The online education industry is blowing up.
Projected to grow by 247 billion dollars by 2024, online education is now known simply as “education.” Years’ worth of growth is happening in months as traditional institutions struggle to keep up and everyone from K-12 students to college students to professionals desperately seek ways to connect and learn remotely.
23 years after “e-learning” was first coined in 1998, the online education industry is also growing up. This new generation of online learners isn’t swayed by pushy ads, clickbait headlines, inflated promises, or fake urgency. They are looking for high-quality, professional, legitimate programs that reliably deliver the same kinds of results they might otherwise receive from an MBA, conference, or intensive seminar.
As exciting as all of this growth is, when I look at what truly matters in making an online course successful, the answer is clearly marketing. Online education is sales-centric in a way that no other previous kind of education was, because for the first time the teacher is responsible for finding their students. Without a consistent flow of sales, even the best course in the world will wither and die.
Within the sphere of marketing, the single most important element – the keystone of the entire edifice you are building – is messaging. Messaging is your “sales copy” – the words, emotions, metaphors, stories, and positioning you use to enable your prospects to decide if your course is the solution they need.
What is your message? What is the basic thing you have to say to the world? What do you stand for and represent? What are you offering that no one else can offer? There is a message at the core of what you do that, if you can identify it and learn to say it well, is like a key that unlocks the hearts and minds of the people you want to serve.
Strong messaging is what sells courses – not catchy names, slick design, ecstatic testimonials, or a curriculum packed with modules. I see course creators pouring so much time and money into every aspect of their programs, while neglecting the messaging that truly makes a difference. Your copy is like a permanent salesforce pitching what you do day and night around the world. To this day, my course website is something I built myself using a drag-and-drop website builder without involving a designer, developer, or agency. But it works, because the words do the heavy lifting.
When I look out across the online education landscape today, I see a dramatic underappreciation and underinvestment in the fundamentals of marketing. There are proven techniques and approaches from the direct marketing industry that have worked for decades. I think we have a blind spot for it because we think it’s corny and pushy. But that is exactly the opportunity: to update online marketing and make it classier, more authentic, more honest, and more humane.
In November 2020 I partnered with my marketing coach Billy Broas to launch the first ever cohort of the Keystone Course Accelerator. I’ve had the pleasure of watching that first group of 35 alumni take what they learned and apply it to their online education businesses. They’ve used the Keystone Framework to understand their audience on a deeper level, write more effective sales copy based on authentic stories, and ultimately create programs that are more profitable, sustainable, and connected to the needs of their customers.
We’ve taken every lesson and insight from the first cohort and distilled it into a radically improved second cohort of the Keystone Course Accelerator, which kicks off on October 11.
There are five major changes that Billy Broas, the creator and instructor of the accelerator, is making to ensure this is the best training on transformative education in the world:
1. Walk away with a custom Messaging Playbook
Billy will work alongside each participant to create a Messaging Playbook with the core messaging of your program.
Like a Brand Manual for a company (which can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars), this Playbook will be the “single source of truth” for the program you’re creating. It will inform every other component you’ll need, from the sales webpage to the free content to social media posts to sales scripts to use on the phone.
You’ll be an integral part of the process of creating the messaging that guides every subsequent decision, instead of having to make those decisions at every point along the way, which is exhausting. The crux of effective marketing is effective sales copy, and in Keystone you’ll spend the majority of your time finding the words that move people to purchase regardless of the medium.
2. Adding 12 months of implementation coaching
Last time, a group of alumni decided to continue meeting and developing their copywriting skills. This time Billy is making that long-term support an official part of the program. Following the 8 weeks of the cohort, Billy will host regular check-in calls for the entirety of 2022 to go deeper on case studies, share what’s working from other successful programs, and provide feedback on the marketing systems you’re building.
The initial cohort is like the launch sequence shooting you beyond the planet’s gravity; the alumni coaching is the booster keeping you perpetually in orbit.
3. Focus on outcome-based education
The biggest change in the education landscape that Billy has seen in the last year is the shift to “outcome-based” programs.
People enroll in courses because they want concrete, undeniable results in their own lives. They don’t care about the list of features, the fine details of the curriculum, or the minutiae of Zoom calls. As a society we are beginning to question the assumption that higher education inevitably leads to higher incomes and better careers. Online, we can measure those results, provide the support people need to realize them, and collect all the data needed to make it better.
From now on, the success of every online course will be measured by the reliability of the outcomes it produces for every student.
4. The latest version of Billy’s signature messaging framework
You’ve probably heard from many sources that “People aren’t buying content – they’re buying a transformation.”
But what the heck does that mean? I never knew what transformation truly meant until I was introduced to Billy’s messaging framework, The Bridge of Transformation. It’s become the centerpiece of his work with clients across dozens of niches due to its ability to illuminate a precise 5-step process (called the “5 Lightbulbs”) that every prospect must follow to become a customer.
Often, the transformation you create for people is so natural and innate for you that you can’t see it. In Keystone you’ll use an interviewing process to help each other find those nuggets of language that speak to people’s deepest, most hidden desires.
5. Alumni Mentors and Copywriting Coaches
A small group of alumni from the first cohort have offered to come back and support the next round of Keystone. They will act as peer supporters encouraging you along the journey and demonstrating what success can look like.
Billy is also bringing on Copywriting Coaches for the first time – specialists with experience writing real copy for successful online programs who will provide feedback, edits, and suggestions on the writing participants produce.
You’ll also get access to exclusive guest workshops delivered by me and other former clients of Billy’s who have had breakout success applying his approach. I’ll share up-to-date details on what’s working for my course that I don’t share in any other forum, public or private.
Apply for one of the 30 spots
The Keystone Accelerator is an advanced program for established subject matter experts and existing course creators who are ready to scale the marketing engine behind a program that’s already working. If you’re just getting started or have yet to begin your entrepreneurial journey, this isn’t the program for you.
We are limiting the next cohort to only 30 participants, selected via an application and interview process. The best candidates are actively selling premium educational products: online courses, cohort-based live courses, or high-end group coaching programs that promise and deliver on a tangible outcome.
This is NOT a program designed to help you develop or improve your content or design the student experience once they’re inside. It’s about telling the story of the impact you’re already making in a way that enables you to reach people you otherwise wouldn’t be able to.
I couldn’t be more proud to share access to one of the most experienced, in-demand consultants in the exploding world of online learning. If you are serious about making a difference in the lives of your students, if you refuse to waste your time on training by anyone but the best, and you are seeking the most direct path to the next level of success for your business, I invite you to join us.
Opt in below and I’ll send you a series of educational emails starting Monday, September 13 to bring you up to speed on what’s happening in the business of online education. I’ll introduce you to Billy, invite you to a free workshop we’re hosting on the Keystone Framework, and invite you to apply if it’s a good fit for you.
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