Has this happened to you?

“I didn’t properly vet my idea before I invested the time in making the course.” -- Frustrated Course Creator

A couple days ago I sent out a survey to my email list to find out more about their course creation challenges. And the comment above stopped me in my tracks.

Because I’ve been there.

When I started Zen Courses, I was coming from an academic background, where you don't have to worry about vetting your course idea. (Not me, at least.)

But then I started working with entrepreneurs and small agencies. I thought it was as simple as putting in the time, creating course content, and BOOM—sales would automagically happen.

Not so much.

I learned the hard way that you’ve got to validate your idea first.

Does your audience want what you’re selling? 

That's the question to answer. The only way to know for sure is to get cold, hard cash, e.g. sell your course before you create it.

But I’m getting ahead of myself…more on that later. Let’s go back to the concept of validation.

In my group program, Finish Your Damn Course!, we break validation into two parts:

  • Research

  • Pre-selling

One of the methods students learn to use in FYDC is something called Customer Discovery Interviews. It’s the practice of asking targeted questions of your most engaged prospective customers--in person--to learn about their situation.

Now there are risks. (For one, people often say nice things about your idea to avoid confrontation.) But in my opinion, you can’t replace the qualitative data you get from asking the right questions, reading body language, and probing for objections.

So how could our Frustrated Course Creator have vetted her idea before spending months creating her course?

Well, if she were in Finish Your Damn Course! she would have done three things:

  1. Sent a survey to her audience

  2. Conducted a handful of Customer Discovery Interviews

  3. Used the insights to move forward (or pivot), define her course goal, and create her marketing copy

That's the value of researching your audience's needs BEFORE creating your course.

There's just one problem: resistance.

Even though Customer Discovery Interviews are about learning, not selling, people still try to skip them. That resistance happens for the same reason many people create a course but never market it: fear.

  • Fear of sounding pushy

  • Fear of selling

  • Fear of hearing the word 'no'

I feel you. No one wants to sound like a used car salesman. ("Buy my course, buy my course! Only $X99!!") 

But you don't have to be pushy to research your audience or sell your course.

Want to know how to market (and research) without being pushy? Read my next post.


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