How to Sell Your Online Course for A Winning Lower Price

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Most online instructors find pricing their course one of the more challenging decisions in the creation process – learning how to sell it for a lower premium is even trickier.

On the one hand, you want to maximise revenue potential for your hard work; but on the other, you don’t want a premium price tag that puts potential customers off. 

Then, there are discounts – what should you do about these, if anything? When and why would a lower price be offered? And, for how long? 

For me, the same golden rule applies to discounting your course as it does to setting the normal price. Always sell on value; never sell on price.

In other words, selling your online course for a lower price should only be done for specific reasons for a limited period of time. And, the discount should never be so big that it reduces the perceived value of the course.

Here are three scenarios where lowering your price is a strategic maneuver to boost promotion and sales revenue.

The 3 situations to sell your online course for a discount

1. The ‘Beta-Launch’ 

The idea here is that you begin selling your course, albeit at a reduced price, whilst you’re still creating and perfecting it. This kind of ‘pre-selling’ is common, wholly acceptable and in most cases a very good idea. 

Laura Elizabeth at Design Academy experienced fantastic results by pre-selling her first paid-for course. 

As the graph shows, over the course of seven days, 227 people enrolled making over $33k in revenue.

Students are completely aware they’re signing up for the ‘beta’ of your course and are thus much more forgiving on the rough edges. For them, the benefit is accessing the content at a cut price. 

The benefit to you is significant because it can be the difference between great success or outright failure. 

Firstly, you get to validate customer demand for your course content during the creation process, as opposed to afterwards. Involving your target audience allows your course to be crafted on actual needs and desires, as opposed to what you think might be required. In essence, you get to try out your idea and test whether people will pay good money for it.

Secondly, you can begin creating an email list of customers. When the official launch of your course comes around, you simply email everyone who was involved in the process (typically with a special discount) and in doing so get a dedicated first round of students to kick off with.

Thirdly, the revenue from pre-selling reduces the upfront investment and associated financial risk. Not only that, but knowing you’re creating a course that is in demand is a powerful motivator that empowers you to create your very best work.

Learning how to pre-sell exponentially increases your chances of success, and is the only real way to protect yourself from creating a course no one wants.

2. The ‘Limited Time Discount’

You’ve probably come across this type of offer which is sometimes called an ‘early bird discount’ or ‘early bird special’. Basically, your online course is sold at a lower price for a limited time only.

It’s an age-old tactic that works because people don’t like missing out on something. By creating a sense of urgency the offer compels prospective customers to buy now. This serves to maximise sales conversions for the period in which the offer is live.

Crafting a limited time discount makes sense for a new course launch when it’s most important to capitalize on as much initial interest as possible. 

But, please note, it’s important not to lower the price too much because it can degrade the perceived value of your product. The last thing you want is to put people off because your product appears cheap and thus not wholesome enough.

The same goes after a course has been running successfully and has garnered a good reputation. Whilst it’s tempting to increase sales volumes through a price drop, you must consider overall profitability. 

By lowering the price unnecessarily you inadvertently under charge all the ideal customers who would have happily paid full price. Twice as many customers paying half price is no more profitable than half the number of people paying full price.

3. The ‘Lost Cause Customer’

This tactic is only advisable when you have a good amount of customer insight relating to your email list, and can identify the ‘lost cause’ point. This varies from one course and email list to another, and might not be applicable in certain situations.

Basically, work out how long a person needs to be on your email list before the chances of them purchasing your course becomes almost zero. This is the process of identifying your ‘lost cause’ subscribers. 

For example, you might discover that 95% of people who have not purchased a course after eleven weeks of being on your email list, probably never will. This means you know any given subscriber who hasn’t purchased a course by about week nine or ten is becoming a lost cause. At this point, you offer them an attractive one-time discount to try to get a sale. 

Lost cause subscribers might come to be after a few weeks, or a much longer period of time. For this reason, you must study your audience properly to work out when to offer the discount and for how much. 

Otherwise you risk offering discounts to people that would have otherwise paid full price, not to mention degrade the perceived value of your product.

When to sell your online course for free

Revenue generation isn’t the only reason why people create online courses; they’re also a brilliant way to attract and engage with your target audience and customers. 

There are a couple of specific reasons to offer a course for free, as follows.

1. Lead Generation

Businesses and organizations of all kinds have offered free courses to potential customers for a long time. 

This can take many different forms but are often some kind of free taster or mini version of a much larger, more wholesome offering. By taking the free course, subscribers get to know, like and trust your business in one fell swoop. This quickens the customer journey and lays foundations for sales conversions much sooner. 

You can also offer a free online course to grow your email list, by providing a walkthrough to overcome a specific problem and adding subscribers to your sales funnel on completion. 

2. Customer Experience

Any business in the modern age simply has to take a ‘customer first’ approach. So when you’ve sold a service or product it’s vital to ensure your customer gets  maximum benefit and (ideally) comes to love your brand.

Offering a free course is a fantastic way to do this. Not only does your customer feel wholly looked after, you can also glean valuable information and feedback from them about potential improvements. 

Furthermore, providing new and existing customers with genuinely useful course-based support improves user experience, minimises customer queries and complaints, and reduces cancellation rates (if appropriate). 

For your knowledge business, you might provide a free course for potential customers to work out where to begin their learning journey with you.

Key Takeaway

Most course creators wrestle with whether to sell their online course at a lower price at some point or another. It’s natural, especially in the early days when you’re trying to get your knowledge business rolling. 

But, you must stay resolute and be confident in your product. Only reduce your price for specific and commercially valuable reasons like a beta launch, limited time discount or to catch and convert lost cause subscribers. 

Whatever the situation, always remember the golden rule – sell on value, not on price – and, you won’t go far wrong.

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