In the last part of the Starter for 10 series we looked at the types of online courses you can offer. But in order to create a successful online course, you need to know your audience. In other words, you want to create a course with a specific target group in mind. That is what today’s post is all about…
Let's get clear on who you are creating for...
When it comes to creating online courses, we need to be careful of a “build it and they will come” mentality. Sitting back and waiting for people to find you is a recipe for failure.
Finding the right topic and creating relevant content is essential for success. Key to this is knowing your audience. You want to understand their needs, their fears, their circumstances and their emotions. Only by being crystal clear, can you attract your ideal audience (note: your aim is to reach your “ideal” customers, not try to appeal to everyone).
And a word of caution – the word “attract” is bandied about as though there is some magic formula that will turn you into an instant customer magnet. The truth is that creating relevant content that solves real problems for your clients takes work and effort. You have to put in the time to ask questions, listen and truly understand what your clients need. Otherwise, your investment in an online course will be wasted and never get off the ground.
How to find out more about your ideal customer...
If you are an established business, then the simplest way to find out the needs and ambitions of your audience is to ask them. How you ask them may depend on your business and industry. You can use software to issue surveys or questionnaires like survey monkey, which allows you to ask 10 question/40 respondents for free. But people are time-short so getting responses can be challenging.
Consider whether you can incentivise people to fill out the questionnaire. You could offer a gift or discount voucher but it doesn’t have to have a monetary value. Maybe you can offer an exclusive webinar to people who respond to encourage participation.
But there are arguably other more effective ways of understanding the world of your audience. Sales calls, coaching sessions, online events and networking are all ideal opportunities to ask questions and LISTEN! In general, people like to talk about things that are important to them.
Here are a few questions you could ask your customer base:
- matters most to you?
- do you most want to accomplish in the next 12 months?
- is bothering you at the moment – personally and/or professionally?
- is your biggest challenge right now?
- have you tried? What has worked? What hasn’t?
But you don’t need to have conversations to find out more about your audience. In a world of accessible data, you can use technology like Google to carry out keyword searches. What are the search terms most frequently used by your target audience? Plus, you can find out what your ideal customers are seeking out by looking at the top sellers in your category on Amazon books.
Create your ideal customer profile...
As you find out more about your audience, it can be really helpful to create an ideal customer profile, sometimes known as an Avatar. An avatar is a representation of your customer persona. It helps to bring that ideal customer to life and then hold them in mind when you are putting together your online course and marketing materials.
Your avatar profile could include the following:
- Information sources
- Decision-making factors
To make it easier to profile your ideal customer, we have created a worksheet that you can download here. You can either print it off or complete it online and save it to your device for future reference.
What to do if you don't have an audience...
If you are a new business, you may not have an audience. That doesn’t need to stop you from creating an online course. If you know that you have a skillset that you can share with others, you can use the keyword research option to discover what people are searching for in answer to their issues and problems.
You can also use your online course or membership site to find out more about your ideal customer. In fact, creating a membership group on social media (for example, a private Facebook group) can be a great way to encourage interaction and get people to share their goals, ambitions and challenges.
We always recommend starting simple and allowing the group to evolve in line with the needs of the members. These can be the most successful ways to develop engagement and community. Look out for a future article in this series on how to build community with your online course.
Knowing your audience and understanding their needs is a huge topic that many experts offer training in. If you want to dive deeper into this subject, check out the following:
In the next part of the Starter for 10 Series, we’ll cover picking the platform for hosting your online course.
In the meantime, if you feel like you’d benefit from extra help, why not check out our design and development services? We can support you from concept to launch whether that is a spotlight coaching session or full design service. Get in touch to find out more.