You can’t just sell information anymore

“But, Lisa, isn’t that what an online course is?”

To be clear – I’m saying you can’t JUST sell information anymore in an online course.

We live in a world where information is easily accessible. Don’t know how to jump-start a car? Google it or find a YouTube video that explains how to do it. It’ll take you a couple of seconds to find out exactly what you need to know.  

So, you can’t JUST sell information anymore because information is freely available.

Sure, you can sell a collation of information that saves people time – but this isn’t a course, it’s an information product. Information products are products that contain knowledge at a price and are usually sold digitally.

But that’s not an online course. Any course that purely provides on-screen text and downloadable ebooks or white papers is not going to be engaging and may have a low (perceived) value. Think about it, a course that only provides information may as well be a book, because the experience will be exactly the same as reading a book.

There are of course always exceptions, but as a rule, when it comes to courses, we can’t just sell information. Because that’s not how people learn. People need to consume the same information in a variety of different ways to be able to learn (see my post about the myth of different learning types).

A course that has video content and a place for people to ask and have their questions answered is likely to be a lot more engaging and can be offered at a higher price. Because people will pay more for a variety of content formats – and the access to support/help when they need it.  

So, what’s the easiest way to take an information product and turn it into an engaging and effective online course?

The easiest way is to add a personal touch

People need to know they will be supported when taking an online course. Knowing they can reach out to someone if they don’t understand something or have a problem is important.

Here are 5 ways to add personal interaction to your course:

  • Let them know how they can get in touch with someone if they need help as soon as they sign up.
  • Show up for live Q&A sessions – and you can run these as often as you like, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.
  • Community learning areas like Facebook groups and forums are a great way to provide personal interaction. People get to engage with you as well as with fellow course attendees.
  • Regular emails and announcements are another way you can “be present” to your course attendees.
  • You could also record and share a quick video to clear up any misunderstandings about a particular topic or assignment.

When you are present and engaged in your course, your course attendees are more likely to be too.

So, what do you think? Do you agree that courses can’t just sell information?