Today I’m talking with David Berkowitz about how companies and individuals can slice through the noise and get the attention of the biggest brands on the planet. David has presented at over 350 events worldwide, including Cannes Lions, SXSW, and CES. He has worked with the world’s top agencies and brands, including 360i, MRY, iCrossing, Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, Mondelez, Porsche, Saks, and many others.
This is a show all about getting attention online. Whether it is for you personally or for your company, each week we delve into how to get attention, how to keep attention, and how to make money from attention.
‘May I Have Your Attention…’ is brought to you by Captivate.ai, which turns your webinar or podcast into three months of social media content. Find out more at Captivate.ai
David is the founder of the Serial Marketer, where he creates demand generation programs for breakthrough B2B businesses with a focus on positioning, thought leadership, and business development. His experience spans marketing strategy, content marketing, business development, and strategic partnerships at tech startups (Sysomos, Storyhunter) and agencies (360i, MRY, iCrossing) while working with some of the world’s boldest brands (Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, Mondelez, Porsche, Saks, and many others). He has been a Speaker at 350+ events including: Cannes Lions, South by Southwest (SXSW), and the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
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If your heart’s in it for the right reasons, you can forgive yourself for a lot of choices you make or don’t make.
My goal is to keep the net income close to zero for a while just so that I can keep investing in the community.
It was important to me to be there to facilitate things but not be too much of a mother hen sitting on top of every single chick in the community.
If the community you want to join doesn’t exist, you should start it.
Communities are kind of like startups. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to having my own product and I treat it very much like a product.
When I introduce myself, I start with the community because I know that the community is going to be so likely to provide some kind of value to the people that I’m talking with.
Justin Nassiri 00:00
On this episode of May I have your attention.
David Berkowitz 00:02
If the community you want to join doesn’t exist, you should start it.
Justin Nassiri 00:06
Today I’m talking with David Berkowitz about how companies and individuals can slice through the noise and get the attention of the biggest brands on the planet. David has presented over 350 events worldwide including Cannes Lions South by Southwest and CES, he has worked with the world’s top agencies and brands including 360, Ai, MRI, iCrossing, Coca Cola, Johnson and Johnson Mondelez, pour sacks, and many others. This is a show all about getting attention online, whether it’s for you personally or for your company. Each week we delve into how to get attention, how to keep attention and how to make money from it. May I have your attention is brought to you by captivate.ai, which turns your webinar or podcast into three months of social media content? Find out [email protected] Thank you for your attention. And let’s get started with today’s episode. Well joining me today in the middle of Manhattan my debt my guest is David Berkowitz. David, welcome to me, I have your attention.
David Berkowitz 01:06
Great to be here. Thanks,
Justin Nassiri 01:07
Justin. And special thanks to land fan who reconnected us we actually met almost a decade ago in in New York when you were at 360 AI. And so it’s kind of crazy to get that that full circle. But I want to give everyone a sense of your background because it’s it’s pretty expansive. And I think we’ll lead into a couple of different things here. So first of all, David is the founder of the serial marketer, where he creates demand generation programs for breakthrough b2b businesses with a focus on positioning, thought leadership and business development. His experience spans marketing strategy, content marketing, business development, and strategic partnerships at tech startups, including ces most story Hunter and agencies including 360 ai Mr. Why crossing while working with some of the world’s boldest brands like Coca Cola Johnson and Johnson, Mondelez, Porsche Sachs and many others. He has been a speaker at 350 Plus events, including Cannes Lions, South by Southwest, and the Consumer Electronics Show. I hate ending there, because I just feel like this is the the low point in your public speaking to our this will be 351 over
David Berkowitz 02:17
here, this is this huge. What I’ve been waiting for this.
Justin Nassiri 02:22
Awesome. Well, let’s start off. You know, one of the things that I realized when LAN introduced us is that you’re building a community just as she is. And you’re building a community as a long term project, that’s not necessarily your full time exclusive focus. And so I’m wondering for others who might find themselves in that same position, what advice do you have for them about building a community, while not expecting that to be your primary source of income?
David Berkowitz 02:49
Well, I’ve done a lot of things wrong, and I’ve done a lot of things right. And, and a lot of stuff I’ve done wrong has been intentionally wrong, or just gone about things in ways that that don’t necessarily make all that much sense. And, and along the way, you realize that that you can still get to the right place, even by doing some things wrong. So you can maybe some of the first advice I’d give is that if your heart’s in it for the right reasons, you can forgive yourself for for a lot of choices you make or don’t make. And some of that also is like, even even for me having this zero marketers community, we’ve crossed the 2000 member Mark, just a number of days ago. And and this is something that like for some people that feels like really fast growth for some, sometimes they feel really slow, because especially if you’re in the weeds, like you see it, I see those days that are great, and the community is all rallying around something and you see days or weeks that are just dead, you know, and you wonder await like, is this actually doing anything for anyone? So, but knowing having, having some sense of, of why you’re doing this, and also the value that people are getting out of it in jobs and games, or is this just something where it’s a little more fun that you have a great kind of value? If you can make that happen? Then Then what what is it? Is it more Is it starting initially with something really practical, like product support and then and then maybe it gets into some other deeper kinds of value from there. So there are a lot of ways to go about it. But uh, but it’s like, like Yeah, it can take a very long time for it to pay the bills. I will tell you what one of the more interesting choices I made. That is not that’s different from me. What I often recommend to others is, is the business model itself. So now, I think it’s a hell of a lot easier if you are fully committed to either having a free community that either you have a business that’s behind you, basically backing it, and the communities, like a marketing arm of it, or you’re charging from day one, and you might tweak the pricing over time, but, but you know that this is a paid community, what I did was I started with a completely free community. And then last, last summer, so around six months ago, now at this point, I added a freemium option to it. So so the vast majority of members are still at the, the free version of it. But this allowed members to fund some of the stuff that I want to do for the community. Like, I now have a a developer on retainer and, and who’s helping me build a ton for and she’s incredible, that it’s, it’s a lot easier to swallow now that I have some buy in for the community. Even if like the the net income, like my, my goal is almost keeping the net income close to zero for a while just so that I can keep investing in the community.
Justin Nassiri 06:26
Several of those things really resonate with me having started multiple organizations, I love where you started this sense of like if your heart is in the right place to be forgiving of yourself. And every venture that I’ve started, I really do beat myself up on either opportunities missed or things that I didn’t do, right. And I love that sense of grace of just realizing like I’m doing this for the right reasons, there’s going to be a ton of mistakes, it’s going to be messy, and just allowing that I think that’s that’s great advice. And then I also like the sense that like if your heart’s in it for the right place. Like, you know, what I kind of heard when you were saying that is that these milestones of growth can be unpredictable, but but almost like gaining a sense of value by seeing the impact you’re having on others. And you talked about, you know, sounds like job placements, or gigs or whatever else. And I like that sense of having that be a marker of like, Yes, I’m adding value in a way that helps people. And that’s one of the things that I’m going to use to buoy me amongst this, this roller coaster. And one of the I had two questions following up on this, and that the main question I was going to ask was about how you decided to make that how you just started to start monetizing, and kind of like how you did it in a way that kept it free for most people, and then gave you money to invest in the business. But before we get there, I’d love to maybe back up and learn more about when you started. What was it like kind of building a community starting with the first person and how you started to get gather that attention and actually grow a community from scratch?
David Berkowitz 08:02
Well, well, so. So yeah, this is and it’s very messy. And I remember, think back to the state Daesil a lot to be good, because some of it is just I, you know, I’m, I’m in shock, the community is still a thing, and it’s become more of a thing. And I just, I never take any of this for granted because most communities fizzle. Yeah. And it’s hard. And it’s hard to just get people to care about something for that long and get people to care enough to invite their friends and peers and colleagues to it. So I started my community with a LinkedIn post, it was July 2018, I was just, I was just wrapping up an assignment. And so I had a little more bandwidth, I wasn’t sure exactly what I’d be doing. And, and I had the idea for a community for a couple of years. And and this is also one of those kind of backwards ways into it. The idea for the community started with the name. And when when I left my last publicists agency in 2016, Mr. Wai then I started consulting, I needed the name actually, I needed something for a name badge to speak at an event. And so so there’s a whole other story there. But I went with the name zero marketer. And basically as soon as I chose that name, I’m like, you know, a lot of people identify or would identify as serial marketers. People aren’t using that as a thing. You know, people talk about serial entrepreneurs all the time. But serial marketing, like it should be a thing it isn’t. And now, it felt like well, would this be weird to start a community because I’m making this my thing this has become become my brand. So the idea that someone like you would then say, okay, that’s going to be part of my identity too, or I’m going to join something that’s related to someone else’s brand, you know, a little weird for me, I also there are things I didn’t want to do. Like, I didn’t want to start just another me to community. Me to in the copycat sense. That’s different meaning, I think I need to be careful with language here. But, um, I and and I, so I didn’t want to just do some that everyone else was doing, I really didn’t want to do a vanity project. And I’ve seen some of those even work sometimes. But this isn’t like, I don’t want some friend of David show. And then. But when I started with that one LinkedIn post, I was like, You know what, I’m going to go ahead with it. I thought that slack was hitting that right point where as a platform, it was pretty good for organizing conversations. And any of the communities I was in that I really liked. Were basically LinkedIn was already fading as far as groups what and so is mainly Facebook groups, or then Google Groups over email. And so I thought that communities were overwhelmingly all or nothing propositions, you get all the messages or none. And, and I was really thinking of the SXSW challenge here for slack. And that is, in my world, at least maybe for the world of you know, your listeners, that, that there’s this one month of the year, where maybe 5% of your friends are going to South by and they’re taking over 95% of the conversation, and it’s just everything, vote for my panel come to my event, are you doing this? Are you doing that, and it’s just like, it’s got to really piss off people who are not part of it. But like, There’s no way around it. Here. I’m like, Oh, great, we could talk about South by in our own little channel, and the rest of the community doesn’t have to care. And this is terrific. It doesn’t pollute the mainstream, like it does on Facebook, and like it does on every other community that you’re in. So, so it’s really I some of this gets all prominent, I posted this request, I said, like I’ve got this idea for cereal marketers. So it’s going to be for experienced marketers out there. We’ll share things like jobs, tech recommendations, maybe we’ll start a book club, ci, the same goes, it’ll be what you make of it. Here’s a Google form, just request access. And right away, like within a couple of days, I have 50 people requesting access to this, that doesn’t mean all 50 people joined as a member, but the interest was there and like, oh, man, I got to work fast. So I’ve, I found a logo designer on Fiverr. Later, I actually put it up for bid. And there was a guy who, who wanted to who just gave me a mock up for free, and just wanted to charge me five bucks for it. I feel a lot better that I’ve given him a lot more business since and I was his second review on the platform, this guy from Indonesia, who’s amazing. But so so he did this, like, I need to figure out how I’m going to set up the slack group, I didn’t know what channels I was gonna, I barely been in any slack groups, like I was doing all of this stuff from scratch. And and so so then I had like that initial base that ultimately became 100 or so people and like requesting access. So, so figure, maybe half of them created a new hat, like maybe half of those actually go and post something or really become an active user in those first couple of weeks. And so and and the conversations started, and there were some days where there probably weren’t any conversations at all going on. But I wasn’t all that analytics driven, it was just more like going in there spending a few minutes a day, if the thing I even had to explain to people a lot early on is that for the initial year or so, it really wasn’t much work at all, it was top of mind for me, there were things I need to do to go and like, invite new people in and just sit just do some things that were also a lot more manual then. But but it was actually not a lot of work. And I also I didn’t want to be overly responsive in the sense that like I I, to this day, I welcome every new member who posts their introduction in the lounge, like I encourage them to do and I respond personally to every single one of those. But I but I’m not there like I don’t need to respond to every single post and then it’s like trying to be too much the center of things is exactly what I want to avoid. So So I think just being there to facilitate things, but not be like too much of this like mother hen sitting on top of every single chick there. Then And then that was also important to me and doing things that like, maybe could have even fostered some more engagement early on. Be more of that amazing party host. Like, I, for me, I took a little bit more of a reserved approach, but ideally, and if that works strategically or not, it at least allowed more room for members to surface things themselves and, and keep themselves at the center of things. And not just me.
Justin Nassiri 15:37
Did you? Did you? Did you put in any structure or kind of rules of like no selling? Or like, did you have to put guidelines? Or was it kind of like self policed from the community
David Berkowitz 15:50
of the self police and went a long way I, one of my favorite channels to this day is the self promo channel, I gotta say, I think this is like, absolutely one of the best things I did that were not a that was not just borrowed directly from someone else. Because I, I copy folks all the time. But, but self promo is and I encourage people to use self promo, a lot, like so when and and when some folks like that there are people whose podcasts and newsletters I know about, because the self promo channel and and there are people who’ve who’ve then like, wound up finding new guests because of that, and like finding new partnerships, because they’re sharing things and self promotion. So So I think that’s terrific. And, and so and even when people are are doing things that like like there’s something that’s just very directly related to their business, like terrific. A habit having the wanted and offers channels were were really helpful, too. I didn’t have the offers at first, and I don’t even they wanted was one of the initial channels. So I had, like, I had some structure. I even the book club thing, like I never made it a formalized thing. There’s now this one member who is reading a book a week, and he’s sharing his write up on that every single Monday without fail, you know, that his book recommendation is going to be there. And it’s something that like, what was one of the quieter channels for a very long time, I had an author to where I do an interview with but like, I didn’t really pursue that in any meaningful way. And so it’s like, I checked the other day. I fairly early on, I started setting up a handful of topical channels and a handful of geography based channels. And, and I guess so someone had popped into the product marketing channel, which I haven’t paid attention to. It’s been by far one of the quieter channels in the group, and of 2000 member community 200 people were in the product marketing channel and like, so I was posting there. I’m like, what’s going on? This is one of our biggest channels. And I didn’t even know anyone was here.
Justin Nassiri 18:07
Yeah. So it’s, you know, two things that stand out to me, and definitely correct me if I’m misinterpreting this. One is, it’s really great to see how it’s kind of like you create the space for people to make an activity, okay, so like with the South by Southwest example, it’s like I get it, it’s going to be overwhelming, let’s just create a channel for that, and people can go nuts. And then I really love this sense of like realizing, people are self promotional, like there’s some aspect there that benefits that. So let’s just create a swim lane, where that’s the norm, and that’s okay, and everyone can kind of consolidate it there, and the rest of the community isn’t tainted. So that’s one thought of just this, like the way that you’ve constructed swim lanes with channels. And then the other aspect is, I’m reading between the lines, it’s almost like you as a serial marketer, you wanted this community you wanted the connection you wanted to be learning from others, you didn’t see that and so you created that it’s almost like you’re I view it is you started to build a backup for yourself of people who can sharpen you and people who can be you know, relate to you and all these things, which is it’s pretty incredible to think of just building the community that you desire
David Berkowitz 19:24
that there’s something to it and and that some advice I have seen from others is that is that if the community you want to join doesn’t exist, you should start it. Now. It’s it’s like the only caveat there is that there. There are a couple of communities like I said, the internet old timers group and so the old timers list, which is been around for a long time, and when it started and it started for people who had 10 years experience I guess in digital media or however they exactly they were defining it and then They were starting this in like the early to mid 2000s. And so I didn’t make the cut. And so, so I was pretty excited when someone finally referred me to this group and I could join, and I really couldn’t even be there didn’t qualify at first. And so it’s still a community where I learned a ton. Yeah. And so so for that, I think that, yes, like, I have much more open criteria for who can join my community. And so, so that there are folks I talk to that, like, I go to some online networking event or meet someone who’s referred to me, and they’re, and someone’s like, like, straight out of school, even in school, but they’re doing some really awesome, like, they’ve got a lot of fire for Mark, and I’m like, please come to my community, right? You’ll probably get something out of it. But I want that energy in, in my community. So it’s not based on the resume, it’s just based on who they are maybe what they’re doing. And I can so so I can allow for that in criteria that makes sense for me. Even if it communities with higher gates on them. Makes sense. And I learned so much from so. So yeah, it does, it does allow for a lot of that, and, and communities often, you know, like like sales, heavy communities, then they’re probably going to be started, first of all, by someone who’s a great or at least a very passionate seller. And so you’re going to attract a lot of people like that. And I say that also, as a marketer, some with a ton of respect from people who are great sellers, right? I just know, I’m, you know, I’m not a, like the ideal person for someone like, like a rev genius, or a sales hacker community or so something like that. So, so yeah, I have this, like a almost surprisingly non New York non marketing vibe. Like that, sometimes I feel like it’s a little more Canadian or British. And it’s like, okay, let’s not rock the boat too much here. But, but that also attracts more of that. And so, so yeah. And over time, when I’ve come to appreciate the sources that I learned from, yeah, it’s less and less about like trades and other top down publications. It’s an kinds of media like that. It’s so much more from my community, from old timers, those from places like just who I’m following on Twitter, and who have curated and social sources like that. So it’s like, I have my own filters for how I’m getting that information. And that does become so helpful for me.
Justin Nassiri 23:01
I think it’s great that you allow the credit, like it’s kind of not I don’t want to say lowered the criteria for people to get in. But I like this sense of not having this 10 year requirement, finding people in school, I imagine that diversity of perspective and experience and background that enriches the overall community. And I think that there’s a place for communities that have strict, you know, requirements, maybe that hat adds more camaraderie, but I love that openness that you’re building. And and it’s also great to hear you know, as you’re saying this, I’m realizing like, wow, like, I’m very similar to you and that I do, I do read quite a book a bit. I like to learn that way. But but this right here is really the way that I found I learned quickest is by talking to people and having a conversation. And it seems like you’ve really dove in the deep end of establishing these connections. And it’s such an incredible way to keep your network alive and constantly be learning and constantly be sharing opportunities. That’s a really incredible way to build in lifelong learning in a way that works well for you, which seems to be from, you know, conversations and slack and Twitter and these other channels,
David Berkowitz 24:14
that it creates opportunities for others where a great a great example that I’m working on right now is so Sarah marketer’s is hosting this eSports and gaming week, and, and so so this came up because there’s a member of the community, Zachary Raska, and so he’s a founder of the consumer engagement company. And so, so start talking loves company, it’s like referring some agencies, his wife has got great a model for what he’s working on. And I started learning more about the eSports chat I might have it i think i could be getting the order on a little bit, but it might be because of him that the eSports His channel even existed in the group. So like we started that because there was that member interest. That’s like, we should do an event. What? What can we do together? Now, I have two kinds of formats one that’s like a one on one guest speakers salon, but with community members taking part. And then I do these speed networking events on upstream, where you can also host office hours is a great community platform. And I’ve gone to more than 100 events on upstream. So I love these days and hosted nearly 20 of them. And so I’m like so. So, as Zack and I are talking about like, well, we can basically take over one of the salons that want to turn into more of a panel than a one on one speaker like, great. We can use upstream and have an Esports focused that add in a guest speaker to to that. Right, I was asked idea to add an office hours day between those two. So that works out nicely. And and Zach and his his team wound up finding all of the subject matter experts to go do this. And I had my developer who I mentioned create the last page in Zach ad is designed to do this. And so now, and now we’ve got the opportunity to educate hundreds of people about marketing implications for esports. And how to get involved with that, especially from people who aren’t experts in this field. I’m definitely not one of them. And so now it just opens up, but like, and by the way, I’ll say flat out with any of this. No money is changing hands. Yeah, this isn’t a sponsorship, it’s just not, it just came up really organically. And I’m like, I’ve got enough of the tools get us enough away the way there that it’s not going to just totally kill my month to put this together doesn’t have to be totally from scratch. Zach was already in the community for a very long time been active. So he appreciated the value. And he was confident that that his that the speakers he really wanted there would join something like this. And it’s happening. And even Zack has been building this as the first ever theme week for several marketers. I just never tried anything like it before. And it’s just so organic. And and it’s like, but, but what you’ve, you’ve been burned up here, it’s just creating the infrastructure and frameworks that allow things like this to happen. Like if I wasn’t doing any of this. I wouldn’t have been able to then do this theme week and now that I’ve done this theme week, that when someone says to me like we should do one on CBD and cannabis marketing, yeah, we should. We should do one on social video or maybe tick tock in particular let’s do tick tock week zero marketers. I’m like, I suck at tick tock like i i always suck at creating content for almost as bad at finding good content on tick tock, unless it’s already been shared in Twitter, right? I feel ancient with tick tock even following people my age and older, you know. But I’m like, I, you know, some wants to do something around. I’m like, I I get the value of it. I’m all in right.
Justin Nassiri 28:18
Yep. That’s, that’s interesting, though, to think of like, you build the scaffolding for the theme week and you you like test it out. And then the implications of that are endless now, like you’ve got the playbook that you can start to roll out that that’s incredible to be able to scale that way. What was the point at which you decided to add in a monetization component? And how did you do that in a way to not alienate those who might not be in that pain subset.
David Berkowitz 28:47
So I started the the paid addition to it 25 months after the community Lodge, so this, in many ways, is taking my sweet time to do this. Now, I started thinking more this way, I had a conversation with a member who became an advisor to the community, Peggy and Sol’s out of Germany, I was at this amazing event de Mexico in at there and, and I forgot Peggy was based there, so um, they’re in the so they’re in the press room, and I’m talking to her for an hour just just just just having this free flowing conversation. And I went back to my hotel room, and I created a roadmap for the community. And I created what became the underpinnings of the media kit for the community. Like I was just spending hours like putting all of these ideas together. And and so there was so much like i in terms of ideas per minute, I’ve rarely met anyone like Peggy and so again, this was one of those Talk about
Justin Nassiri 30:03
hello world. This is Bodie bear this is this is this is just a quick aside, I feel I feel bad. I have a two year old son. The two things I feel like I’m known for is he always pretends to drink coffee. And then he’ll come in and he’s like, I need to get do I need to be working? I’m like, That must be what I project to him someone who drinks coffee and works a lot. That’s not necessarily the legacy I want. But you were saying, so you had this conversation with Peggy?
David Berkowitz 30:35
Yeah, what it was like if every now and then I just like look up seemingly into space and crack up on the other side of the wall here. So right behind you is my seven year old who, who is off today for the Lunar New Year, which I didn’t even know was actually a day off. And in New York now, which I love. Except for the fact that she’s off and then turned my couch into an obstacle course. So all the cushions are on the floor, watching Gangnam Style on Apple TV, and like going all around, running in circles. And so so so while at night, I’ve been doing this with her during the day, she’s decided this is going to be her thing. And that’s awesome. That’s awesome. Like, like just being able to have conversation during this has been a great job, Scott. So anyway, back to this momentous conversation, the the German summit here on the road or something I hadn’t noticed anywhere near. But so. So ultimately, I had a lot of ideas for what a paid version could look like. And I so and so I spent months gradually coming up with that list of of what would I put behind a paywall? A few things were more obvious, like all the video interviews I was doing that were since they’re already like private to the community. Then I had almost all those recorded. And so I could have all the archives Adele’s that. That’s one thing. I, I could do certain kinds of special offers. Like, while I mentioned anyone can anyone can share news and offers and things like that with the community just posted the channel post in the lounge for all I care. Great. But now having a more top down setup and a way to do that. And so, so then I started amassing some of these other pieces. One of those other catalysts was I had a conversation with a team, actually at another upstream event. I met some folks who were running the startup knowledge up, which was in office hours platform, they were already doing something with beta works. And I was like, okay, as soon as you launch beta works, I want to be the next one in and I was so getting to be in early, like I that conversation with the founder of upstream Alex tab. Well, before he launched that, like when he told it to me, I’m like, I want to be one of the first ones. So so very much this early adopter, just like I see the potential for some of these things. I want to test this stuff. And I want to like just find ways to, to use it and work with these folks. So So then now and and so the knowledge up folks came to me and said, Well, your community is kind of big, we can’t we don’t want something where like everyone can join us. Like, this is great. I’m, I’m membership, I want you to be one of my main features when I launched this thing. And this also became a great point where I’ve had this conversation with a few others where it’s like, okay, we don’t want to reach your whole audience. Let’s test something out. I’m like, I Well, I’ve got like 5060 people who are buying into this right now I’ve got this subset. And one of one of the things I’ve come to appreciate is so so I set this up as a private channel within my Slack community. So now, I also said to Premium Members, like you get to test things first, right? So it’s this great new symbiosis here. And so they really are always the first to know about these things that are launching and first get access to now, I before I even started working with this web developer, her very first assignment for me was, was I needed someone to create a new version of my community website as opposed to where all the activity was happening in Slack. And I need there to be three layers to this website. I need the public version where anyone can sign up for the community, learn more about it, right, right to the website, I need one that is slack. Oh auth. So slack authentication. And now as long as you’re in the zero marketers community, which means you’ve been approved by me to do so, then you can get access to some of this content that is not public to everyone out there. And then I want the, I want to find a way to do that, I, when I asked for this, I did not know if it was possible, and said, I want a part of the website that only people in a in one private channel can access it. So and then once through some initial conversations with someone else on Upwork. And then ultimately, with this wonderful developer, Alistair, then I can that been made possible a lot of things like sharing things, either to the whole community like offers that are available to everyone, or, or certain things like the video archives, now just private for premium members. And now this stuff is all all hosted in its own place. So so it’s like the technology and that kind of support definitely helped enable that. And then And also, when I launched the premium membership, my I’m thinking about it as a member to like, yeah, so So I was initially thinking of that 10 or 20 bucks a month, kind of price point, something that’s, that means something to people I know, I think twice before I drop 100 bucks on anything 200 bucks, like, Absolutely, so it matters, but it’s not enterprise pricing either. And, and so I was originally going to go with monthly a monthly option. And I had an idea for monthly, annual and, and even a lifetime on. And I liked the idea of three pricing tiers, I shelved that I skipped monthly, because it just sounded like a pain to manage. Even if I could potentially get a higher monthly, higher monthly spend, and like just people put that in recurring and, and then if it works, I could actually do better financially with the monthly model, let alone getting some people into the funnel, who might then convert to annual. But it just seemed like a pain to manage. So instead, what my three cheers became, were the free community where it was also one of those light bulb moments for me, list all of the things you get by being a free member, right? You get all this conversation, you get all these events, you get access to offer, like you get a lot as a free member, it’s it almost feels ridiculous, I think which is great, right? And it stay in that way. Yeah, I then do the all that. And here’s what you get. Now, if you if you pay, and then I added an enterprise plan that I haven’t even sold that like I barely told anyone about, it’s somewhere on my website. Great. So if someone’s like, I want to get 10 people into the community, whatever, then I’ve got something there. And I also like the idea that the annual plan is in that middle, like, you know, just classic three tier pricing, but one of my tears is free. So so it’s just finally kind of thing. And and I will tell you, I, I hope to hell, I wind up raising the rates, not too far off. But say I raise the rates. I sent it 150 A year I launched it 99 A year for existing members of the community. And then that I sunset of that. So now you go join me 150 a year, I hope to get to 250 or 500 a year. But I’m only going to do that if I’m able to have coffee with you and say, You know what, like, if you spent 500 bucks, yeah, I’m almost guaranteed that I’m almost guaranteeing you’re going to get 1000 bucks or way more value out of it like like that. At so my standard, my threshold might be higher than others have for that. But it’s like, I just want to get to it in a really sincere way where the value is there. And that is why you’re paying for it. You’re not just paying because you like me because you want to support the community for things like I want you to pay for it selfishly. But I don’t want to also set some something that I don’t think we could reliably meet those standards in the community.
Justin Nassiri 39:40
I respect how deliberate you are. I mean, you took months to come up with this pricing plan. And then even you know, I think a lot of the conventional wisdom would be like charge as much as you can, but it’s like very sensitive to the needs of the community and the value of providing and providing so much value for free. And I love the way that that pricing evolves And my guess is because you’d said earlier that you’re you’re at a point where you’re consciously every amount of revenue, you’re just plugging back into the business. You’re consciously growing it organically like that. I’m guessing that one of the reasons that you’ve been able to not charge 500 and charge 150, because that felt right, was because you’re not looking to this right now to be your full time job. And I’m just kind of curious. One, how your time has changed over time? Like, is this taking up more time now than it? Did you know, when it started? And then second of all, any advice for people who are trying to let something grow at its own pace? But they also have their income generator? Like how do you silo that, so one doesn’t, you know, completely overrun the other? What? Well,
David Berkowitz 40:55
yeah, I have so much respect for startup founders, and you’ve been there where like, you decide, you’re leaving your full time gig, and now you have some, and you have all of these other more comfortable ways to make a living, and now you just believe so much about what you’re doing, and that you have to see this through full time. That’s tough, right? And then and you get into the community business, and that’s like, it’s it communities are kind of like startups, you know, it’s the most, it’s closest I’ve ever come to have my own product. And, and I treat it very much like a product. But it’s not like the kind of product that you scale as much as you can and then you sell for somebody Oh, xs multiple. And it it’s a really different kind of beast. Yeah, it’s a it’s like a more evolved version. You know, most people have newsletters and podcasts like that. It’s like, it’s more of that labor of love that sometimes Jason Calacanis was just posting about what goes into a podcast. And he’s like, what I love in his his whole tweet stream on this was like, like after your first 100 or 200 episodes, then you like, start getting good at, then you can start looking at the revenue, then do X, Y, and Z. And it’s like, Who the hell gets 100? Episodes? Right. So so to his credit, he’s trying to, I mean, I think, yeah, I know, he’s just being honest, a very candid guy. But, but I think he’s just trying to scare people away from getting into this in the first place. So I think he’s going to have that effect for somewhere like, I wait. It’s like, I gotta be, you know, it’s 2021. Now, it’s going to be 2023, before my weekly podcast like, is even any good. And that’s what it’s been like for the community. So this is something where, where, you know, I’ve gotten to the point where I believe that this actually will turn into something more substantial I and I think that there’s that there are a lot of ways that could happen. And it could be through premium memberships, it could be through more of a formalized events, business, it could be through more of like, just sourcing and the talent that’s in the community, could be through sponsorships, it could just be there’s an existing association or someone that like sees the membership value of this and then once this to be a driver for so. So there are lots of ways that the that, like the financial success can can come at, let alone like maybe it just becomes such a great Referral Engine. For me at some point that, then like it really stays as kind of, like freemium and like overwhelmingly free as it is, just because like the monetization is so indirect, but still comes somehow connected to the community. Like, I get that a lot. So the more I’ve done this, the more the more ways that I’ll be able to define success on the other side of it. And the more that I’ve, I I love that. It’s almost again, like I guess someone tries to be more modest about it. It’s a successful community. Yeah, it works. It’s, it’s doing it’s doing way more than I thought it would would do and, and that’s, that’s actually harder for me to say then it would be if this thing just like failed after three months, then I talk about that all day long. Um,
Justin Nassiri 44:44
it’s It’s great though because, you know, from my viewpoint, you’re allowing the community to evolve and what it into what it needs to be rather than your you’re expecting it to financially support you in be this great thing. Like, it just seems like you’re letting it pace itself. And I agree with you, like, I see how this grows into something that will be your full time endeavor. But you’re not putting this unnecessary pressure on it to grow at a certain rate to support you. And I think that takes a tremendous amount of discipline,
David Berkowitz 45:20
what well, but but I’ll even go so far as to say it never needs to be my full time endeavor, or it never needs to be my full time revenue stream in order for me to devote even more resources to it. And so So, because maybe when, like, full full time endeavor means so then I, like I hire a couple of community managers, I have other people who are doing this and and, and maybe I’m I’m doing things more like they’re just paid consultant products or paid speaking games, or whatever else comes out of it. But but even for that like to be functioning as a viable business to invest more in but that actually contributes to, to net revenue. Again, like that doesn’t have to be the equivalent of what a great full time agency or startup job for me was, what was in the past. And, and then so it’s just there are these kind of thresholds where it can clear that and, and so I think that, that is if I was doing this with that goal of i, so I need this to make five or 10 or 20k a month for this to be what I need to this has to absolutely pay my rent or mortgage or my childcare bills and put food on the table. i That’s a lot of pressure. And I I respect to know, and those who can do that and make it work and that value proposition or, but so few get there. And it’s like it to your point, so much of this is like buying as much time as possible. But on the on the other hand, I’ll tell you that lately, like as far as like, where 2021 is, I’ve launched a private member database for the community of soft launch marketing focus product recommendation site, I actually have a CBD spin off community that I launched like eSports and gaming week it is happening that there are so I mean, just the number of speakers and things like that just the folks who I’m booking for this is tremendous. And so there’s so much activity right now that that’s going on that I that this morning, I woke up an hour earlier than I planned. And I sent a note that I wasn’t planning on sending to my developer and saying, for a for this sera marketers Academy idea that I have of allowing members to host courses and sell courses that I haven’t even been talking to my community about yet. I’m like, here are my next ideas for how do we make this work? Right? That’s wonderful. Yeah. And this might be something six or 12 months down the road, but it’s like, I I’m so so and I’m doing a lot of very hands on that’s going to create the next series of opportunities. It does become more and more time consuming. But it’s also like, like, there’s so much opportunity out there and look, yeah, if you look at the competition, a that then most communities are not that involved. Yeah. Most, most communities are not that active. Most communities are fine, just being what they are. And like a group of some sort, and there’s an it could be extremely active groups, there’s some that the engagement that I’d kill for, but that it’s just like, just a little spread the word about this dance is that and and, and the more that I want to do it in the community, just the more that it expands my vision for what’s possible, and then I get out and it’s it’s a snowball effect. And I think that this is something that I couldn’t have predicted early on. I didn’t have a roadmap for early on, but like if you allow yourself that opportunity to just go and and keep like you live and breathe this thing, then that then just that it takes over in this kind of crazy way. And, and the thing that I also love about the community side of it is that that more and more when I introduce myself somewhere, I start with the community. And I start with the community because I know that the community is going to be so likely to provide some kind of value to the people that I’ve talked with. Now my consultant is going to provide a hell of a lot of value to me. And for the right person, it’ll provide tremendous value. But maybe that’s like, you know, one time in 100, that it’s like, I’m talking to someone who I know, I can benefit in that way through that kind of work relationship. But if it’s someone in marketing, like, could be like, 50 to 90% of the time that my community can help them. And so like, like, I’ll just start with that, even that even if that’s not the, you know, that that’s not my main revenue stream.
Justin Nassiri 50:41
I love the generosity of that. And clearly your passion comes through, this is like a creative driver for you. I know, we only have a couple minutes left. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you about, you have been inside agencies that people try to get ahold of, you’ve worked with brands that people are dying to get ahold of, I’m curious if you have any advice for listeners who are trying to get the attention of these iconic brands or agencies, how to get noticed by by those organizations at that high caliber?
David Berkowitz 51:12
Well, well, I work with a lot of companies that are doing trying to do that. And so much of it is relationship driven. That’s a huge, huge part of it. So and some of it too, is also just, it just, I mean, I’m sure you’re told listener base is active on LinkedIn, which I love LinkedIn, but it’s also a cesspool. And yet when, I mean, there, there was a guy who was in the m&a space for agencies and does like these agencies, roll ups. And he sent me a cold pitch and, and I had to do a double tape, I’m like, wait a second. This is actually someone who, beyond the fact that he want to talk to me personally about this kind of thing. I’m like, I, I don’t ton of people in my community who might actually fit his criteria. And I realized, wait a second, this is a cold pitch that actually mattered to me. It’s so hard to stand out now. And do that. But if you’re also, like, so much, this applies to pitching agencies and friends, it applies to your job search, just do your homework. And I’ve done things and I will still do things the lazy way all the time, like so I’m not like I’m, I’m sharing advice that I need to follow even more often. But when you get out there and say, like, like you’re working on this brand, and like I can help this brand in particular, this is a problem I am actually trying to solve for you. This is how it’s actually going to help certain clients of yours, or maybe your agency itself, wins a new business. or deal with some of these other challenges that agencies are facing more than ever. Being an agency space was not easy in 2019. And now for most it, I mean, it is it’s so off like I can you go and relieve some of that pain for them. Can you help them? Like, can you help them win again, in some way? Like feel like they’re winning, like getting traction getting momentum? Is there something you can really do? For them in that regard? Can you teach them something new that they’ve just never seen before? Then, uh, may I, there’s so people who really want that you just have to make sure that the value proposition comes through. And I do also just always have to make sure it’s clear like, I Why are you reaching out to that person at that firm? And I’ll say, on the receiving end, when someone should, there’s no like that with me, I respond 100% of the time, like, and I used to respond 100% of the time to practically everything, but there’s good, there’s so much noise out there. Then then unfortunately, like my own gates have gone up more than they were. But it’s like, like for something that that that’s clearly personal, and that there’s a reason they’re writing like I, I want to I want to engage with people like that all day long.
Justin Nassiri 54:33
That’s awesome. David, thank you so much for your time today. I love just the sense of how you’re building the community. But also this last piece too about as the noise is increased, the need for good solutions is increased as well. And so just being deliberate in doing your homework, I guess last thing since we have one minute left here, how can listeners follow you or be appraised of what you’re up to?
David Berkowitz 54:57
Well, well, first of all the community itself. I’ll leave With that Syrah marketers dotnet. So there’s a join, join now for free button right on the home page and I checked every day sometimes quite a few times a day and and let people in. So, so Twitter, LinkedIn, most places on D Berkowitz, David its era marketer. dotnet No, yeah, yeah, I try not to be too hard to reach.
Justin Nassiri 55:24
Awesome. I’ll add all of that in the show notes to captivate.ai/podcast. Thank you so much for your time today, David.
David Berkowitz 55:31
Thank you, Justin.
Justin Nassiri 55:33
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