Many factors affect go-to-market strategy when launching a course or customer education program. BUT one thing is for certain - pricing is a polarizing conversation for every organization.
If you can't tie your customer education program to revenue, your training budget will always be at risk.
In this issue, we'll deep-dive into the "free vs. paid" conversation, AND outline a 4-step process to see if "free" is really the driving factor for your program.
The Challenge of Free
For those of us in customer success, giving a way things that promote our customers' success with a product seems like a no-brainer.
We want our customers to stay with us after all...right?
As a result, leaders of customer success often have a vested interest in removing all barriers that would prevent someone from "going deeper" with the product AND most importantly - getting results.
While "product content" can be free - think tutorials, "click this button" content - I'd like to challenge you thin about "training and skills-based education content."
Often, gaining new skills requires an expert (or trusted source) AND a proven process that will help us achieve our goal.
In ever industry, working with an expert, getting a proven process, and having customized support costs something.
(Usually money, but there's also time, energy, and other resources.)
Education as a Service
If we are truly delivering new skills, ways of thinking, or workflows to solve problems - that should be worth something, right?
This is where my stance on identifying and applying value to training and customer education is rooted.
Customer education goes far beyond "click this button" content.
And as a result, these products should be treated and presented to customers as valuable assets that help them achieve results faster, easier, and with greater chances of success.
Creating high-quality programs and NOT charging for them might actually make it more difficult for those programs to be successful.
- They can be perceived as lower value.
- There's a lower incentive to complete "free" because I have access "forever" to something that costs nothing.
- It's challenging to create an industry-recognized certification that's "free" because the barrier to entry is low, making the certification have very little differentiation.
If customers view your programs as a "branded Youtube" channel, what's really unique or compelling about enrolling "right away" to get trained?
The Upsides of Monetization
Because you're reading this, you probably know that when something isn't driving revenue at your organization, it will likely go away.
Monetization supports many core values of a successful customer education program:
- It supports longevity.
Programs that can at least break even can sustain operations independently of other deparmental factors.
When you can support your own resources, you move from a "cost of doing business" to an strategic asset.
- It provides scalability.
The more interwoven training becomes to product and success, the more resources it will ultimately take. You can innovate in your industry without investment. It's far easier to scale when you can forecast revenue growth as a result.
- It gives you the ability to market and promote.
If your products are free, it's difficult to justify the cost of promoting, advertising, and enrolling new students.
- It increases market perception and value.
A progam that's well developed and has some qualifications or barriers to entry create a gap that must be crossed to achieve results.
Emphasizing the gap increases anticipation and satisfaction when the program is enrolled and completed.
- Finally, you have diversification.
Treating customer education programs like "products" gives you the opportunity to diversify revenue.
Productizing your IP also gives you so many opportunities to license, white-label, resell, or any number of options.
Just Test It
On LinkedIn, I outlined a really simple test you can run this month (or even next week) to see what pricing might look like for your programs.
Wrapping It Up
I hope this issue provided value and context on how you might approach pricing during your next launch.
I'd encourage everyone to consider testing the waters on paid curriculum products this quarter.