Guest Speaker Series: Meet Mark Stern

My name is Tara Bryan. I help business owners break into the next level of success by packaging their expertise into an online course experience. It’s my passion to help to find the fastest path to results to create a greater impact and income for you and your tribe.

Check out my free Step-by-Step guide to building your online course. In it are the top steps and questions you need to ask before you get started. Check it out here: https://goto.taralbryan.com/step-by-step-guide

This group is 100% focused on support, knowledge and example sharing, and building a community of online course builders who are passionate about building awesome learning experiences.

In this community, we are passionate about building learning experiences that produce results for our learners. We do that by building engaging, motivating, gamified, and learner-centered courses. We come up with ideas and strategies to ensure that our learners can thrive and succeed in our product.

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1. NEED TO CREATE YOUR ONLINE COURSE?

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Transcript
Tara Bryan:

Hey, everybody is Tara Bryan and you are listening to the course building secrets podcast. Whether you're a coach or a CEO, the success of your team and clients is based on your ability to deliver a consistent experience and guide them on the fastest path to results. This podcast will give you practical real life tips that you can use today to build your online experiences that get results and create raving fans. Why? So you can monetize your expertise and serve more people without adding more time or team to your business. If you're looking to uncover your million dollar framework, package it and use it to scale you're in the right place. Let's dive in.

Tara Bryan:will be debuting in winter of:Mark Stern:ling life. And for me, it was:Tara Bryan:

And, and that's, that's a powerful lesson, right? Hard to do. But such a great opportunity once you once you actually do it. Yeah. Awesome. So So tell me a little bit about your course creation journey in terms of kind of start. So when you left, you started? Did you start doing consulting and those kinds of things? Because that's sort of what you knew. And then you started to look into other ways to get your message out there? Or how did that all happen?

Mark Stern:n out of delay, it was May of:Tara Bryan:

Yeah, that's awesome. And I think it's super powerful, too. You know, a couple different things. Like one of the things that we talked about a lot in the Learn Academy is to do your beta, right, pre sell your beta and then do it live. So you get that interaction with your learner's and you can kind of tweak it and change it or whatever. And I think that, you know, to your point, the other benefit of that is to test your pricing, test what what's gonna work and, and, you know, just because it's your expertise doesn't mean that it needs to be at a lower price point, just because the beta doesn't need to be at a lower price point and how much that value that people put on one on ones. And being able to have that live coaching is is critical. So that's awesome. Very cool. Yeah. Good. So then from there, you evolved to take the beta and move it into a full on online course.

Mark Stern:

Yeah, it's it's funny exactly did three rounds of beta. And I mean, I don't know if that's typical. But for me, I did one round. And what was really cool about it was it forced me to produce all the materials. And because I was so hands on, I could see like where people were struggling. And I could see where people were really like succeeding what they were loving. And so by the time I did the second beta, it was so much easier to flip the materials, because I had a base to basically mold. And you know, I would I would interact with them live. So when we, when I do the live teachings, I'd actually push everyone to presenter, so I could see if people could stop me. And part of the reason I wanted to do that was if they were deer in the headlights, I could see it and I can ask them questions right away. So I did three rounds of beta. And then by just doing that by the time you get to the third round, and you're seeing like the next group of eight people go through, you know what a lot of the questions are, you know, where people get tripped up. So you know how to incentivize that, to make sure that they keep committed to the program. When when I did my betas I like had a set time that I taught it. So it was always like Mondays and Thursdays and Mondays was coaching and Thursdays was office hours. And because I had the devoted time each week, people showed up, and they didn't show up till just one of them, they showed up to both of them. So I didn't think people would show up to office hours, they showed up every single week to office hours. So I think part of that commitment. And just having them plan their schedule around, it just made it a lot easier for people to be set up for success.

Tara Bryan:

That's cool. So sometimes people struggle with setting up calls, like what time to set them up. How did you get around that piece of it just from a super tactical perspective, right? Like, did you just set the time that worked for you and your schedule? Did you try? And and did you send out a poll? How did how did you just from a super tactical perspective, how did you schedule those calls?

Mark Stern:

Yeah, I did it with a dually. So basically, they sent out to see what time's work for people. And then when you have a group of, you know, six to eight and a beta, just getting started, it was really easy to find times that worked. And you know, you try your best to make it work for everyone. Sometimes it's impossible to make it work for everyone. Some people have families, some people have day jobs. But I tended to find the two times that seemed to work well were evenings or around lunchtime. So we oftentimes I had like an evening for coaching office hours was at lunchtime, because a lot of people seem to be able to sneak away around that lunch hour to participate. And that seemed to work for people as well.

Tara Bryan:

Cool. Awesome. All right. So So you did three rounds of beta. And then you committed to actually starting to build out your course. Right? Yep. So talk to me about talk to me about that. So, so. So one of the things I think will be really interesting for our listeners is, you know, for you, and you mentioned this earlier is is that sort of need to have it be perfect. Right. So did that drive your decision to do three betas and before you packaged it up into an official online course that you're launching? Or what was your strategy behind that?

Mark Stern:

Yeah, it's such a great question. Because after my three betas, the next thing that I wanted to do was you know, I knew that the methodology worked. It was a methodology that I had used myself. I actually shifted before going down to a done Do It Yourself moved up to doing done for you. And so I started to take on clients to be like to really pressure test it because it's one thing to teach it. It's another thing to lead it yourself and then lead other people through it. So I took on a series of clients who were really interested who were just like, I don't want to do anything, but be the attractive character. So I was like, you know, it's great, we'll take care of everything else for you. So just having pressure tests just to make sure I truly understood my process, and then to engage with clients, because the benefit of doing a done for you is, the end product is social proof that your course works, and to be hands on and to have those results and to be managing those results yourself, you just learned so much. So actually did the the group coaching to flesh out the methodology, the done for you to really master the process around it. And then that's when I started to So literally, to get in the right frame of mind. For me. It was this past July is when I was like, Okay, now it's time to do this the self study course where I can just provide everything that people need, and go through the exercise again. And what's really interesting about it is it's one thing when you do coaching, and you're working with people, when you have to make it be a standalone product that removes you from the equation, you have to be so crystal clear on the steps because things that seem second nature to you can get really confusing for someone who may not be at that learning curve and the process. So that became a process of a couple of things. One, how do I make this a course? And these are the things that I was thinking about it was how do I make this easier for people? Because so many people who want to do virtual summit say it's a ton of work to put one together? So the question would be What are the resources I could give you to make this a no brainer for you to do? What is the process, these are the tools I can give you. The other thing about it is for me, I think it's really important to give your course identity and personality. Because so many courses out there are so dry, they're just so boring. This is why so many people don't get through them. So it was really thinking about what are the elements that make a course something that you're excited about. And community is a big part of it. I think gamification is a critical element of it to get people to feel like they're having small wins along the way in rewarding them and re emphasizing, you know, the progress that they've made to date, I think that's a big thing. And then I think having an element of fun into it is also something that's really important. So it was one of the things that thinking through your course, you know, I'm the type of person that I could say I can give you just another boring, dry course, or I can create an experience. And those who know me, a big part of that experience is not only what happens in the digital realm, but it also what happens in the physical realm. So part of this course creation was thinking about what in addition to the digital tools I can give you what are the physical tools I can give you, to make you successful. So that's where it's thinking through, you know, when you buy the course you get a physical box in the mail sent to you with some tools that just make it so anytime, you know, I can think of something that someone would say, Oh, I'm not able to do that, because I don't have blank or haven't been able to do blank, I will have like fill the void by saying you did you see the box, you have this resource in the box, it's going to accelerate that process, and just keep you on track. And plus people love getting things in the mail. So the physical and the digital are a big part of that experience as well.

Tara Bryan:

So I one of the things I love about the way that you think is really creating an experience for people beyond just the teaching element of I'm just gonna you know, give you information and teach you how to do this, you really are intentional about the experience that you're creating for your learner's to get them to the place of results. So I love I love it whenever you start talking about gamification, and bridging the gap between the digital and the physical. And in all of that the the level of intention that you go into thinking about how somebody would go through your course, I think is is is unique. And, and it does make a huge difference in terms of the experience that you're taking people on. And I love that. So when you so give us a little insight into that. So for somebody who is not who doesn't think that way, right? They they just have an expertise and they know they want to teach other people and they want to get them results. They're very comfortable, maybe with the idea of, you know, I need to make videos and I need to, you know, make some in like I need to think about my framework, but who haven't really thought about how to how do you put it together in an experience? Yeah. Talk Talk a little bit about that just a little bit more detail around that to help help our listeners really just what are some like tips or some practical things that they should be thinking about to get to that level of experience?

Mark Stern:

Yeah, it's such a great question. I think that one of the things you can do that's really really easy is you remove any doubt around like what success looks like at every step of the way. And when I say remove any doubt one of the things that we did for for rover for and that's the rapid online virtual event. roadmaps, that's my flagship course. One of the things we did was we structured it as 10 levels. And the reason that I called them levels is, I know that one of the common pitfalls that people face when they put on a virtual event is that they're like, here's the topic, and they start reaching out to all these speakers and asking them can they speak? And they're not thinking strategically about who they're engaging and why they're engaging them and how they're going to be repurposing that information. So one of the things I try and show people is like, like, I don't worry about engaging speakers until in our structure, it's level five. So you have to go through four levels. And it's just really simple to say, here's what success at level one looks like, do not go to level two, until you've achieved these milestones. And they're tangible. They're specific, they're things that when you've done it, you're not asking, have I completed this level, yet, you know, you've completed it, and then I'm going to reward you. And so one of the things we did just to be crystal clear, is think about what is needed, especially if you're teaching people like a process of how to do something like a virtual event, or to create a course or whatever it is a level one, I'm going to say, here's the core objective. And then I'm going to break it down and say like, for me, when you start to engage external parties in a virtual event or virtual Summit, you may engage at certain points, speakers, or affiliates, or sponsors for participants, people who actually participate in your virtual conference. And so I basically show them at every level, are you going to be engaging with one of these four audiences? If the answer is no, then you don't have to worry about that. So I just took off the table, all these different groups that you may be stressing out thinking, Oh, no, I need to activate my speakers. And I should be done. No, I've taken it off the table by saying you're not activating any of those people. Now, in terms of the different hats you wear. And when I say hats, like when you do a, you're planning a course or if you're doing a virtual Summit, there's going to be certain parts that you may need a graphic designer to come up with a logo, you may need someone to build a funnel, it may be you, it may be someone you outsource it to but to know the different roles at that level that are going to be activated, just equips you mentally to know, am I going to need to hire a graphic designer or hire a project manager at this level? Or is that a hat that I need to be planning on wearing just getting in the mindset of that? So I like put that on the table. So you know, these are the different roles that will be activated at this level? And then the last piece is tools and technology. Like are you going to need any third party tools? Are you going to need a funnel building platform? I just make it crystal clear. So you can just focus on like, what are the things that I actually need to be successful this level? And that was just something that we put on a simple card that was really small. But that one little card is the difference between keeping people focus, or making people think, Am I missing something, and I can completely remove the doubt as a result. And then the last thing is things like badging badging doesn't have to be fancy, you can create a badge in Canva. And I know someone that what she does in her courses, when someone completes a level, their call to action is to post in the Facebook group, and a member of her team drops a digital badge into the community, so everyone can see it and recognizes the individual. So it's something that's slight and manual. It's literally just a graphic, she drops. It's not some fancy tech, but it's little things like that, that make people like feel like they have succeeded. And they're getting the recognition and attention and getting ready for the next level as well.

Tara Bryan:

Yeah, awesome. And I love how that you're talking about it as levels, we talked about steps along the journey. But levels is is the same thing. You're just looking at it as a as a progression. versus, versus sort of a journey along a road, right? Like if you if you look at it from that perspective, which allows you then to do the badging, you think about, you know, video game or whatever you you have to get through the first level in order to get to the second level and and subsequently,

Mark Stern:

one thing I'll add to that, just because I think it's important to is in every level, I think it's important that you have quick wins. And like a series of quick wins can lead to a big one, which completes the level. But like when you think about designing a course I would say, how would you break it up into small steps that if people just completed this one step, there's an output to that step that is a quick one, you feel like you are accomplishing something, you're not just going with the flow and listening to another person talk at you for you make it actually interactive?

Tara Bryan:

Well, anything that that's the other thing that's critical is that you're creating an output, you're creating an activity or an action that they need to do in order to complete what it is that they're learning. Right. So it's not just, you know, learning or listening. It's completing something that takes them along that path. And, and we talked about that and learn Academy is, you know, what's that activity that they need to be able to do in order to move forward? Because that's, that's the critical piece is that unless somebody is taking the action, they're not. They're not applying what they're learning and we need to get them to application in order to get to action. And that's, that's a critical piece. And so I love that because, you know, when we talk about keeping people engaged, and we, we talk about how do you how do you actually get somebody to complete your course, the more you're intentional about the learner engagement and the the path that you're creating for them, that allows them to be successful along the way, the more likely they are to actually complete what it is that you're giving them to do, and, and, you know, gamifying it and doing all of those things just add to that level of experience where, you know, they're kind of motivated to keep moving forward. So so that's awesome. So what would be like your biggest tip, or big, biggest couple of tips that you would have for someone who's looking to build and sell their own online course? Yeah,

Mark Stern:. If someone's paying you:Tara Bryan:

Awesome. Those are two awesome tips. I love that. So um, tell us what tool book or resource you would recommend as someone who's just getting started down this path to creating and launching their own online course. So give us give us some nuggets in

Mark Stern:

terms I was gonna ask you. Do you know what my number one tool would be? What would you guess? Do you have any insights?

Tara Bryan:

Your number one tool? I don't know.

Mark Stern:e're talking about saving you:Tara Bryan:

Yeah, I love that. That is super interesting. Like I use PowerPoint all the time in a lot of it is, you know, use it the way that you're talking about but it it wouldn't be necessarily my tool of choice. So I think that's, that's awesome, because you're right, it does a lot more than you think it does. I think so often people just open it up and it's a blank white screen. People get overwhelmed, and then they're like, forget it. Right. So

Mark Stern:

we should do a masterclass Tara, yeah, let's do it, how to do a masterclass for your community on just like some tricks and tips and tricks on how you can use the tool. And I'm telling you, it will save you so much time and money.

Tara Bryan:

That's, that's awesome. I love that and for, for everyone out there listening to this podcast, like you cannot see Mark's materials, but they are amazing and top notch. And so it doesn't surprise me that everyone asks your graphic designers and I and I love that you use PowerPoint. That's amazing. So super cool. So before we wrap up, is there anything else that you would like to talk about in terms of course creation, that would help an audience of people looking for tips for course building?

Mark Stern:

Yeah, be cognizant of what other people are doing. And I say that in a way of I think one of the best ones is in Tirana, you have this lens, too, but part of the lens that you have to have is a course creator, especially if you don't want to be like another run of the mill course creator who puts a course out there that's just like another boring course, is always ask yourself yourself the question, like how did that person do that? So anytime I see something that catches my attention that if it catches my attention, and it's unique, then there's probably you know, a way that I can figure it out. And I can usually figure out how to do it and only quick, but for pretty inexpensive. And a perfect example is, you know, when people complete levels, we want to somehow get them excited to then announce it on social media. So one of the things that I wanted to do is, is there a way that I could figure out how to there's a couple things we did one is like how can I do something that triggers something in the augmented reality realm is that something that's gonna be really expensive and really difficult to do? And, you know, just by doing some research and talking with some people, simple things like that, which creates experience. It's something that's different, and it doesn't have to be over complicated. One of the things that we do is when you get to a certain level, which is our most difficult level in rover, we give you a coaster, and the coaster, actually is an Easter egg. And there's a little note that says, porters like you have this, you got this round you're going to you're going to do great for yourself your favorite beverage and put it on the coaster. And the reality is the coaster is actually a target image that we created this really inexpensive app that when you flash the app over the coaster, a surprise happens in the augmented realm. So it's all about creating an experience And it's something that the perception of it looks like it's really expensive. But I mean, I think that this was an experiment that costs like 50 bucks to do. So it's like one of those things that didn't cost a lot of money. But if it had a wow factor to it that people can get really excited about. And not only do we do that we also did when you complete a level, you can scan an image, it creates a frame that you can take a picture with you and the badge that you earned that level and post that on social media. So it's like a little thing that is just like all it took was I saw something and a different niche. That was somebody turning in like it's think about it is like on Facebook, how you have the different filters, you know, it can be done, you can create your own filter, you can add a fun element to it. And it just creates something that if someone were to post that on social media, not only is it social proof for the success of your program, it also can introduce your program to other people who may be like, what is that? And how do I learn more. So it's all designed to not only give you the social proof through, you know, fun, gamified experience where people can show their accolades and awards, but also be a tool to recruit more students.

Tara Bryan:

Yeah, I love that. And those are two topics that we're going to come back and do at a later time, because I'm sure my listeners are like, what, what was that? What did you just say? And so, yeah, so we are going to come back and talk about augmented reality, and how to do all of that in a in a future episode. But the point I want everybody to get, if you don't know, the technology that Mark is talking about, is what he just said about being really intentional about looking outside of, of sort of what you know, and finding out what other people are doing. And just figuring it out, figure out what they're doing, figure out what's cool, figure out what you would love and the kind of experience that you want in terms of taking, taking a course and so I love that and I love I love the way in this is one of the reasons I wanted to have you on the podcast mark is because I love the way that you think about how to create an experience. And it's not just I'm just gonna throw it out there. And you know, give people you know, some some information it's you're really intentional about how do you create this experience? How do you really engage your learner's so they're not only learning, but they're super excited to be there. And and they're, they're getting little surprises along the way. And so I love that I'm so excited for you to launch your rover course. And it will be out before we know it. Because you're going to launch it, it's going to be fabulous and super excited. So with that, for our listeners, how do they find out more about you more about your work? How do they sign up? I assume you have a waitlist for your rover course. Right? How do we how do we get access to all of the things that you have to offer?

Mark Stern:

Absolutely. If for anyone who wants more information, if you just like Mark Show on Facebook, feel free to reach out to me with any questions. If rover is something you're ready to build authority. What's cool about rover is you launch a product when you complete it. So it's not only about building authority, and generating leads, but it really launches a new revenue stream for your business. That product, just go to www dot rovr method, or o v e r method COMM And you can join the waitlist and get information in terms of you know, when all of that goodness and hopefully by the time you hear this, it's already out there. But I will say this though Tara and this was a huge litmus for me is I am so excited about this course and things that I created in the past I've created things that you know, you just create them and just kind of follow what an influencer says this is something like I'm so proud of. So I think that like for any course creators out there, like think of something that if you were to talk on 50 podcasts and be like glowing and really excited about, like, that's the product that you know, put the love and attention to it, to make it what what you know, it can be, you know,

Tara Bryan:

that's awesome, wonderful last words. So thank you, Mark. I appreciate you being on this podcast, and having everyone be able to learn from you. So I appreciate it. And everyone have a great afternoon.

Mark Stern:

Thank you.

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