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Why Programs Are Choosing CourseStorm Over Sawyer

Greg Shula

July 18, 2023

If you’re creating and selling classes for kids, you’re already an expert in the subject you teach. What may be less familiar is the process for marketing and selling courses. Turning to class marketplaces like Sawyer can seem like an easy solution to this challenge. Just put it on the platform and parents will be able to find it … right?

The truth is that it’s easy to get lost on a course marketplace. Your brand fades into the background and the platform is front-and-center. What’s worse is that the platform takes a chunk of every transaction, with rates as high as 30% on top of standard transaction fees and booking fees. You’re trading a little convenience for a big cut in revenue. 

If you’re thinking, there has to be another solution, you’re right. Let’s compare Sawyer head-to-head against CourseStorm’s online class registration system.

Who Uses Sawyer?

Sawyer is designed specifically for people and organizations that sell children’s activities. They offer registration software that includes payment processing and class management tools. Basic reporting and email integrations are included.

Organizations that use Sawyer also list classes on the Sawyer Marketplace, which allows parents to see classes from multiple organizations on one dashboard. Classes booked through the Sawyer Marketplace incur an additional fee of between 30% and 15% depending on your pricing tier. In return, you get listings on their site and the possibility that your course will appear on an emailed list of featured courses at some point.

Having your class listed on a marketplace with others could increase visibility, but also puts you head-to-head with your competitors.

While getting listed on the marketplace sounds like a perk, it also has some drawbacks. Yes, it could increase your visibility. It also puts you head-to-head with other classes in the same category. The top-level listings display only basic class information and an image. So there’s not a lot to work with if you want to make your classes stand out from the crowd.

Screenshot of the Sawyer Marketplace for kids' classes

That being said, Sawyer does offer some convenience for parents. They can register their children for a range of classes and activities offered by multiple organizations by using their family login. A parent could book with you several times and never visit your website at all. That may be part of the reason Sawyer lets you opt out of marketplace listing if you pay for a higher tier membership.

Comparing the Cost Per Student

Sawyer offers three pricing tiers after the end of your two-week free trial. If you pay month-to-month, the base rate is $129 per month. You’ll save about $20 per month if you commit to a yearly subscription. At that lowest tier you’ll also pay a booking fee plus 30% in marketplace fees.

To put that in perspective, if your class is priced at $39, you’ll pay $11.70 to Sawyer for each registration that comes through the marketplace. Then, you’ll pay an additional service fee of $2.99, which you can pass on to the customer if you want. Finally, there’s the credit card processing fee of 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.  

So with all the fees added up, you’ll pay Sawyer $15.82 for each $39 registration on top of your monthly subscription fee.

CourseStorm has no monthly fee, which makes a difference if your classes are seasonal.

At CourseStorm, we do things a little differently. There’s no monthly fee, which makes life really easy if your classes are seasonal. You also pay a much lower rate of just 4% per registration and 3% for credit card processing. Our service fee is lower too, just $1.99 per student. This is typically rolled into the students’ cost.

Is Sawyer Easy to Use?

Credit where credit is due, it seems like Sawyer is fairly easy to use out of the box. Most reviewers agree that they could create a class listing without needing customer support. Many talk about the clean interface and nice visuals.

Adding course listings to your website is another matter. You’ll need to request an embed code for each calendar or course group you would like to embed. This request is sent as an email that needs to be dealt with by a customer service technician. By contrast, CourseStorm provides several different embedding options you can access at any time — no support request required.

The marketplace functionality also creates certain limitations. Some reviewers mention wanting to customize basic elements like the course category and needing special technical help to do so. 

It makes sense; Sawyer wants to promote consistent branding and organization across their site. Organizations that use the Sawyer marketplace will need to adjust to fit that mold.

CourseStorm puts you in charge of your branding by enabling you to customize your course categories, forms, and marketing emails.

At CourseStorm, we want programs to be in charge of their branding. Categories and subcategories are completely customizable. You also have access to edit your forms, automatic marketing emails, and SMS reminder messages.

CourseStorm vs. Sawyer: Key Features

Even Sawyer’s lowest tier offers a good array of features. They focus primarily on making it easy for parents to register for multiple classes from different organizations. To facilitate this, customization options are more limited. Here’s a head-to-head comparison of features offered by Sawyer’s lowest cost tier vs CourseStorm’s universal model. 

Sawyer vs. CourseStorm features comparison chart

This is just a sampling of some of the features we think are most important for organizations that offer classes for kids. We left off a number of CourseStorm features that are more valuable for adult education and enrichment programs.

Which Software Should You Choose? 

The right software for you is the one that feeds your needs, goals, and budget. We can’t tell you which solution is the right fit for your organization. However, we can offer a few things to keep in mind as you decide.

  1. Consider the whole cost. On some platforms, fees can add up quickly. Consider the whole cost of doing business with any platform. Calculate the price you’ll have to charge for your most popular courses in order to meet your budgetary needs. 

  2. Find a best-fit solution. Look for a class registration tool that meets the needs of all of your students. If you offer different types of classes or serve multiple audiences (kids, adults, seniors) an all-in-one solution will keep things simple.

  3. Identify your must-have features. A long list of features can seem like a selling point, but only if they’re the features your program needs. Make a list of the core features you need and look for a solution that seamlessly provides them.

  4. Get recommendations. Other organizations in your area may offer kids classes too. Ask them what registration system they use and how they feel about it. To make it easy for you, we’ve put together a list of CourseStorm customers who would be happy to share their experience. Just reach out.

Whichever platform you choose, remember that availability is not the same as marketing. If a parent has dozens or even hundreds of classes to choose from, they need a reason to choose yours. You’ll still need to figure out how to best market your classes to maximize registrations. 

Set your program up for success with our free guide to marketing classes with your website. We’ll show you how to use your website to sell more classes. If you’d like to try CourseStorm for yourself, start your free trial today.

Greg Shula

Greg has spent a decade analyzing business and marketing performance metrics of the companies he has worked with. He uses his analytical mind and investigative skills to find trends and simple answers from complicated data sets. Greg is also an amateur photographer who loves to capture nature from new perspectives.

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