Should you offer your learning platform as a free service? I believe the answer is a very big IT DEPENDS.
It depends on what your core business model is. Does learning about your product and services lead to the take up of other offers? Is it a step in the customer journey?
Salesforce Trailhead is an excellent example of doing just that. It’s free to signup as an individual, take courses and earn badges. In addition, set up a viewable professional profile.
Although, to become salesforce certified, as earn an accreditation in Salesforce, requires you to take exams at a cost. There is also a paid version, where businesses can create there own learning trails for their employees and do branding.
To be honest, I can’t remember when Trailhead became free. Googling to research it just brings up a lot of info on the fact that it is free. When I first started on Salesforce it was only available to people who had a licensed Salesforce account. That was a long time ago.
Which is another it depends to me. It depends on the maturity of your business. You might want to charge if you have a young business. It might be something that you do once you reach a tipping point in revenues where the value-add of learning about your products and services outstrips learning being a separate revenue tier.
You might use learning as a marketing tool. Certainly isn’t that what a free webinar is all about. Making it part of a free learning platform might just mean taking that concept on demand or evergreen. Making it available in exchange for an email to log in.
It also depends on the type of learning you do. You may find you need to layer it. You might make some of your core courses free as an incentive to upsell more advanced courses. Or upsell customized courses for large customers. Though, if learning is your business model than it does need to be a revenue center. As it is with some consultants, coaches, and trainers.
You might use learning as a vehicle to get new customers up to speed. To onboard customers. Free access, when they sign up and pay for a product or service.
I’ve always admired Salesforce for creating an ecosystem for their products.
Initially they did it with opening the platform with an API. And creating a marketplace, the APP Exchange, for people to sell the things they build using that API. Offering Trailhead for free expands that ecosystem.
The ecosystem is part of what makes Salesforce a market leader in their space.
Food for thought. What is your “it depends”?
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