Why I’m Building an Online Course for Marketing

an online course for digital marketing and content marketing to build sales funnels by chris milton
My name is Chris, and I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my business.  The biggest was structuring my agency to thrive for top performing clients and missing a huge opportunity with the entrepreneurs who arguably need help more than the larger clients. 

Failing forward is a great way to understand where I’m currently at.  I have just left my agency, and have spent time figuring out what to do next to fill this void.  I don’t feel that I’m leaving because of any particular failure, except for missing my goal of scaling the company’s clientele in industries that are mainly comprised of solopreneurs and small businesses.  The place that I can make the biggest impact.  I feel like I have a clean start, and an opportunity to grow.  Not with a huge exit in my pocket or a merger, but another layer of tough skin and another lifetime’s worth of knowledge.
Its that combination of missing my mark and amassing more knowledge that make me want to make an impact through teaching, coaching and speaking.  I’m no world class educator or celebrity, but I know that what I’ve got to share can make a big difference in other’s businesses.  Starting out? I’ve been there numerous times and learned what works to build a foundation and become a sustainable business.  Sure, that sounds a bit underwhelming, but its the healthiest place for your business.  Sustainability is how you have the confidence to explore and grow.  Looking to grow?  That’s my expertise.  Armed with your existing knowledge, I see the opportunities and refinements that are available to fuel your next push. Most clients come to me with this problem; flat-line growth for too long.  Changing that can be difficult because is means breaking habits and taking a different approach. If its done right, and I’ll show you, its worth it.

What’s the course about?

I hope that’s enough background to get to the point of this article.  I’m launching my first course on Content Marketing through your sales funnel.  That’s right, the basics of marketing online.  There are hundreds (literally, hundreds) of places that you can find your customers, but how to do find the right people and turn them into customers?  That’s what the course will cover.  Its not about paid advertising or social media specifically because it takes your website to convert buyers.  That may change in the future as more platforms explore purchasing ability (talking about you Instagram), but you don’t actually own your audience on social media.  Nor do you have control.  Its all about your website and email list.

Why an Online Course?

I looked at many different business models in hopes of finding something that could leverage my expertise and meet the following criteria:
  • Flexibility
  • Scalability
  • Duplicatable
  • Low Barrier to Entry
Flexibility is important to me as a new dad because I love to work, but need to have family time.  Family time doesn’t automatically default to being outside the 9-5.  I prefer to have scheduled chunks of time over complete work days.  Its how I seem to stay productive, utilize creative blitzes and stay energized.
Scalability is a fascinating topic to me.  I appreciate the different businesses that accomplish scale.  Franchises, software, subscription services, productized services, metered products, courses are all things I explored, yet many missed the mark of other criteria like low barrier to entry (franchises are $$$) or not being able to fully utilize my skill set (not a developer, I would just be a project manager for software).  In this case, I really wanted to be able to set goals and accomplish them.  I also have been tremendously afraid of hitting home runs in business and not being able to deliver.  I want to push ahead and grow without significant restructuring or heavier workload.
Being Duplicatable is really important to me because I want to feel like I could “do it again” and offer more value to my clients.  Currently, if I were to leverage two skill sets for one client, it means double the price, double the time, or half the value.  It doesn’t work for me.  I like the idea of having one idea, capturing it in time, and then approaching the next problem/solution without discarding the initial project.  With limited time, I can only focus on one thing (plus multi-tasking is incredibly unproductive).
Low Barrier to Entry was key because I’m not exiting with a lot of financial resources or an runway to get to launch.  I am literally thinking about business models that can be thought up and executed in a weekend. I like to act on things when inspiration hits and being able to accomplish something while that energy is available is key, no matter the situation.  I tend to write my entire blog posts in one shot (then multiple edits) because the voice is there.  My next project needs to have something similar.

im-no-world-class-educator-or-celebrity-but-i-know-i-can-make-and-impact-in-peoples-business-with-my-knowledgeAn Online Course for Marketing makes Perfect Sense!

The online course was the best option for these criteria.  The void in the market that I found was between DIY, Full Time Staff and an Agency.
Doing Marketing for Yourself (DIY) can become too technical, take up too much time, or you have simply better (more profitable) ways to spend your time.  Out growing doing-it-yourself is usually a good thing.  However, I also know that there are a lot of capable marketers out there or marketing-included entrepreneurs that want to learn but don’t know where to start.  Not having budget for an agency or staff made this difficult because who could they learn from while running their business? A Content Marketing Course!
Full Time Staff are usually the best bet for small and growing companies because there are so many different tasks its usually suited for an individual or small team.  The business owners that I talk to have two problems with this, 1) its too much, they don’t need someone full time, or 2) they don’t feel comfortable figuring out who to hire and how to manage them.  Its understandable when you’re looking for marketing help that you won’t have an easy time finding the right mix of cost (wage) and expertise.
Agency execution is usually the best in the industry, but that expertise comes at a cost.  With multiple people working on projects, and those people usually being the top performers at what they do, working with an agency comes at a cost.  Like the full time staff pain points, there’s also the question of management and accountability.  Its not as much about knowing and managing the process, but being knowledgeable enough to find the right agency and understand if what they are doing is a good fit for you.  (From an agency perspective, this is why the sales cycle should be long.  You need to develop trust and really know its a people-fit and a brand-fit before starting work.  Give yourself a solid 1-3 months to find the right agency.)
The Online Course, in my opinion is the best option to solve the void here. A person who needs a boost to their DIY campaigns, wants to develop a strategy and guide in-house staff (or train them) or isn’t big enough for an agency can all benefit from the marketing course.  Its really something I wish I had in my back pocket over the years of my career and that is exactly what is going into the course.  My tips, tricks, best practices that show you how-to pull off a smart marketing strategy.
Here’s some questions I’ve received when telling people about the upcoming course… they sense my excitement and ask things like:

Are you still available for Coaching?

At the time of writing this, yes.  The coaching page will reflect if I’m taking new clients one-on-one.  I wish there was more time in the day and better systems for me to serve more clients.  Until I figure out each of those, I’m only working with 5-10 coaching clients at any given time.

What if I need more help?

I get this question a lot and maybe there’s another agency in the future.  However, I would suggest the coaching option.  When working with most of my clients, I’m somewhere between a project manager, director of marketing and business coach. Many times this leads to recommendations of vendors I’m happy to work with and product/services that are of value to me.  That vendor coordination shortcut alone has been a huge time saver for one of my clients. Becoming a coaching client would give you more than just the strategy, accountability and pointing you in the right direction. If things change, and a new product, service, company, etc is coming, this will be the first place I update.
I hope this is a good look into where I’m at and where I’m headed.  I’m still committed to adding value to everyone I have the chance to work with and believe that online courses are the way to accomplish that quickly and effectively.  To give you a taste of the content in the course, I’m hosting an upcoming webinar that will walk through the curriculum and give some value into how content marketing can help you build a rocking funnel online.
Thanks for reading this (its a bit long), looking forward to seeing you in the course and taking your marketing to the next level!!!

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