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October 13, 2021

If You Build It, They Still May Not Come. Marketing Your Live Cohort Based Course

"We expect that everyone knows what we're doing and who we are and what we're up to, but they don't. So you want to treat the launch like an event. You have to build up to it. You want to seed it. Think about what movie studios do when a blockbuster is coming out: they talk about what's going on behind the scenes, they drop hints about the movie. Lead with the customers in your emails, not with announcing your product."   - Billy Broas

The truth about any product or service is that even if you build an amazing offer - they might not come.

People don’t just sign up for a class or experience, they first need to have a relationship of trust with the brand or provider. And building a relationship of trust takes time, effort and content.

This can sound overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be. The most powerful and effective content is an authentic and helpful conversation with your target audiences - and which helps them get to know and trust you. 


At Disco we send out a weekly email newsletter where we share with highlights in the creator space, events and news from the community, tips and best practices that we’ve learned and content designed to help our creators achieve their goals. 

The pedagogy behind our approach to marketing and what we teach in our Accelerator program has been influenced by the incredible work of Billy Broas an expert marketer who specializes in selling premium online courses and programs, by creating content that allows the creators to have their prospective audiences really get to know them - so that they trust them to take them on a transformative learning journey.

So instead of thinking about marketing, you are thinking about what are the channels and ways that you can reach your audience in a high trust way that builds the kind of enrollment that Seth Godin explains is essential for genuine learning - even before the course has begun.

We’ve found the most effective ways to build pre-course enrollment are:

1) Referrals
Word of mouth remains the most powerful marketing force that there is. A trusted source sharing with a new group that they had a powerful and positive experience in your cohort based course is the most effective pipeline you could hope for.

Make it easy for your learners to spread the word. Deliver a great experience and consider how you might encourage your learners to talk about it.

2) Email Marketing
Email marketing is the most personal and high trust way to connect with your target audience and unlike the social platforms (Tik Tok, Twitter or Facebook) you the creator will always own your community and have direct access to them.

As Billy Broas says, "it's the closest thing we have, digitally, to sending a letter to a friend." When you treat email as personal correspondence - rather than a sales pitch - you'll naturally develop a closer relationship with your audience.

3)  Special Guests

One of the best ways to build trust and engage with your target is to host special guests who share their expertise with your community and help also tell your story to their community - creating a virtuous cycle of support.

Sarah Lacy, founder of Chairman Mom, shared how  course creators too often see teaching as a solo endeavour when they enhance the course plan and student experience with guest instructors.  This allows the course creator to leverage guest profiles and teach a wider audience and allow their participants to benefit from a wider range of views.


4) Live Stream Generosity

Share what you are offering and give people a taste of who you are, what the course experience will be like and the transformation you are offering.

5) Offer A Strong Clear Solution

The strongest marketing message is one that speaks to the needs and concerns of the users - and this requires really understanding how they see the problem your course is looking to solve. Sarah Lacey, told us she looks at Reddit threads to see how the audiences she is looking to reach, talk about their problems and pain points. Billy Broas similarly encourages course creators to personally make people a strong promise that you will deliver an outcome to them.