“You really have nothing to lose,” says Amanda Sempert of Climb Strong. “It gives you kind of that security knowing that people are going to show up—and it might let you offset some of those initial costs that come with starting a course.”
For Amanda and the team, they can’t imagine launching an online course without running a pre-sale campaign.
Since Climb Strong first started doing in-person events, where climbers gather for a multiple-day summit to talk and learn about climbing and strength training, they have relied on a pre-sale strategy to ensure the success of their events. And, now that they’ve taken much of their business online, they’ve implemented the same pre-sale strategy for their online courses.
Adapting and selling
When 2020 forced many businesses to go online or close, Climb Strong didn’t hesitate to move its business online. And, it didn’t take them long to set up their platform, and soon after, launch their first pre-sale of their online course.
“So, it was kind of a no-brainer to just go back to that same formula that had worked for our in-person events and then just apply it to our virtual platform,” explains Amanda. “And it was so convenient that Teachable offered a pre-sale option.”
The road to pre-selling
Although Climb Strong has been using their trusted pre-sale strategy for many years for their in-person events before launching their online course, Amanda admits that it wasn’t always this way.
When Climb Strong first launched an in-person event, Climb Strong skipped on doing pre-sale—and their event didn’t attract many people.
“Our very first in-person event, we didn’t have a pre-sale for it. We had maybe 12 people come. It was very small but also super manageable,” she says. “And I don’t think we made any money on it.”
Amanda and the team used that experience as a learning moment and a way to sell smarter in the future. It was especially important to remember when it came time to sell their first online course. “We learned a ton,” she admits. “And since then, on all of our courses, we offer a pre-sale.”
“It’s something people have come to expect from us.”
One of the major reasons for using a pre-sale strategy is to offer multiple pricing options, according to Amanda.
Doing a pre-sale for both their in-person events and online courses allows Climb Strong to offer different pricing options for their customers. “We structure with a super early bird, then an early bird, and then a standard registration leading up to the event,” she explains.
Offering multiple price offers also allows Climb Strong to attract a larger audience. What’s more, providing lower prices during their pre-sale phase encourages students to sign up for Climb Strong’s courses as soon as they’re announced, which drives sales and demand.
“If you get in early, you’re saving $300,” explains Amanda. “And if you wait closer to the event, it’s full price. And we get most of our registrations, most of our signups during that early-bird offer pricing times.”
Amanda believes they wouldn’t be able to attract as many students without offering different pricing levels during their pre-sale: “I think that would have really deterred people from signing up if they couldn’t in some way or another get a discount.”
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Validation and security
But beyond providing their customers with an incentive, a pre-sale strategy before each event and online course launch allows Amanda and the team to figure out what people truly want to see from their business.
Of course, all course creators know—and are prepared—to devote time and energy to creating and launching a course. But undoubtedly, there will still be fears and doubts. “Will the course sell? Is there an audience for this? What if no one cares?” are all common questions for creators. But for Climb Strong, utilizing a pre-sale has helped put some of these fears to rest.
Pre-selling their first online course, “The New Rules of Endurance”, allowed Climb Strong to have insight into the interest of the topic and gauge how many people to expect to sign up. They implemented this same strategy with a following virtual summit and now, their second course, “The Fundamentals of Strength: The Why and How.” And it’s left the team with some valuable lessons before they even create their course content.
“And then when we get into creating the content, we know if we’re wasting our time or not,” Amanda said.
Ultimately, seeing how many people are interested in a particular course has been game-changing for Climb Strong. It’s allowed them to quickly pivot and assess what’s working—and what’s not.
“We’re putting it together, but we’re not seeing the right numbers. And then it’s like: ‘Oh, do we need to pivot and do something else?'” she said.
Running a pre-sale has also helped Climb Strong to determine whether some courses are going to pay off for their business.
“If we only have 10 people signed up, does it make sense for us to put on this course? So it’s just thinking about the cost-benefit,” Amanda shares.
Planning their work
In addition to knowing if their course material will sell, a pre-sale strategy also help Amanda and the team plan their course material. And for a business that relies on hiring instructors and presenters for their course and event material, having this insight is truly cost effective.
For example, for their past course and online summit, Amanda explains that their pre-sale allowed the team to have a better idea as to how much they could invest in the material, sharing: “It kind of allowed us to know what our numbers were, [and] know what we could pay our presenters!”
What’s more, Amanda says that making pre-selling their online offerings a part of their selling process has also helped the team to feel more comfortable in what they’re offering. It’s also allowed them to plan and prepare for the future of their business.
“It re-solidified that there is a need for what we’re doing, and it encourages us to do it again and make it better,” Amanda says. “Without the pre-sale, I think it would have been so much harder to feel confident in what we were putting out.”
A winning formula, mastered
Climb Strong has built a loyal audience over the years, so they make sure to always grow their business by expanding what they already offer. This further deepens their customers’ knowledge—and interest in purchasing new courses or attending future events.
Amanda explains, “Based on what we had done previously, we’re always trying to build upon what we did and take it a little bit further.”
So far, this works great for Climb Strong, and they have been creating their own curriculums that are balanced between new and evergreen content.
Amanda lays out the pre-sale strategy that’s worked for the team in the past—and that they’re implementing for their most recent launch.
When starting pre-selling for an online course, Climb Strong doesn’t have the course materials ready yet. But they try to give as much information as possible to their customers about what they can expect from the course.
Amanda notes the team is sure to give prospective students a curriculum outline of topics and presenters. “’These are the topics we’re covering, here’s who’s presenting’—and [we] kind of went off that.”
Closer to the end of the course’s pre-sale period, when the course is ready to launch, they’ll give the customers a little more specific insight on their sales page and promotional material into what they can expect as the course becomes more solidified.
After the pre-sale period is done, it usually takes Amanda less than two months to put the course materials together.
Amanda and Climb Strong work with world-renowned climbing professionals all around the globe, from Austria to Australia. Naturally, it takes a lot of work to organize deadlines around different schedules and time zones. For the team’s first course, Amanda gave all of the course presenters a strict deadline to meet their launch goal.
“I gave everyone about, I’d say a month—a month and a half—to get all of their content to me,” Amanda said. “And then I allowed myself about two weeks to build out the course. So [then it was] plug and play, dropping in content, making sure everything was working.”
With this winning roadmap, the team found success with their first course and summit. And are already seeing the benefits with their second pre-sale.
Offering to their audience
When it comes to who Climb Strong targets for their pre-sale marketing efforts, it’s all about their email list. Climb Strong has gathered a decent following throughout the years on social media and has built an email list.
“We’ll usually do a buildup on social,” explains Amanda. “A lot of our audience follows us on social and knows that we’re posting information there for upcoming courses. We’ll let them know when registration opens, and then we’ll let them know when the course will go live. And so far, kind of our organic growth has been working great!”
Saving time but building confidence
Running pre-sale campaigns for their in-person events and online courses have been working wonders for Amanda and the Climb Strong team, and they have no plans of changing their strategy as long as it works so well for their business.
With the winning formula of a pre-sale mastered, Amanda feels more confident in the courses Climb Strong is creating, the business decisions they’re making, and the time they’re saving.
“It’s kind of a little bit of a security blanket in a sense,” Amanda said of the team’s pre-sale strategy. “And it’s equally exciting when you see those sign-ups coming through. So I think it’s silly not to offer it.”