#194: What comes first: Lead Magnet or Digital Course?


What comes first: Lead Magnet or Digital Course?

The question of chicken or egg comes up in every possible scenario, including whether you should have a lead magnet before you have your digital course or if you should just jump in with your digital course.

Most marketers will tell you that you need to go ahead and create a lead magnet so that you can build your email list while you then turn and build your course. This seems logical on the surface, but after years of watching this advice play out in the digital space, I don’t know it serves digital entrepreneurs well.

Would you rather have a lead magnet out there attracting an audience that isn’t aligned with your core offer or would you rather have a lead magnet that creates a solid stepping stone to your paid offer?

It creates a real dilemma with pros and cons on each side of the picture, but I’ll tell you if you decide to ultimately stick with the lead magnet first, you’ll want to stick around to the end of today’s episode because I’m sharing ways to make that lead magnet more successful than it might be otherwise.

The Chicken or the Egg

When we are working to build a digital business, one of the first things that we are told to do is build an email list. Every course that I’ve come across in the digital space tells us that we absolutely must be building an email list.

We get lots of reasons why this is so critical like we don’t own our social media platform, we can lose access to groups where we regularly find clients, and so on and so forth.

We own our email list, which by the way feels a little weird to me. Does that phrase feel weird to you too? Regardless, the point is clear. We need to build an email list and the best way to do that is to create a lead magnet.

I’ve helped clients create lead magnets, I’ve certainly created lead magnets, and I’ve watched as fellow digital entrepreneurs churn out lead magnet after lead magnet.

This all sounds good, right?

If we have a lead magnet, then we are building our email list and that list will turn into course buyers.

Except if simply having an email list was all that we needed to make our business a profitable success, then all entrepreneurs who tackle the hurdle of creating a lead magnet and getting to the point of selling come kind of product or service would be profitable.

But that isn’t the case at all, is it? In fact, I’ve seen so many online entrepreneurs build email lists full of non-buyers. Take a look at your own email list, if you have one. Are the majority of the people on your list buyers or non-buyers, presuming you’ve made them at least one offer?

Chances are, the majority are non-buyers, at which point you might think, but Dr. Moira most people are going to be non-buyers. And that might be true, but do you want it to be that way?

Would you rather have a smaller list and a high percentage of buyers?

I know I would.

Let’s look at some numbers. What if you have 10,000 people on your email list and 1% buy your course at $500. That is 100 sales at $500 totaling $50,000. That sounds pretty amazing, right? That would certainly be a great launch.

But what if you had 500 people on your email list and 40% purchased. That is 200 sales at $500 and a launch totaling $100,000.

You see where I’m going with this? Is it really the size of your list that matters or is it less about the vanity metrics and more about the likelihood that they will purchase from you absolutely matters!

If you are starting to think that maybe you’d rather have a highly engaged list of potential buyers than a list that is costing you a fortune to maintain, because those email service providers charge you by the emails on your list, then listen up because I’m about to share with you the number one reason our lists get filled with non-buyers and the simple fix for that problem.

Mis-Aligned Lead Magnets

The biggest reason that our email lists fill with non-buyers is because we are not attracting the right people with our lead magnets. Remember how I told you that the very first piece of advice that most entrepreneurs get is to create a lead magnet, get it going, and then focus on your offer?

When the lead magnet doesn’t align with the offer, you aren’t going to be attracting the right people to your list. And that means that they won’t buy when you make your offer.

It is almost one of those “duh!” moments, why didn’t I think of this.

Creating an Aligned Lead Magnet

Instead of focusing first on the lead magnet, I encourage my clients to start with determining what their course topic and primary objective will be for that course. From there you can draft a quick outline of the key areas you’d like to address with your course.

When you have a course objective, topic, and light outline in mind, then you can begin to work backward to create a lead magnet that will attract buyers for your course, not just add numbers to your email list.

Because your audience is getting something out of your lead magnet that will prepare them to take the next step with you at their side, they become more likely to not just become lurkers, but instead say, “Yes!” when you make your offer.

It is just like a baby who first rolls over, then they crawl, then walk, then run. We have to help our potential course students progress through different stages of readiness to be prepared and successful in our course.

And no single approach works for every business or even for every offer, just like not everyone has the same favorite dessert. We are all unique in what we need, what we like, and what we want. While a PDF might work for one business, another business might attract more likely buyers with a private podcast. Neither is better than the other, they are simply different because they lead to different offers.

So we come back to the question of chicken or egg, does the lead magnet or the course come first and it is a little of both. You can definitely create your lead magnet before creating your entire course, but you shouldn’t create your lead magnet without having a clear idea of what your offer will be.

Even better than having your course idea and objective is to have your course outline. With an outline, you can now look at the key points that you’ll be teaching and figure out where the gaps are that your potential students will need to fill before saying yes to your course.

Think of it like filling in the potholes on the road. Is it strictly necessary for the potholes to be filled to drive on the road? No, but think about how bumpy that ride becomes. You might even get a flat tire from a particularly bad pothole and that can stop your progress for some time while you change the tire, drive around on the tiny spare and get your main tire patched or replaced.

Your potential students can absolutely sign up for your course before they are ready, but it will be a lot like driving on a road full of potholes.

Think of driving on a road where all of the potholes have been patched to really well. There still might be some wobbly spots along the way, but overall the ride is much smoother. This is what a lead magnet that is designed to fill the gaps on the way to the offer will do for your potential students. It will clear the way and simplify the journey.

What sounds better? Which options sounds like you would have more people saying yes to your offer?

Now, I realize that you might not be convinced or you might want to move quickly to start a lead magnet because you really need to build an email list. If that is the case, be sure to stick around to our 60-second solution today because I’m going to be covering how to create a lead magnet even if you don’t have your course built or outlined.

Action Item

If you are ready to flip the script a little and first work on your course so that you can move more quickly through the lead generation process, then I’d like to invite you to take action right now. When this episode ends, pull out a sheet of paper and answer these three questions.

  • Who is my course intended to help?
  • What is the primary objective of the course?
  • What are the key areas that I’ll be covering in my course to create that objective?

With these answers in mind, you can work backward to find the perfect lead magnet or lead magnets to begin building an email list of buyers for your course.

Become a Six Figure Course Creator

Whichever course of action you choose, to work on your course or lead magnet first, the key is to take action and keep an open mind. On the path to becoming a Six Figure Course Creator, you are going to encounter stumbling blocks and questions that leave you stumped. The key is to master your mindset so that these stumbling blocks and questions don’t completely halt your progress.

Mindset is one of those things that is a silent thief. It can steal our motivation, it can sabotage our great ideas, and it can lead to us abandoning something that we have worked so hard to create, a business that we love. I’ve seen the positive and negative impacts that mindset can have throughout my 15 years as a college psychology professor, course creator, mentor, and entrepreneur.

While learning and mastering the strategies of business, like making sure that the lead magnet aligns with our digital course, are critically important, they really only make up about 10% of our success as an entrepreneur. The other 90% often comes down to mindset work through tailored support.

If you are listening today and realizing that you are ready to take the next steps in your business and get customized, tailored help with building your digital course creation business so that you take that idea and are ready to record your course sooner rather than later, let’s have a talk. Send me a DM at DigitalCourseCreatorGuide on Instagram or Facebook that says, “Finished”, and we will sit down to figure out the next right steps for you and your digital course business.

Now I know that not everyone is ready for a Coach or mentor, but you might still have questions, need help getting unstuck, or just plotting out your next step. I’m here for that as well, because we all deserve to have support in our business. If you need a little extra support, I hold at least two slots each week for strategy calls that are designed to help you get unstuck and take action in your business. These are free, no obligation calls and you can schedule your call at coursecalls.com.

If you are ready to make the next 12 months THE year that you go from being an uncertain Course Creator to a Six Figure Course Creator, schedule a strategy call today.

Sixty-Second Solution

Strategy in business is key, and one of the strategic things that we’ve been talking about today is the idea of creating your course outline before creating a lead magnet. But if you are starting a new business venture, have an email list of less than 500, or simply want that quick dopamine hit of someone new subscribing to your list, then you might want to create your lead magnet before getting into the nitty gritty details of your course.

I get it. We need an email list to make our course offer to, so what is the solution?

If you don’t have time to really detail your course, at a minimum come up with the course objective and then you can choose a lead magnet idea that gets your audience a quick win and sets them up for your course as the next step.

This creates at least a degree of alignment between your lead magnet and course, which makes your list more likely to buy when you make your offer.

Where to Go Next?

One of the things that can happen as you are creating your lead magnet and even your course objective is that perfectionism can creep in. If you know that you are prone to perfectionism, check out episode 192 of the podcast so that you can be aware of this bug-a-boo.

Until next time, happy creating!

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