You want your online course to be successful. You want to share your unique wisdom and experience and empower your audience. AND you want to make sure that your course actually sells.
I have spoken with several people who are thinking about creating an online course, but the fear of not selling their course is holding them back. The good news is that there is much wisdom out there to draw from to find proven solutions to deal with this concern effectively.
To help my clients overcome this barrier, I have researched customer behavior and pricing strategy. And I want to share how to apply the theory from the experience of working with my clients to ensure they get an excellent customer market fit for their online course.
Sustainable Competitive Advantage In Selling
As I was reading about creating a sustainable competitive advantage in selling, I had a moment of clarity.
In the days before the internet, the sales professional had absolute power. They had the knowledge and the information about the latest and most outstanding products. Think about the traveling merchants back in the Middle Ages who brought rare fabrics and spices from far, far away countries. They were like the gatekeepers to the real magic. Imagine tasting an orange or having a cup of coffee for the first time.
Today the picture is very different.
We just go online to search for what we are looking for. We can compare services, features, and prices without even leaving the sofa. Surveys show that the average customer today only reaches out to their suppliers when they are at least 75% of the way in the process of purchasing a product (Little & Coetzee, 2016).
The easy access for customers to search and compare products and services makes it even more essential to choose the right pricing strategy for your online course and your other products and services. But how do you do that?
Value-Based Pricing In Contemporary Marketing
An article from ASEAN PLUS studies talks about the recent changes in customer behavior:
“Customers seek the best products or services for themselves in terms of perceived quality.” (Phongthanapanich et al., 2021).
One of their most interesting points is that options for customer co-creation positively affect the perceived value of a product or a service.
Customer co-creation means if the product or service invites customers to be part of creating the customer experiences rather than just being a user of a product. Encouraging customers to interact on social media is an example of Customer co-creation.
When you think of customer co-creation related to an online course, co-creation happens when you have tasks and exercises as part of your online course for the learner to apply and share their new knowledge. Not only will this approach enhance the perceived quality of your online course, but it will also increase the learning outcome because deep learning happens when the learner can apply what they have learned. Integrating possibilities for customer co-creation in your online course will help create an engaging learning experience.
Another aspect of meeting customer expectations of perceived value in your pricing strategy is knowing the competitive landscape. Do some research on competitors who are offering the same type of product or service as you are offering. Do some research on what they are offering and how they set their prices. Look at how you are different and similar, and you will get a good idea of the ballpark of reasonable pricing.
However, pricing is only part of the picture regarding the perceived value of a product or service.
Just to give you an example of this fact from myself. I just bought a new phone. As I was waiting for the agent to activate my new phone at the counter, I looked at the prices of all the other models. The truth was that I had not chosen the cheapest phone. In reality, I had chosen the most expensive phone on display—the new iPhone Pro Max.
Certainly not because of the price. And I can’t argue that the iPhone has that many superior functions to all the other phones to justify the price I just paid, either. Honestly, the ONLY valid reason to spend that much more on the phone than all the other more affordable phones with the same function is related to a feeling and the identity I associate with the product. And feeling, meaning, and identity have nothing to do with price or logic.
This brings me to the main point when creating the right pricing strategy for your online course to ensure an excellent customer market fit:
Understand Your Why AND Your Customers Why
To buy from you, I need to understand who you are and why you are in business. What is your purpose? If I resonate with your purpose, I’m interested in hearing what you have to offer and working with you or buying from you.
“Our work is driven by purpose, defined by purpose, and ultimately serves purpose. Mission explains what we do and whom we do it for. Vision tells us where we aim to be. Values direct how we do it, and purpose tells us WHY.” (Little & Coetzee, 2016).
Let me give you an example.
One of my clients wants to help entrepreneurs build a sustainable business. She wants to do this by teaching entrepreneurs to write their business plans. I like her. I share her passion for helping people and businesses grow. Because I like and resonate with her, I want to do everything to help her succeed. And as I see it, we share a common WHY:
Learning is freedom. Learning sets us free to expand our lives. Learning lets us grow beyond what we thought was possible.
So, how can you apply all this knowledge to get an excellent customer market fit for your online course?
As I See It, There Are 3 Bases You Need To Cover
Getting clear about your purpose and your customers’ purpose and problems is very important in understanding the value you offer and how they perceive your value. Another step is to look at the competitive environment when creating your pricing strategy.
These are questions you can ask yourself to cover these three bases to get excellent customer market fit:
⚾ What is your WHY?
Why are you in business? What are your passion and purpose? What are your talents? What is your unique combination of experiences? Your big Why? How are you uniquely different from anyone else?
Set some time aside for reflection. Some journaling is helpful. This will help clarify whom you serve best with your online course. This clarity will help you become more genuine in your communication about your course and give you an edge over your competitors.
⚾ What are your customers’ WHY?
What is it your customers are looking for you to provide? What are their actual problems and pain points that you are the perfect match for?
A customer survey is VERY helpful. The survey will tell you exactly what problems you can help your audience solve. And how your online course will help your clients with the transformation they are seeking. The survey will also help you communicate in a way your audience understands. And that will also attract them to you and your online course.
⚾ What is your pricing strategy? What is your $, $$, $$$ offer?
Think of the $ offer as an offer that gives minimal access to your time and $$$ as the offer with the most 1-2-1 time.
What are your competitors charging for similar services?
Do some research. Look at competitors you admire, someone similar to you, and the oddball out. You can learn from all of them. How do they communicate their offer? How about do they put together their offers? Use your research for inspiration.
If you cover the three bases mentioned above, the chances are that you will create an excellent customer market fit for your online course. It has been my experience for my own business and my experience from helping my clients build their online courses.
My business took off once I got clear on my WHY. I realized how I could use my unique background of 20+ years in the educational industry along with my love for learning and my experiences in leadership, educational consulting, and personal development to help and empower experts to create meaningful online courses.
And then, talking with my clients and doing surveys helped me see what these experts are struggling with when creating their online courses. I found their everyday challenges and where they are different in their background and budgets.
Learning how to meet their different needs, backgrounds, and budgets helped me develop a pricing strategy with three distinct tracks.
- You do
- Do with you, and
- Do for you.
And I can see that the same approach is extremely helpful to the people I help.
Anyway, this is my experience in getting an excellent customer-market fit for my services and helping other experts. What is your experience?
Sophie Higgins – MA, MBA, MBC: I help experts create meaningful online courses with real impact. An online course should be a well-crafted, inspirational, and empowering learning experience. So, your unique wisdom can make a real difference in the learners’ life AND allow you to live the life of your dreams.
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