The Marketing Word | Differentiation Marketing

Webinar Woes

I was listening to a webinar replay the other day. (Full Disclosure: I sign up for a lot of webinars, knowing fully well I won’t catch the live webinar. I usually watch the replay at my convenience.)  The webinar was an hour and forty-two minutes long and when I say long, I mean L-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-N-G!  I swear they had manipulated the screen clock. I’m pretty sure it lasted three days.

As you know, I market my own products so I was sticking around to check out what the offer was: what was being offered, how many and what type of bonuses and what the price point was.  Some people might call that sitting around all afternoon  goofing off, but I call it research.

The webinar was on a topic I was pretty familiar with.  No matter how much I know (or think I know) about a topic, I am always hoping to pick up some nugget that will open up a new way of thinking or a new marketing avenue.  In our industry, one good trick can sometimes lead to a large return on time invested.

So I strapped myself in for the long haul.  Personally, I think just under an hour is optimal for a webinar but I was prepared to go the distance.

Herewith, my pet peeves:  (OH! Like you didn’t know THAT was coming!)

LANGUAGE:  The gentleman giving the webinar (not the JV partner) was one of those guys whose vocabulary includes an excess amount of “awesome,” “dude” and other hype language typical of 20-somethings.  I understand your voice has to convey excitement but I’m a businessperson, not a skateboarder.

NO CONTENT:  There was very little content of any substance the full first hour.  I know because I looked at the clock when I finally heard something I felt was worthy of writing down.  The gentleman spent a full 5 minutes (maybe more) giving stats on how big Amazon is.  Does anyone not know this? Has he looked up the definition of “Amazon” in the dictionary?  This is what I call “fake content.” It seems like he’s giving you information, but it’s really not information that you need or that is worthwhile.  It’s filler.

COULD NOT FAST FORWARD:  The controls on the replay allowed you to go back but not forward.  I went back to listen to something again and went too far. I wasn’t able to push it forward and had to listen through five or six minutes of the already interminable webinar again.

DID NOT SEEM ORGANIZED OR PREPARED:  Even though he had a PowerPoint prepared, it didn’t seem like he had spent much time working with it. While he never said, “Oh, yeah… this slide” I had the feeling that he was thinking it.  Very few people can throw together a PowerPoint or a talk outline and then glide through the presentation smoothly.

WASTE OF MY TIME:  Did I mention it was an hour and forty-two minutes? This webinar could easily have been done in under one hour. It was disrespectful to waste my time or  maybe the gentleman was not very experienced at webinars and therefore didn’t know how to keep control of his time, in which case it was unprofessional.  More than that, for some reason the webinar itself seemed to take forever. It was slow moving and I found myself watching the clock, taking breaks, getting distracted while he KEPT ON TALKING!

END RESULT:  His product looked like it might be good, but because I was turned off by the webinar itself, I couldn’t bring myself to click the button and spend $700, even with a 30 day money back guarantee.  I had not heard of the marketer prior to this. His name was a combination of two first names which made me suspicious as to whether that was his real name or not.  In short, I didn’t trust him perhaps because he spent too much time giving me too little information.  If he had a hard time filling up an hour and a half webinar, how much fluff did his product have?  A quick trip through his Kindle/Amazon stats did nothing to convince me that this man had a system that worked.

In contrast…

I listened to another webinar on the same topic this weekend that was “put together on the fly.” It lasted about an hour and a half.  The person doing it was an adult businessperson.  She was warm and personable without trying to be “hip” and more importantly, without talking down to her audience.  She was someone I had seen speak at a few seminars so I already knew that she was a “real” person and I knew her business background.

CREDIBILITY PLUS:  She brought two guests on board with her.  One was a person who was unknown to me but working in the industry. The other was a national speaker with a couple of business bestsellers under his belt, someone I have also met personally.  The webinar host herself is a fairly well-known speaker and has had a business bestseller.

LOTS OF SOLID CONTENT:  I ended up with five pages of notes on a topic I am well-versed in.  I also grabbed some screen shots and reprinted them.

TIME WENT BY FAST:  Maybe having three people interacting helped prevent the “droning on” syndrome.  I suspect the time factor had more to do with the amount of content.  In the first webinar, I spent an hour waiting for some – any – information.  This webinar hit the ground running and didn’t stop.

UNDER PROMISE AND OVER DELIVER:  The host said that the webinar was a last minute idea and had been put together on the fly.  So she was lowering expectations.  But you know what? The way you do one thing is the way you do everything.  And the way this lady does everything can be summed up in a couple of words: Professional and Quality.  She is an over-achiever. If her name is on it, she is going to make sure it is a high quality product, even a webinar “done on the fly.”

Her offer was for a mastermind and she gave you three levels of participation, ranging from $99 to $500.  Some people might think you shouldn’t split the offer, but when you looked, it was all one offer – a one-day online mastermind.  You could add in a personal consult and a few other things or you could just audit the mastermind.  Her top price was affordable (she would split up the payment) and her bottom price was a no-brainer.

 

I actually listened to a third webinar/video on self-publishing this past week.  That one fell somewhere in the middle and didn’t have an offer -- yet.  He is going with the four short videos into the offer model.  His product is a membership site and it will be interesting to see his price point. He has little ebook gifts along the way, at least one of which had some solid content in it. He also has a fairly good reputation as a marketer who does an outrageous amount of split-testing of EVERYTHING.  There’s a definite hype-factor going on, but there is also solid content behind it. For his target market (young 20 and 30-something males), he has hit the right tone.

 

THE UPSHOT:  First, this is a FREAKING LONG BLOG POST complaining about a FREAKING LONG WEBINAR.  My apologies for that.  But I really do analyze marketing, what works and what doesn’t and realize that the marketing that appeals to me might not appeal to someone else.  Your tone and the way you present your information is informed by your target market, so we'll leave my language biases out of the mix. Here’s my takeaway from all this (with a lot of helpful input from Facebook friends who I polled).

1. Let people control the webinar.  That means give them time choices for the webinar and replays. Let them watch it at a time that’s convenient for them.  And by all means make sure they have controls on the video player.  Some marketers would argue against this.  I say, don’t insult your prospects, clients and fans. Forcing people to do something is not the way to win hearts and minds.

2. Give lots of high quality content.  Give away the store. You hear this advice time and again, yet very few people follow it. People will appreciate the content. You will prove you know your stuff. You will build trust and confidence with your target market. And yes, people will still buy from you because guess what?  Very few people take excellent notes and it’s hard to write down everything.  I go back over courses I’ve bought and I always find stuff that makes me say “I knew that. But I forgot it.” Having the product gives people a resource they can go back to. Smart people know that.

3. Be respectful of people’s time.  Tell them what you’re going to talk about so they know the agenda. Tell them how long it should take.  Be prepared and organized. If you’re doing live Q&A, take one or two questions, make your offer at the end of the webinar and then stay on longer for more questions. People who need to go can go, people who want to stay will stay.

4. Practice and Do.  The more you do, the better you will get at these.

And I will try very hard to follow these guidelines and keep my webinars (and blog posts!) …  shorter.

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2 comments

  • Brenda Ellison · 08/29/2012 at 8:42 am

    You are one great writer! I have been totally turned off by webinars of late because they are “in your face” selling, rambling, lengthy and unorganized….and at times extremely misleading. If you promise someone you will enhance their learning experience, then Do it. If you promise to explain something, then Do it. Take out the hype and the pitch and let your presentation content sell itself…and by all means…do it a in a condensed fashion.
    Thanks for a really great article that reinforced my feelings about webinars and their need to improve!
    Brenda Ellison-MyInfoSnap

  • Dennis O'Brien · 08/29/2012 at 12:07 pm

    Good article Barbara and great points. To be fair to the “Young dud” (oops dude isn’t it) he is probably new to it so he will hopefully learn from the experience. The fact he made an attempt is good to see. It’s not easy to put together but a little research as you yourself know does wonders. Thanks for sharing.

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