How to grow an unstoppable course-based business

November 1, 2017

Its all about Community Design.

So what’s community design? Simple – It’s about defining and owning a space and leading the community that forms to fill that space.  Done right – you’ll garner, (according to the good folks at Play Bigger) on average, 76% of the market cap of your space.

It’s no secret, big MASSIVE changes, not just in business but in the global economy, society and technology are made through Community Design.

In today’s environment, Community Design is the approach that ALL businesses must take if they want to see scale, sustainable growth, and consistently increasing profits.

Why’s Community Design important to businesses that offer courses?

Most online course-based businesses, large or small, face a seemingly insurmountable problem: achieving consistent, profitable growth.

In the past, successful and profitable course-based businesses were grown using methods which are now out dated: increase advertising, implement rewards and bonus programs, undertake business acquisitions. But none of these generate meaningful growth for online course or education business today.

Other mistakes include:

  • Thinking you have a traffic problem and that you need more visitors.
  • Spending money on the wrong advertising and promotion channels because “that’s the way it’s always done”.
  • Thinking of people as “Customers” instead of “Community Members”.
  • Focusing on acquiring new “Customers” while neglecting current Community Members.
  • Adding mountains of content to show that you’ve got more to offer (proven to INCREASE churn rates).
  • Concentrating on the Brand – instead of creating a category and making your Brand stand out as the Category Leader
  • Cutting prices in order to obtain more customers.
  • Designing and building a new website because you’re told it’ll find you more “Customers”.
  • Expensive SEO campaigns which drive tons of traffic…that never become Community Members.


These don’t work because they assume the audience wants to play by traditional, outdated methods. They don’t.

The rules for growing your business, finding new audiences, increasing profits and scaling your revenue have changed:


The first place people stop and search for answers is the internet – and they’re most likely to choose to connect with communities that share their aspirations…not to the sellers themselves.

There’s a huge opportunity to capitalize on how people intuitively and naturally use the internet to find what they’re looking for and connect with it.


Human beings don’t learn the way we’ve been taught. At school we’d all be in a classroom together and be expected to continue our learning individually.

We now know that the best education comes from researching first, consuming content one-on-one and then coming to a community with ideas and input (“flip the class”).


The way that people buy today has changed so dramatically that traditional sales methods simply don’t work. If people aren’t buying using a community, they’re not buying at all.

From white goods to education programs, sales people are no longer the gatekeepers of information and we get our information from trusted authorities within a community.

Knife twist

On top of all that, money is poured down the drain on internet marketing methods like buying email lists – which usually provide 0 return on investment and damages the company’s reputation and authority.

Solution – Community Design

Growing a course-based business through Community Design involves a structured process for identifying, attracting and delivering escalating value to the community members. It includes bringing community members into contact with one another in a way and manner that unleashes their collective energy to improve themselves and each other. The model for building audience and attracting community members is:

Community Design is the process of flipping the “building-audience-and-attracting-community members” and, for each of the steps, defining measurable outcomes, then crafting and honing the required resources and actions to successfully execute the steps as noted in the chart.

A “typical” (OK – not really typical…how about “minimum”) process for Community Design builds on the the answers to these questions:

  • What’s your point of view and why does it matter
  • How will audience members’ lives be better (where will your point of view take them from…and to?)
  • Who cares and what do they want? (What resonates with your audience?)
  • What are the best ways to show your grasp of the problem and share the solution?
  • How can you be helpful enough to attract people to join you in the journey from where they are to the better way?
  • What’s the best way for your audience to experience your leadership?

And provides the audience:

  • Identification or definition of their problem with such clarity that they are now dying to (because they trust you to help them) change things for the better.
  • Valuable content and a rewarding experience that encourages then to stay to participate in/grow with the community.

The Prize: Results

Carefully designed communities consistently deliver these results:

  • Category Leadership
  • Lower marketing costs
  • Reduced member churn
  • Increased consumption per customer
  • Income becomes more predictable
  • Lower cost of customer acquisition
  • Business growth

And offer these benefits to the community leader:

  • Loyalty from customers and audience
  • Better understanding of your customers
  • Customers tell you how to do a better job – and then help you do it
  • Dedicated members become fanatical employees/advocates
  • New opportunities for growth
  • Increased level of authority

Don’t Get Confused!

Traditional thinkers confuse Community Design with brand marketing.  Brand marketing is a small subset of the process which focuses on expressing authenticity (more on that paradox in a later blog).  Communities form through attraction to solutions, appreciation for inclusive authorities and exchange of value – not promotion.

If you’re an authority, possess a point of view that will change people’s condition for the better and have a drive to be helpful – let’s explore what category and community is that you should lead!  Click here now to set up a time to talk!



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