Why We’re Closing the Doors on an Evergreen Course

Four months ago, we opened registration on a course with the intention of keeping the doors open long-term. Our strategy has changed, and this new approach will actually be better for everyone involved.

Why We're Closing the Doors on an Evergreen Course

The Backstory

In June of 2015, I launched my first video course, The Get Noticed!™ Theme Unlocked.

Registration was open for just ten days, and we generated roughly $10,000 in sales from a list of about 250 people (full story here).

Then we closed registration for three full months.

When we re-opened registration in September, we added a new twist to try something out.

We removed the lowest membership level, and replaced that with a free email series that acted as an evergreen funnel (because freemium).

From a bird’s eye perspective, the free email series looked like this:

  • Email 1: “For starters, how can I help?
  • Emails 2-5: Tutorials
  • Email 6: “Any questions so far?”
  • Emails 7-9: Tutorials
  • Email 10: Brief overview of the paid course
  • Emails 11-12: Tutorials
  • Emails 13-17: Series of pitches for the paid course
  • Email 18: “Was it something I said?” (If they didn’t buy)

It was nice! 99% of the work was automated within ConvertKit, and we had just over 200 subscribers go through the GNT Essentials series.

As planned, sales trickled in over the next few months:

Data from Baremetrics
Baremetrics data, September – December 2016

Eerily, our evergreen sales of $10,431 were almost exactly what the launch in June had brought in ($10,541.85).

The Inner Conflict

As we started gearing up to launch our next video course this year, I had two questions in particular that I couldn’t seem to shake (or answer):

  1. How do I position my platform marketing, when we’re offering more than one course?
  2. How do I serve both course audiences well, without stretching myself or my team too far?

About that time, Bryan Harris wrote a phenomenal blog post recapping his latest launch, and towards the end he went on a little rant that really hit home.

An excerpt from Bryan’s rant:

What if in 2016 we completely changed the way we did things?

What if in 2016 my #1 goal wasn’t to double launch revenue (which would be $1 mil and completely insane) but what if instead my #1 goal was the success of every reader of this blog and student of 10ksubs?

What if your #1 goal was similar?

What if it wasn’t about you and how much you wanted to make? What if instead it was 100% centered around the success of your customers?

And what if we all held each other publicly accountable for that goal?

What if instead of selling courses or apps or coaching services and bragging about how much money we made…what if instead we bragged about how many people took our course and ACTUALLY GOT THE RESULTS THEY WERE AFTER!!??

(Source)

I emphasized that last paragraph (though the caps were all Bryan) because it’s exactly what I needed to hear.

Ever since I had created an evergreen course, my focus had been marketing. I had done nothing to update course videos or add new ones, even though I’d labeled an entire section “Coming Soon”.

(Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t abandon the course. I put my best man on the project, and he created some killer instructions to go along with each video―but I had not done my part.)

My New Mantra: Always Be Teaching

If a single week goes by where I haven’t created something educational to really help people, I’m wasting my time on all the wrong things.

For me, that means the new focus is more free tutorials, improved course content, and extra work poured into each blog post.

Want to truly serve your audience? Live out the mantra “Always be teaching”.

That also means registration closes for The Get Noticed!™ Theme Unlocked on February 16th, 2016.

Closing registration will allow us to transition the focus from marketing to education, and pull off three specific projects in the next several months:

  1. Update course content that no longer applies,
  2. Add missing course content that was promised long ago, and
  3. Move to a new system, that will make course creation easier from here on out.

We’ll re-open registration some time in the Fall, and the plan is to have an open & close cart launch for every course we create, at least once a year.

This will make it easier to market one course at a time, and give us plenty of room to focus on serving our members we already have.

I hope you can learn something from this story, because that’s now my #1 goal with every post.

Question: Have you ever been caught in the tension between self-serving and other-serving motivations?

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  • Awesome direction, John; I’ve watched Danny Iny preaching a bigger move toward better teaching and more student support with online courses, and it’s been inspirational to ‘flip the script’, test assumptions, and make the mission efficacy for students. The revenue will come. (saw Ramit Sethi living that same mission during his most recent launch, as well)

    • Thanks for the encouragement, James. And yes! Danny Iny was very influential in this decision. I saw how he really positioned himself as a teacher first, and that stuck with me.

  • Great post John!! Love the fact your goal is to serve your customer and the money is secondary. I think we all need that reminder occasionally.

    Q: Do you know of Michael has plans to update the GN Theme in the near future? Thanks!

    • Thanks for the kind words, Ken. We really do try to find ways to put service first (and the money will come).

      I don’t know Michael’s latest plans, but I do know that the last update was only a few months ago and last we spoke he wanted to recommit to major updates this year.

      As an aside, we’re also planning to start releasing child theme designs for GNT through Notable Themes very soon.

      • Thanks John, I appreciate the insight and quick response.

        I just signed up for GNT Unlocked (VIP). I look forward to the updates and new content in the months ahead!

        All the best, Ken

        • Excellent, Ken. Welcome to the course!

  • John, I LOVE the new mantra “Always Be Teaching!” It just makes sense and places focus in the right place. The direction you’re heading emphasizes your customer and their outcomes. This is awesome.

    • Excellent, Robby. Thanks! It’s official, just made that the new MeeseWorks mission statement on meeseworks.co.

  • DreamBuilderFinancial

    John, the very idea of closing a cart and only opening it for a short period of time is the very definition of marketing. If you truly believed in what you wrote above, you would make your product available to everyone every day. What if someone just found out about you now? Today is when they need the education that your course offers not 9 months from now at your next “launch”.

    The only businesses that operate this way are the information marketing businesses on the web. The idea of scarcity is what allows the launches to be so successful. Yes, it may take more effort to run an evergreen course that needs ongoing vigilance, updating and support, but this is the only way to truly serve everyone and not say that you are a marketer first and teacher second.

    • Thanks for your input, but I disagree. The way I operate on any task is that I pour all my energy into a small area of focus at a time, and that’s how I’m able to succeed.

      If that area is marketing, then let it be marketing for a week. If it’s teaching, let it be teaching.

      As long as the door is open for us to get more members throughout the year, part of me will always be wondering “What could we do to get more course members today?”

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