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Five Keys to a Successful Online Course

Key #4: Create anticipation and scarcity

I’ve seen this one oh so many times. Someone works on a course and when the course is ready to roll, they send everyone to a sales page, and then they pray.

This is the number one mistake that kills people’s sales of their online course.

I’ve seen this one oh so many times. Someone works on a course and when the course is ready to roll, they send everyone to a sales page, and then they pray. And that’s it. They just pray. They say, “Okay, here comes my course. Everyone go buy it.”

So, what’s the problem with this?
There is no anticipation.

Think about movies. A movie just doesn’t come out, it doesn’t just hit the theaters and you read about it in the newspaper (I think they still have newspapers nowadays, right?).

What happens before a movie?

Previews, anticipation, etc.  And this is 100% true with online courses too. People miss this all the time. You have to build anticipation.

You don’t just send out a link one day and say, “By the way, I’ve been working on this course in secret and here it is and here is the link and everyone go buy it and goodbye,” right? It doesn’t work.

Here is the short answer of what to do: a VIP launch. This is something I’ve tested and tweaked until the cows come home. So let me explain a little bit because the VIP launch does for online courses what previews do for a movie.

You want to build anticipation, that’s our ultimate goal. Well, with theVIP launch, you do is a free video series. And in this video series, you teach people and get them excited. You give your list some great content in there and you send a new video every couple of days. And then you open up enrollment in your course. So free video, free video, free video, and then you open up enrollment in your course. Boom.

And by the way, yes, there is more too it than this, of course, but this is the basic idea. Now, here is something else to keep in mind, the launch is just the beginning, it is not the end. A lot of people think, I’ll just launch my course, and regardless of what happens, they just move on with their lives and they do something else, no.

The launch is the kickoff! It is just the beginning. It is not the end.

Remember, when you’re creating an online course, you’re creating an asset that you can sell over and over and over again. Just doing a launch will build your list, your credibility, create other opportunities and also establish a proof of concept if you want to bring in promotional partners or other things later on.

Quick Tip: Your launch can be 100% automated. This is a bit of advanced tip, but you will do it live and then later on, you can automate your launch as new people join your email list. So as they come in, they go through a completely automated launch with real deadlines. We’ll dive into this later on. But I just want to give you a glimpse of how you continue to generate revenue after your initial kickoff.

A couple examples… Here is my video series for my online course “Create Awesome Online Courses.

(BTW want a great resource for your entire course website including templates for things like your free video series check out Course Cats)

Video number one, is 10 reasons why you should create online course and you click that and you get video number one. A couple days later I send video number two, then video three, and then I send an invitation to enroll in my course.This is a tried-and-true method that works in terms of building anticipating at getting your course out there.

Now, what about scarcity? All right. This is especially true with premium courses. You need to motivate people to take action and I can’t emphasize that enough. It’s not just about creating a video series and then saying, “Okay. Now my course is on sale for the rest of mankind.” It doesn’t work like that. So let me explain to you what does work.

You want build in at least one scarcity factor. I see this happen all the time, someone says, “Okay. I did my course. Yay! I did my VIP video series. Yay!.” And then I opened enrollment and nothing. When you don’t have a deadline, you don’t have the scarcity factor to motivate people to get off their butt. You MUST incorporate scarcity in your offers.

My non-textbook definition is limited quantities, limited time available. There’s the assumption that something is more valuable because it’s scarce. But more importantly, it gets people off their freaking butt. When done correctly and of course without being a jerkasaurus, it forces people to make a decision. Are they in or are they out? That’s what scarcity does.

One big tip: (and this might be a little captain obvious, but sometimes captain obvious isn’t all that obvious) you actually have to do what you say. So if you say “The course closes at midnight,” you actually have to do it, even if it means staying up until midnight to close the cart. Don’t be one of those sketchy people out there where every time someone lands on your site it says, “This is closing in five minutes and you got to buy it right now.” And if they go back five minutes later it still says, “This is closing in five minutes. You got to buy it right now.” Legitimate scarcity is not sketchy.

There are a couple of options for scarcity scarcity and I would encourage you to choose one of these.

Number one is a price increase. Simply put, “You know, the price is increasing on X date.” And shockingly, people love saving money. So that’s one way of doing scarcities. You say, “Hey, you know, my course is out. It’s $X.XX. But on X day, it’s going to be this higher price.

Now, I don’t love this one is because, yes, that works, but how many times can you really do it? It’s not really scalable, meaning how many times can you keep raising the price on your course. There’s a finite amount of times you could do that so it’s not my absolute favorite one.

Number two, is making it a special package. So it’s a “webinar only special offer,” or let’s say you offer something live with your course, maybe a limited number of slots in a coaching program or VIP packages or a live event or something like that. That’s natural scarcity right there. When you have a special package, obviously there’s only a limited time – or limited amount available on a special package. That’s number two. There’s a special package.

Number three (and this was done by one of my great CAOC student, Nikki Elledge Brown and a few others) is you could do a course live, right? Note: this is not my preferred way of doing it because I prefer that courses are prerecorded. But some people like to do them live the first time and then sell prerecorded. If you do decide to do your course live, there’s natural scarcity because you’re saying, “Okay, module one is next Tuesday. Module two is the Tuesday after that.” Make sense?

But, here is my favorite one. Drum roll please on this one. My favorite one is that the cart is open for X period of days. So you’re giving people a deadline (and by the way, if you want a cool tool to do this Deadline Funnel is amazing). So the cart is open for X days so people can enroll until that certain date and then it closes, and then it closes and they can no longer enroll.

Here’s an example:

This webinar replay will come down in 4 days, 17 hours, and 15 minutes and 13 seconds. So people have a deadline.

The bottom line with scarcity is you have to choose at least one. Doing a VIP launch with scarcity is the magic potion for actually getting your course to convert.

By the way, super fun fact: if I were to add in a bonus secret, it would be that people forget long term with this. People forget to think long term and your launch is just the kick off like I said before.

Great story here, one of my students, Renae Christine, has a course that teaches Etsy. You know, teaching home crafty people how to create their own successful crafty businesses online and things like that. Her first launch, she did $3,500 and she actually sent me a now famous video called the Crying Girl video where she’s crying because she was excited that she made $3,500. Well, what did Renae do from there? She kept getting better. She kept doing more. She kept promoting again. She kept getting more and more and more and fast forward now, it’s about two and half years later and she’s now doing over seven figures a year with her course. But it all started with one little tiny launch that started by following a system and then just getting better and better. Once you know what to do, you’re off to the races.

So it’s a pretty cool process and I think people forget that. They think, “Oh, I need to make a million dollars by tomorrow or this is going to massive failure” Don’t think like that. The focus of your launch is to get in those first few (or next few) customers in and go from there. Keep moving forward.

Okay. Cool. I get excited about that one. I get excited about it because I love that story and I don’t want you to these mistakes.