You tried to promote your program to your audience. You know you can help them.
But their response was less than enthusiastic. “Great idea! I’d love to try it…someday.”
Or maybe they even wailed loudly, “Oh no… that sounds like work!”
Or you realized quickly that you could relieve the symptoms, but they’d be left with the underlying problem.
For instance, a market researcher says, “The client asked me for 3 focus groups. I could give them 3 focus groups. But focus group reports won’t help. They haven’t identified their audience. They don’t know the right questions to ask.”
People seek help for the relief of symptoms, not for solving problems.
I’m always reminded of the children’s book and movie, Madeline. The headmistress exclaims: “Something is not right!”
And that’s exactly the feeling people get when they hire help. They’re not getting as much done as they would like. It’s when something feels wrong that people start to search for help.
Sometimes they know exactly what’s wrong: a headache, a leak in the ceiling, a sudden loss of clients.
Sometimes, like Madeline’s guardian, they just know something’s not right. They need to track down the cause as well as the effect.
I learned the concept of symptom relief from British copywriter Amy Harrison. Here’s an example from one of her articles:
This headline focuses on the solution to a problem:
“Choose this product to align syndicated and point-of sale data in multiple countries and from a variety of data sources and time periods.”
This headline takes the same problem and focuses on the symptoms — the client’s viewpoint:
“Are you struggling to reconcile product data across different countries and currencies? If so, click here to see how [product name] can help”
Most clients will be motivated by hope.
Let’s face it. On some level, your audience knows there’s no free lunch. But when they’re reading your promotion campaign, they suspend their disbelief.
It’s like going to the ballet. You know there’s a lot of sweat and pain and not a lot of magic. But while you’re there, you want to believe in the magic.And when you promote a new course, your audience secretly hopes they’ll painlessly absorb everything you teach them. They want to focus on results.
When your promotion gets into the nitty gritty of what ‘s required to claim the magic, prospects can feel intimidated. They see hundreds of pages to read…hours of videos…dozens of techniques. They feel overwhelmed.
It’s especially easy to fall into this trap when you follow another piece of common but misguided advice: “Build your business around what you do easily. What’s easy for you will be impressive to your clients.”
What’s easy to an expert mountain climber will feel like Mount Everest to someone who barely walks around the block. Writing comes easily to me but baking a cake? No way. Putting together a furniture set from Ikea? I’ll take my chances with Everest.
Some audiences relish the thought of getting down to work.
Some services and programs attract die-hard, hard-core participants who seem a little masochistic to the rest of us.
My gym in Philadelphia specializes in this market. Members won’t attend a class if it’s too easy. I felt wimpy after modifying half the exercises in a boot camp type class … until a fellow participant said it was hard for him, too. And he’s a former active duty Marine.
So how do you promote your program effectively (but with integrity)
From a marketing standpoint, your copywriter will encourage you to focus on symptoms. People hire professionals when they experience some degree of pain, discomfort, or loss. So your first step will be to acknowledge the symptom.
Use your marketing materials to reassure prospects and take away the fear. Promise a result that will be do-able, simple, and even easier than what they might be doing now. Create a time frame for expected results.
And then you deliver. Create a course that meets these expectations. For instance, you can break down the steps, offer a scaled-down program, or add a Done-For-You component to get clients past the most difficult obstacle.
You’ll be dealing with outrageous indignation from your students and clients when you promise dessert and serve up unbuttered broccoli.
There’s nothing more disturbing than a coach who sells with promises like, “You’re doing great already! We’ll just make a few tweaks to your business and you’ll be flying.”
Once the credit card hits, the message changes to, “You’re doing everything wrong! You’re beyond a makeover – think overhaul!”
So think about an audience who would view your offer as dessert, once they got in and started working with your product. That’s your market.
By the way, if you’re ready to get serious about online course development as a source of revenue, let’s set up a consultation.
Creating your online course doesn’t have to be complicated. I got frustrated with seeing so many four-figure courses that make it sound like rocket science, so I created this very practical hands-on course: