Have you ever launched a new training programme, filled all the seats (virtual or in-person), got fantastic feedback and been thrilled with your success, only to attract little to no interest during your second launch?
You’re not alone. Many trainers and other course providers find that they have a difficult “second album” where the buzz of the first launch feels more like a fluke than something they’re able to replicate time and again.
So, why is it that the second-sell of a course can hit problems, and what can you do about them?
You might need to warm up your leads
When you launched your latest course for the first time, there’s a good chance that your most engaged clients or audience members had been waiting for new content from you.
These might be people you’ve worked with before, people in your network or simply people who needed the training you offered at the time you offered it. You possibly didn’t have to hone your marketing messages or promote your course too extensively because you had a ready-made audience.
You may even have designed the course because you knew it filled a need for people in your circle.
The challenge with a second launch is that you’ve already attracted your raving fans to your course. Now you need to reach the next level down, i.e. those lukewarm leads – people who lurk on your social media pages or who read your blog articles and who might want your training one day but don’t feel any urgency yet.
Failure is a critical part of success
I know how easy it can be to go into a bit of a spiral after a lacklustre course launch. Your brain might be unhelpfully telling you that the course isn’t any good or that you’re not as good a trainer as you thought. We all have our own variations of this internal criticism!
But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater just yet. How about we reframe things?
Failure is a critical part of success. If you have had an unsuccessful or modest second launch, then you now have the information you didn’t have before the launch about what might work and what might not for your audience.
My tips to help you successfully sell a course beyond the first cohort
Before you work towards your next launch, try these following tips:
1. Review what worked well and what didn’t for your first cohort
What did the first cohorts of your course say about it? Do you know what outcomes they wanted and whether they achieved them? What were the strengths of the course and what did they think you could tweak?
If you haven’t asked for feedback from people who have taken the course yet, I’d recommend that you reach out to them. You can tell them that you want to build on what you delivered in the first course and ask if they’d complete a short survey about their experience. You could even offer them lifetime access to future updates to the course as a thank you – a special VIP offer for the first cohort.
The more you can understand what motivated people to sign up for your course and what they got out of doing it (as well as any areas you could improve), the more you can start to refine the course and how you talk about it in your marketing.
2. Review your sales funnel
Do you have a clear sales funnel or client journey to take people from hearing about your training business for the first time to signing up for your course?
This is one of the hardest things to get right when it comes to creating a successful course. After all, you’re an expert at what you teach, not a marketing guru.
It could be that your sales funnel needs tweaking. You may need to experiment with what works for your audience. Hopefully, these pointers will help:
- Get crystal clear about what your target audience is struggling with and how your course helps them – what are the outcomes and why do they matter?
- Publish free content that addresses some of what your audience is struggling with – this content could include social media posts, videos, blogs, podcasts and infographics
- Create a free lead magnet that encourages people to sign up for your mailing list
- Send a welcome email with the free resource to anyone who signs up to your mailing list
- Create a series of automated emails to keep in contact with your list during which you introduce your course
- Invite your email subscribers to watch a webinar (live or pre-recorded) that provides some entry-level information that they’ll find helpful
- Follow-up with non-buyers on your email list
These are just a few ideas. The key is to think about creating as many points of contact with potential clients as possible and how you can build a relationship with each one.
3. Devote more time to list building
There’s a saying that you can’t sell to an empty room.
It may be that before you launch your course again, you need to focus on building up your mailing list. Think quality instead of quantity here – you want to attract people who really need the course you’re offering.
Can you create a freebie that people download from your website in exchange for their email address? How about sending out an e-newsletter or weekly tips?
Once you’ve got people on your mailing list, you need to build a relationship with them. It’s easy to assume that because someone has handed over their email, they’re really interested in what you have to say but this may not be the case – yet!
It’s important to keep in touch with your mailing list. Think about the things that really matter to your audience and how your business and experience relate to this. You can send out emails featuring tips, insights from your day, news, commentary on what’s happening in your industry and so much more.
The more engaged the people on your mailing list are with your business, the better your course sell when you tell them about it.
4. Tweak your message
Are your marketing messages resonating strongly enough with people who would benefit from taking your course?
It might be that you need to tweak what you’re saying. Remember to focus on the outcomes of your course. Yes, people will want to know what it includes but, really, that’s secondary to what they stand to gain.
How will their lives look better after taking your training? That’s where your marketing messages need to land.
Also, are you 100% sure that you’re marketing to the right people? In the corporate world, the people who would benefit most from a course are often reliant on someone else to decide whether they can attend. Do you need to convince the bosses of the people you train? This will affect how you pitch your marketing.
Keep experimenting with your copy and make a note of every time the engagement goes up. This is a positive sign that you’re saying the right things. You might need to experiment with where and when you say something too because your message might have different results on different platforms.
5. Think you’re promoting your course too much? Promote it more!
Do you worry that if you talk about your course too often on social media or send too many emails about it that you’ll come across as pushy? This is a common fear.
Many of us feel deeply uncomfortable about selling and that can take some practice to get over.
Instead of thinking that you have something to sell to people, how about focusing on the fact that you have knowledge that will help people? This takes the focus off of you and your discomfort and puts the focus on to your audience and what they stand to gain.
In my experience, even when you think you’re talking about a course too much, you probably need to talk about it more. Thanks to the various social media algorithms, the chances are that people in your audience are only seeing a fraction of your posts. Just because you’re talking about a course a lot doesn’t mean everyone is getting the message.
The same goes for your emails. They won’t be opened by everyone on your mailing list, so you may need to email multiple times about your course before the message lands.
Your email marketing software can help you navigate this. You should be able to see who is reading your emails and who isn’t, as well as any action they take. Keep experimenting with your email subject. What gets the best open rates? What subjects do people ignore?
Yes, a few people may unsubscribe from your mailing list but I think it’s helpful to view this as your list being tidied up by people who were never going to buy from you.
6. Give people a taster of your training style
Most trainers are skilled communicators who are engaging to listen to and watch. I imagine this describes you perfectly. But the potential audience for your course may not have seen you in action yet.
While you may not want to give away taster sessions (although some people do), there are other ways to give people a flavour of your training style and the personality that shines through your course.
Live videos on social media, guest appearances on a podcast, running a free webinar are all fantastic options to showcase your unique take on your area of expertise.
7. Stay focused
When a launch doesn’t go to plan, it’s tempting to throw everything you can at your next launch and hope that something sticks.
The problem is that this can end up diluting your message. It’s also a fast track to burning out and unsustainable as a launch model.
I recommend getting super focused on a few marketing activities that are likely to deliver good results.
Think about where your audience spends their time. Which social media platform are they most likely to use to find out about what you teach? This is where you need to be posting.
What do you have to share that would help the people on your email list? A couple of short emails a week could help to keep your business front of mind.
Just remember to keep an eye on the analytics in your email marketing software or on your social media accounts. This will help you identify what works for your audience and what doesn’t.
Once you’ve honed the content of your course or training programme and you feel confident about what makes a successful launch, you can apply all that valuable knowledge to getting other programmes into the world.
Have you hit problems with a second launch? What worked for you and what didn’t? I’d love to hear your insights. And, of course, let me know if your second launch eclipsed your first! What do you think made the difference?