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  • Hamish Nichols

Is your online training programme trustworthy?

Updated: Feb 17, 2021

Online training programmes can be excellent business and are currently selling like hotcakes, especially given current conditions. However, expectations of people buying courses are higher than ever and your course will require a tremendous amount of skill and commitment from you in order to gain the trust of potential buyers and to satisfy their expectations.

Online training and courses were already proliferating before Coronavirus and since the pandemic, have exploded. The “Masterclass” series of training programmes delivered by massive names in the field (Martin Scorcese on Filmmaking, Itshak Perlman on playing the violin, Aaron Sorkin on screenwriting, etc) are an indication of how popular non-official online courses can be, AND of what good business they can be for people who offer them.

The marketplace has become very crowded with the proliferation of courses, so it’s essential to be able to stand out and gain customer’s trust before they choose to purchase your undoubtedly excellent training offer. To get get someone to trust your course enough to buy it online I like to think of David Maister’s so-called “Trust Equation:”:

Trust = Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy


In the case of online courses, credibility is the question: “Why should I buy this course from you?”. In the case of the Masterclass series, it is clear why, but what is your reputation and what are your credentials? Moreover, can you show me quickly that you have specialist knowledge that you are willing to share? You Tube is full of free information, so you must show me very quickly that you are knowledgeable and prepared to give away some, or a lot of your knowledge for free.

Let’s skip past reliability for now and consider the third part of the equation – Intimacy. This means, “are you able to appreciate and understand my needs.” You need to show that you see what people want, appreciate the struggle they have in achieving it and show them you have a great answer. No generic courses, but something specific and tailored to where these people feel their pain. “Intimacy” here also means you need to show your face and be very involved in the programme. You at least need to deliver it to camera and preferably be involved in follow-up and development.

Reliability comes into play when you actually deliver what you promise. If your course content is weak, poorly structured and/or badly delivered you fail in that department.

Notice the equation ends with the divisor being “Self-Orientation”: if your self-orientation is high it is a bad thing, as it means that the potential buyer perceives you are only in this for yourself and not for them. This will completely undermine any trust you have built up in other parts of the equation and you risk bad reviews of your course getting online. Again, of the course content is thin, badly delivered and organised and you are not at all present during the programme, it points to you being in it only for yourself and your students will feel cheated. Then come the bad reviews and the hit on sales…

The way to overcome self-orientation, is through the generosity I mentioned earlier. People on You Tube and other online platforms are used to a high degree of free content, so you must be there for your clients and give them everything you can. You must support them in chats, online seminars, etc and follow-ups and make sure you know and impart your subject to the best of your ability. Online course can no longer be generic, off the shelf commodities that once they are bought, you the writer of the course, can forget about. In the You Tube age we now expect to get to know you, for you to be a genuine person and deliver the goods. This places a high demand on the commitment to and involvement in your training product.

So, it’s probably worth bearing in mind the elements of Maister’s trust equation in your bid for online training glory and in doing so you are more likely to set yourself up for success. Good luck and do get in touch if you want your course produced.

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Carolina Gadsby
Carolina Gadsby
Mar 02, 2021

Really good article guys!! Very interesting and incredibly true!


Juan Fernando Pinzon
Juan Fernando Pinzon
Mar 01, 2021

Nice keep it up

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