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How Value-Based Selling Can Help You Register More Students

Nic Lyons

July 25, 2023

Most people don’t get into the education industry because they love selling things. Yet, selling your courses to students is an important part of your job. Think of it this way: students need to register for your courses before they can benefit from them. Because you care about students and want to help them, value-based selling may be a great fit for your organization. 

Value-based marketing and selling puts the student and their needs at the core of your sales efforts. It encourages you to work with students to help them find the right learning experience for them. Along the way, a value-based selling methodology can help you register more students. Let’s explore how you can put this strategy to work for your program.

What Is Value-Based Selling?

Value-based selling is an approach to marketing and sales that focuses on creating value to the customer. For programs that provide learning opportunities, this starts with adopting a student focus. You should understand what students gain by taking your classes and find ways to offer value before, during, and after registration. 

Value refers to the worth or usefulness of something. A class can offer quantitative value (earning a credential), or qualitative value (improving quality of life).

Value can be a slippery term, but basically, it refers to the worth or usefulness of something. Some products and services have quantitative value — they can help customers save or earn money. Unless you’re teaching workforce development classes, quantitative value might be hard to prove for your courses.

Most enrichment and personal development classes offer qualitative value — they improve quality of life for the student. 

Examples of Qualitative Value Offered by Enrichment Classes:

  • Increased confidence
  • Improved wellbeing
  • Stronger social ties and sense of community
  • Greater cultural awareness
  • Better physical or mental health
  • Deeper self-awareness through self-discovery
  • Higher emotional intelligence
  • Fun and entertainment
  • More resilience and grit

Use the qualitative value of your classes to find your unique value proposition.

How to Identify Your Unique Value Proposition

Students have more types of learning opportunities to choose from than ever before. They can take classes in-person, online or both. They can choose a college, school, organization or private instructor. Free resources like YouTube and public libraries make self-study an attractive option.

Your unique value proposition is what makes your classes different from your competitors’.

Your unique value proposition makes the case for why a student should choose the classes you offer. It’s an essential part of your program or organizational branding

Here are a few places to start looking for your unique value proposition: 

  • Small class size
  • Personalized approach
  • Unique focus or specialty
  • Award-winning instructors
  • Partnership with a local organization or employer
  • Ongoing support
  • Robust student community
  • Expertise in a particular student population

Maybe yours is the only program that offers in-person classes on this subject in your town. Perhaps you have special expertise in working with teens, or have a certification in trauma-informed instruction. Anything that sets you apart can form part of your unique value proposition. 

Just keep in mind that something only adds value if students need or can use it. If you primarily teach adults, having a staff member with a Ph.D. in child psychology may not add value. Unless, of course, you decide to add parenting classes to your course catalog.

Sometimes what looks like a drawback can actually add value if framed in the right way for the right audience. Being the only dance studio in town without mirrors on the wall might not add value. Unless your program embraces body positivity and believes that dance is about how you feel, not what you look like. 

Build a Value Selling Framework Around the Student

The trick is to identify your ideal student and research the needs that student is likely to have. Then you can create marketing materials, courses, and support systems that provide value for that student. 

The danger in this approach is that you’ll fall back on stereotypes. Instead of guessing at what your students want, research what they actually need. Listen to their complaints and concerns and ask them about their goals. 

Here’s an example: You may know that your average student is a 30-55 year old woman. She is likely either married or divorced and has 2-3 children. She has a full-time job and a family income of around $80,000 per year. She lives in town and has her own vehicle.

With this information, you can make some guesses or assumptions about what this student might value:

  • Price may not be a major concern for her. So you might choose not to focus on cost savings.
  • You might assume she would prefer evening classes she can attend after work.
  • With her busy lifestyle and many commitments, she might not have much time for building social connections. Maybe she would value opportunities for relationship building and community connection. 

The best way to check these assumptions is to ask. You can use student feedback forms or course evaluations to ask questions like: 

  • What do you value most about this class?
  • How will you use what you learned here in your everyday life? 
  • To whom would you be most likely to recommend this class? 
  • How could we improve this class? 

How to Apply a Value-Based Selling Approach

Most of the articles you’ll read about value-based selling focus on how sales teams can use it in conversations with customers. However, many of your students will register online without ever speaking to a member of your team. In that case, a completely personalized sales strategy may not be realistic. You have to rely on value-based marketing, instead.

Value-based selling relies on conversations with customers; if students are registering online on their own, you’ll need to focus on value-based marketing.

Here are a few ways to apply a value selling methodology across your marketing and sales platforms.

Value-Based Marketing on Your Website

When creating your website, look for opportunities to communicate your unique value proposition. Make sure your homepage and about us page explain the unique value you offer students.

  • Instead of: We teach painting, photography, and drawing to students of all ages. 
  • Say: We help students of all ages develop their artistic skills and realize their creative vision through painting, photography, and drawing classes. 

If you have a blog, offer useful advice and lessons, rather than focusing on your courses and program. Sharing this type of information helps build trust with students. 

Including Value in Course Catalogs

Write class descriptions that highlight the value of each class or offering in your course catalog. Paint a picture of the results a student can expect from the course. Here’s an example from a sailing class: 

Deepen your knowledge of sailing and build fundamental skills, while developing appreciation for the sea and its mysteries. Join a community of like-minded adult sailors, ready to embark on new voyages and share tales of the open water. Together we’ll explore essential sailing terminology, equipment, and safety, as well as boat handling and reading nautical charts. Whether you dream of leisurely cruises or competitive regattas, this course will help you launch an unforgettable sailing adventure.  

This example tells the student what they will learn, but also highlights the qualitative value of the course. It promises community and skills, and implies that students will come away with stories worth sharing. 

Value-Based Messaging on Social Media

Your social media posts should also focus on value, but they need to get to the point more quickly. You can use them to announce a class, but also to share valuable content that students might be interested in. 

Consider mixing up your social media feed with: 

  • Industry news
  • How-to content
  • Polls and open-ended questions
  • Creative prompts
  • Fun facts

All of these types of content offer value to students. They can also increase engagement, which helps more people see your posts.

Targeted Email Marketing

Email marketing allows you to provide value by offering the exact classes a particular student may be looking for. You can predict that a student who has finished the beginner’s class might be interested in the intermediate one. A student who took a class in post-Impressionist painting styles might also be interested in a class on Expressionism. 

With CourseStorm, you can automate marketing emails. Our automated email system offers recommendations based on the classes students have taken before. Our streamlined platform simplifies the class registration and payment process, which saves your students time. With no monthly fees, you only pay when you actually register a student.

Start your free trial of CourseStorm today or contact us for more information!

Nic Lyons

Nic is skilled in scaling start-up edtech and education organizations to growth-stage success through innovative marketing. A former journalist and copywriter, Nic holds a postgraduate certificate in digital and print publishing from Columbia University School of Journalism's publishing course.

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