audience.
Your audience isn’t dumb – they’re wary and skeptical.
As David Ogilvy said, “The customer is not a moron. She’s your wife“
We touched on a lot and there’s still lots to talk about.
Give people the gift of your time and attention.
Do what you promised.
Metrics matter, but keep it simple.
Be annoyingly intentional, your future self (and your customers will thank you).
Go deep on your offers. Make those bonuses count.
Delight a jaded audience with every encounter.
Set sustainable goals.
Show up with integrity.
The bottom line is you want to make a positive impact and help people achieve what they want to achieve.
In other words, use your online launch as an opportunity to show your audience that YOU care. 🙏🏽