The more things change, the more they stay the same.

For as long as I have been involved in marketing professional services, I have believed that the business that educates most, wins the most.

That was certainly true when the standard approaches to adult education were one-way lectures or speeches and sometimes facilitated group discussions. This belief remains true today when innovations in information technology have moved adult education to new levels of popularity and variety of approaches.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that as an element of the information age, educational messages face the same competition for our clients’ attention as do our marketing messages. As if competition from other service professionals is not enough, virtually every individual or organization that has an online presence offers some kind of educational program. And many of these programs are huge. Take for example, the new concept of a MOOC.

What’s A MOOC?

In case this term is new to you, it means a massive open online course aimed at large-scale interactive participation and open access via the Internet.

Being a big fan of MOOCs, I am currently working on my fifth course through Coursera (a truly awesome educational resource…check it out) along with more than 125,000 other students worldwide. Presented by three Penn State professors, this eight-week course helps us learn about creativity, innovation and creativity with such tools and aids as videos, readings and problem sets. And as an added bonus, it helps build a community for the students, professors, teaching assistants and others interested in the topic.

As is always the case, we can learn from our competitors whether they are large organizations that offer one or more MOOCs world wide or the service professional down the street trying to attract the same clients as we are.

From MOOC to  SSOOC

Based on my experience with MOOCs, there is no reason that as service professionals we can’t start and maintain our own small scale versions of MOOCs. Let’s call our versions SSOOCs… Small Scale Open Online Courses.

Three factors that contribute to the success of MOOCs also apply to SSOOCs.

  1. content relevant to individual learners
  2. material presented by experts
  3. engaging tools and techniques

Without question, these factors are as relevant to my client-focused educational services as they are to yours.

Similarly, the same technological innovations that have led to the popularity of growth of MOOCs can be applied, albeit on a smaller scale, to my SSOOC and yours.

Here’s the clincher. The single factor that distinguishes the three Penn State professors presenting my current MOOC from University of Pennsylvania prof who conducted my first MOOC has little, if anything, to do with their respective universities. It’s all about the unique skills and experience of each individual professor that distinguishes him or her from all others.

From a marketing perspective, it is personal branding that one SSOOC from all others.

In other words, your SSOOC offers a new vehicle by which you can communicate to your market what distinguishes you from the competition and how this difference delivers value to clients.

It really is true that the business that educates most, wins the most. To learn more, take a MOOC and apply the same engaging tools and techniques to your SSOOC.

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Yes, strange as that may appear, overabundance has been my biggest marketing challenge.

Abundance Of Opportunities

As a lifelong learner, I continue to learn new ideas and concepts. Sometimes this learning comes from watching the world unfold around me. Other times it comes from my own experience, or listening to the experiences of others. And frequently, it also comes from formal learning and training programs or courses.

Several years ago, I took a university-level course in adult education. Based on the principles of experiential learning, this six-module program outlined the connection between our experiences, what we could learn from them and applying the lessons learned.

What a breakthrough for a chronic people-watcher and observer of life and continuous learner!

After the fourth module, I was eagerly applying the lessons learned and mentally making recommendations for how family, friends and strangers alike could enjoy a better life if only they would apply the lessons from their experiences.

My most recent educational program was an online business course offered by the University of Virginia, through Coursera. (If you don’t know Coursera, check it out…it’s awesome!) On completion of the course, Grow To Greatness, I saw the opportunity to create a coaching program based on the principles of the course.

So off I went on my typical response of immediately applying what I had just learned…and started designing the program.

The Path Of Least Resistance

Why is an abundance of opportunities so problematic for me?

Along with my love of learning and applying life’s lessons, I have also been blessed with a wide range of gifts that made it reasonable and possible to pursue an equally wide range of opportunities.

When I look back at my career, it now appears that these gifts have been as much of a curse as they have been a blessing.

On far too many occasions, noticing that the grass was greener on the other side of the fence, I chose what appeared to be the path of least resistance and jumped the fence.

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It’s now apparent that choosing the greener grass was selecting the wrong path of least resistance.

The right path of least resistance draws us to our personal and business goals. It’s what attracts us to where we want to be…not distract us from where we would prefer not to be.

Having identified the problematic aspect of overabundance, applying this lesson is fairly straight forward.

While recognizing and rejoicing in the overabundance of opportunities that continue to flow, the key is to stay the course. Instead of becoming distracted from a less desirable situation, it’s better to build the momentum that will lead to the ultimate achievement of to our ultimate personal and business goals.

At that time, we can revel in the overabundance of opportunities…or maybe not.