What are the two course killers? Bad marketing? Ugly graphics? Typos? Nope. If your course is designed to get people to to do something (3 day cleanse, set up a lead page, start yoga classes) the things that will kill your clients success are decisions and uncertainty. Here’s why: When people have to make a decision, most will defer it for “later” a.k.a. “tomorrow” a.k.a. “never” When people don’t know what to do, they do nothing Have you ever been at the drive through at McDonalds, and looked at the pretty pictures of the combo meals and ordered the combo instead of choosing your meal a la carte? Have you asked yourself why? Here’s the thing: McDonalds made it easy for you to make a decision, and your brain likes easy, so it followed the path of least resistance. Decisions involve risk, and your brain’s prime directive is survival (minimization of risk.) (I have to state here that I haven’t been to McDonald’s in years, and this is for illustrative purposes only.) But you need to learn this principle and apply it to building your courses when you need people to take action to get results. Your learners have brains, and while that’s a wonderful thing, sometimes those brains are working against the very things your client wants to do. Specifically, brains know that making decisions and figuring out how to do what you don’t know how to do require tremendous mental energy. Brains are in the business of conserving mental energy, and you’re asking those brains to expend mental energy. Who will win? Probably not you. “So, Laura, what the heck does that mean?” Ok, lets pretend that you teach people how to grow your audience on social media. You have learners who are new entrepreneurs (e.g. the folks who need to know how to build an audience) and you tell them to: Get an email service. They can research the top providers out there, select the best one, and start an account. As a bonus, you give them tips for comparing the price and features of the top email services. They’re good to go, and you’ve provided great value, right? No. Big no, and here’s why. For starters, you’re asking someone to make a decision at a time when they are likely overwhelmed my a variety of things they need to do to launch a business. No one likes to make decision when they are overwhelmed. Your learner’s brain says “This is too much. Let’s go watch “This is Us” and tackle this tomorrow when we have more energy.” And they do. But they don’t tackle it tomorrow. Next, you’ve asked them to perform a sophisticated needs/benefit analysis. But your learner is a novice entrepreneur who doesn’t know what their business needs. #uhoh #thatswhytheyrecomingtoyou Unless your learner has a business background, they don’t have the process knowledge to know how execute on your directions. And when people don’t know what to do, they do… nothing. Uncertainty will spawn the deer in the headlights effect. Your learner’s brain says “Hey we’re not really sure what we’re supposed to be doing, so let’s go check Facebook.” So what are you to do, oh most expert social media strategist? The thing you might, but shouldn’t, do is to say “Hey I tried. Some people just don’t do the work.” Because while you may feel better about yourself, you didn’t get an interested, attentive, paying customer to get the #results. Here’s what to do instead. Eliminate decisions when you can. As an expert, you know what a new business needs. Make a recommendation for a great email service provider that meets the needs of most new businesses. Provide explicit guidance. Get someone to follow your directions as written, and see if they work. (It’s not good enough for your directions to make sense to you- you already know what you mean!) Use the 80/20 rule. If you’re having a hard time because you think, “there’s not just one choice that fits everyone” realize that usually you can make a choice that’s right for 80% of the people. The remaining people have specialized needs and probably need one-on-one help. But they are the minority, and you don’t build for them. Use the 3-5 rule. If you really can’t recommend a single, simple choice because much of your audience has distinctly different needs, come up with 3-5 options that fit 80% of your clients, and be clear who the audience is for each option. So, in our example, you can say, “If you own a product-based business, I recommend Provider X, because it offers cart recovery options, and blah blah blah.” And “If you’re a service-based business, I recommend Provider Y’s basic package, because it integrates with Acuity for scheduling, and blah blah blah.” So to recap, if people don’t even want the mental burden of saying “hamburger, small fry, and an iced tea” in favor of “Combo #3,” we need to be looking for ways to reduce or support decisions and uncertainty in the material we teach. To consider: Review your last week. Are there things in your life that aren’t getting done because you had to make a choice and/or weren’t sure what to do? To apply: Look at material you teach with new eyes. How could you simplify it, reduce decisions, or break in down into smaller steps? I look forward to your thoughts.