Useful Webinars – What Not to Do

For the love of all that’s holy, stop watching webinars that don’t tell you anything. Seeing and hearing the same thing over and over as told by a different narrator helps no one.

OK, I admit it. I’m frustrated. I just fell victim – again – to the “Great Webinar Ad.” That’s the advertisement that makes it sound like this webinar production is going to be the one! It’s going to reveal the thing I didn’t know. The expert is finally going to fill in the gaps that are keeping me from making $120,000 every month in passive income. He’s going to add that big boost to my industry knowledge. This is going to be one of the most useful webinars ever!

It never happens! I never get out of the webinars what the hosts claim they are putting into it. And, really, I’m listening intently!

It’s funny. When I worked in the news business, I could spot standard talking points without even opening my eyes. I could intercept and decipher coded messaging as if I had an anti-missile system.

But in the years since I started out on my own doing strategic marketing, I’ve tried to be an open vessel to be filled with new ideas and advances in technology. I’ve wanted to hear from industry leaders who were there at the beginning of the tech revolution, who invented the techniques to harness social media platforms and read data in ways that brought insight and results. After all, that’s what made these guys and gals the names to follow.

However, barring a few truly inspirational speeches, I am still waiting for my fix.

Crazy, I know. What have I discovered in this search for the perfect webinar? One, that I actually do know a lot about my industry and that the techniques I employ are effective. Two, that there’s no easy path to easy street (I write this, by the way, the day that Powerball awarded one winner the $759 million prize – the largest single winning ticket in history). Three, that I am as susceptible to good marketing as anyone.

But what are the lessons for me? Do you see where I’m going? How do I use this knowledge to help my own clients?

Let me start by assuming (that’s right) this: Everybody who likes video loves a good webinar. People who listen to webinars are sponges. They want to learn, they want to be taught, and they’re open to trying new things.

As business owners trying to develop a market-dominating position, it’s vital to reach audiences, and webinars are a magical way to attract potential clients. But ONLY IF they stand out and are useful, and webinars are only useful insofar as they can keep viewers’ attention by providing explicit information that the viewers didn’t know.

So if you are thinking about creating a webinar, do not load it down with the same repetitive inchoate technobabble that every other person trying to look like an expert or an influencer has said on his or her recording.

In short: a webinar needs to be specific, useful, and unusual.

Want to write a great webinar script? Follow these basics.

1) Don’t cling to industry lingo, especially if it’s a video introduction to new prospects, or worse, a video that is targeting people familiar with the industry.

In the last webinar I attended (and closed midstream), the hosts said to the marketing professionals, “Something we like to call the ‘top of the funnel – ToFu.'” OK, call this a linguistic pet peeve of mine, but if you’re in marketing, as everyone in the audience was, or even if you’ve toyed with marketing a bit, you know that marketing is about driving people through a purchase funnel. There is a top, middle, and bottom of the funnel (just like the funnel in the kitchen or the garage), each level with its corresponding acronym (ToFu, MoFu, you see where this is going?).

When webinar hosts talk to marketing professionals about what they “like to call” the funnel, do they really think the listeners have never heard the term? Or did they actually come up with that terminology themselves? Because if they did, guess what? They don’t need to be doing any more webinars or Facebook ads to get people to attend free webinars. They should be collecting residuals by now.
Conversely, if they’re talking to people new to the industry, then they ought not try to convince the audience that they invented the wheel. They didn’t, and soon enough that will become obvious.

2) Explain with concrete examples.

Disclosure: I work as a licensed agent of a marketing coaching company. Part of the reason I joined this group is because it’s the only company I’ve seen that ever used specific and concrete examples of how clients succeeded using their marketing tools. I mean, they have detailed explanations from scores of industries about how to implement various strategic campaigns. I signed up as an agent of this company because they showed me so many REAL tools that can be used and reused.

And this is the trick to marketing your product. Businesses need to explain to their audiences how their product or service applies to them specifically. If they can’t offer examples that work in other businesses, I beg of them, please do not speak in vagaries (like the latest example about placing “thousands of Facebook ads.” Really, for what? Webinars? How’s that working out?). Instead, tell me the results of the work.
For instance, in marketing, what are sample conversion rates, how long did it take to generate the revenue stream? Most businesses run on a formula. If they see that the formula can be repeated over and over, regardless of the industry, voilà, there’s a client willing to pay for the service.

3) Don’t use material that’s going to be dated in six months.

I understand that webinars are rarely live. If one is, it’s either because attendees paid to be there or it’s just huge (think Taylor Swift new album launch). Barring that, most webinars are pre-recorded and replayed on specific dates or on-demand. That being the case, please don’t prattle about how it’s cold out when it’s the middle of summer. Don’t provide an example of work you did “a few months ago,” and then show a data sheet that’s from 2015. Don’t refer to news events that passed. Your material is supposed to be evergreen because the idea is that the formula can be repeated over and over. When I listen to a webinar that was recorded a long while back and hear these discordant filler notes, I start to wonder what these guys are up to now that I’m missing out on because I’m listening to the dated past. If I don’t know when a webinar was recorded, I will assume that it doesn’t have the stink of mold on it.

Bonus tip: Don’t pretend it’s live if it’s not.

I understand that webinar hosts want to come off as cordial and likable (something I’m clearly not doing right now), but if they’re not actually present during the event, then just sound professional and competent. It will really help all of us viewers by not wasting our time.

The last webinar I signed up for I chose in part because the hosts disclosed way up top that that the webinar is pre-recorded. I thought, wow, they’re going to be really forthright about the content they provide and it’s going to be useful because look how honest their pitch is.

So why am I still listening to the witty banter about what latte they’re drinking? Save everyone the effort. And bonus bonus: don’t have everyone fill up the chatbox answering questions about what country or city they’re from since the hosts are not watching the responses! I would get it if they’re trying to match emails to cities to close in on their prospects. That would be a clever use of the tool. But are you really going back into their recordings and grabbing all that information? If they are, then just tell me the tool they’re using to collect the data so it’s not a manual and tedious process. That’d be worth the hour of my time I spent listening to them not help me.

Want to know how to create and advertise useful webinars? Ask a webinar snob. I’m available.