Why do you really buy courses?
I've found there's often a big difference between why people think they buy courses and why they *really* buy.
And also in how they buy them.
It's really helpful to understand the difference – otherwise you can truly mess up your marketing.
Unfortunately, if you ask people how and why they buy, they usually tell you what they think happens rather than what actually happens.
So often a better source is to be more forensic about it. Look at the last few course purchases you or they actually made and track what happened.
You'll find there's often a big difference between your real experience for that specific course and what you imagine happens when you think more generically.
In my case for example, if you asked me how and why I buy courses I'd say that when I have a need for a course I'll go out and search for the best course available on that topic. I'll do pretty thorough research and weigh up which one I think will get me the best results, will be a good fit for me personally, and is from people who seem trustworthy.
Is that what actually happens in practice?
Yes. Maybe 5% of the time.
But when I look back at the courses I've actually bought in the last few years the vast majority of them didn't happen that way.
What happened far more often is that I got notified of a new course becoming available by someone I follow.
Usually that was because I subscribe to their emails. Occasionally it was through going to their website and very rarely because of something they posted on social media.
Now if I'm subscribed to their emails or regularly visit their website it implies I'm already interested in their area of expertise and already trust them.
And it means I rarely do a thorough search for alternatives.
Mostly I'll just check out the details of the course to see what I'd be getting, think about whether it would be useful for me, whether it's in line with what I'm aiming to focus on in the next few months, and whether I'll have the capacity to do the course.
This idea that I do a thorough search triggered by a need is a bit of a fantasy really.
I probably think I do it that way because when I do I'm actively concentrating on the process.
When I normally buy – the more reactive way – I'm not concentrating on the process so deeply or for a very long time. So I don't remember it so much.
Anyway, the important point here is that if my customers are anything like me (and my experience is they are), then they too will usually buy courses in that more reactive way.
It means that my marketing should be more focused on building a following of people interested in my area of expertise and who trust me – and then offering them something fairly unique on a regular basis.
Of course, if it turns out that your customers really buy through a more thorough search process then you need to gear up your marketing to be easily found in a search for a common need and to score well in a comparison against similar courses.
But my feeling is that for most of us, our best route is to build a following and make unique offers.
Ian Brodie teaches consultants, coaches and other professionals to attract and win the clients they need using Value-Based Marketing - an approach to marketing based around delivering value, demonstrating your capabilities and earning trust through your marketing.