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What entrepreneurs should know before creating B2B online courses

A version of this post was originally published on July 1, 2020, in eLearning Industry.

The need for ongoing employee training doesn’t go away even if many people are still working from home and companies have to comply with social distancing rules.

Since things are still uncertain around the world, the safest and easiest option is to offer asynchronous online courses that employees complete at their own pace. For this, a company might have in-house training or seek out online courses that satisfy their requirements, which are:

  • Upskilling employees
  • Covering certain learning needs that can be outsourced
  • Offering online courses as company perks

For an online course entrepreneur, this is the right time to branch out and create learning content for B2B (business-to-business) clients and a great opportunity if you already have experience in a certain industry.

Alternatively, maybe you’ve found a niche that could really use your help.

Read more: 10 Tips on finding your niche in the knowledge commerce industry

The 4 main differences between individual and B2B online courses

Of course, creating online courses for B2B clients comes with its own set of challenges even if you’re a more experienced online entrepreneur. Here are four things that you’ll have to do differently if you’re thinking of collaborating with other businesses:

  1. Finding a great online course topic

    Finding a bestselling online course idea is hard to do. Finding an idea for B2B customers can be trickier if you don’t know the industry really well.

    First, you should start with the basics: choose a niche. Then, explore your options by researching what are the most important skills that one particular industry needs. For example, “fundraising in NGOs”, “personal finance for new employees”, “virtual event planning for small businesses” are all skills that employers desire. While offering these courses can have a positive impact on business outcomes, companies could also outsource these types of courses to you.

    Afterward, go a step further and do your research by talking to employers and employees in order to gather more information, test your idea, and see whether it could turn into a profitable online course.

  2. Doing research for a specific industry

    If you’re creating self-paced online courses for B2B clients, you either know the field really well or you need to do more serious research. You could specialize in NGOs, small businesses, large businesses, etc. or refine your audience by targeting a specific industry: such as IT, hospitality, or retail.

    Of course, they expect to see high-quality courses that deliver results. Depending on how much you want to target a certain type of company, you need to consider specialized terminology, use analogies that are relevant to their jobs, and show that you’ve invested the time and effort to understand their needs.

    Plus, even if they have more demands, companies could also turn into long-term buyers, which means long-term revenue for you. They might hire you to help with future courses, collaborations, and overall it’s great if you want to associate your brand with theirs.

  3. Changing your marketing strategy

    If you’ve only ever created online courses for individuals, this means that you need to switch gears if you want to successfully market your learning content to companies. Now your online course buyer persona is a manager, CEO, or HR professional, which means that you’re also changing your tactics.

    Read more: The entrepreneur’s guide to buyer personas for online courses [Part 1]

    Depending on the industry, you might want to schedule meetings and demos with key decision-makers in addition to investing in online ads. In this case, it’s more about building a partnership. Your clients aren’t making a decision for themselves, they’re making a business decision that they have to justify later, so it’s understandable.

    Read more: Promoting your online course through online ads: What are your options?

    On the upside, by marketing to companies, you might gain hundreds of learners from one deal, so all that effort will pay off in the end.

  4. Using a professional platform

    Companies tend to seek larger self-paced course platforms. If you want to stand out, your site has to look very professional. Depending on the niche that you’re targeting, you’ll want your site visitors to feel a sense of familiarity and trust from the moment they access your portal.

    You’ll also need a few learning platform features that allow you to adapt to their needs such as:

    • Buy in bulk - it’s easier for a manager to purchase hundreds of accounts for one course than to buy them one by one
    • Subscription plans - if you create a series of related courses, you’ve found a niche and have many ideas to expand your course offer, you can offer subscription plans
    • Certificates - give out individual certificates to employees that they can print or add to their portfolio
    • Policies - if you have B2B clients, you need to comply with certain rules and regulations, such as GDPR

All in all

As a final tip, it also helps to display social proof such as testimonials from companies or endorsements from someone that is well known in the industry.

Working with B2B clients can be a challenge, but if you’re familiar with a certain niche and want to capitalize on your knowledge, why not give it a try?

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