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Karen Davies

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Getting clear on your course promise

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“Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.”

– Drew Houston

When you are creating an online course, it’s important that you nail the results that you are promising so that you can effectively communicate it to your students. One of the ways to achieve this is by getting clear on your course promise so you can craft a compelling statement that converts yours prospective customers into paying students.

The first thing to understand when creating an online course is that your students are most likely not looking to buy a course… in fact it may not even enter their minds that, in order to resolve the problem that they are currently facing, they can get the results that they are looking for through an online course.

It’s our job, as course creators, to make sure that not only are we creating online courses that deliver effective results, we also need to make sure that we come from a place of change, the course we create is simply the mechanism that enables your student to get results in the easiest and simplest way possible.

The one thing you can guarantee is that people will also have problems and face challenges and so whilst there will always problems to fix, the need for providing solutions will also be there and your course is a simply way to fix a problem. By leading with the result you are providing, it will force you to get laser clear on your course, why it exists and who you have created it for.

Get clear on what your ideal student desires. It’s like peeling an onion… once you start peeling away the different layers, you’ll be able to get to the heart of what their motivations are and once you understand this, your course promise will become so much easier to write.

What is a course promise and why do you need one?

Your course promise is the promise that you are going to be making to your students. It’s what will give them clarity about your course; what it is, why they need it and the period of time that they will need because clarity is key. The more understanding you have of your course, the easier it will be to communicate it.

Your course promise will set expectations; it is the promise of transformation you are making to your students (e.g. “buy this course and you will go from [challenge] to [solution] in [timeframe]”). It doesn’t need to be complex; it just needs to outline exactly what your students can expect.

People buy courses that give results, so the course promise plays an integral part to their decision-making. Your course promise is a simple statement about the specific and amazing results that your students are going to experience.

Before you start writing, you must get clear on the following 4 core ingredients needed to create an effective course promise…

  • INGREDIENT 1: Know who your ideal student is

The very first step in crafting an effective course promise, is knowing who your ideal student is. Once you understand what your course is about then you can determine who it is actually for. Knowing this will then influence the content you then create in the course. The more you know of your ideal student, the more effective your course will be.

  • INGREDIENT 2: Understand the problem your ideal student is experiencing

Once you understand who your ideal student is, you can then focus on a specific challenge that they are currently facing and then create a course centre around resolving this challenge for them. By understanding their struggles, you can then support them.

  • INGREDIENT 3: Get clear on a solution

So once you know your ideal student and the struggles that they are currently facing, you can then start to create a solution to their challenge. The more specific you can get, the better. Your course is the vehicle that is going to move them towards a specific outcome and this outcome is what will solve their problem. It’s important to define the specific results that will be achieved by taking the course.

  • INGREDIENT 4: Create the roadmap to achieving the desired results

This part is the ‘doing’, it’s where you are going to put the pedal to the metal and define the student’s journey to achieving the desired outcome that you previously defined. Once you have a roadmap towards the solution, you can then start to get clear on how long will it take the student to complete the course and gain the result aka transformation that you have promised.

Once you know all the core ingredients then you can confidently craft your course promise.

A food example of a course promise is… Jenna Kutcher’s The Podcast Lab.

In her course promise she states “Get my proven, 5-step stress-busting system and process to plan, create, launch, promote, scale and monetize your podcast in just 30 days”.

As you can see, this course promise is clear, concise and to the point. It clearly communicates what the course is about, what’s involved and how long it will take you to get your podcast up and running.


When creating your online course, I encourage you not to skip over this step. This is one of the most important pieces of copy because it’s what you are going to use to achieve sales. The clearer your message, the more effective it will be and the easier it will be for potential students to buy your course and at the end of the day, that’s the goal!