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- Who: Brian Clark
- Website: acls-pals-bls.com
- Course Topic: Medical Certifications
- Interesting Stats: Email subscriber list nearing 50k
Who are you and what digital training company have you created?
My name is Brian Clark, and I am the CEO of United Medical Education. I have over 20 years of experience as a BSN/MSNA working as a nurse and healthcare educator/administrator. My company specializes in providing online medical certifications like BLS (Basic Life Support).
What market does your digital training serve?
Typically, our customer base is nurses and healthcare workers who must maintain several certifications like BLS, ACLS, and PALS every two years. It’s actually quite a stable customer base as everyone working in healthcare or nursing has to renew at least one of our main three certifications every two years. PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support) and ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) are usually relevant for nurses in corresponding departments. However, nurses and healthcare workers change their departments so much, that we end up serving the same customer base across all three certs at various points.
We also maintain a free library of emergency medical information for medical personnel in developing countries. We make this library available as a way to serve the global community, but the doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers that use this resource are part of our family.
What’s the biggest benefit of taking your online courses?
The greatest benefit for nurses and healthcare workers taking our online classes is convenience.Nursing in particular, but also general healthcare, is a time-consuming and stressful career. Being able to re-up your certifications from your home is super beneficial. - Brian Clark Click To Tweet
We also have a fully integrated AI-driven study guide and tutor to make sure our customers can do everything from the comfort of their homes.
How did you get into the market?
Working in nursing for 20 years was a great career for me. After starting a family, I wanted location independence in my work. I also knew how annoying it was to have to schedule certification tests and study time while working 12-hour shifts. Even on your off days, the idea of adding a cert exam into your free time that you need to take advantage of is tiring. I was able to confirm the interest and need for these certifications to be online by networking and collaborating with my fellow nurses. There were also a couple of options already offering online certifications, but the curriculum was bad. I saw an opening to get in and ahead of the market in 2011 and I have never looked back.
Why did you decide to create a digital training company?
As I mentioned before, location independence was a big part of my wanting to create something digital. But there was also a considerable need I saw, and my experience with taking these certification classes every two years for 20 years gave me a perspective on how valuable it would be to make this process easier for the healthcare industry.
Did you have any moments of doubt before you launched your training company?
No, from the get-go, I saw how I could do it better. My experience working in healthcare made me very familiar with the curriculum and required knowledge to pass the certification exams. I was very confident I could communicate that curriculum better than the online community was doing it.
What are your online courses like?
Our courses combine live video and written manuals by certified instructors, including myself. There are no quizzes, just the end-of-course exam, although we offer a free study guide, manuals, and practice exams. The courses and certifications are not timed; you can do them at your own pace. You can finish the course in under 60 minutes, which gives you an idea of the video length, and is also a huge benefit time-wise for our customers.
How long does it take you or your team to create a new course?
It takes about a month for us to onboard a new course. Early on, it took a bit longer, but we primarily offer 3 courses that follow cert requirements for nurses and healthcare workers. I work with several certified instructors to design the curriculum and make it easy to follow and fast to complete, while still making sure the information and learning are transferred.
The process is simple. The instructors use the accredited course material, and together we refine it and personalize it. There is also a lot more that goes into making the courses available to medical personnel in developing countries as we spend some time conceptualizing, translating, and fitting the material to the needs of those medical workers.
Tell us a little about the process of launching your first course and getting your first enrollment(s).
It was certainly chaotic getting ready for the launch, but the process of actually launching was really smooth. The instructors I have the pleasure of working with are exceptional communicators, so we felt our course was unique and easy to understand. Our first enrollments came from two of the hospitals I had worked at previously.
Medical certs are a known need, and having the networking in place was perfect to bring on board over 50 nurses and healthcare workers in the first couple of weeks. Our first month was close to 200 total certifications and very exciting. We had pre-built or pre-designed an automated system for supplying the exam grading and card issuing, and that all went very smoothly.
Do you have a lead magnet?
We don’t offer a trial course. Our market is unique enough, and the service we provide is a necessary part of being a nurse or healthcare worker. My marketing team focuses on marketing material for hospitals and healthcare facilities. I would say our biggest lead magnet is our email marketing setup. We have a huge stable of repeat customers, so metrics like CLV (customer lifetime value) are huge.Being able to send reminders when our customer's certifications are expiring is such a great way for us to keep the sales funnel operating full steam. - Brian Clark Click To Tweet
What’s the traffic strategy that works best for you?
Definitely our email marketing. It was just a natural and obvious way for us to reach the healthcare field. Once we got our foot in the door at a hospital or healthcare facility, being able to market to our existing customer base is a huge engine for our traffic. Our site traffic is fairly steady, but our email list is continually growing.
What online course platform are you using?
Our teaching platform is developed in-house, and we have developed our testing application to go along with our manuals, AI study guide, and course curriculum. We are built with WordPress and use several tools and plugins, but the curriculum is all in-house.
Do you like it?
I like that we have developed a lot of our programs in-house. The process was a little slower, but when we need to update our system, especially our AI algorithm, it is pretty fluid.
Are there any features you wish it had?
We are looking at adding more courses like CPR and First Aid to reach the general public in the future, and if that comes to fruition, I want to have a digital library feature. Right now, when you log into your account, you have the three certs we offer and all of the course curriculum within those cert trees. This makes sense for nurses, but we will need to split it at some point when we offer certs that are open to the general public. Having a digital library would be super helpful for us to organize our customer base and provide different landing pages.
What made you decide to use your chosen platform over others?
I wanted to develop our platform in-house because scalability and future customizability are important. This was easy to do with WordPress, as many of the features are easy to customize and translate.
What other tools do you use to run your digital training business?
Some of the other tools I use are Slack (for comms), Google Analytics, Ahrefs, and Sendspark. WordPress plugins that are super helpful are elementor, WP Rocket, and SEO.
What books or training programs have you found useful on your journey to a successful business owner that others might find valuable too?
This may not be considered a business book, but I love “The Alchemist,” by Paulo Coelho. It’s a great short read about what it means to follow your dreams and how sometimes our path in life changes. Sometimes we forget about our dreams or get discouraged. Pushing on to find that dream (in the book, “the treasure”) brings us to the point of appreciating and learning from the journey. When we’ve reached our dreams, we often find that the most valuable part was the journey to get there. The lessons we learned, our experiences, and the sense of accomplishment that gives us.
Do you have any big mistakes you’ve made along the way that you’d be willing to share?
One mistake sticks out to me pretty clearly. I played a big role in designing our online shopping cart. We were doing well with sales when we launched, but our cart abandonment rate was really high. Fortunately, we have a great customer journey mapping process, and through site sessions I discovered that I had only enabled credit cards as a payment option. That probably cost us over 100 early sales. It was an easy fix, but I underestimated the importance of being able to pay through Apple Pay, Paypal, Venmo, etc. It was a pretty embarrassing oversight as the marketing director and CEO, but our safety nets quickly caught it.
Please share some idea of revenue for your digital training company.
Our certifications run from $85 to $119 (although we currently have a discount running) and we average between 2500 and 3500 certifications a month.
Please tell us a little about what the money you’ve earned from running your digital training company has done for you.
Working 20 years as a nurse provided a wonderful career, home, and ability to care for my family. I started United Medical Education because I wanted location independence so I could spend more time with my family and to remove a salary cap from my potential earnings.
I have been blessed to have a successful business that has allowed me to work from home, and we have expanded to a team of 14 employees and our group of certified instructors. It’s allowed me to have money in the bank for my children’s college tuition and given us the freedom to enjoy life and help those around us enjoy it a little more. The success of my business is a big reason we decided to make our online library available for free for medical personnel in developing countries. I think it is important to give back when blessings come your way.
In addition to revenue are there any numbers you would like to share?
The number I am most proud of is our email subscriber list reaching 50k. It’s not as big a number as some impressive email lists out there, but our list is incredibly valuable because of the repeat nature of our sales. Nurses and healthcare workers must renew their medical emergency certifications every two years. This means if we make it easy for our customers to get their certs, we can build a strong loyalty factor. Our customer lifetime value metrics have continually increased for the last seven years because of this.
What has creating your digital training business done for you personally?
Being able to offer our library free to medical personnel in countries that desperately need help is what I am most proud of. This makes going to work every day extremely rewarding.
What advice do you have for people just starting out?
Learn to love the grind. Starting a company is a grind. Even if you plan for everything you think might go wrong, things will happen that you didn’t account for.
Starting a digital training company stretches you thin. You usually will have to wear several hats, and some of those roles (like an accountant) aren’t very fun when you just want to develop and launch new courses. I wish I would have known that the journey is part of the pay-off. It took me a couple of years to get to that knowledge.The journey makes you successful, and it’s the part that takes the most time. Learning to love that grind will give you more freedom and joy. - Brian Clark Click To Tweet