If you feel stuck in scaling your business, or aren’t sure how to monetize your expertise, this is the episode for you! Turning your knowledge into highly profitable online courses is a fantastic way to draw in new clients and customers. It’s also a lot easier than you might think. You probably already have enough content to use as the foundation of your course. It’s just a matter of repurposing your content into this valuable asset.
Megan Harrison is here to explore exactly how to do this. She’s an expert in online course design, consulting, and launch strategy, as well as the founder of a digital agency. Naturally, Megan also has her own online training courses and live workshops. Megan started her business by learning through online courses. From there, it was just one foot in front of the other until she got to where she is today. If you’re ready to take your first step down the road of creating courses, tune into this knowledge-packed episode!
In this episode number 137, you’re going to learn how to scale your business by turning your expertise into highly-profitable online courses, corporate licensing programs, certifications, and continuing education courses. Our guest today is Megan Harrison. She’s an expert in online course design, consulting, and launch strategy. She’s the founder of a digital agency and has her own online training courses and live workshops. Megan, it’s great to have you on the show.
Thank you. I’m excited to be here.
Yeah. Well, it’s great to have you. I just want to dig right into online courses, it’s something that I’m very passionate about. I’m building a whole portfolio of online courses right now. I have six of them. I’m just curious to learn, how did you end up getting into the online course space?
As I always say, just one foot in front of the other. I think a more detailed answer would be that I really start my business by learning through online courses. I was in the corporate world for about four years in hospital administration and then I just got by entrepreneurial edge and I was like, “I want to do my own thing.” Through Marie Forleo and Pat Flynn and Amy Porterfield that I really started to dive into this whole online space, and entrepreneurial space. Then when I looked at it from a business model standpoint, I’m like, “I just gave Marie Forleo $2,000 and so did a few other thousand people.” That seems like a pretty good type of business to be running. I looked at the growth potential and I just assumed correctly that it was going to be a really emerging industry, not even emerging, it’s been around forever but just continued to grow and it has exponentially since then. I moved from just more general marketing and website design and development, and slowly niched down into online course design and development.
How many courses do you have currently?
From my own personal courses, I think there’s three courses now, I had to restructure them throughout the year so I had to think about that for a second. But my team, we’ve worked with hundreds of clients, developed their courses so I don’t have an exact number. But I would say, it might be right under the hundred mark now, it’s just exciting.
Wow. These are courses that you have built for your clients, they provide the contents and you coach them through how to just be the talent, and show up in front of the camera, and you do all the heavy lifting behind the scenes to turn these into modules, and create exercises, and milestones, and to reword, and things like that?
Kind of. I’d say I have two sides of my business. I have the agency side of things, which is the den for you and that’s where we really focus on building big technology side of things, and the membership platform, and then implementing the Infusionsoft campaigns, and then I have more personal brand business on coaching where I have my own courses and programs. That’s where we’ll dive into actually, how to structure your content, and how to create your modules, or how to outline your course, and how to create the videos, and be your best self in camera. But for the agency side of things, usually the content, they come to us with the content already prepared and then we’ll move into the technical phase of actually building the membership platform.
Got it. The coaching happens inside the courses and the membership sites that’s with your personal brand. Then that agency side you’re just taking the content that’s already produced, turned into modules and various videos, and then you put that into some sort of system, you layout everything into campaigns, and Infusionsoft, and make all the tech work.
Yup. We make all the magic happen on the backend. Most of our clients, they all probably already have had their course on maybe like a Bootstrap version of it and want to be validated on the idea, bringing in revenue from it. Now they’re ready to reinvest and take it to the next level, building it, maybe moving from teachable or Thinkific or Kajaibi and now building it on their own WordPress platform. We have a lot of clients that are seeing growth by taking that course and now possibly offering it to corporate, turning it into a corporate licensing option, or now creating a certification program, and basically franchising out their IP and their methodology for teaching something to other people to use just like I’m an Infusionsoft certified partner, I pay Infusionsoft $2000 a year to maintain that license and that certification, it’s the same type of that process with the certification programs for your own courses and programs.
Cool. Do you have certification with your courses?
I don’t. It’s something I’m thinking about in the future. I think it’s usually when you’re ready to move from doing it personally with your own business. I think that’s when people will now share their behind the scenes with the rest of the world or anyone that wants to be certified. I think if we do stop doing the done-for-you services that might be a time we’ll move into a certification program.
Got it. Okay, let’s talk about how to take a course that is just let’s say 5, 10, or 15 hours of video, and turn that into something that people are going to be very excited to pay for, and they’re going to actually go through because so many courses people buy, and they don’t consume, and they don’t get the benefit. There’s no ROI there, very frustrating like so many people are buying my courses, and not going through the content, and not getting the results. I want them to get the result.
Yeah, because the result, that’s the whole reason we’re doing anything to get to that other sign. I think you can’t force anyone to do anything which is the hard part. But there are things that you can incorporate within your program to make the likelihood that someone’s going to consume the content at a higher probability. One is structuring the program in a specific way that makes it easy to consume, two is adding specific elements within the program—I like to call it action igniters—but you’re basically synthesizing the information that you’re teaching within your video lessons into an actionable, whether worksheet, or resource guide, or step-by-step worksheet, and asking yourself, “What are the things that I can incorporate within this course to make it easier for my customers to take action?” Some of the things that we talked about earlier was—I provide templates for lesson slides and worksheets for your online course because that’s a way that I’m able to help exploit the process of getting my customers to execute on that lesson that they learned. We’re talking about creating content and actually turning their content into these worksheets and these lessons slides. I think that is one of the biggest differentiators between just an information product and a high value flagship course, is that you’re not just teaching something, you’re not just providing information because we can find information anywhere online, it’s an implementation program that are systematized process that really moves the needle and transforms it from just thought into a product to that high valued course.
Right. Presumably when you started, you were creating information products and then you transition to more implementation solutions or whatever you worded that. Is that right that this was an evolution for you or did you get it right at just even at the beginning with getting folks the results instead of just teaching them?
I think it came kind of like in an intuitive level but I hadn’t really processed it down on the level of detail that I just explained, it was just through analyzing and working with clients over the years. I really took a sit back and looked at it like, “What differentiates these courses that are just so-so like really struggling to make a few sales and these courses that are continuing to provide these amazing results for their customers and then essentially a lot more profitable as well?” I distilled down like the levels of courses that define different stages, like level one is where no wants to be and that’s a course that causes regression. You’re basically moving your customers farther away from their goal. This comes from just disorganized content, throwing too much in one spot, and basically just like making an encyclopedia of info, and then getting your customers overwhelmed, or giving just bad information altogether, and steering in the wrong way. No one wants to be there. The number two course is a course that just provides information, and again, information is worthless without implementation. Level three is now when we take that information, and we put it in a systematized format, and now you’re teaching someone a step-by-step process. That’s when we’ll be in the shift from no value to a high value program. Now if you can, oops, I missed my system eight, that would be systemization. Implementation, is when you can provide those worksheets or those activities that help your user take action easier. Then transformation is at level five and that type of really a high value program and that’s where you’re able to basically teach a full concept from beginning to end and to really allow your customers to make a big change within their life. There’s a lot of different things that go into that by one thing that plays a huge role I think is community. I think a lot of people really underestimate the power of community within their courses and programs but if it’s something that you can implement or incorporate, it’s really going to set you apart from everyone else out there.
How do you create community for your members?
I think that cultivating that community and building these relationships really started the leader. It’s not something that you can just build it and they will come or build and it will be created, it’s something that you really show up to so I had that strong intention that that is something that you’re wanting to incorporate within your program is you want to build that supportive community. Your engagement is important to be able to do that. Also, don’t underestimate the power of recognition, sending out emails, publicly recognizing people that are taking action, incorporating things that make it easier for people to build those relationships like accountability program or accountability partners, or mini masterminds, or one of my favorite is just getting not directly face-to-face, face-to-screen, like on a Zoom call where people can come together on a live office hour, and share like win struggles, questions, ideas, in a group setting. If you can incorporate a live meetup or a live event within the program, that’s going to be the most powerful thing because there’s nothing like actual face-to-face connections.
Do you do all these things? Do you do the face-to-screen with the Zoom call office hours, do you do the mini-masterminds and the accountability partners, and the live events, and all that?
We do the office hours. The Zoom, face-to-screen office hours, I have started doing live workshops in Chicago but I haven’t done it with my course yet. I’ve seen that through other clients and then did the courses and programs that I’ve taken personally like Todd Herman’sf 90 Day Year, I just came back from San Diego and that was a really amazing event.
I was there too.
Oh, really? I didn’t know that. It would have been awesome to meet you. Todd and I have worked together since I guess three and a half years now, almost four years. I took his beta program when he first launched it. I think that was 2014, my years get all mixed up now. Then, I grew my business so much over those six months that I joined his mastermind that he offered at the end of the year for that. I am a big supporter of the 90 Day Year, I’ve been an advocate for the brand.
Awesome. Were you speaking at the event?
No, I was not this year. Hopefully next year I will be.
Okay. Yeah, it would have been great to meet you. I didn’t see you on stage. Just checking on that. I’m actually interviewing Todd next week and that would be for my other show, The Optimized Geek, which is all about productivity, life hacking, bio hacking, and personal development stuff.
That’s awesome. I’m glad you’re in that 90 Day Year community too because this is a great segue-way or a great example, he’s a great model of the power of building community more than your program and he did that straight from intention because he always says one of his highest values is his family. He wants, one of those terms that get thrown around, it’s not just by coincidence but that it feels like a big family when you’re in the Facebook group or when you’re at the events. It’s super powerful and he does a great job with it.
Yeah. Even to the point of having an app for the event, he has an app for his course and he has an app, I think he was using, what was he using, Visibo or something for the mobile app for the conference, for the event. That was really cool so you could see the other attendees, you could search through the directory, you could through the agenda, and everything, and add different breakouts to your list of what you’re going to attend stuff, it’s really well done in so many different ways.
Yeah, it’s very useful. Our traffic and conversions in that as well. The easier you make for other people to connect with each other, I think that’s powerful in any aspect of your business. Because what people are like, our strongest human need is that need for connection. Even more so now with the whole internet, it can get lonely in the entrepreneurial space so people need that real life connections.
Yes, they do. Do you meet some of your community members and conferences? Do you have like a meet up? Some things like say Traffic and Conversion Summit or how do you facilitate face-to-face, real world interactions with your fans and members?
If there’s any crossover, which typically there is a lot—a lot of times, clients or customers will come to me, a few other communities that I’m a part of online so we’ve had a lot of people, a lot of people come from the 90 Day Year, they come from Ryan Levesque’s Ask Method, or Jeff Walker‘s Product Launch Formula. If I know that I’m going to be one of these events, I usually like post them to social medias, send it to my lists, and then make sure that if there’s anyone else within my Facebook groups that’s going as well, that we make time to meet up when we’re there.
Are you implementing the Ask Method in your business, by the way?
I have a very small scale, I would like to dive into a little bit deeper, one of the things that I have, I guess the closest to the Ask Method would be a quiz that I have, it says, “Which membership platforms should you use to build your online course?” These are like the questions that I would ask someone anyway face-to-face like if I was talking to someone directly, as a potential client, I’d be asking these same exact questions and then depending on their answers I’m able to recommend which platform is the best. That translated very well. I had been using that and then I definitely do use the deep dive survey asking what’s your biggest struggle and as soon as you join the free membership site, that’s the first page that you see on my website are membership site is a deep dive survey question which is really powerful.
Yeah, that’s great. I have done an Ask Method survey of my audience, I had one of my team members do that and I actually going to have Ryan on this podcast towards the end of the year, he’s got a new book coming out and we’re going to timing it around the book launch. Very cool.
Let’s talk a little bit about this platform choice thing because it does stymie a lot of people, they could go with software as a service type model with Think Effect or something along those lines or they could go with a WordPress based solution, LearnDash, for example with Memberium or some other combination of these different tools because there’s a big difference between having just a membership platform like Memberium or having Memberium and then on top of that, a learning management system, in LMS like LearnDash. What do you propose as best practice? What are the criteria that go into that decision making process?
I think the best, at top of the line is going to be building your course on your own WordPress site, utilizing the Memberium and LearnDash. I think this is going to give you the most professional program along with the data that you need and also flexibility to scale as new business opportunities come your way. At the beginning, when we first started talking, I had mentioned that a lot of my clients are now turning their programs into corporate licensing or group licensing programs. Now, instead of just selling directly to consumer, they’re able to take these to small, medium, and large size businesses and offer basically like an annual license. Instead of selling a $1000 course, you’re now selling $100,000 or $200,000, $500,000 contract to a business that can then now give access to their employees. An example of a company that’s on this amazingly, we didn’t do their course but DigitalMarketer is doing this with their DigitalMarketer HQ, are you familiar with Ryan Deiss’ DigitalMarketer?
Yup, I go to traffic and conversion some time every year, I was a DM lab member for a number of years and yeah, I’m pretty familiar with that.
Okay. Most people are, I just usually assume that someone does it and then I always catch myself and I’m like, “What’s that?” I’m like, “Oh, not everyone knows this.”
Some other listeners won’t know about it so maybe you can give a quick little run down of what it is.
Ryan Deiss and DigitalMarketer, they’re just the top, I would say the leaders within the industry teaching these digital marketer skills through online courses and programs. Originally, they were primarily focusing on selling the programs and courses directly to consumer to the end user, to the business owner. Instead now, they’ve really switched their focus and now are focusing on having of course the employer purchasing their program but not for the purpose of them taking it, for the purpose of now giving access to their employees. They’re really able to build a marketing team within their companies versus putting it on the business owner to be the one learning this because unless that is your forte. That’s where you shine, or sort of genius, you really shouldn’t be spending your time learning the intricate details of SEO in blog posts, written in social media, and content marketing. You should be having your marketing or your team doing that. Just a slight shift but I think the potential is huge right now. There’s $300 billion that is spent annually for corporate training and a lot of that money is now shifting from internal training platforms within corporate to outside vendors because they’re just the data on the actual usage and effectiveness of these internal training platforms like the old-school LMS platforms incorporate, they’re just weren’t being utilized or aren’t effective. There’s a lot of opportunity for people like me, and you, and my clients, or any industry sort of manner experts to now like think on a bigger level and not just to consumer bases but how can I get in front of larger businesses that can pay a lot more money.
Yeah. Do you have clients that are doing this currently?
Yes, the big trends that I’m seeing so far is of course anyone that’s already in corporate. I have a lot of clients that are in corporate consulting, other leadership management consulting, or communication, and now they’re turning—basically what they would be doing on site into an online program so they can offer that as other supplement to their packages and maybe come on site once a quarter or once a year, or have it as a lower price kind of entry-level offer where they can offer this now to corporate or businesses that might not be ready to invest in that onsite training. We never learn something right away, it takes repetition and I think having that digital version of what is it you’re teaching on site is extremely powerful. That’s one industry, the other that of course as huge as every business that has a certain number employees now has a budget for their health benefits. This is money that they need to spend and of course, a lot of that goes to insurance, but they’re also looking for other ways to provide value to their employees through health and wellness programs, online training. The third which goes hand-in-hand with that, with ergonomics, I have a few clients in ergonomics that are now creating programs to give to corporate to basically do that workspace audit because it’s easier to share the ROI on the ergonomics, how much it’s costing employers from time off with things like that.
Very cool. I think it’s important for listeners to realize that are opportunities to create some of these courses and not even necessarily charge for them but make them a value add even if they’re a traditional hard goods or product seller. For example, you manufacture and sell standing desks, you could create an ergonomics type of online course and give that away for free or charge for it and that’s value add that drives people to buy your product.
Yeah. It’s 100% right. I love talking about this because I think it’s something that people don’t think about as much as they should. But creating that course, there’s multiple reasons like strategic ways to be incorporated within your business model. Of course, one of them and the most common is an additional revenue stream, it’s great to make money from this additional scalable product that you have once it’s created. But that’s just one opportunity like you had mentioned. The other is what you just discussed is building it into your sales process. Instead of relying on just your sales calls or content marketing, now putting that educational process of the sales journey into an online course and program. The third that I think is huge and if you can incorporate this is really powerful, and that is onboarding for your customers or your clients. Of course, there’s four main ways to grow your business. One of them is increasing sales but another is improving efficiencies and decreasing costs. If you can incorporate an onboarding course for your clients, like I have done this recently for my agency, where we have a new design and development client come in. Instead of me, or my department manager, my team having the same things over and over again, we’ve created an online course where we can incorporate key modifications and points of engagement, track what your videos are being watched. Give them everything they need to get the product off to a successful start right away and that has been a game changer. On the same side, if you have a subscription model or you rely on that recurring revenue coming in especially for SaaS products. It’s so important to get your customers to use that program right away. The more that they use it and the more comfortable they feel using it, the more likely that someone is going to be to stay on and continue using that platform.
I think every SaaS product needs to use it. Intercom means incorporate this. I love Intercom, it’s so powerful. But there’s so much I don’t know that I don’t know. They don’t have an easy way for a new user to go in. Of course, you have the Wikis and stuff, but now turn that into a pathway for a mini course that someone can take. There you have the content, it’s all created in their help desk platform and then turn it into a course and it’s like easy. Intercom – Airtable, and Grow are two softwares that I use that I totally need to incorporate this.
You’re a fan of Intercom, you’re fan of Airtable, and Grow was another one, I’m not familiar with that one. We’ve talked on other episodes about Airtable, Intercom, and similar solutions. I have a number of guests who are fans of both of those. But what is Grow and why do you love it?
Grow is a business matrix, basically it’s a business intelligence dashboard, I think I’m describing that correctly. It’s one of these platforms that you can incorporate every single piece of data you have across any channel and create these really in depth, you can see the data anyway that you want to. It’s extremely powerful like I can see the pulse of an entire business within a few charts and a dashboard and then get those granulars I need to. But with that level of like robustness comes a huge – it’s extremely complex, and I’m really good with tech in figuring things out, I’m a developer, I’m a designer, I have Infusionsoft consultant like that’s my world is tech and this was difficult for me to learn and kind of a little bit frustrating. It’s like extremely close to quitting just because I didn’t feel like they had a really solid onboarding process. It’s not a cheap software like I gotten a discount at $600 a month. That retention rate I think for them would be extremely important. If you spend all these money and energy getting that customer, it’s a shame to lose them because they don’t know how to use the platform. Luckily we do, but if you don’t make it easy enough to figure it out—how to do it.
Yeah, yeah that makes sense. What’s one of the most important or insightful things that you’ve gotten out of Grow for business intelligence that you’re apparently getting in ROI out of the $600 a month spend on the platform? What’s a huge thing you’ve gotten out of it?
I think it’s able to look at a business just really take that CEO and ownership role. Instead of getting into the minutia of all the details, able to have that trust in our delegate, those decisions or put that responsibility onto your team like your mid-level management but you can still see at any time, as long as the graph is going up, as far as profits are concerned, or as long as the graph’s going down for retention and able to see it exactly how I need to see that data in a really easy to consume visual format. A lot of it’s integrating like combining reports from Quickbooks, Infusionsoft, and Google Analytics, things that don’t talk to each other, now able to combine them in one chart has been really, really useful.
Cool. I’ll have to check that out. I’m a little bit familiar with Airtable, I’ve played with it a little bit so before we jump back into all the courses and membership stuff, I’d love to hear some use cases for Airtable in your organization.
It’s one of those things like the more you use it, the more uses that you find for it. I had seen it on Facebook Ads a lot before I had gone recently to Todd Herman’s Base Camp where Ari from Less Doing was a speaker.
Yup. I’ve had him on my other show by the way, on Optimized Geek.
He is amazing.
Oh, yeah. He is fantastic.
He is just a freakin’ rock star when it comes to those kind of stuff. I’m in his other private group, and we have a Slack channel, and people are just constantly posting new apps or new productivity tools. Anyway, he mentioned it again how he’s really switched from Trello and Teamwork and now he’s using Airtable, solely Airtable for everything in his business, when it comes to product management organization. That got me to look at it again in a deeper level and I use it, one just like kind of as a brain dump for everything that comes to mind but you can now then build in automation. I’ve taken like the 90 Day Year and turn that into an Airtable where I have all my tasks and then attached those tasks to a project, and those projects are attached to an outcome goal, and then I can track my entrepreneurial scorecard like where I spend my time during the day, collaborate with my team. One of the things that I’m really focused now is getting a super solid content marketing system in place. The only thing that I have to worry about is getting on camera, doing the Facebook Live, as soon as I change the status of that planned episode in Airtable, it now triggers the series of events or it just gets flooded into the internet. But I don’t have to do anything, my team does it. That gets uploaded to YouTube, the videos transcribed, then it gets sent to the copywriter, and they turn it into a blogpost, then send to the designer and they create the thumbnails for YouTube, the blogpost, Pinterest, it gets shared on LinkedIn, and everywhere. There’s so many different moving pieces and just automating all that, all I have to worry about is turning on the camera and showing up, it’s going to be a game changer. That’s one of the big things that Airtable is helping us still.
Oh, that’s great. I have a team that does all of the behind the scene stuff, I just take the recording. After we’re done, I’ll just drop that in the Dropbox and I’ll make a note in Asana that that episode is done and they do their magic, they create the show notes, and the checklist, and the episode arts, and the social media posts, and all that sort of stuff, the transcript, all of it. I don’t have to worry about it, I don’t look at it, I don’t even approve it or QA it, that’s all done by my team, and there’s different milestones and checks, and balances, and everything. If I do spot check something, I know it will be good. I don’t have to worry about it. In fact, I have systematized so much of my business that I don’t even know what I’m saying on Twitter and I’m tweeting apparently many times a day. I have no idea what I’m saying but I’m saying some cool stuff so you should follow me on Twitter, @sspencer is my username. Now, even with my blog on stephanspencer.com, I have no idea what I’m posting every week on my blog because my team is handling that for me but it’s good stuff. If I just happen to spot check it and see, “Oh, what did I happen to say?” Usually, I’m spot checking it when I’m telling somebody that I have no idea what I’m blogging about, let’s have a look and see what my latest blogpost was, that’s the first time I usually see a blogpost that I wrote, I had ghost written for me. It’s good stuff, it’s in my voice, and it’s got my values attached to it, and it adds massive value to people, it’s just really cool to see that kind of systemization in place. I’m a big fan of it.
I saw your content, it is just you’re not the one actually like doing the minutia of editing it but it’s coming from other like your podcast that you’ve done, or mostly into, you talking to them or answering questions.
That was important to me because I have a lot of particular takes on a lot of things especially when it comes to online courses and development. I know when I’m working, I’ve worked with copywriters before and then they wrote something I got posted and I was like, “Oh, my God. That is the exact opposite.” I would feel, I was like, “We need to take that down right now.” I talk about it all the time so that drove me crazy. But this it’s like, if they’re taking the videos and they’re watching the video then now turning it into content, once you have that system in place, it’s your words, it’s your thoughts, now it’s all done for you like magic. I’m glad you’ve implemented it as well.
Yeah, there’s so many sources for content that people in my team can repurpose, not just the podcast episodes and now we got hundreds of hours of podcast over the last several years between the two shows but there’s also my Facebook videos, my YouTube videos, and my online courses, and my many years of blog posts, I started blogging in probably 2003 or 2004 and just repurposing the magazine articles I’ve written over the years and so forth, refreshing those and client deliver with presentations because at times, clients will want that recording or that presentation recorded, and then have my team turn that into an additional checklist or quick hit list of things that weren’t in the document itself—because I’m always adding value throughout the presentation going above and beyond. There’s so much stuff that you can pull from and create new things or just repurpose and repackage. I could create a slideshow deck out of a listicle that you had written several years ago, and just needed a refresh, and you just repackage it into a slideshow deck, repackage it into an infographic, and so forth.
Yeah. It’s not always about creating new content, it’s what have you already done and like you said, there’s so many sources. I haven’t even think about it, it’s a really good point is having my team listen to the client calls from the past because those are all recorded in the Zoom. That’s a perfect spot for question and answers – had all these hours on Q&A sessions basically with clients which know exact opposite target market are the ones spending a lot of money with us. That would be a really good idea.
Yup, and to have your team listen to those with the intention of creating Pink Sheets, that’s another really powerful thing I learned from Taki Moore, which is actually Matt Church’s system. Creating Pink Sheets are like these whole chunks of intellectual property. Have you heard about Pink Sheets?
No, I haven’t. I was going to ask you what do you mean by Pink Sheets? Go on, that would be interesting to me.
So cool. You just Google for Matt Church and Pink Sheets. I’ll put links, or my team, we’ll put links in the show notes to Pink Sheet templates and to Matt Church’s website. The idea here is let’s say, you’ve got this idea that or just some sort of discrete chunk of intellectual property, maybe something that you cover on a slide in a webinar or a slide in a live presentation at a conference like 90 Day Year. That chunk of IP, you would identify the concept, maybe it’s a handful of words. You would describe that concept. You would figure out what the metaphor is for that concept so that would allow you or your team to create a visual to either draw a framework or some sort of model, or most likely, to just go on to the various directories or repositories of stock photography like pixels.com, 123RF, Depositphotos, and so forth, and start digging around for metaphorically relevant stock photography. Let’s take one of your IP concepts from this episode. Let’s say that the five phases, those five phases were basically vomiting information, all the way to phase five of having the community, the live event, just the outcome, and everything. So those five phases, that’s your IP and you might turn that into a pyramid sort of thing or you might have a visual, a metaphor of climbing a mountain, or the evolution of film from silent films all the way to 3D and so forth. Those are the five phases. This whole process of figuring out what’s my IP, what are few examples, or what are a few case studies or life story kind of examples that would help people to really grasp the concept. All of that gets outlined in a pink sheet. You create a whole library of these pink sheets and it could be your team that does that by listening to all of these client calls, all your webinar recordings, your courses, and all that, and create these pink sheets which then is like a Rolodex of your IP that you could pull from to create the next three-day seminar that you’re going to teach, or the next online course, or the next webinar, or a workbook, or a book.
Yeah, it sounds amazing. One of the ways that I started creating my courses was just really documenting everything that we talked about within client calls and what was everything we did from beginning to end to turn their content into a course, so I love that idea. It’s super valuable.
Yeah, it’s awesome. Let’s jump back to this idea of when you have a Software as a Service or you have clients that your service-based business, and you have clients you want to onboard them, really hold their hand, make them comfortable, not confused and all that, and you want to do it in a scalable way of online course is a perfect way to do that. That reminded me of Joey Coleman’s First 100 Days methodology for getting a new client onboarded, going from just a new client to being so delighted, not just satisfied, but delighted to be working with you. He’s got a new book out and everything. I actually had him on the podcast recently.
- What was his name?
Okay. I’ll have to listen to that.
Yeah, it’s great. So, listeners if you haven’t listened to that episode yet, definitely. It can be as small as at the beginning of the relationship to give a quick hello and a thank you for signing up for the online course, or for becoming a new client, it could be a little Bonjoro video of 60 seconds, or a minute and a half or whatever, and you just saying, “Hey, I’m Bill from customer service, the client delight team, or whatever, and I’m so happy to have you on board as a new customer, a new client. I’m here if you have any questions, here are my hours, here is my direct email, here’s my direct phone number. I’m super excited to transform your business together,” or something like that. Just that little touch can make a difference in retention, ConvertKit in the email marketing platform was doing this with their new accounts, sending a quick little 90-second video via Bonjoro and the retention rates went way up. Pretty cool.
Yeah, it’s so powerful. I started using Bonjoro as well for customers and it doesn’t always have to be this high-ticket course. It doesn’t have to be with my $2000 course. We started doing it with the template, which is one of the Tripwire products that we have like $27, $39. People are just thoroughly impressed and just happy that you took the time to do a 30-second video and it makes the world a difference. Bonjoro makes it so seamless to integrate to Infusionsoft, to see it that purchases made, I get a notification to record a video. I’ve done them in a gym before, I’ve done them walking my dog down the street. I think having that level of realness is even more powerful because it doesn’t look like it’s plain and stuff. I’ll do it anywhere and everything as long as I’m halfway decent.
That’s awesome. You mentioned Tripwire course. What would that entail? For our listeners who are not familiar with that terminology, that’s DigitalMarketer, Ryan Deiss’s terminology that seem to be taking off within the industry but not everybody is familiar with that. If you could just really briefly define that, what does a Tripwire look like in terms of an online course because usually they could be physical products, they could be a physical book, for example, free plus shipping and processing and handling. So let’s talk a little bit about that.
Yes, I mean I was referring essentially to the same thing, so when I mentioned my Tripwire, it’s not necessarily a course. I have a marketplace with templates, worksheet template packs, lesson sign, PowerNote, or Keynote template products, and then along with it comes to many training videos on how to turn your content into a lesson presentation, and then how to actually use Keynote or Powerpoint to customize these templates. So it’s not necessarily a full course but it’s a mini training along with those templates, and—like you mentioned—the book models are great. Another version of that by definition of which it require, it doesn’t need to be a certain price, it doesn’t need to be a certain type of content, but it’s just a lower-priced offer that is helping me get your customers in the door, moving them from just a subscriber in your audience to now an actual customer. Once you make that shift it’s a lot easier to continue to participate from you going forward. I think if you can give that high level of customer service in the beginning with the Bonjoro video that we’re talking about, they’re going to be so much more likely now to purchase my $600 or $1000 or $2000 program when I offer comes available to them. A lot of times, it’s not that people don’t have the money to spend or that they don’t need what it is you’re offering, it’s just that you need to be able to provide that level of trust because there’s so much out there, there’s so many options. It’s more like people are like, “Who do I spend it on? Who do I trust?” Like I would like to hire someone to kind of take over Instagram, but there’s so many different companies out there, it’s like I don’t know how to pick one. But if I had a relationship with someone that I trusted and that was something offered, then I’d be like, “Go for it. Yeah, I’d love to hire you.” So that’s my definition.
Got it. What about if you got a free course that’s a lead-in to a paid course, is that a strategy that you would recommend as well, or do you get a lot of tire kickers because it’s completely free?
No, I definitely recommend that. That’s what I do for my program as well. It’s just another way of framing Jeff Walker’s product launch formula. Basically, it’s a three-module course that dives into a high-level topic on how to create an structure or turn your expertise into an online program and at the end it then offers them to learn further by joining Online Courses Academy. I think it needs to be structured in a strategic way with the intention of moving that prospect closer to becoming a customer. Whenever you’re creating these free courses, the education of course you’re providing value but it’s with the intent to one, get them to form the beliefs necessary in order to become a customer, and then two, overcoming objections that you know are going to come up that may prevent someone from purchasing. I think when you’re creating that free content those are always the things you want to keep in mind and a free course is a great way to accomplish both of those.
Yes, okay makes a lot of sense. How do you recommend gamifying an online course, whether it’s free or paid, so that people retain and consume the information because it’s really hard with so much information overload and information glut out there, there’s no lack of free information you can get from blog posts, from YouTube videos, and so forth, people get distracted and they get overwhelmed.
From the most basic context, I think clear navigation in the structure of the course needs to be really, really obvious as soon as they log into the program, they know exactly where they are at all times, what’s completed, what hasn’t. Not certainly gamification but that’s extremely important. I noticed a purchased a ton of courses because one, I’m a learning junkie and two, I say it’s market research but if I don’t have clear navigation or I don’t know what videos I’ve complete and which ones I haven’t, it’s really frustrating to the user. That’s one piece of it. Now if we want to add some gamification into that, we can add point systems so that every video that you watch now will earn a certain number of points, or now let’s take these points and allow users to unlock special bonuses. So once you have 100 points, you can unlock this bonus. You want to make the bonuses things that people really do want, whether it’s another template or a swipe file—people love swipe files—giving them fill-in-the-blank email series they could use. Now allowing those points to transpose into or to turn into bonus content, especially if you’re marketing to entrepreneurs, the power of competition is extremely strong within each one of us. I was the type of person in school where I just couldn’t get an A in the class, I wanted to be at the top of the class. I think a lot of entrepreneurs have that type A personality so if you have a leaderboard that’s showcasing how many points each person has, that can be really super hard or a really great way to incorporate competition within your program, and therefore increasing engagement, community, and consumption.
And these leaderboards are supported by LearnDash and some other platforms?
Yeah LearnDash. The caveat with the leaderboards, they really only work for live programs or people are going through them simultaneously, so if it’s an evergreen course, that would be difficult to implement. It will have to be fake, which I think is not the right way to go. So if you have a program where it’s a live one just like the 90 Day Year where everyone is coming in at exact same time, then that’s awesome, totally do that. It’s really powerful for affiliate partners as well if you have affiliate promoting your launch, having a leaderboard promoting for how many OPTins they have or how many sales, each of them have accumulate in, I think that’s a really good strategy.
Cool, and is that supported by a lot of the affiliate’s platforms out there like what would be an example platform that has that capability.
Pretty positive that Memberium has incorporated with us so Memberium integrates with Infusionsoft so the affiliate program is built into Infusionsoft and then they have a leaderboard on the affiliates that you can utilize but Memberium is still on your own membership site. I haven’t tried it myself yet. I’m going to on my next launch but a lot of times since it is a live course, it can also be updated manually by your team. Something that’s done once a day, maybe in another other via spreadsheet or email or on the WordPress site, and then just manually update the stats for each user, each affiliate.
Yup, got it. Probably platforms that are out there like ClickBank which support this sort of functionality, I would imagine.
Yeah, most likely.
As far as the format of the course, would you recommend it be mostly video of the person, like talking head type video? Would you recommend mostly be screencast, or would you recommend, in most cases, a combination of both? I tend to do a combination of both, kind of talk through what I’m going to teach them in each section within a module or in the first part of the module, it will be me and then it will cut over to my screen and then I’ll walk them through all the different things from an SEO perspective, here’s how optimize this or that or whatever. What do you recommend?
At a minimum I recommend definitely having broke your course up into modules, then having at least one intro video that it basic camera, a well-produced video that people can see you actually talking because that creates a rapport and builds that connection actually seeing you. From there, I don’t think that there is a really a right or wrong answer on whether they should be screencast or if they need to be on basic camera. Each are going to have their pros and cons but I think even a high-priced program, as long as you have that intro video that’s the basic camera, the rest of or all of your videos could be screen over recordings. As long as your slide presentations still look professional, and then consistency is the most important thing in conveying professionalism. It doesn’t need to be like some beautiful, elaborate, never before seen design. What’s more important is that it looks consistent all the way through and that you’re using the same typography, the same branding, the same type of imagery. If you have that down, then I think you’re pretty set.
And having professional-looking worksheets, checklists, and exercises for folks to go through, I think that’s really important too.
Yeah and although we did get started having not only debate but conversation, I think what’s really interesting in my course’s group was getting people’s feedback on whether they preferred as a customer going through courses, if they preferred the PDFs or Google Docs. It’s kind of split 50/50 so I think there’s more professionalism like a well-designed PDF but from a usability standpoint, a lot of times Google Docs and Google Spreadsheets are so much easier to use right away. So I want to do a more in-depth survey on that. Two different various groups to get people’s feedback.
I think it’s important that if you do a PDF that it’s a fillable PDF, and that is Adobe Acrobat to create that. It doesn’t happen just by saving within Adobe InDesign to file as a PDF, you have to have that additional piece at the end of using Acrobat to create a fillable form.
Yeah. One thing I created in Airtable—this is why I love Airtable—but is something that I was thinking about giving custom developed. I have this idea, I want to be able to create this kind of content creation, calendar and schedule, and based on how many modules someone’s going to have, it would then create the worksheets and all the steps along with it that I could put on the calendar, and we’re able to create all of this in Airtable which was amazing. Now, I can give that as a resource within the program so that it can just make a copy of it. I think of incorporating different media or modes like that is good just depending on the type of content it is.
Wow, that’s really cool. You should have a course on using Airtable for online courses and onboarding, all that stuff. You sound like a superpower user.
It’s only been a month or maybe two months since I have mentioned it but yeah, I’m obsessed with it. I use it not only like cleaning my outfits when I go to conferences and put all my clothes in there and it matches up outfit so I can pack faster.
Wow, that is so cool. I love it. Okay, so we’re out of time. If folks wanted to work with your agency, if they want to sign up for your courses such as your Online Course Academy, which is a think your flagship course, is that right?
How would they get to you and your team, learn from you, work with you, all that?
The easiest way is to just go to my website at megankharrison.com. As soon as you sign up for any of the lead magnets or content there for the power of automation, you’ll be funneled into different funnels. We’ll definitely be communicating further from that point. That would be the easiest way.
All right, perfect. Thank you so much, Megan. This was a lot of fun and just some great tips and tricks, frameworks and ideas. It was fantastic, so thank you for sharing all that value and expertise with our audience. Now listeners, it’s time to take action. If you can go to marketingspeak.com and download the checklist, go through the shownotes and the transcript, and start implementing. That’s where the rubber meets the road. We’ll catch you on the next episode. This is your host, Stephan Spencer, signing off. We’ll catch you on the next marketing speak. In the meantime, have a fantastic week.
Your Checklist of Actions to Take
☑ Structure the program in a way that makes it easy to for my course members to consume. Everything on my dashboard should be easy to understand and accessible.
☑ Offer a free short course that will serve as a sneak peek to get people’s feet in the door.
☑ Add action igniters such as resource guides, worksheets, and additional activities so that my students can implement my teachings.
☑ Create an implementation program so my students can learn from their own experiences.
☑ Don’t forget to recognize people who are taking action. Let them know you appreciate their dedication and encourage them to continue.
☑ Conduct face-to-face, real world interactions. Invite my students to an exclusive event that will bring more value to their membership.
☑ Continue to update my course, especially if it’s in a niche that always has something new. Make sure that what I teach is relevant in the present day.
☑ Make the onboarding process as welcoming as possible. Use Bonjoro to help my students get started on my course right away.
☑ Automate every system I can in my course. Use Infusionsoft to help me automate my funnels.
☑ Use a team of people to help me run my online course. Running a membership course is a lot of work that is only possible when I have a team.
- Megan Harrison
- Megan Harrison on Facebook
- Megan Harrison Consulting on Facebook
- Megan Harrison on YouTube
- Megan Harrison on Instagram
- Marie Forleo
- Pat Flynn
- Amy Porterfield
- 90 Day Year
- Todd Herman
- ASK Method
- Traffic & Conversion Summit
- Ari Meisel on the Optimized Geek
- Taki Moore on Marketing Speak
- Matt Church
- Matt Church’s pink sheet template
- Joey Coleman on Marketing Speak
- Jeff Walker
About Megan Harrison
Through her digital agency, online training courses, and live workshops, Megan helps entrepreneurs scale their business by turning their expertise into highly profitable online courses, corporate licensing programs, certifications, and continuing education courses.