In today’s episode, you will hear from Ziv Raviv, who has built a very successful business in the events industry with a simple growth strategy.
You will also get to hear the methods he uses to build a loyal following online, why it’s important to ask others what they want before you create it, and the power of turning online courses into a membership program.
In this episode, you will hear...
… how Ziv Raviv moved from an offline events entertainer to becoming a successful online course creator, podcaster, and author.
… the simple, no-budget tools he used to grow an engaged online audience organically in just three months.
… how Ziv created unique content that helped him stand out in a crowded niche.
… the exceptional way he used lead magnets to keep his followers excited and to build relationships with his audience.
… the winning launch strategy Ziv uses to sell his courses and to grow revenue.
… the mistake most course creators make and how to avoid making it.
… how Ziv repackages old content and uses it to grow and retain his audience.
… the profitable, win-win model Ziv uses to create and sell courses on different areas of expertise.
… why understanding your target audience is critical in formulating a winning growth strategy for your online business.
… the creative way Ziv collects feedback from new followers and uses it to create relevant content.
… how giving free exceptional content actually leads to more sales from paid content.
Hello, everyone, and welcome to the show. Today, I have Ziv Raviv with Kivi Media on. How are you doing today?
Hello, Jeremy. Hello, Course Igniter Podcast nation. What's up?
Doing good. It's raining a little bit but I am very happy to have you on. I saw your post in the groups and reached out to you because it looks like you've had some really good success with online courses. And I would love to just dive deep into what you've been doing.
I always like to start at the beginning to get a sense of where everyone has come from. So, how did you get started in online business and developing online courses?
First of all, thank you for having me here. It's really a pleasure talking with you and with your audience. Starting with online courses actually started as a student for me. I was having a small local business that was basically providing services in the event industry.
So people will celebrate an event and we'll go in and make it better in all sorts of ways. And I found a podcast that talked about the event industry and really gives valuable information. And I started to make more money by listening to that podcast.
Eventually, when they launched an online course, I dived straight in and made even more money by joining the online course. And it was ridiculous. It was like investing 150 bucks on an online course and immediately made like 700 bucks in the next gig of my local business.
The experience was really satisfying. I felt it was very clever move on the podcast to provide me value for free and then to provide me value for a very reasonable amount of money that actually helped me get results. The whole thing was really a positive experience.
Back then, I was actually in a position where I had three kids. I still have three kids, but one of them back then was a six-month-old baby. And we had to make a lot more money to survive. I had quit my job to pursue my dream in the event industry and I needed to make sure that I provide.
I learned a lot during that year when I became a full-time business owner that I grew my business to a level of a six-figure business that I figured out that I have some information on how to market yourself that is worth something. So I started a podcast of my own.
That podcast created an audience very fast, in three months time. And I just followed the lead of other podcasters and launched my first course for $11,000 in the first launch. And the rest, as they say, is history. That really turned me on into online marketing and into creating online courses.
Awesome. That's an amazing story. I want to dive deep into that because I imagine it just wasn't as easy as publishing a course and making $11,000 right out of the bat. But that's some really great success.
So what kind of events were these? Were these networking events? Or what kind of events were you focusing on?
It was a combination of personal, private events like birthdays and celebrations, newborn parties, weddings, and so on. And even all sorts of corporate events where big companies will celebrate some events for their employees.
I would basically bring in an array of services from decorating the event or creating some sort of an entertainment plan for the event. That was basically the niche that I was operating in.
Okay, cool. So when you created your podcast, that podcast was helping others with these kinds of issues that you have when you're creating events?
Correct. I already understood the local market in the event industry and it was already quite populated. There were already podcasters doing their thing. But I decided to listen to my heart and to do a podcast that will be a little bit different, a little bit more focused on education.
And it was well received as a result of the amount of value that it was pulled into that niche, into this relatively small industry.
How were people finding you? Was it all organic through the podcasting platforms or were you promoting it in other places too? How did you get so many followers so quickly?
Actually, so many followers is something that is different from niche to niche. And in my case, I actually only needed 400 people to be on my email list when I launched my first course. So it's ridiculously low from my standpoint; a small amount of people.
Of course, later, we grew with our email list, but we were operating inside the micro niche, which is not the event industry at large, but a very specific type of service providers within the event industry. So it started with the podcast and Facebook marketing with a Facebook group.
Those two together were the basis, were like the bread and butter for us, without any budget, basically. And mainly because we knew that people in this industry, in that niche are congregating in very specific places. So we could go there and say, "Hey, this is a free resource. It's awesome. Check it out."
And because it was so valuable, people talked about us. And on every episode, we had a unique gift with an opt-in bribe, basically, in exchange for an email address. So we grew our email list relatively fast.
I wanted to ask you about that. When you created the offer bribe or the lead magnet to capture those email addresses, did you say that you were creating different ones for each episode?
Were they tailored to that episode? If you were doing an episode on one specific subject, you would create an offer bribe for that particular episode?
Absolutely correct. 100%. That's exactly what we did.
I've heard other people talk about this strategy and it seems to do very well because you're really focused on one thing versus a general lead magnet, which most people give out, or sign up for a newsletter, which no one does anymore.
It also creates a relationship because we had many people just download every single one of the lead magnets because they're all different. And they were all well described and they were all relatively good.
If people only have one gift to take from you, then that's their whole relationship. They go to you once and then they can forget about you. But with us, they kept being reminded that we still have more value for them. And every week, we will have even more.
That's brilliant. That definitely gives people a reason to keep coming back and downloading your material, building that relationship. And then you keep providing value because you're sending them new information each time instead of just the same old thing over and over again.
So once you got your podcast running, it starts picking up and your email list started growing. Did you have in mind a certain amount of people that you wanted on your email list before you launched your course? Or did you just feel like at a certain point, it was time that you're ready and you're just going to go with it no matter how many people you have?
I decided to go with a limited time, like a proof of concept where I create a season for the podcast. And the season, for me, was 14 episodes. So 12 episodes plus two bonus episodes. For some reason, that made sense to me. It still does in other podcasts that I've created, and I've created five of them by now.
So, after 14 episodes, I will do a launch and I will go off season and I will manage the course that I've created. And then I will go back into a season for another 14 episodes, 14 weeks. Then I will do another launch.
Basically, I'm celebrating with my audience the end of season. So there's a big event, big reason to be happy with three value-packed webinars, and at the end of the webinar, an offer to buy the course.
That's what I did in the first year. We basically made $11,000 on the first launch and $11,000 on the second launch. And that was when I realized that I have to work with content partners in order to create courses on other types of topics, successful business.
My expertise was to teach people marketing, but we needed more courses. So on the second year, I partnered with other influencers in their niche to create their courses together in a 50-50 split. And during the second year of operation, we actually created eight different programs. And the revenue went up from $22,000 to $80,000.
Oh, wow. So from when you launched your first course to these other courses, what kind of timeframe are we looking at here?
We're talking about February, '16, we launched the podcast. Then May, 2016, we did the $11,000 launch. And then September of 2016, we did our second launch. And then in January, we did our first partner course launch, which did about $14,000.
And from there on, we just started to make another launch every two or three months according to the pace it takes us to create the program, which we apparently do relatively fast.
So we took a total of a year and 10 months, from the moment the podcast was live. So let's say another three months to just dream the podcast, to understand what is the podcast, to find all the connections for the interviews and so on. So to be fair, I would say two years to create $22,000 on the first year and $80,000 on the second year.
That's really great. That's a wonderful story. And I just congratulate you on your success. I want to go back to one thing because I do want to hit on this model that you're talking about, where you've become a producer of courses, at this point, it sounds like. I want to come back to that.
But first, let's back up for just one moment. When you went to go create that first course, did you already know what you were going to create? Or were you doing any type of research or asking questions? How did you decide on that course in the beginning?
Oh, man, Jeremy, I'm so happy you asked me that question because I love SEO—Search Engine Optimization. I grew my local business through SEO. So I was a big fan of SEO.
And I thought to myself, "I have an idea. I'll open up a podcast. I'll talk about this event industry thing. Then eventually, I'll open up an SEO course for people that are in the vet industry."
But then, every time I did an interview with someone, I realized, oh man, that guy will never buy my course because he's just not technical at all or business savvy enough to want to do SEO by himself. He's just not relevant. And then the next guy, and the next guy and the next interviewee.
Not that it means that anything bad about them. It's just SEO is not for everyone. It's very technical, and you have to really love it.
So I realized very, very clearly, very fast that my idea of creating an SEO course is going to fail. All the leaders of the industry will not support a course about that. They will not appreciate it. They will not be able to understand, why am I doing this?
And in that first launch that I mentioned, what I did was literally taking a piece of paper and realizing for all of the discussions I had every single week with an influencer in the industry, what do they need? What do they need to succeed better?
And I wrote down a list on that piece of paper. And one of the things on that list was SEO. But there were other things like business automation, like email marketing, like Google ads, like Facebook marketing, paid and unpaid and organic. And creating relationships with your customers and creating champions out of your customers.
All sorts of things that are super important, I think, for almost every business, but especially for businesses that are in this niche. And because that piece of paper had exactly what those people need and want to get because I understand them, because I was operating in that industry, I was able to successfully launch that course.
So I think that it's so important to not know what you're going to launch. It's okay if you have a guess. It's okay to have a direction. It's okay if you have a plan. I think plans, in general, are born so that you only execute 60% of them, and really listen to the data and to people.
So I'm very happy that I didn't launch an SEO course. Even though I would enjoy teaching it, I don't think people would buy it.
That's a great point to make because I think as course creators, we have in our head what we would like to create. And we're also the experts, so it seems like we come out with all the technobabble.
But when you really take the time to think about it, like you said, an event planner just wants more events. They don't know about SEO or maybe they're not interested in even learning SEO. So I think that's a really great point.
So, you have your podcast, you create this course. And then as you said, you did a launch and you did another launch. This original course, are you still selling that course or do you just move on two more courses throughout time? Are you keeping these courses evergreen or relaunching them? How does that strategy look?
On the business course that I launched the first time, I actually launched it four times. Then I created a new version of it, which includes the videos from the last version of the course but it's totally different, like an evolution of that course.
And it's more of a coaching program that includes the content of the course as backup. Like learning on demand type of thing, where if you know you need SEO, go and learn SEO. This would be, from my point of view, my second biggest mistake.
The first mistake was to think that I should teach SEO, but luckily, I avoided that one. The second mistake that I've made was to think that everyone that's in business needs to learn all avenues of business. They need to learn SEO and Google ads and automation and marketing.
And I thought that naively because that's what I knew how to do and because those things are relatively manageable. You can learn how to do them and do them and get results. But actually, some people are not good at one of these things or even three of them. Some people are crushing it on, let's say, Instagram.
So you need to listen to customers and understand what their goals are. So my more advanced coaching program called The KM Challenge, which stands for the Kivi Media Challenge, is basically the evolution of that first business course. So I did move on.
As for other courses that we create, we eventually created a membership offering. So we packaged a lot of our courses into a membership site and then created the more and more courses for the membership site and for people to buy in a launch.
So I don't have this evergreen thing where I constantly sell the same course by just bringing new audience. And it is mainly because I open it in a very small, tight niche where there is a limited amount of people. It's so tight I know everyone. They know me. It's really small.
Because of that, the way to make more money is to constantly create more courses so that they will want to stay in your membership for a long time. Constantly make them happy and listen to what they need. And at the same time, have some profit maximizer like a coaching service or a coaching program.
And those things together create a very powerful business structure. From my standpoint and from my experience in the last few years that we're going, we've made $277,000 in 2019. And that is based on this strategy.
Unfortunately, I don't have an evergreen webinar, and just people are constantly finding us on, I don't know, YouTube or podcast or on SEO, and literally just go into the niche and buy our courses. We don't have that. We are a small-sized niche, and there's not going to be a need for more people to join the niche anytime soon.
So, no evergreen courses, but I do repurpose the courses when I put them into the memberships?
That's very smart. So you realized that the audience reach would only be so far that you could go. So instead of just trying to bring in more and more people, you have concentrated on a membership model, which is more about retaining the student or the customer.
So then you're just creating content for that membership. And as long as people are getting new content and enjoying the membership, they're going to stay, right?
Yeah. Of course, there will be people that eventually run out of the need and so on. But as long as you're producing the courses, people that appreciate you and understand what you do, and see how you serve the niche, will support you. And at the same time, you will be providing real value.
There's nothing that creates a better relationship between the customer and the service provider in the education world than a membership site. It's just very clear that if you're not going to provide them with a good combination of what they want and what they need, then they will leave. So I really love the business model and how tight the relationship is.
I wanted to get back to talking about you said you went out to find other content creators. So do you mean that you basically found other people to help instruct courses?
Yes, I found people that I appreciated their level of skills in specific topics related to the niche and I contacted them. I offered them a deal to partner on a single project or sometimes even on a multiple course type of agreement. And basically, they teach what they know and I market the course for us. And we make money together, basically.
Nice. I love this. I call this more of a producer model. It's like you become a music producer or a movie producer where you're going out and finding the talent and then using your expertise of course creation, marketing, and sales to help drive the revenue.
So what does the revenue structure look like? It sounds to me like you're maybe doing like a percentage-based revenue structure. Have you ever just paid someone a flat rate just for their expertise and then they go on their way? Or has it always been a percentage or commission-based?
I actually have been experimenting with all sorts of models. For example, in the beginning, I said, "Okay, you'll get a certain percentage, but it has a cap. And once you hit the cap, the course is now mine and I get to sell it further." And you know what, we never got any videos made.
The content was produced very slowly, up to the point where there was no point in producing the course anymore. So we changed the model and we listened to our partners. And our partners, basically, more than anything else, they want fairness and hope.
So the fairness part is to give them full transparency and to give them a fair cut. And that, in our case, was we've created this business model where there's two types of courses—under $100 micro courses and over $100 courses.
So anything that is under $100, we would actually give the content partner 90% of the fees after you take out PayPal fees and so on. 90% of the profit goes to the partner because we don't do anything to market the course for them. We're basically just the hub.
We set it up for them and we take it as access to the membership site. They get some support on selling the course and they keep the bigger cut as a result. If it's an over $100 course, then we have more motivation to sell it and more work on producing it.
And sometimes we will even fly people from all over the world to our home studio, just to create a course, which is an amazing lifestyle to just get to know people that well and spend time together with them. And in that case, the split is 50-50 because the amount of effort that we put into those types of courses is more significant.
That's really cool. It's almost like you've created your own course marketplace in a very niche industry. And it seems to be working out very well for you.
We actually have over 120 courses by now.
That's awesome. So if anyone's listening to this, this is just some great advice. Because if you teach a subject, but you're limited to maybe, I teach guitar but I don't know how to play blues guitar or jazz guitar, you could reach out to other people who are experts in those fields. Then bring them in to your hub and create a membership or a marketplace and split the revenue costs.
And then that makes total sense because if someone has more of a percentage of the commission, they're going to be more invested in the success of the course. And that helps everyone, right?
Yeah. I really would love it if it was possible to just pay a flat fee and move along. In some niche, it might be, too, but where I operate, people are very, very careful on the fairness side of things and on the hope.
They really prefer hoping to make more money than just taking a really good sum of money just for their content. But if you can negotiate something else, then that's fine, too.
Awesome. That's really cool. So it sounds like in the beginning, you had your podcast was a main driving force for traffic and getting people into your email list. What working for you today in 2020 to help drive traffic?
This might be a little bit surprising but the same two main factors are still used by any of my schools and podcasts these days. We have three different schools and five different podcasts leading traffic to those schools. And we all use the season model where there's a season for 14 or 15 episodes. And at the end of it, we launch something bigger.
Then we use the Facebook group. And those two together are, I would say, 80% of our marketing. Yes, we will try from time to time. We did an Instagram attempt with an expert for Instagram that didn't create significant traffic so we shut down the operation.
We did some SEO. We did some Facebook ads. All of those things didn't convert as efficiently as just serving the audience through a podcast and through a Facebook group.
Now, why do you believe that the Facebook group is important to have?
It's especially important to have when you are operating in a niche where people congregate, where they love to hang out with each other. And if that's the case, if they love talking to each other, if they love helping each other, then a Facebook group is a really efficient way to do that.
But more than that, it's important to have a Facebook group because it's a way for you to listen to what your customers want. And that is so important in order to create lead magnets, tripwires, and courses for them. You have to listen and understand what they want.
So one of our tactics is when someone wants to join a Facebook group, they have to answer three questions. And if they don't answer one of the questions, we just don't accept them. We don't. We are really strict on that.
And if they go into our Facebook group and they market something that is not our product or our education, we literally kick them out. We're strict on our Facebook groups, but they are so valuable that people love our Facebook groups. They are clean and valuable.
So, the three questions, the first question: are you familiar with our podcasts? And that is a way for them to be indoctrinated with our podcasts sometimes because they hear about the Facebook group because of the Facebook algorithm, which looks into what other people are in the group and think that it is active. So they offer people to join our group.
So when they do, they learn about the podcast as well. And then the second question is, Are you familiar with our college, with our online school? And that's the second thing that they are getting indoctrinated to.
But then, the third question, that's the $1 million question. And that is, we ask them a variation on the classic marketing move, where you ask someone in the first email, what is the biggest hurdle that they are going through? So we did it a variation of that and asked, "What is your number one desire that you hope to get out of joining this group?"
And another way to ask it would be, "What is your number one struggle that you're hoping to overcome when you are joining our group?" So they actually listen and they actually talk? They tell us very specific things that they're hoping to get from joining our group.
And then we document it all and our daily emails are based on that. Our Facebook posts are based on that and our products are based on that. And our sales page copies are based on that copy.
That's absolutely brilliant because they're telling you exactly what they want. And as you touched on, to use it in your copy because they even say it in the language that they understand, right?
I know that you said that the Facebook algorithm helps get people into your group, but how else are you getting people in there? Or maybe, over time, the algorithm takes over and you can kind of not have to promote it as much. But I know, in the beginning, you really got to get people in the group to get that algorithm going. How do you promote your group?
At the beginning, it was a combination of talking with the influencers that we interviewed, and asking them to talk about our Facebook group or to talk about us. And we did try to go to other Facebook groups and to let the people know about us.
But you know what, a Facebook group is kind of like a social cocktail party. And it's not really cool to run into a party, and then yell, "Hey, guys, there's another party down the street. Come to my party. It's even better." It's just not cool to do that.
So, instead, we go into the group and say, "Hey, we've created another free resource and it's all in the podcast page. Go listen to the podcast." And that's cool because it's free and it's real, and it's out there. And in the podcast, people will hear that there is a Balloon Artist Facebook group in one of our podcasts.
So it's a combination of the Facebook group leads to the podcast and the podcast leads to the Facebook groups. And both of them, basically, lead to more email addresses in our lists because of the gifts.
Okay. Yeah, that makes sense. So then I had another different question that I hear often and I would like to get your take on this. When you're doing your podcast or you're educational content inside of the Facebook group, one question that I always get asked is, how do you differentiate the free stuff and the paid stuff in your course?
Because I know this is a struggle for some people; they're afraid to give away too much free information. How do you tell what you're going to talk about on the podcast or in the group versus what's already in the course?
You know the thing that if I managed to see far away, it was only because I was standing on the shoulders of giants, something like that? I believe in the teachings of many great marketing gurus, that basically say, you should give 98% of what do you know.
And I found that this is really valuable to do—to give so much that it feels like someone has just kicked you in the belly. Like, it has to feel bad that you're giving so much. That's how much you should give.
And here's why. It's because people are busy, which is another way to say that people are looking for shortcuts. They are somewhat lazy. They prefer a faster solution if they can afford it. And they can afford it very often.
So if you go to every single podcast that I've made, listen to the podcast, listen to the insights, go to the end, listen to the tip, after the outro, I have a tip section, do that throughout the entire five podcasts of mine, then go to my blog, go through my infographics, go through everything that I release on my Facebook group, you will know 98% of what I know about business, about marketing.
But putting it together in the right order is so hard and it takes so long that no one is willing to do that, even though it's free. They prefer paying $2,000 or $3,000, for getting access to me looking into their business and telling them directly, "Oh, you just need to fix your SEO issue. That's it." Instead of learning everything, learn only what they specifically need.
The amount of time that they save is so critical that they prefer paying premium. By the way, do you really need me to teach you SEO or AdWords or anything really? You can go to YouTube and learn it for free. You can go to Udemy or Lynda and pay ridiculous amount of money and learn it from someone you don't know, that you don't like, or that you don't trust.
Or you can go to me and learn it for me because you know me by now, you like me by now, and you trust that I really care about helping you. So it's the same knowledge. I've learned from online courses and from books and from looking into the data and from mentors and from coaches. I did this journey so that I could provide value to people.
And anyone else could just follow my steps. I literally share the 70 audiobooks that I've listened to in the last two years. I share that online with my audience. They can literally reverse engineer what I do and who I learned from, but they don't. They prefer to learn only what they need, and get my support.
So I think that the best way to decide whether you should give less or more is to check how painful it is right now in your belly. And if it's not painful enough, give more. And if it's starting to be painful, then you're starting to go in the right direction and you're generous.
And generosity, Gary Vaynerchuk talks about it in The Thank You Economy. He talks about caring—how caring is the new currency. I think generosity is the 2020 currency.
Very well said, Ziv. I really appreciate it. I think that was very well spoken. And we appreciate your time coming on this podcast, giving this information, and hopefully, it helps get some ideas to some people out there on how they can create their courses or go about generating traffic through a podcast or community.
We thank you for your time today. If people wanted to find out more about you, where can they do that?
The best way is to go to zivraviv.com, and I'll send you the link so you can put it in your show notes. So they should actually go to the Course Igniter Podcast website and just see the show notes there. There's also a portfolio website that I have, kivimedia.co, where you can see all of our schools and all of our podcasts.
More than that, I want you to know, I've actually made a video with a few concepts that are very powerful. These are the latest and greatest in course-launching. After launching over 120 courses, we started to figure out a few things and do them differently than the books.
For example, in that video, which is free, we have the concept of the slower free mini course, and the concept of the selection funnel, and the concept of the gradual launch. And that is a launch that actually leads to a launch. And we talk about the double and triple webinar launch. And we talk about testing the length of your links inside of your launch funnel.
So we talk about a few of these topics, give some concepts that are working for us, that are literally doubling our results from some of the courses in a proven manner. And that video is going to be made freely available for the listeners of your podcast, The Online Course Igniter Podcast in zivraviv.com in a special link that I will prepare for you guys.
So, I really want to give back and support any one of your listeners. If they want to learn more about any of those concepts that are working well for us, then they're more than welcome to do that.
Okay, perfect. Thank you so much. We'll definitely link that up in the show notes and we'll have that for everyone. Ziv, thank you so much. It's been my absolute pleasure having you on the podcast today. And I just hope for continued massive success for you in the future.
Thank you so much, guys. And don't stop hustling. Work on it, try to provide as much value as you can, eventually you'll get there. Thank you.
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