Discover the secret to scaling your course-based business

September 18, 2017

If you’re:

  • frustrated with your inability to gain scale – even though you have a unique and valuable offering, or
  • audience doesn’t understand or appreciate (code phrase for “Doesn’t Care” about) the unique value that your firm delivers

then read on because we are going to share how to make who you are stick in peoples’ minds…and unleash their aspiration to join you.


Old school thinking tells us that customers need to know what sets you apart from the competition (in my outdated college marketing text its called “differentiation”). Traditional approaches to differentiating use claims like “better”, “newer”, or appeals to “belonging” and “image”. If you’ve tried these you know that they simply don’t resonate.

When you’re really good at what you do, being better, newer, faster, (or whatever) than your competitor isn’t important to your audience. What’s important is that you’ve defined their problem and your solution sets the standard for its solution – that your’e the authority, that you’re recognized as the cornerstone of a community of loyal followers…and that everyone else is trying to differentiate themselves from you.

What’s Real

Social Change: Buyers today research intended purchases online by reading reviews, articles and community ratings. In other words – they educate themselves before making a purchase. Companies that clearly define the problem that they solve and succinctly educate their audience about both the problem and the solution earn the role of authority. If they consciously turn that authority role into a community leadership position – then they own the space where they’ve solved the problem.

Economic Reality: Data and research from Play Bigger LLC shows that companies that define and dominate a space (aka “category”) earn 76% of the market cap of their space. From our experience in Community Design, these companies dominate their category through purposeful, deliberate Category Specific Community Design. (Just to be fully disclosed – the space we defined and are globally recognized for leadership is Community Design for Course Based Businesses).

Technical New World: Today’s Buyers/Learners search for information based on how they define the problem at hand and listen to what those in the user community have to say…which is great news if you have a solution that meets their problem definition, a community that supports you and technology that invites community membership. But what if you identify your solution with a space that you don’t own and are therefore seen as a, “Me-to/over here! Look at me!”? What if you use your website to pitch features and benefits instead of helping to introduce visitors to your community and educate visitors about the problem they’ve come to solve? What if you’re using a traditional website instead of an online community building funnel site? What if you don’t realize that online technology is meant to help you build a relationship through which your being helpful earns you the right to sell your product or service? Answer any of these questions with “that’s us” and you’ve admitted that technology has passed you by.

If you haven’t clearly defined the problem that your solving, become the authority at solving that problem, and leveraged technology to attract a community that actively participates in the solution – you won’t scale.

If you don’t scale – here’s what you’ll get:

  1. Your earnings will stay about the same, if they don’t shrink
  2. You’ll limit the potential of your employees and therefore you’ll lose great employees who want to grow
  3. You won’t be able to help your customers with innovative products and services – but your competitors will
  4. Your competition will grow
  5. You’ll be left behind in your industry
  6. You’ll get bored in the business – and won’t be able to fulfill your personal potential.


Getting scale is a community design and leadership puzzle. These 5 pieces fit together to create our approach to scaling:

1. Craft an intuitive, compelling Point of View

  • The state of technology, the mindset of our customers, the current economic rationale, why what we are doing is important to our customers
  • How to attract customers to our point of view
  • How the point of view will inform branding, positioning and future product development

2. Clearly define a position of Authority (You) – Why you matter

  • Name your space and create a description that tells the world how valuable you are
  • Key words (Lexicon) because words change the way people value our POV

3. Identify the ideal Customer Avatar (Them) – Who cares and why

  • Who are the ideal community members?
  • What are the “wants” that will drive behavior?
  • What’s their day like and how will we gain entry to it?

4. Craft a Community Design (Us) – How are you going to earn attention and grow commitment?

  • What the space we are creating looks like and where it fits (Business Case)
  • The customers, competitors, suppliers, media, and others that would plug into the category (the Community)
  • From/To journey customers will take

5. Build and Execute a Community Leadership Plan

  • Identify and implement selected tools, communication channels, authority building educational experiences, online content, in-person processes
  • Determine measurable outcomes at each step of the process – including how to stay ahead of demand
  • Craft an implementation budget (Revenues and Costs)

Simple process, stunning outcomes

Once the pieces are honed, fitting them together into the process is simple. With diligence and attention to detail you’ll:

  • Build an audience of your target market
  • Create a space that you dominate
  • Prove that you are the authority and expert
  • Earn trust and credibility by help that audience solve the problem
  • Use education to build community and cement your position as the community leader
  • Lead the community members based on their level of investment

But like all simple processes, its not easy to execute

The number one issue we encounter while implementing Community Design is leadership – or more accurately poor leadership (you can learn more about leading Community Design here).

The second most pervasive issue we encounter – inability for team members to collaborate (we define collaboration as “coming to the table with your best thinking already done – prepared to pitch in and elevate everyone’s contributions”. There are times when team members simply do not have the skills, shared values or maturity – and appropriate action needs to be taken to help people grow or step aside.

If leadership capability and collaboration skills are a go, the last item is Community Design expertise. Growing with someone who knows the process is invaluable for achieving results faster, roadblock identification and removal, resource identification. budget management, encouraging results and coaching.


Our favorite part of Community Design is the energy and rhythm that gains momentum throughout the organization. It exhilarating and (hope you’ll go with this) spiritual. There is nothing more fulfilling than to see a community come together around an authentic authority that has earned the right to lead, unleashed the energy of those that want the problem solved, and unselfishly attracted other resources and expertise to the community that add to the forward momentum of all who participate.

Next steps

If simply slugging it out in a category that you don’t dominate is wearing you down – then its time to change the game and design a community where your authority earns the leadership role. Call us and let’s explore how to scale your business.


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