I recently joined an online course “accelerator,” in which a course marketing expert coaches 5 course creators through 10 weeks of exercises and experiments to level up their marketing efforts. It’s been a fascinating journey already, and I’ll be sharing bits and pieces of what I discover here on the blog.

One of the most interesting exercises we’ve completed is identifying the “Chain of Beliefs” of our prospective customers. These are the specific beliefs that someone needs to adopt before purchasing our course, or while taking it, to get as much value as possible from our program. Instilling these beliefs is a long-term, continuous process that begins long before they take the course, and continues long after they finish it. With this framing, “making a sale” is not a finish line, but just one step in a long relationship in which we are “selling” them on something much more profound: a changed future.

What do we do with this list? We systematically cultivate these beliefs through our free content – blog posts, social media posts, podcasts, websites, free tutorials and guides, etc. This ensures that each piece of promotional content has a purpose: moving a subset of customers (both future and past) a little further down the funnel from novice to master. Instead of the usual approach of haphazardly publishing all sorts of free content with no strategy, we begin educating them before they even know what’s happening. Everything we publish contributes to a “belief architecture” that improves their odds of success whether they ever take our course or not.

I want to share the beliefs I came up with, for two reasons: to get feedback and suggestions for any I may have missed; and to share part of the behind-the-scenes process of marketing an educational product online, in case it’s useful. Please let me know if you see anything I left out in the beliefs below, and any suggestions for cultivating them.

The beliefs are organized into three categories: beliefs the customer has about themselves (Customer Beliefs), beliefs they have about me (Expert Beliefs), and beliefs they have about my course (Offer Beliefs).


Customer Beliefs

  • You already are creative, and are already doing most of the work required
    • I already have the creativity – I just need sparks of inspiration to activate it
    • I don’t need to work harder or longer; I just need to better leverage the intellectual effort I’m already exerting
    • One piece of knowledge (how to X) can be turned into multiple formats for many uses (The Creativity Multiplier Effect)
    • I can make use of the knowledge I’m already acquiring to produce intellectual assets
  • Your notes are pure gold
    • My thoughts and ideas are valuable and worth saving and revisiting
    • The files and documents on my computer represent valuable intellectual property
    • There are valuable insights and ideas falling through the cracks of my digital life
    • I can make an impact using my intellectual output
    • Producing unique creative output is critical for my career
    • Ideas can do work – so it makes sense to spend every ounce of effort optimizing the productivity of your ideas
  • It is possible to get organized
    • Being disorganized/procrastination is a solvable problem
    • It’s not your fault, it’s your approach
  • Progress is more important than perfection
    • I don’t need to have a perfect process or system or practice. I just need to start
    • Having a system could bring me peace of mind and a feeling of order
    • It doesn’t take a long time to start seeing the results of digital note-taking
    • This method doesn’t require following extensive rules, or time-consuming filing and cataloguing
  • Systems give you freedom
    • You can accomplish anything with a trusted system
    • It is possible to improve my thinking by getting ideas outside of my head and into external media
    • This will reduce my stress and anxiety around FOMO and information overload
  • You need a system designed for your own needs
    • Searching on Google for information I need isn’t reliable or personalized enough
    • I can’t do my best thinking on demand; I need a way to capture my best thinking over time so it’s available when I need it
  • Creativity can be cultivated
    • Creativity can’t be created directly, but you can cultivate the right conditions for it to flourish
    • Creativity is cultivated by having a lot of resources to draw from and connect in surprising ways
    • Being organized lays the foundation for spontaneous acts of creativity

Expert Beliefs

  • Tiago knows what he’s talking about
  • Tiago has worked with many others who have gotten great results
  • Tiago has gotten great results with people like me
  • Tiago can explain things in an easy-to-understand way
  • Tiago is trustworthy and won’t screw me over

Offer Beliefs

  • What are the ultimate, tangible benefits of building a second brain?
    • Build a reputation in your company or industry as someone who does their homework and has original ideas
    • Become a thought leader and leader by publishing insightful, compelling writing
    • Use content marketing to bring in highly qualified leads and other business opportunities
    • Make money online by turning your ideas into products or services
    • Gather a community of like-minded folks who share your goals and interests
    • Develop and test new theories in public, allowing others to contribute and provide feedback (Rapid Knowledge Prototyping)
    • Build a body of knowledge you can refer to anytime you need to present, write, or advise on a project
    • Gather facts and research to prove your points and advance your causes
    • Understand your customers through small-scale, risk-free experiments with free content
    • Reduce your stress and anxiety knowing that every critical piece of information is being captured
    • Maximize all the time you spend reading and learning by saving the best nuggets in a trusted place where you can refer to them
    • Create shared knowledge resources that your colleagues and customers can refer to when needed
    • Start collecting ideas for an app, website, product, or company you’d like to launch one day, so you have a rich store of ideas by the time you get started
    • Collect bits of creative inspiration so you can quickly get into a flow state anytime you need to produce something new
  • Why is personal knowledge management the most important frontier in knowledge work?
    • You spend 11 hours per day consuming information of some kind; if you’re not capturing and cultivating it into a body of knowledge that is uniquely your own, most of that value is just going down the drain
    • Knowledge is the single most powerful force in the world today – if you don’t learn how to wield it effectively, you’re missing out on a whole epoch of history
    • Your success and impact is directly related to your ability to handle information effectively; it’s called the Information Age
    • If you’re paid to think for a living, you cannot afford to rely solely on your biological brain, which
    • Knowledge management calls for a division of labor between your biological brain and your technological brain. The explosion in human potential that specialization in labor unleashed in the Industrial Age will pale in comparison to what happens when we have specialization of minds
    • How much are you ever going to accomplish if you start each and every day with a blank slate, trying to do your best work on the spur of the moment? (Like trying to start a diesel engine in a frigid Alaskan winter)
    • We live in a time of abundant and free online resources to learn anything we want, but without a note-taking system, it just feels overwhelming and intimidating
    • Every moment spent trying to remember an idea is a moment spent not creating one
    • You have access to the best thinking of the world’s best thinkers – all you need to do is gather it, synthesize it, and put it into action and you can accomplish anything
    • “You’re not wasting your time consuming all the information you’re consuming, IF you do something with all that new knowledge. But you need a system…”
    • Notes are the “undo” button or “save game” for intellectual work, always giving you the option to step back and try again a different way
  • Other beliefs about the course
    • My digital notes can easily be saved, backed up, and exported to a different program if needed
    • I’ll generate a positive ROI on the time, energy, attention, money, etc.
    • “Capturing” information doesn’t have to mean overwhelm and obsessive “hoarding”

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