Wired Magazine’s Senior Editor Kevin Kelly wrote a great post this week called 1,000 True Fans, and it’s been getting a lot of attention around the blogosphere. Kelly essentially argues that to be a success online, you don’t need a huge audience. You just need 1,000 true fans… who are willing to pay you.
He goes on to demonstrate that these 1,000 true fans are not at the end of the long tail, but rather closer to the curve that separates the long tail from the head of the tail:
To raise your sales out of the flatline of the long tail you need to connect with your True Fans directly. Another way to state this is, you need to convert a thousand Lesser Fans into a thousand True Fans.
I guess I feel a bit vindicated… this is the exact argument I made in the Teaching Sells report 5 months ago. It’s nice to be in such esteemed company.
But how do you go about developing these fans? Well, one way is to create an interactive training program. In an information economy, everyone needs to be a life-long learner. So, teaching ends up being a pretty good gig.
Here are the 20 steps you’ll need to complete to make it happen:
1. Choose an in-demand subject
This first step is critical. When it comes to adult education, you can’t force people to learn what you think they should learn. You’ve got to teach them what they want to learn.
2. Uniquely position your offer
Also critical is differentiating yourself with unique positioning in the marketplace. Whether you think about it as a USP or a purple cow, you must stand apart from the competition and be remarkable.
3. Create a learner/buyer profile
Who are these people you’re trying to teach? What problem or pain exists that a training program can fix? What learning styles are dominant among this group? You can’t get people to buy if you don’t know who you’re trying to reach and teach.
4. Identify learner benefits and ultimate benefits
Adult learners are obsessed with “what’s in it for them.” You must identify the real-world benefits that people are seeking, and the ultimate root benefits that drive the desire to learn. Very few people are willing to pay you just for the “love of learning.”
5. Develop learning objectives
Once you understand the real-world benefits that your prospective learners seek, you can then design your training program to satisfy those objectives. These objectives should remain firmly in mind while you develop training content.
6. Tie learning objectives to a business model
There’s more than one way to create a business model around commercial education. When you understand learning objectives, you can figure out what model is optimal for your specific learners. For example, will educating your members naturally lead to a purchase that you can make happen? If so, you can charge less for the initial training and attract more customers.
7. Research and identify content source material
Where will the content of your training program come from? Is it based on your expertise and experience? Is it based on researching, synthesizing and re-formatting multiple existing sources? Do you need to partner with a credentialed expert?
8. Identify potential activities and exercises
Activities and exercises are the tools you’ll use to make lessons concrete and applicable to the real-world. Or, you can provide a real-world road map that shows people how to apply the topics to achieve their goals.
9. Identify course topic areas
Now that you know what people are actually trying to achieve and become, you know what you need to teach. Many people get this entire process backwards and start with topics they assume people need to be taught.
10. Develop course curriculum
Now, take your topics and weave them into an overall curriculum. Not only should your curriculum have a dominant theme, it should be telling a story that leads to understanding and action.
11. Select media formats for initial content
Back when you developed a learner profile based on your research of the market, you will have explored the likely desired learning style of your prospective learners. Do they prefer text, audio or video? Learning psychology demonstrates that all people benefit from a blend of media formats, so often you’ll use the format that best suits the content.
12. Develop introductory content
Now you’re ready to develop your training content. You’ll find it to be much easier thanks to the work you did upfront, but you should also include elements that attract and hold attention while engaging learners at both an emotional and logical level in order to remain memorable. Now, will you develop the content yourself, or strategically outsource it?
13. Build membership site
No matter your business model, you’ll need a website with a publicly-accessible front end and a members-only back end.
14. Launch strategy and offer
Next, it’s time to plan the introduction of your site to the world, and figure out what offer is best for attracting paid members to a new program. No matter how many members you attract at first, you’ll be actually getting paid to teach the course. Plus, since your program is only getting better every week, you can constantly “relaunch” the site and attract more members.
15. Prospect marketing system
You’ll need to develop an educational content marketing strategy that attracts new prospects and builds a relationship with them over time. This can be created once and automated with an email autoresponder.
16. Site copywriting
What’s the appropriate selling strategy for converting prospects into paid members? Amazingly, you’ve already discovered all the benefits your prospects seek, since your training program must make those benefits achievable in order to be effective. Now it’s time to effectively communicate how your content delivers those benefits.
17. Joint ventures for launch
No existing audience? Develop a killer program, and others will do the pre-selling for you with an endorsement (and give you better results than advertising). You’ve located these prospective joint venture partners through your initial market research, and now your just need to strategically contact and negotiate with them.
18. Community development
One of the benefits of interactive learning environments is the community of learning that develops with the guidance of the instructor. Real-world benefits are why people join, and community is why they stay.
19. Ongoing content development
Depending on your business model, you may be creating content (or outsourcing it) on a continual basis. Or, your training may be of limited duration. Either way, it’s smart to start off with initial content, and then keep going while taking into account member feedback and learning assessments. You’ll end up with better content in the end.
20. Ongoing marketing
As mentioned above, any membership-based program can be “re-launched” over and over using free persuasive educational content. You can even release parts of the course itself as an attraction strategy. Remember, if your membership site is constantly adding new content, it’s constantly getting more valuable.
Yes, this is the Teaching Sells Curriculum
OK, so you may have guessed by now that these 20 steps are identical to the Teaching Sells 20-Step Checklist for building a profitable membership site. Both the core content and the advanced training track this road map, so you can apply the lessons in the real world, step-by-step. Or, you can hop around to focus only on the parts you need help with.
Check out Teaching Sells for the instruction that powers the roadmap. Hope to see you on the inside.