In today’s episode, we’ve got an anonymous Q&A. Someone has reached out and asked how to create a quality course or membership.

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I’ve had a special request from someone who has reached out to ask for my advice on creating a quality course or membership, and making sure that people actually get the outcomes promised.

This person asked to remain anonymous because they are currently in a group program and didn’t want their mentor or fellow students to find out that they were asking me this question.

I am totally okay with that. You can always ask your question anonymously.

If you do happen to put your name to it, we can give you a link back to your website and your socials. But if you need it anonymous, that’s totally fine as well.

This person said that they were appalled when, inside the program, they asked their mentor, ‘I’ve got a few people who’ve signed up to my program, but I can see they haven’t even started it yet. Even though I’ve been running the program for six months, no one has yet finished my course even though it’s meant to be a six-week process.’

Their mentor’s response was, ‘Well, you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink. Once someone buys your course, you’re not responsible for them completing it, or getting the outcomes.’

This person has requested that I give my take on this because they were pretty shocked to hear that response from their mentor.

They’re also not satisfied with taking that approach.

If you are in my audience, chances are that you, like this anonymous question-asker, likely want to ensure that your program delivers on the outcomes that you promised in the sales process.

Not only that, you don’t want to sell your course to people only for them to leave it in their digital graveyard forever. You don’t want them to do a module or two, get stuck and then just forget about it.

You created your course because you want to create a transformation.

Your goal is to help people achieve an outcome.

Is it your responsibility to make sure that they start the program, engage, finish and implement it?

Here’s my hot take (to help you create a quality course or membership) in six steps…

1. Embrace shared responsibility

When I think about the courses and programs that I’ve created, I have taken responsibility for making sure that I maximise the rate in which people complete the program.

I take my responsibility for delivering on what I promised in the sales process.

It’s not enough for me to create the program and blame my students if it doesn’t work for them.

I do acknowledge there is some responsibility from the person who purchases the program. But if I take a shared responsibility, that means I’m doing my best to maximise their engagement and results.

They also then do their best to engage with the program and ask questions if they need.

When we take this different approach of embracing shared responsibility, it means that we’re not just blaming our clients for not getting the result.

We’re also not stepping over the boundaries and taking too much responsibility for them getting those outcomes.

A great example of this is when I first launched the Heart-Centred Business Planner.

The Heart-Centred Business Planning System started in 2014.

quality course or membership business planner courses launching

The way to create a quality course or membership is to ensure it does its job!

The first time I sold it, I sold it just as a straight planner. It was a yearly planner that people could buy digitally and print themselves, fill in at the start of the year and use as a planning system.

I sold it quite cheaply for about $25 the first time… and I followed up with pretty much every single person who bought that planner to see if they were using it.

There are two ways to address this…

The first way is that you do the best that you can to make sure that the planner does its job. It’s really well formatted and structured, it’s easy to use, and you create automated reminders to check in.

You take a little bit of responsibility by ensuring it’s a high-quality product and you send some automated reminders. You DON’T spend 30-minutes on each buyer to make sure they’re using it.

Then the second way (which is what I did), is I recognised that a great planner isn’t just the planner. It’s actually a system with some connection and accountability.

I created the Heart-Centred Business Planning System for myself. But I felt like it would be great for my audience as well.

Instead of just giving it to them and telling them to do what they want with it, I decided to sell the planner as a year-long planning system that included live workshops as a group, email reminders and a Facebook community, and I charged appropriately for that.

Rather than just selling it as a $25 printout, I now sell the Heart-Centred Business Planner for at least $495.

That $495 isn’t just for the planner. You get the:

  • Yearly planner
  • Quarterly planner that turns it into action
  • Initial workshop so that we can get together and do our yearly planning together, and people can ask questions
  • Quarterly planning workshops each quarter with a slightly different focus each time

You can see there that I’m embracing shared responsibility, but I’m not delivering all of that in a $25 digital download.

I’ve shifted the model of that product to ensure that I’m giving my audience the thing that they’re going to need the most to really maximise their success with the planning system.

It’s a really great way for me to have that shared responsibility, but also ask for that shared responsibility from my audience.

For them to really get the most out of the planning system, they need to invest a little more to get access to all of the extras and the things that make it really shine and work. And they also need to show up and be present with that planning system each quarter.

I send email reminders and post in the Facebook group with lots of prompts throughout the year.

We have those workshops that people can come to, so they get some face-to-face time with me and some time to actually sit down and work on their plan.

It’s got a really great sense of shared responsibility.

Similarly, inside the Take Off program, it’s not just self-study modules.

When it comes to starting a business, I recognised that what people need is not a course. There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to business strategy, business growth, and business model.

There are some amazingly ginormous decisions that you’re making in the very early stages of your business and you need a mentor to actually work through those decisions with you.

The Take Off program includes consistent group hotseat mentoring sessions, a Facebook community, and a feedback loop in the learning process so that I can stay engaged and connected to people throughout the process of going through the program. I can give them feedback, we can have that conversation, and I can give them advice.

Again, I’ve priced that appropriately.

You can see that embracing shared responsibility isn’t just about setting up as many automations as you can and leaving them to it.

There are ways that you can lean in, which requires your audience to lean in a little further as well.

There are some really cool ways that you can do that to maximise people completing your program and getting those results.

2. Be clear on the value proposition of your program

By getting very clear on what it’s like before the program, what it’s like after the program, and why each of those outcomes is important to your audience, then you’ll be able to make sure that you’re promising something that you can actually deliver on.

You can also make that promise in a tangible way.

You will have clarity and a shared understanding of what before and after looks like, and why that’s so important.

I create a value proposition table for every single program, product and paid offer that I release.

They all have that value proposition mapped out super clear before I create the sales page, sales webinars, email marketing, or promo posts.

I get really solid on my value proposition.

Then I know what my clients’ expectations are going to be, and what my share of the responsibility is for getting them to those expectations.

3. Almond milk it

One of the fastest ways to stop people in their tracks when it comes to adult learning and doing online programs, in particular, is to give people a bunch of information and tasks that don’t actually move them towards their goal.

When I say ‘almond milk it’ I use the analogy that if I was to come to your house for a little sleepover, I would need almond milk for my coffee in the morning.

You wouldn’t then launch into a monologue on all the different benefits of almond milk, the different brands of almond milk, the 17 shops within a 40-kilometre radius that sell almond milk, all of the streets on the way to those stores that might potentially sell me almond milk, and the pros and cons of every different store that might get me almond milk.

You would say, ‘Get in the car, let’s go get you some almond milk’.

That’s why people buy a quality course or membership from you.

Information is freely available right now. Your job is not to collect, collate and present information.

Your job is to fast-track your clients through transformation.

It’s to get them their almond milk in the most efficient and effective way possible.

In a lot of cases, that involves scraping a bunch of information out of your program, or reminding yourself in the program creation process that the big outcome is not learning. The big outcome is not knowledge. The big outcome is not information.

I know that there’s a big trend towards knowledge-based businesses these days. But actually, I think that that sells you short.

You are not just some random book of information. You are a human who is here to facilitate transformation.

The fastest way for you to get people from where they are to where they want to be is the pathway that’s going to be the best one for your program. It will keep people engaged in the process because they can see themselves moving forward quickly.

Almond milk this process as much as you can to create a quality course or membership.

4. Include some form of connection

I understand this doesn’t work for super passive income products.

Let’s say you create a template and you sell your template for $29.

I don’t know that there’s going to be a lot of connection in the template delivery process. However, wouldn’t it be amazing if, in the delivery process of giving the person that template (maybe in an automated follow-up), you ask them to email you if they have any questions or get stuck?

Especially when you first launch something and you get your first clients through.

It’s a great opportunity for you to refine it.

If 20 people buy your template, and none of them actually use it, implement it or get results with it, you have no raving fans of your templates.

You have no one referring new clients to you.

Especially in the first couple of launches. Even if it’s a passive product, I do recommend having some form of connection.

For me, most of my products are high connection.

There’s lots of hand-holding and support. They are priced to ensure that I’m being paid appropriately for that access and connection that people get to me.

But even for passive products – you are absolutely able to use some form of connection to ensure that it’s getting people results so that you know you’ve created a quality course or membership.

5. Pay attention and refine

Pay attention to:

  • Open rates of emails, especially when they’re delivering a paid product or service
  • The engagement in your Facebook community (if you have one attached to your program)
  • Whether people are replying to your emails
  • Download rates (if applicable)
  • Completion rates on your course if that data is available to you

You can also pay attention by surveying or doing a feedback form to people who’ve purchased.

Ask them questions like:

  • Did you get stuck on anything?
  • Was there anything missing from the process?
  • Did you actually get any results?
  • What was the most frustrating part about doing that process?

I understand sometimes that can be a little bit daunting.

It can be scary to ask people for their feedback…

What if it invites them to ask for a refund because they realise they didn’t actually do anything with it?

The first thing I’d say to this is that hopefully, you’ve got your refund terms and conditions all in place. If you don’t, that’s a really good reminder to do that.

Secondly, if someone is within their refund period, and you asking them for feedback instigates them asking for a refund, then I think that’s part of being in business.

I think that’s important feedback.

It’s not a problem if it’s within industry averages.

Particularly for online businesses, industry-standard refund rates are about 5%.

If you sold 100 templates, and 5% of people asked for a refund within their refund period, then that’s fairly reasonable.

There’s nothing to worry about there. That’s just part of being in business.

But if you send out a feedback survey and 20% of the people who purchased all of a sudden are asking for a refund, wouldn’t you rather know and be able to fix it, instead of constantly living in fear that if you ask people for feedback, they’re going to ask for refunds?

Sometimes we need to face up to the reality that our products and services aren’t necessarily hitting the mark.

This helps us get to the point where our products and services are snowballing because people are raving about them, and sharing them with their friends.

Pay attention and refine.

This brings me to my final tip for creating a quality course or membership that delivers on its promise, gets people outcomes, and has people engaged…

6. Learn some of the key principles of adult learning

Adult learning principles help us to create products and services that are significantly more likely to be completed, that meet the needs of our clients, and that help us to shape something that’s actually going to maximise results.

One of the key strategies that I use that embraces adult learning is called the sell-me learning cycle.

When I map out my courses, for every learning point, I structure it with have, do, share.

For every key thing that I’m taking people through in my programs:

What do they need to learn?
What do they do with that learning?
And what do I get them to share with us to create a feedback cycle for that learning?

Implementing learn, do, share in my courses has helped me maximise completion rates, maximise engagement and maximise my clients results.

It also means that people are far more likely to come and share when they get stuck because I’ve asked them to share something specific in every single module.

If they don’t know how to do the thing I’ve asked them to do and then share, I get that feedback really quickly.

I highly recommend you just do a little bit of learning about what it takes to get adults to transform. Adult learning principles are different to the ones that are required for children.

As a course creator, you are in the education business. As a membership creator, you are in the education business.

You are using an educational platform or process to help facilitate a transformation.

We do want to make sure there’s some rigour behind what it is that you’re creating.

I’m not saying you have to go off and do a certificate four class or get a degree in adult learning. But you can simply do a quick Google here and there. Engage in courses that take those adult learning principles into consideration. Do courses from other people and see how they facilitate change.

Pay attention to things that work for you and don’t work for you.

These will all help you to refine your processes and ensure maximum engagement and maximum completion.

The Leverage and Launch program, in which I teach you how to create and launch your own quality group program – whether it be a course or a membership – is built on adult learning principles. I actually take you through some very basic adult learning principles that can apply to all courses and memberships to help you ensure that you are getting those great completion rates.

Check out the Leverage and Launch program here:

I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode on how to create a quality course or membership!

As always, make sure to come on over to the Heart-Centred Soul-Driven Entrepreneurs Facebook group and share any questions or aha moments that you’ve had as a result of reading this episode. Just use #podcastaha and the episode number (325), and let’s keep the convo going!

Until next time, I cannot WAIT to see you SHINE.

Tash Corbin Business Mentor and Strategist