Which approach is better when you’re selling courses?

We’re in part seven of my series on online courses and it’s time to talk about how you go about selling courses. Should you use the Evergreen model? Or should you use a Product Launch approach?

In case you’ve missed the first six parts, here they are:

  1. Who should build an online course
  2. How do come up with an idea for your online course
  3. How to structure your online course
  4. All the pre-requisites before you launch
  5. How do you price your online course
  6. The gear for recording your online course

So let’s figure out which strategy is best.

The benefits of the evergreen strategy

I’ve told you about my buddy Shawn and his evergreen course at WP101. His course is always available. He never has to do the big production work of a product launch because people can buy his courses 365 days of the year.

One benefit of this approach is that he can step away from his work for a day or two when it freezes in Houston (it really did happen this year), and not worry that his business will fall apart. You can’t be in the middle of a two-week launch and skip out.

Another benefit of the evergreen approach is that money comes in the door every month. There is no feast / famine dynamic like you might experience with a product launch approach.

Additionally, there’s a lot less work involved when he adds a course to his platform. He doesn’t have to create webinars, funnels and more to “launch” anything.

Why people love product launches

My friend Jen works the opposite way with Profitable Project Plan & Content Camp. These have specific open and close dates. PPP runs once a year, while she opens up registration for Content Camp twice a year.

One benefit to her approach is that there’s a natural scarcity that helps sell each program. There’s a window and most people buy the first or the last day – either eager for registration to open, or stressed that it will close without them.

Another benefit of the product launch model is that you bring in all the funds in a pretty tight window. Not saying you can’t have installment plans, which she does, but most people enjoy the benefit of a rapid infusion of cash into their bank accounts.

Additionally, when Jen isn’t in a launch, she doesn’t have to do any marketing. She’s free to enjoy her life and not worry that she has to be top of mind to get people to come her way and buy something.

Is there a single right way when it comes to selling courses?

As you can see, both models work. When it comes to selling courses, there’s no specific strategy that is right, while the other is wrong. There are multiple approaches and you have to pick the one that makes most sense for you.

But how do you know which one is right for you?

Let me suggest that how you answer these three questions will help you figure that out.

The three factors to help you choose which strategy is right for you

The first factor is the kind of course you’re creating. If you’re creating a workshop like Jennifer, if you need a group of people to work together, group projects or learn in a cohort – then you should do product launches.

If your program is independent like Shawn’s, self-paced, and doesn’t require the interaction with anyone else, then you might want to look at the evergreen model.

The second question is about how you handle your finances. I know, that’s delicate. And you don’t have to say anything to anyone about it. But look in the mirror and decide how you will handle each situation.

People who are fine with finite moments of larger infusions of cash will enjoy the launch model, while those who want regularity of income will enjoy the evergreen model.

Here’s why it’s important. If you start with product launches, and then need more money, what are you likely to do? Create another program and do another launch. And then suddenly your email list is getting hammered every other month with a different launch you’re running.

It will create launch fatigue and shrink your list.

Lastly, when it comes to selling courses and picking the right model for you, you have to ask yourself what kind of marketer are you.

There are people who are very comfortable doing a decent amount of work in a short, timed window, to drive people to a launch but frankly don’t love marketing. Those folks will prefer a launch model simply because when it’s over, it’s over. And again, the scarcity helps close people.

For folks that are more comfortable with a consistent marketing effort, an evergreen model may make more sense as there’s no big pressure at any given time to drive sales. Plus, if you feel a bit uncomfortable with the “scarcity” that doesn’t feel as scarce in a digital world, an evergreen model may feel better to you.

The choice is yours

Which approach you take is up to you. Both work. How you answer those questions will help you decide. But either way, there’s some work to do.

Are you working on a course? Hit me up (there’s a contact link on my site) and let me know what you’re up to and what questions you have.

“This post was originally published on ChrisLema.com

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About Chris Lema

Chris Lema is the GM of LearnDash. He got started with online learning in 1995 in the first transition from computer-based training to moving things on the web. He's been building online courses and membership sites ever since. A blogger, public speaker, coach and product strategist, he's been a VP with Liquid Web (the parent of LearnDash) for 5 years.

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