Just Give Them What They Want...?

If you’re developing an online product or service, inevitably you’ll enter the world of social media marketing. That’s the world I found myself entering when I decided to create an online course and coaching program on creativity for therapists. If you’re thinking of creating and delivering something online, you’ll hear some pretty insistent directives “if you want to succeed.”

First and foremost, you’re told you have to deliver “what they want.” You’re told to identify an “ideal customer avatar,” speak to their “pain points,” and offer a solution, a desired result. You’re assured that this is the way (the only way, according to many experts) to build a successful business. No doubt those advocates have realized their own successes through these methods, tried and true (for them), but I like to think it’s only one way of going about things.

I used to be a professor, and my undergraduate degree was in the liberal arts. Remember the “liberal arts”? Those “useless” degrees in English and history? My schooling didn’t prepare me for a job per se. It taught me how to think. How to see. How to consider things deeply, critically. How to survive through book smarts to complement the commonsense street smarts I already had.

As a professor, I didn’t always give my students what they wanted. And sometimes they resented me for it. But it was my responsibility not only to teach, but to advocate for what I felt was important to know. So I did this to the best of my ability.

I think the online/social media learning space needs this kind of advocacy. Thoughtful consideration of what’s important to teach, share, and critically explore. Together. Closely.

So if you’re developing an online program or service, and you’re tempted by the experts who insist that you “just give them what they want,” think again.

Maybe it’s not quite that simple. And maybe you don’t want it to be.


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