Think product launches, and the first image that comes to my mind is Apple’s legendary events that hit record-breaking sales numbers on the first day itself.
There’s clearly something about them that makes customers flock to their stores and get their hands on their products, don’t you think?
Call it obsession. Call it fanaticism. The fact is, it’s working for them.
As a course creator, you’re now ready to launch your product – your course. How do you build the same fanaticism within your audience?
The answer is simple – you plan its epic launch, and you plan it well in advance.
Now, there are a variety of ways in which you can launch your first course.
After all, every course has its dedicated audience. What might work for one kind of course, may not work for another.
So, you depend on the kind of business model you wish to follow, cater to the audience you’ve chosen to push your course to, and then arrive at the kind of launch that’s best suited for your course.
For starters, there are two primary types of course launches – close-ended and open-ended.
Let’s dive into the pros and cons of both, before you decide which direction you’d like to pursue.
Close-ended course launch
Here’s a little story: I clearly remember when the first Forever 21 store opened in my city. As a young 20-something who thought of herself as a closet fashionista, you bet I was going to stand in line with my smartphone in my hand, ready to document my experience on social media.
The launch was epic – the grand offer on their latest collection was supposed to run only for a limited amount of time, thus, creating a now-or-never situation.
Of course, I was going to be there.
The store had opened, but the collection? You could bet that it was gone within the first 15 days of the launch. After that, you would either purchase the remaining pieces at full price, or you won’t find them again at all – like, ever.
It was a tactic. A close-ended launch of their store. A stipulated duration within which you not only bought their now-or-never latest collection, but also pulled your friends to do it with you.
That’s what product launches with an end date do – you introduce your product for a finite period of time, create a sense of urgency among the buyers, and multiply your conversions.
The fact that I was never going to see that collection again made me purchase more items than I initially planned on. If, on the other hand, there was no end date in sight, I’d have put the idea off for later, and never visited it.
Similarly, if you launch your course for a stipulated duration, and make it inactive after the launch, you are sure to see faster registrations in a short time!
Psst… This doesn’t mean that you don’t launch the same course ever again once the launch window is over. You can relaunch it for a different audience multiple times a year, but only for a short duration every time.
- Close-ended launches often let you manage your time and effort well. For example, if you launch your course once every quarter and the course is active for 15 days, you will be investing just around 45 days of your time in the pre- and post-launch efforts.
- Your launch and marketing efforts will be highly focused, and you will have ample time to hire help if needed with your launch effort.
- Close-ended launches create a sense of urgency in the minds of prospective students, and leaves very little time in their hands to contemplate. The result? Faster conversions leading to quicker sales.
- As you will see a surge in registrations during those few months, you will be better equipped to build a thriving community of like-minded students under your brand.
- If there are any updates or revisions in the course niche, you can easily add them before the next launch, thus, keeping your course up to date for your students.
- Be prepared to be extremely busy during the launch, especially if you don’t have many helping hands.
- If your launch is not planned well in advance, you might miss out on your day-to-day priorities.
- Once the initial excitement about the course launch wears off it might get overwhelming to do the same thing every few months.
- Email Marketing
Is there anything more evergreen (and effective) than email marketing? For a close-ended launch, this approach is your best bet as it lets you showcase your course to only those who showed interest in your offerings. After all, they subscribed to your list thinking that your content will be relevant to them, didn’t they?
If you have a ready list you built sometime ago, start by building up their interest by sending a few “why you need this course” mailers. Come the launch date and they’ll know exactly what to do – jump at the first opportunity of hitting the “buy” button.
2. Social Media Campaigns
Assuming you’ve created a launch/sales page of your course, direct your prospects to it using social media ads. Add a form, and capture relevant details of interested candidates too.
A good rule of thumb is to run the ads prior to the launch, thereby, creating a build up for the upcoming launch of your course. Make sure to highlight the start and end date for the registration in the ad copy so that the prospects don’t scroll past it or ignore it.
Nothing creates pressure on a prospect like seeing a timer right in their face! Add a pretty timer countdown on your course’s landing page, and shoot an email to your list about the last date of signing up for the course.
The prominent countdown will create urgency in the minds of the prospects and push more and more of them to sign up for the course.
4. Host Free Webinars
Webinars might sound like a bit of work, but boy, are they key in getting faster conversions! Unlike reading about you or watching snippets of your course, your prospects directly see your face in a webinar.
Resultantly, they trust you more and are more likely to sign up for your course right away.
Conduct a webinar or a series of webinars around your course, and invite your email list to sign up for it. Incentivize them with a special discount offer that’s available only to those who attend the webinar. Promise to conduct repeated webinars even after they’ve purchased the course, so that they look forward to meeting you again and have any questions answered.
There are two scenarios in which a close-ended course launch is right up your alley:
- If your business model focuses majorly on online courses, getting faster and higher conversions in a fixed time helps a lot in focusing your energies. With a close-ended launch, an online entrepreneur like you can strategize according to their set goals, and work on the tools and avenues to be used to promote the launch.
Once the launch is over, you can redirect your energies to creating new courses or utilizing the time to build updates around the original offering.
- Created a course for the first time ever? A close-ended course launch can prove to be a great learning experience for you. As a newbie in the online coaching industry, your first course launch might not always be a hit. You are surely going to miss a thing or two.
This way, you know all the shortcomings of the earlier launch, and will be better prepared for the next time, and the time after that.
Open-ended Course Launch
By now, you must be able to guess what it is. Unlike close-ended launches, open-ended launches happen just once, and the product is available for an indefinite period of time from that moment on.
While close-ended launches may be perfect for a flagship course, open-ended launches are ideal if you have a full-fledged school featuring multiple courses. When a prospect lands on your school site and starts browsing, you don’t want them to not be able to purchase a course just because its launch expired now, do you?
- An open-ended course launch lets students prepare and plan at their pace, as they no longer face the pressure of buying it in time.
- If you are seen as an expert in your field, you will have a steady flow of students wishing to learn from your course all year round.
- With an open-ended course launch, you just have to put in efforts once. Then on, the whole thing can be set on auto-pilot.
- If your course is about using some product or service, an open-ended launch lets you target a bunch of impulse buyers of that product/service. When they see that there is a course available on the product or service they just purchased, they’re more likely to stick with both the product as well as with you!
- Because there is no urgency, chances are, your prospects are likely to postpone the idea of buying your course even after receiving an email about it. Therefore, you need to work on automating your course information, and keep reminding them from time to time why they need to purchase it at the earliest.
- In case a student finds a better course option, there’s a high chance of them forgetting about yours, and you might end up losing your sale.
- Since the course was launched in an open-ended format, some students might assume that your course doesn’t have any latest information, and they’re more likely to go for the ‘newly launched’ ones.
It’s one time. It’s now or never. Given that your first launch is also your final launch, you can’t afford to slack. This means that you need to use all the means required to maximize your reach, and develop a certain cycle of conversions long after your launch is over.
Here are your best tools to make that happen:
- Blog posts
Create blog posts around your course and the niche it’s in, all the while communicating how it is helpful in solving the real-life problems of your customers. These blog posts can then be seeded in relevant forums such as Quora or Medium, thereby, letting you tap into a brand new audience who you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to reach.
2. Social Media Campaigns
Open ended or close ended, social media is where you go for a launch because that’s where people hang out. Run ad campaigns on your newly launched course, and even after it’s over, keep reminding your followers/members about your course.
Make sure to conduct regular checks with relevant keywords on social media portals to see if anyone is asking about your course. More often than not, people add queries related to a particular subject or topic, and if you see one around your course niche, answer that query with a plug in of your course, connect with the creator of the query, and introduce them to your course.
You must think that the tools required for both open-ended as well as close-ended courses are more or less the same. But, here’s the thing – it all depends on how you leverage them to your advantage.
While live webinars may work well in case of a close-ended course launch, open-ended launches give you the opportunity to use pre-recorded videos and webinars that you can use over and over again to target different sets of audiences. Needless to say, such webinars help in introducing your prospects to your course and establishing the need to buy it – no matter when.
Make sure to send out mailers informing your list that you’re conducting a webinar around your course. Hold a Q&A session at the end to collect feedback and answer your customers’ relevant questions, and give a sneak-peek into the next webinar session you’re going to conduct.
Continuous webinars build loyalty within your customers over a period of time, that close-ended launches are too short-duration for. This is your chance to not just build a loyal customer base, but also prep them for your products in the future.
Three scenarios. See if one of them fits you:
- If you have established yourself as a thought leader, you will have a huge following who will be interested in learning about your niche all year round. You will also have a steady flow of learners, and hence, an open-ended course launch will work well for you.
- Are you a popular educator in your niche? Churning out course upon course must be your full-time job! In a scenario when you have in-depth material related to a particular niche, and have lots of courses to showcase, it is best to opt for open-ended course launches.
Your visitors will know you as a brand, and would want to understand the whole range of your offering. Based on their requirements, they would then choose a course.
- If you happen to be a diversified entrepreneur, you must have multiple income sources, and don’t just rely on a course to make you moolah. As a busy business owner, you may not always have the time and effort that a close-ended launch commands. What you need instead is an open-ended launch so that you can distribute your time evenly in only those activities that offer ample income producing opportunities.
Some tips for the road…
- Education is the key: Open ended or close ended, you need to educate your audience about your upcoming course. Use in-depth analyses and reports, blog posts, videos, and infographics to tell your audience why your course is the need of the hour.
Basically, establish the need for your course by sending repeated emails featuring snippets of your overall content.
- Use automation wherever possible: If you don’t have a team to rely on, you can rely on the wonders of automation. For a successful (on-time) launch, use autoresponders and social media automation tools to automate your posts.
You may have a great strategy for your launch, but if your execution is shoddy, you run a risk of killing your launch before it reaches its full potential. Don’t shy away from using automation tools to ensure everything in place before the D-day.
- Respond to pre-sale queries as quickly as possible: First impressions last forever. The more active you are in responding to initial customer queries, the higher are your chances of conversions. Now, this doesn’t mean that you lose your sleep over it. Nobody expects answers instantly or for you to be present 24×7. What they expect, however, is an acknowledgement of their question, and that you will respond to it within a stipulated period of time.
A simple solution? Set up an autoresponder that sends constructive responses to your most common pre-sale queries. Something like “Thanks for connecting with us and we will get back to you within 24 hours” is the perfect starting point. This gives your customer an idea that their query has been acknowledged and that you will get back to them without losing your mind.
- Document and store: You’ve worked your a** off on creating your course, and now launching it. It would be a shame if all that effort isn’t documented anywhere. Save it for future use, strike the bad, store the good. What you’re creating right now, is a blueprint for a successful course launch, and if it goes well, who’s to say there won’t be a next one?
So, there you have it!
An elaborate framework of your course launch – open ended and close ended.
As a coach, it all depends on what it is you’d like to achieve with your course, and how much effort you can put into your launch.
Here’s wishing you the very best of luck!