- Who: Trey Dean
- Website: lowrisq.com
- Course Topic: Safety Training
- Interesting Stats: $5k in 2 weeks since launch
Who are you and what digital training company have you created?
I founded LowRisq as a natural progression of a consulting company (Pinnacle Safety Solutions) that I own performing many of the same functions. However, the limitations of Pinnacle from a business standpoint was the fact that it was not scalable. We were limited to serving those that we could help 1:1.
LowRisq has allowed for the intellectual property and processes of Pinnacle to be ‘productized’ and then delivered to a wider audience.
A key pillar of LowRisq (and safety management in general) is the ability to effectively train. We currently have about 30 courses available and are adding weekly.
What market does your digital training serve?
On a 30,000 foot level, our market is an organization that operates in a higher hazard industry and therefore has a moral, legal, and insurance-related reason to keep its employees safe in the workplace.
Our typical clients are in commercial and residential construction, commercial solar (the folks that install large utility-grade arrays), and data center hardware installation. We are also working with a few waste management companies.
There is a sizeable segment of the markets listed above that are large enough in work scope, employee count, and revenue that 100% have a need for safety management education (and other things), but they perhaps don’t need to hire a full-time employee in order to do it. What often happens, then, is that they either don’t train their employees, partially train them, or start training after a negative incident. We fill in those gaps.
What’s the biggest benefit of taking your online courses?
The biggest benefit of taking our courses is the ability to deliver the training in a group or individually on a mobile device. And once students are finished with the course, it automatically updates the LowRisq Safety Management Database with the employee’s training record if the company has that service level. If they don’t and are just taking the courses on their own, then they get a Certificate of Completion.
Taking safety training is half the battle when it comes to OSHA. Having proof of that training is a critical component of OSHA compliance and many employers have a hard time proving employee training.
How did you get into the market?
It was a loooong process. I owned my consulting company while simultaneously holding a few other positions. It was a lot of work for sure. I was the Health and Safety Director at the University of Virginia and I was a consultant for a commercial insurer. I also did some work for a defense contractor and I was a volunteer firefighter in a very busy fire company in metro Washington, DC.
All of these experiences exposed me to thousands of companies, owners, and employees. The need in the market for our products and training evolved over the course of those experiences.
Why did you decide to create a digital training company?
Digital training allows for training at scale. It’s possible to provide training to many more people with the same amount of effort. Further, digital training provides the most benefit in our market space in a lot of instances because it’s easy to deliver and, if it weren’t, these workers may not be able to get trained in the first place.
Did you have any moments of doubt before you launched your training company?
Oh yes.Moments of doubt are typical and I would propose if you don’t have them, then you aren’t pushing the envelope enough to provide meaningful information. - Trey Dean Click To Tweet
I am still using my first course, but it makes me cringe. It is first on the list to be recreated.
As to doubt in general … my advice is to accept it and then move on. If you try to fight doubt in what you are doing, you set yourself up for more stress.
When I was first recording content, along with all of the other components of the business, my wife and I would laugh that I would seem to have one day per week where I thought I had to be crazy to be doing what I was doing.
I learned to accept it, though, because I felt that even if the outcome wasn’t what I wanted, I was creating an asset and it would provide value. The question was how much value. That helped.
What are your online courses like?
I do my best to mix it up as much as possible.
I use a combination of Prezi, PowerPoint (that I write on), live person training, and audio.
Then I almost always use a knowledge check or quiz.
Typically, I use Loom to record my screen and I have my video in real-time on-screen while I talk and mark up. I have experimented also with no video of me, a picture of me, and no visual of me. I do that to mix it up more than anything.
Most of my videos are 20-40 minutes. Some are standalone training and I also have courses that are up to 8 or so videos to complete a course.
I think 15-30 minutes is best. After you are done recording, go back and listen/watch it a few days later and if it is boring to you, well…….
Also, talk and present bigger than you normally would. It makes a difference. And I suggest using a digital pen to mark up your presentation, if applicable. Done judiciously, students find it helpful. Sometimes I get a little overboard with this, though.
How long does it take you or your team to create a new course?
We are fortunate in that much of the course content was already in existence from our previous company. I handle all of the training delivery and content creation. An admin professional provides the final visual touches, proofreading, etc.
In my opinion, if you are just getting started, use whatever means you can to get the content out there. The hard part isn’t the course creation. It’s getting users. Pre-selling courses to gauge interest is also a great idea before you spend a lot of time creating a course.
Tell us a little about the process of launching your first course and getting your first enrollment(s).
In order to get the word out, we offered certain classes for free. We reached out to our existing clients and gave them access. That way, we could get feedback and also say we have some users. And then we leverage those to whom we gave the free training to advocate for us. It starts slowly but it begins to build.
Do you have a lead magnet?
I’ve experimented with a lot of things when it comes to lead magnets. Right now we are using free access to a year’s worth of toolbox talks.When we look for a lead magnet, we try to give away something of value up to the point where it’s a bit painful for us to give away. - Trey Dean Click To Tweet
That way you know it’s worth value. If you’re just throwing something out there that doesn’t save time, money, or have an emotional component to it, then it’s probably not going to work too well.
What's the traffic strategy that works best for you?
For us, there is no one traffic strategy that has really set its self apart. We use a combination of word of mouth, blog posts, social media, and now paid ads.
Don’t do paid ads until the other methods are in place first. They are very difficult to implement and you can easily lose money. As an example, when I was doing them myself, I created what I thought was a draft ad but it was actually running and I didn’t know it. That was a $1000 mistake.
I use UpWork now to find subject matter experts in fields like paid search and they are usually pretty affordable.
What online course platform are you using?
I use Thinkific. They have been fantastic. I was fortunate to be able to be paired up with some experts as a result of Thinkific’s Entrepreneur Growth Fund and that helped as well.
I’ve found them to be receptive to feedback and questions as well.
Are there any features you wish it had?
Not really. There are some minor things related to pricing options for students that could be added. The big thing we run into is the fact that most of these online course platforms aren’t geared to B2B sales and delivery. In a B2B case, the company is buying the course and then providing access to its employees. Thinkific does have an easy way to handle this, though.
What made you decide to use your chosen platform over others?
I wish I had a really thoughtful reason why we made the choice we did but the reality was we stumbled on the one that was easiest to use!
What other tools do you use to run your digital training business?
We use pop ads from our CRM (HubSpot) on our main training landing page. We also bring in other components of our business that aren’t related to training to supplement. For example, we show people how keeping training records should work for compliance and how to use a mobile app (or app) for compliance, etc.
What books or training programs have you found useful on your journey to a successful business owner that others might find valuable too?
I think that marketing is the key to an online course. I am not a marketer and found it/find it very frustrating. But if you can find some basic strategies that work, you can build on that.
Learn from many of the best online marketers out there and then make your own determinations.
I like Russell Brunson and his Marketing Secrets book. It’s free by the way. There are also two other books that complement that one. They are easy to read and I find them rooted in reality and not self-serving to the author.
I will also listen to podcasts on marketing when I am driving and really just try to get out of my “I don’t want to market” bubble.
Do you have any big mistakes you’ve made along the way that you’d be willing to share?
I don’t have one big mistake but plenty of small ones!
I think the biggest mistake would be not focusing on marketing and sales first. As content creators, we can be so focused on the latest or best thing, etc. but the fact of the matter is, if there aren’t butts in the seats, so to speak, then it isn’t going to last too long as a for-profit business.
Please share some idea of revenue for your digital training company.
We offer courses both as standalone as well as in bundles. Our bundles are in the $500 range and our single courses range from free to $400. At launch, our first month made about $1000 or something like that. Not enough, but once we got the word out and worked through a few other things, it grew exponentially.
A disclaimer, though: we were using a delivery platform that was on our website originally. We had clients of LowRisq that were receiving our training in the member’s area of our website through videos that we had simply uploaded. We switched to Thinkific in March or so of this year and literally just published the courses there in June 2020 because we need their enhanced functionality.
I wanted to separate LowRisq clients that were using all of our products and services from those potential clients that would just want the training. By doing that, we could market the training only. We have sold about $5k of training only clients in about 2 weeks since launch. Hopefully, that grows substantially as we start marketing and sales.
Please tell us a little about what the money you've earned from running your digital training company has done for you.
Delivering courses online in the member’s area of LowRisq initially allowed me to change my entire life in a lot of ways. I’m not beholden to a boss or organizational constraints. I can see a problem and try to address it immediately. Through the revenue earned with online courses in the past, my family and I are able to do what we love the most and that’s travel.
Obviously, with the pandemic that has changed but we are still able to safely do a few things. Our goal is to live part-time abroad, or at least the summers until our youngest graduates high school (he’s a rising 7th grader).
What has creating your digital training business done for you personally?
I always wanted to give it a shot full-time. I had ideas over the years that I thought would work. I’d sit in a meeting and think “why don’t I give this information or training to more people?”. I was always accepting of the fact that this entire venture might not work but I needed to give it a try to the best of my ability. Having been able to do that, create it all from scratch, and have some level of validation has been a great personal accomplishment.