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Imagine you just walked into a car dealership. You’re interested in upgrading to a newer car, but not sure they have what you’re looking for.

The salesperson is doing what salespeople do – talk about their cars:

“This one has low miles.”

“This one comes with a warranty.”

“This one has GPS installed.”

“What about this one?” you say “Can I take it for a test drive?”


“Excuse me?”

Crazy right? Who in their right mind would buy a car without a test drive?

Well, what about your online course?

Do you let your potential customers “test drive” you before they buy? Or are you making it difficult for prospects to become customers?

The solution is content marketing.

With consistent, valuable and targeted free content you can build fans and then help those fans become customers.

Enter: Content Marketing

Think of your free content as a “test drive” of you – the author – and your solutions (like your online course). Once prospects enjoy your free content, they’ll naturally want more.

Think of your free content as a “test drive” of you - the author - and your solutions. @HughCulver Click To Tweet

Just like test driving that new car – it’s pretty hard to feel good climbing back into the old junker.

In my Business Of Speaking School, I use the Profit Pyramid to explain how free content can turn prospects into sales.

Related: 5 Steps to Creating Free Content That Attracts Your Ideal Customers

Create a Profit Pyramid for your online course

The bottom of the Profit Pyramid is your free content. This is to attract new prospects. Free content could be videos on your YouTube channel, a blog, vlog, LinkedIn Pulse article, webinar, live presentation – even FaceBook Live.

Your free content needs to be targeted and valuable. Whether your expertise is health, finances, or time management, each time you publish you need to tackle one specific problem.

I try to create content that makes readers think “This is exactly what I needed to know right now!”

How to Sell More Online Courses Using a Profit Pyramid

And this is when the magic happens.

Of all the free content floating around the web, you’ve now proven yourself to be generous and helpful—you’re now unique in the prospect’s mind.

Most importantly, you’ve positioned yourself as an authority—someone they know, like and trust.

“All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust.” – Bob Burg

Now that you’ve established a relationship with your fan, it’s time to move them to Tier 1 in the Profit Pyramid.

Your Tier 1 offer – called a “lead magnet” – is an incentive for them to join your list.

Once they “put their hand up” and become a fan, your job is nurture that relationship by continuing to consistently publish targeted, relevant and valuable content.

The next step is to offer your fans a paid solution, like your online course.

Before you do, you need to understand that only a small percent of fans will become customers. You can influence that percentage by improving the relevance and perceived value of your solutions, but ultimately it’s a number game: the more fans – the more customers.

Related: How to Create a Sales Funnel to Sell Your Online Course on Autopilot

Use free content to turn fans into customers

From Tier 1 you can move directly to Tier 2 – your online course. Of course, you need to build a launch program, with incentives and urgency, but you can market a paid solution to fans, even though they have no history of buying from you.

Going one step further, some online marketers have a three-tier Profit Pyramid that looks like this:

Tier 1 – free offer

Tier 2 – $20-$100 product

Tier 3 – over $100 product, course, event

For my business, I have two Tier 1 lead magnets: Hero Habits and The 15 biggest mistakes speakers make.

Tier 2 is my Business Of Speaking – Community membership group ($69/month)

Tier 3 is my annual BOSS (Business Of Speaking School) launch ($1,497).

It’s not essential you have three Tiers – what’s important is that transitioning from Tier 1 (lead magnet) to Tier 2 (paid solution) is a logical next-step for your fan. For example, if I really enjoyed your free ebook about difficult conversations, then a natural option would be to pay for an even more complete solution.

Ultimately you want me to become a loyal fan.

Creating loyal fans

Everyone wants loyal fans.

Loyal fans are your best customers and most likely to sing your praises to others.

Of course, you may have affiliates supporting your launch and use advertising, webinars and social media, but your loyal fans will always be your most loyal buyers.

The trick is to build your loyal fan base.

When you create a consistent, manageable content marketing system you can have the best of both worlds: more fans and more revenue.

Everybody wants a test drive, your job is to make that experience so good they never want to leave.

Loyal fans are your best customers and most likely to sing your praises to others. @HughCulver Click To Tweet

Hugh Culver is the founder of BOSS (Business of Speaking School), where he teaches experts the business of speaking. He is also the CEO of SOS (Stand Out Social), a social media service for bloggers. To get in touch with Hugh visit