When’s the last time you picked out a new product that you’ve never tried at the grocery store?

It doesn’t happen as often as you think.

Either you stick with what you already know and like…

…or you don’t notice different brands on the crowded shelves…

…or you aren’t aware when a new product becomes available.

But imagine the next time you walk into the grocery store, a friendly associate hands you a free sample of a new brand of granola. You try it. It’s delicious. Your interest is piqued, and suddenly you’re considering a product you’ve never heard of before.

Effective, right?

The “free samples” method is incredibly powerful in promoting just about anything – including your online course.

Giving your potential customers a taste test lets them experience your product before buying, putting them on the road to become paying customers.

(And it’s way more effective than standing at the checkout line yelling “BUY THIS NOW!”)

It also lets your product speak for itself. Instead of lecturing someone about how good the granola is, you’re giving your customer an opportunity to judge its quality firsthand.

Let’s start with some promotion basics. Why promote in the first place?

Promotion is the key to gaining customers.

For your product to work its magic, you need customers to buy it.

If you created a new granola and didn’t tell anyone about it, how would you expect them to find it? Having it on grocery store shelves isn’t enough, especially with the dozens of other options available.

The Internet is like an infinite grocery store. You can’t stand out if no one knows you exist.

Isn’t self-promotion sleazy or salesy? Won’t good products just rise to the top?

We agree – to a point.

Sleazy is the guy at the checkout line yelling at you to “buy now!” without any previous context, information, or relationship.

Selling is NOT sleazy by definition. Selling is providing people with a service or product that they need – without forcing or tricking them.

We’re consultants that help people understand and overcome the fear of self-promotion, so we know how hard it can be.

Actually, in 99% of cases that we come across, people think they’re selling harder than they are.

You can (and should) sell harder!

The right way to promote: build relationships.

Instead of under-promoting (doing nothing) or over-promoting (yelling at the checkout line), we recommend forming an integrity-based relationship with customers.

That means you show them the benefits of your product, letting them experience it for themselves.

Remember the last time you recommended something to a friend – a product, movie, or restaurant? If you really liked it, it wasn’t hard to sing its praises. This is the same scenario, except you’re touting your product’s virtues, not someone else’s.

Then, AFTER you’ve proven to your customers how great your product is, you can give your sales pitch.

Don’t get bogged down by different channels.

There are a billion places and ways to get the word out, from advertising to social media to skywriting. It can be hard to decide what’s right for you.

Let’s say you had a limitless marketing budget and purchased the crowning glory of advertising: a Super Bowl commercial. Yes, you’d reach a gigantic audience. Yes, you’d get a lot of buzz. However, it wouldn’t guarantee that you’d reach the right audience, the folks who would benefit most from your product and would be excited to purchase.

(If you’re in the market for a Super Bowl commercial, though, don’t let us stop you!)

It’s easy to get sidetracked by all the platforms and channels out there. But there’s one that rises above the rest.

The #1 way to promote your product is email.

Email is your friendly neighborhood grocery store.

It’s a trusted, familiar place. Your customer goes frequently. They run into family and friends alongside messages from brands.

Email is where all of the important communication in a person’s life happens. Having your message right there next to emails from mom, dad, and friends is crucial.

Grow your email list with carrot content.

Before you can promote via email, you need an email list.

How do you build one? That’s right…free samples.

Provide your customer a taste of your course content in exchange for joining your email list, just like you’d give them a taste of your new granola at the grocery store.

This free content is called a carrot, and it’s the key to gaining emails AND showing off how great your product is.

Deep dive into how carrots work in our in-depth article.

Keep the carrots coming!

After you’ve established your list, keep providing carrots.

A smart grocery store wouldn’t dream of handing out the same food samples every day. Customers would get bored and it would lose its effectiveness.

A smart grocery store will offer variety.

If customers don’t like crackers, next week they might like pizza. It’s the same with your course content. Provide different carrots for different tastes.

And keep track of what types of customers consume which content. You’ll learn a lot about your audience – just like a grocery store will figure out that elderly ladies aren’t in the market for crazy new flavors of Mountain Dew.

Just make sure your carrots are high quality to keep your customers coming back.

Then, after you’ve shared about seven emails featuring high quality content, you can send your customers your sales pitch.

Promotion = passion.

Anyone can send emails and give out samples. Is my product worth it?

Yes!

Promotion is all about passion.

Don’t get trapped in the self-doubt spiral. If your product provides a service, be proud of it.

If you’re not excited about it, how can you expect someone else to be? Customers are very savvy, and they’ll feel right away if you’re not 100% behind what you have to offer.

Your product has value. Don’t be afraid to share it with the world. Remember, not everyone knows what you know.

Let’s say you speak basic Spanish. A friend going on a trip to Mexico wants help brushing up on a few Spanish phrases. Would you be shy about sharing your knowledge? Of course not. Your instinct is to jump in and help out, making sure your friend is well prepared.

Your course is no different. Your expertise is valuable, so show it off!

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