How to Design a Luxurious and Supportive High-End, High-Value Group Program (That You’ll Actually Love to Deliver)

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Last time, we talked about the paradigm shift that’s happening in the online education space, and why high-end, high-value group programs are emerging as the sparkly unicorns of the industry. I know I left you with a cliffhanger around the hows-and-whys of designing and running these programs – but now I’m back to discuss with you the first two pillars of excellence: design and customer journeys.

Fair warning: this is a ridiculously comprehensive guide that could’ve easily been a course – so please don’t get overwhelmed by #allthethings.

Treat it more like a checklist that you can revisit as you’re building out and gradually improve your program, rather than something you have to implement perfectly, like, yesterday. It might easily happen that some things I’m sharing feel like a lot, or don’t resonate with you at all, which is completely normal – just remember, you can always outsource some parts of this process if you’re in the position to do so, or just make the executive decision to ignore those that don’t feel right to you. You are the CEO of your business and I’m just here to give you all the ideas and tools you might need – not to stress you out and make you run away to a deserted island. Alright? Cool.

Newsflash: you matter. A lot.

The first pillar of excellence is design, which actually has two parts: the design of the offer itself, and the design of the overall experience.

Designing the offer has more to do with you than you might think. When putting together a program, we can easily go overboard and get carried away by all the shiny things we could include, in the name of giving everything, including the kitchen sink, to our students. Apart from the content fatigue that might be happening on your customers’ side, there is another problem with this approach: it can easily lead to you signing up for someone else’s dream life instead of crafting your own.

Let’s take an example: you might have seen that a weekly group call (every Thursday, at 1 PM ET!) is often part of such offerings, so you might be tempted to include it in your own. But what if you want to spend the next 6 months traveling so you know that your schedule needs more flexibility than that? Hell, what if you just dread showing up on video each and every week? Here is my first rule of thumb: if you kinda hate it, it has no place in your program.

The second rule is highly related to this: “everyone else does it” is not a good enough reason for adding anything to your offer, it never has been. There is more than one way to achieve the same result: for example, answering student questions via Voxer office hours or dedicated Q&A time in your private community has the same purpose as hosting those Zoom calls, except the former might not make you want to set your laptop on fire as much as the latter does. You could even have a coaching request form where your students submit their questions and you can respond to them via personalized Loom videos in your own time (while sporting your favorite pair of PJs). At the end of the day, your students get the support they need, but in a way that fits your specific and wonderfully unique delivery style and lifestyle preferences.

The third rule of thumb is simple, yet tricky to avoid: price anxiety should not drive any decision you make. I get it: high-end, high-value group programs are normally in the 4-to-5-figure range so you might feel compelled to stuff in all the content, all the bonuses, all the extras, a million random PDFs, and a gold-plated tennis ball – in order to “try to justify the price”. This, I believe, is an unfortunate remnant of the old more is better paradigm but remember – thoughtful curation, saving time, and providing everything your students need and nothing they don’t IS the true value-add here. Instead of focusing on “justifying the price”, focus on compiling a program that provides the highest impact with ease and convenience – and trust that this, in itself, stands on its own and makes for a damn good offer. 

Now, it’s your turn: grab your notebook and do some good, old-fashioned brainstorming. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What does your dream life look like?
  • If you could do anything, how would you deliver your program in a way that feels amazing and ease-filled?
  • Are there any elements in your group program that work against your vision? Why and how? 

Then, do a brain dump and write down every single puzzle piece you’re compelled to include in your program. Look at each of them through the lens of your previous answers: whenever you find something that stands in the way of your dream life, fills you with dread, or is only there because you feel like you should include it (either due to comparisonitis or price anxiety), then scrap it or try to find an alternative that fits you better.

Even if you think that this is a bit fluffy or basic, I’d argue that it’s absolutely pivotal: a high-end, high-value group program is an intensive offering, after all, one that you deliver over a longer period of time measured in months or even a year. And, crying into a pile of cash while feeling uncomfortable, resentful, or downright miserable ain’t really the vibe we’re going for here, right? Right. Regardless of the size of said pile, may I add.

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Your program is a manual, not an encyclopedia 

Of course, your students matter a whole lot, too – and their experience is the other component of the design pillar.

When it comes to curriculum design, we need to be mindful of which piece of information brings genuine value and which is just fluff, while simultaneously streamlining the content we do decide to include. The question again is not about maximizing the number of modules, but maximizing your students’ chance of achieving the transformation you’re offering.

This is where a deep understanding of your audience, their needs, and their learning styles comes into play. For example, if your offer is for established, always-on-the-go entrepreneurs who want to lead a healthier lifestyle, then slamming them with 2-hour video workshops each week is almost guaranteed to catapult your program into their Online Course Graveyards. Y’know, starting with the well-meaning, yet often purely philosophical sentiment that I’ll just get started on this once I’m less busy. (But they never got less busy – the narrator whispered eerily.)

So, what can you do?

You could break up your videos into 10-20 minute chunks, making your content infinitely easier to digest (and even get started with). You could also include a private audio podcast for learning on the go and closed captions and transcripts for those who prefer to read. I believe that these tweaks benefit any online program out there, but knowing your audience will show you which one to focus on first.

Being solution-oriented and applying the principle of thoughtful curation also means resisting the urge to over-teach. You are offering a clear outcome, a well-defined transformation, and trying to include every single thing you have in that brilliant brain of yours can become more of a distraction than a useful addition in this context.

Sure, maybe there are some students who are interested in those extra or highly specialized things – but this is exactly where the student support aspect of your program shines. When those questions do come up, you can cover them in your group calls, Q&As, or custom Loom videos, but don’t clutter up your core curriculum with them if they are not essential.

Alright, grab your notebook again – it’s time for another round of brainstorming. Here are some prompts for you to guide your curriculum design: 

  • Who is your ideal client? What kind of lifestyle do they lead? What do they need help with?
  • How can your group program help them reach their goals? Go back to the list of potential elements you collected in the previous step and evaluate which ones are genuinely helpful and solution-oriented. 
  • How can you support them best? What content formats and support options would be the most convenient for them?

Don’t let the tech gremlins get you down

Your students’ interaction with your program’s design doesn’t start, or even stop, at the curriculum – the platform itself is just as important. 

At this level, a consistently branded and technologically smooth experience is a core part of building trust, and it helps you position your program (and, honestly, your overall brand) as luxurious, polished, and detail-oriented.

This, in itself, makes the sale easier – first of all, a high-quality free experience, such as the one involving your website and your free lead magnet, is a pretty powerful indicator of the quality of your paid container, thus, it raises the perceived value of your offer. (Otherwise known as if their free stuff is this amazing, how freaking mind-blowing can their paid products be?)

Secondly, you will find that promoting your thing becomes much more fun and joyful when you don’t have to worry about your tech crapping the bed, and having to spend your Friday night answering a gazillion support emails as a result. 

By nailing the curriculum design as well as the platform design, you’re providing a very intentional and focused experience to your students – making it easier for them to engage with your program, get amazing results, and sing your praises all over the internet after all is said and done. And, honestly, isn’t this the legacy you’ve always wanted to build?

I’m not going to lie: making sure that your design is consistent and your tech is playing nicely all the way through can be tedious work. You want to check, double-check and triple-check your entire online ecosystem, and see if anything surprising or cumbersome happens at any point.

So, if I start at your website, go through your application form, get an acceptance email, process the payment, and access the program I just signed up for, will I be startled by something that looks very different from your overall branding? Will I have issues with my payment not going through? Will I run into problems with not receiving my login credentials after I joined?

It might sound overwhelming to comb through everything with such a critical eye, but trust me: if someone is ready to throw a couple thousand at you, these details matter. Suddenly running into a default Thrivecart logo, a Convertkit success page, some random lorem ipsum, or tech hiccups of any kind can lead to an acute case of cold feet. So test, test, test – either go through the whole experience yourself exactly like a prospective student would, or outsource this to someone if you don’t have the capacity (or the mood) for it.  

Here are some ideas of things to check:

  • all buttons work on the sales page
  • application form works
    • after submitting an application, the potential client gets a verification email
    • application is sent to your inbox / application database
  • logo and brand colors are added to the learning platform
  • logo and brand colors are added to the checkout / external cart
  • payment goes through
  • after payment, invoice / verification is sent

I hope this gets you started on your noble quest – and feel free to add anything to this list that is relevant to your own setup.

When tech gets personal

The second pillar of excellence is the customer journey. What the hell is a customer journey, you may ask? Well, it’s basically using tech to make your people feel like you’re right there in the room with them, but in a non-creepy way. It’s all about identifying the touchpoints where our audience connects with us, setting up thoughtful, strategic automations to show them support or offer them motivation, and reaching out to them manually when the occasion calls for it – while also maintaining the delicate balance of not blowing up their inboxes. 

By building out a customer journey, you have the opportunity to forge a deeper connection with your people and do this whole online business thing in a bit more human way – at scale. This starts when they sign up for your first freebie or send you their application, up until and beyond the moment when they’re ready to give you a raving testimonial or become repeat clients. The purpose here is to stay on top of mind, strengthen the positioning of your brand and your program, and most of all, create an experience so wildly supportive, your students won’t be able to shut up about it.

Customer journey essentials

Okay, so what are these touchpoints and what can we do with them?

First, let’s say you’re getting new people into your world through a free webinar. What happens when they sign up? Well, maybe they receive a series of automated reminders from your webinar software, which is quite a standard, albeit “meh” experience.

In addition to those reminders, you could also design a nurturing sequence where you’re sharing some golden nuggets and tips to help them get the most out of the webinar, and inviting them to take the next step (like booking a call with you or filling out your application form). By doing so, you are reminding your peeps why they signed up in the first place and increasing their chances of actually watching and getting some mini-wins. Not only does this build a stronger connection between you and them, the warm-and-fuzzies they’ll feel from encountering a couple of epic a-ha moments or successfully implementing some of your free teachings is pretty good news for your conversions and bottom line too.

Nurturing new leads is all about building familiarity and goodwill with people who might eventually become your students. But, what happens when they join? This is where a well-thought-out onboarding process comes into play. You could send them their login creds in the welcome email, then follow it up with a sequence showing off all the goodies in your program, one by one. Hell, you could also come up with a little challenge where they get a weekly mission over the course of their first month – not only do they get cozy and start actively participating this way, but they also start seeing results almost immediately (which, of course, is not exactly disadvantageous for motivation). 

Speaking of motivation, a strategically crafted customer journey can feel so damn delightful that your students can’t help but stay on track and come back for more. The possibilities are basically endless here, the only limits are the ones posed by your tech stack.

Here are some ideas to jumpstart your creativity:

  • when someone completes half of your program, send them an email celebrating this milestone
  • when someone completes your program, send them a thoughtful gift via good, old-fashioned snail mail
  • when someone seems to have disappeared, reach out to them manually and ask them if you can support them with anything 

This is an art as much as it is a science, and you don’t want to go overboard here either: hitting your audience with a gazillion emails is overwhelming at best, and infuriating at worst. Instead of setting up aaaaaall the automations your course and email platforms allow, start with the big-picture purpose of each step – and keep in mind that any step that doesn’t serve a well-defined purpose is practically clutter. Then, slowly, you can break each down into smaller pieces, and compile all the ingredients, emails, and techy parts to bring that big vision to life.

Let me give you an example that you can use as a template for your own customer journey mapping.

Purpose: motivate new leads to fill out the application

How: via a nurture sequence that starts after they signed up for my webinar 

What do I need:

  • tag people who sign up for the webinar (make sure to check the integration between webinar software and email platform)
  • send an automated sequence to everyone who has that tag (except if they have the tag indicating that they filled out the application already)
    • Email #1: welcome and quick introduction
    • Email #2: tips to get the most out of the free training
    • Email #3: talk about the program and the problem it solves, and share the link to the application form
    • Email #4: case studies featuring students who got great results from the program, invitation to fill out application
    • Email #5: FAQs about the program, invitation to reply if they have any questions, invitation to fill out application
  • when they fill out the application, remove them from the sequence (manually, if needed)

When you create little roadmaps like this, the tech part becomes much easier to implement as well. So, it’s your turn again: take some time to plan out the first part of your customer journey, fire up your tech stack, and get it done!

As time progresses, you can build out the whole journey from top to bottom, but in my experience, trying to do it all in one sitting is the gateway to deciding that you’d rather herd goats in the Alps than do this online thing for a moment longer – so start small. 

That’s it for our exploration of the first two pillars of excellence: design and customer journeys. Make sure to check back for my next post, because we’ll talk about how to design smart systems so your calendar doesn’t become your mortal enemy, and why and how to track your numbers even if you lack those elusive mathy genes.

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Juci Kisistok

Juci Kisistok – aka The Woman Rescuing Your Program From The Online Course Graveyard – is the founder of Code & Glitter, where she helps thought leaders create rave-worthy online courses as ridiculously addictive as Netflix. (Yup, we’re talking Squid Game-level addictive.) You can connect with her via her website,, or find her at the nearest dance floor busing some sweet Lindy Hop moves.