Do you know what the hardest thing about doing webinars is? Doing your first webinar. Seriously!
In my experience of teaching webinar courses, live workshops and developing webinar software for over 6,000 people, I’ve learned that once anyone does their first webinar, it’s pretty much smooth sailing from there on in. It just gets exponentially easier and better each time.
This is why I’m so excited to write this post for all you wonderful Fizzlers! I am a Fizzle alumnus myself (look me up in the forum — I’m still one of the top contributors). I’m pumped to give back to a community that gave so much to me two years ago.
But I’m even more pumped because I know that this post will, without a doubt, help you get your first webinar out the door. And once you start doing webinars, your business will thank you. Which brings me to a question you might be asking…
If you’re reading this, it’s because you have a goal. Maybe you’re an established entrepreneur with a long and successful track record looking to break into a new field. Maybe you’re working for someone else, but thinking of taking the leap to building a business. Maybe you’re an expert without marketing experience, but you want to market the expertise and knowledge you’ve gained. Whatever your background, the goal is clear: you want to grow.
So why grow through webinars? With people having more and more access to information, product reviews, and expertise than ever before, webinars allow today’s entrepreneurs to prove themselves to an audience of potential customers through live, interactive demonstrations.
With webinars, you can lay it all out on the table: what you’ve got to offer, why it’s different from the competition, and most importantly why customers should trust you.
Webinars are unique in that not only are they capable of reaching an audience as wide as the Internet, they offer an opportunity like no other to build credibility. By using webinars to establish yourself as a reliable expert, you can create the kind of trust that traditional sales methods can take far longer to produce. By interacting with your audience to demonstrate your capabilities and offer consumers immediate value, you reap the reward of that trust and the sales that come with it.
I hope to pass on to you the benefits of my experience as a webinar user, attendee, and creator of the Webinar Ninja platform. I’ll show you how to make the most of your webinar, formatting and directing it to have maximum impact on the number of sales conversions you make.
By mastering the 5 Steps outlined here, you’ll be able to show your audience the value of your expertise and establish yourself as someone worth buying from.
The 5 Steps to Your First Webinar
To understand the 5 Steps, it’s important to understand their overall trajectory, from your first concept for the webinar to potential sale. Each step will only be as effective as the ones before it, so it’s a good idea to consider the whole process before delving into the particulars.
The 5 Steps are:
- Choosing a problem
- Creating a preview lesson
- Creating the webinar
- Marketing the webinar
- Converting to sales
To get to that last step, it’s vital that the other steps are well executed. All five work in tandem, building on each other and multiplying the effect of each.
The first step establishes what to sell by identifying a need in the market. Step 2 offers consumers proof of concept, an indication that your expertise is effective. Step 3 includes all of the vital preparation that will make the webinar run smoothly, while Step 4 will ensure good attendance. Finally, Step 5 is where you’ll cash in on all of that careful work done along the way.
The challenge is making that assumption a reality by doing the necessary preliminary work to ensure that when your webinars land, they make waves.
With that said, let’s get in to it!
Step 1: Choose a Problem
When I was in educational administration, it was my job to evaluate the effectiveness of teachers. A webinar host is a teacher, too. The only difference is in the desired outcome; in school, the desired outcome is student proficiency. In webinars, the desired outcome is usually a sale. Just as a good class arms students with a new skill set, a good webinar offers attendees something to take out into the world and use.
Therefore, the first step to ensuring your webinars’ sales conversions goes to the heart of good overall salesmanship. It’s the foundational principle on which all great sales efforts are based: solving a problem.
Understanding sales as the act of solving a customer problem is the best way to ensure success. That’s why the design and execution of your webinar has to start with choosing which problem to solve.
In other words, you’ll have to identify a need in your industry or area of expertise. Then, your job is to meet that need with your product, be it a physical product or an informational one.
To take a hypothetical example, say that you’re an expert in pet care. Knowing that nothing makes the Internet go ‘round more than cats, you create a website about cat care and grooming. You want to monetize this expertise and maybe sell some cat care tools, products, or tutorial information through a webinar.
But before you can do any of that, the first thing you have to ask yourself is, “what’s the problem?” From what problem do the teeming multitudes of cat fanciers suffer that you can solve?
To find out, you’ll want to troll the internet (for information, that is). Look to the comments on your cat care blog. Look to the comments on other cat care blogs. Look to Facebook groups and Twitter accounts and Tumblr pages run by kitty enthusiasts.
Get in conversations, interact, and probe the feline-loving community for the information you need. The goal is to identify a common problem. Look and listen for that common thread, that ubiquitous complaint that you can position yourself to address through your product. By finding it, you’ve already done the most important (and one of the most difficult) things necessary to ensure big sales.
To continue with our example, let’s say you discover that the biggest problem afflicting millions of frustrated cat owners is grooming. Cats hate grooming. More accurately, they hate being groomed by their owners.
There’s a good place to start. In defining the problem, you’ll have to be as specific as possible, because the more specific a problem is, the more solvable it is. The more precisely you define the problem, the more unique the product necessary to solve it. The more unique the product, the more likely it is to sell.
You can solve that problem specifically with a webinar. Not a webinar on “cat care” generally, but one that could conceivably be called “How to Groom a Cat in Under 5 Minutes a Week.” The more specific the problem, the more narrow (and therefore unique and sellable) the expertise or items needed to solve it.
Of course, you need to actually have a compelling solution to the problem you’ve chosen. Your ability to identify and describe the challenge will open doors, but it’s the answer that will lead to sales.
In other words, the problem and its solution must be congruent with whatever it is you hope to market. Simply talking about cat care may draw the online crowds, but it won’t inspire them to reach for their wallets. Whatever the problem is, your job is to provide the solution.
Step 2: Create A Short Lesson
Once you’ve identified the problem to be solved, it might be tempting to immediately put together your webinar. Every good lesson plan begins with a SWBAT, which stands for Students Will Be Able To.
The idea is that the information a teacher provides will have an immediately demonstrable value. Your webinar should follow this same formula. What will your webinar attendees be able to do after your webinar?
The key is to give your audience a small victory, one that will make them see that listening to your advice will lead to success. A simple household hack, a short DIY project, or any other short lesson with a small but immediate payoff will establish you with credibility — just enough to get customers to give you the chance to establish it further if they give your product or service a shot.
It’s important to put real effort into the short mini-lesson. You can do something as simple as an “instructional blog post”, but it’s best to make the lesson as engaging as possible, taking advantage of as much multimedia as is available to you. Powerpoint, Keynote, Prezi, Gmail slides, short videos and presentations are all eye-catchers that can be included in the short lesson. Not only your expertise, but the production values you apply to this project will convince your audience that the full webinar is worth checking out.
If possible, make the short lesson an interactive one, include some meeting, some greeting, and some question and answer. An interactive short lesson is by far the best way to introduce yourself to the audience you hope to see at your webinars and jumpstart their perception of you as a credible source of help. Once they’ve “met” you and walked away with an immediate value, the lesson will be impossible to miss: you’re someone worth listening to, and your webinars are worth attending.
Step 3: Build the Webinar
Once you’ve found your mission in the market, and created your lesson / educational experience to be delivered on your webinar, it’s time to build your webinar.
Precise planning and formatting is a must, but it doesn’t have to be difficult or even especially time-consuming, provided you know what you want to convey and have access to a quality webinar platform.
Creating the webinar itself used to be a lengthy and involved process that required a certain degree of technical know-how. Fortunately, that’s no longer the case.
To use my own product as an example, Webinar Ninja actually guides hosts through the process of creating the webinar in isolated steps. It’s simply a matter of populating prearranged fields.
You set the start date and time (with an option for recurring webinars), fill in the pre-arranged templates, upload images and videos and customize the registration page. Cosmetic options like fonts, colors, and layouts are all easily customizable, and any changes you may want to make afterward are as simple as a keystroke, even if you decide to make changes right up to the minute the live webinar begins.
That’s the kind of ease that not only makes setup less time-consuming, but makes the event run more smoothly, without the technical bumps in the road that can derail a good presentation.
Step 4: Market Your Webinar
Now that your webinar is ready to go, it’s time to pack the virtual house. To ensure good attendance, I’m sharing my top 5 webinar marketing strategies. Pay attention… these work.
1. Start with your own website.
Add attractive, calls to actions and links on your website that take visitors directly to the registration page. The beauty of using your own website is that you can be as subtle or as bold as you like. Pop-ups, sidebar ads, or hyperlinks within your own blogs are all good options, so use whatever you feel comfortable with. You’re getting traffic to your website anyway, use it to get attendees to your webinar.
2. Devote a blog post to the webinar itself.
Use the blog to articulate your unique approach to the problem you’ve identified and build interest in your solution. Describe exactly what will happen at the webinar, especially for the benefit of those who’ve never attended one. Tell them what to expect, and make them want to see it for themselves.
3. Send invitations.
Fire a well-composed and exciting email out to your entire list. Post the registration link, dates and basic info on all of your social media accounts.
4. Team up with others in your industry.
Ask them join you as a co-host and have them invite their audience to the webinar. You can exchange their support for a share of sales proceeds (or for a similar cross-promotion for one of their events).
5. Get social.
A week before your webinar, ask your audience on social media what areas are they struggling with in your area of expertise. Get some engagement going and let them know you’ll be addressing this topic in your next webinar. When people are engaged in a conversation about a topic, they are more inclined to attend a webinar about it.
Keep in mind that the goal isn’t simply to invite as many people as possible, but to target those most likely to attend.
Registration numbers can be deceiving, so reserve judgment on the impact of your marketing until you see the number of attendees as a percentage of registrants. Quality platforms include analytics tools that can help you wade through the data to determine exactly what brought guests to each webinar. This allows you to focus on the strategies that work best for you.
Step 5: Making an Offer
Too often, webinars and other allegedly educational programs are thinly veiled infomercials. This approach is not only ineffective, it gives honest entrepreneurs a bad name.
This is one of the main reasons why I started Webinar Ninja. We believe you can earn your audience’s trust and sell with your dignity intact. It doesn’t have to be gross. I’ll show you how.
In my experience, the best way for a webinar host to be a great salesperson is to be a great teacher, first and foremost. You will earn your attendees’ business by first gaining their trust, and gain their trust by offering a truly valuable education.
It all comes down to honesty. By providing a genuine, honestly useful educational experience, you earn the opportunity to offer your products and services later, provided you differentiate between the two and are clear about which is which.
But you might be asking, “When it’s time to sell, how do I sell?” Don’t worry, I got you covered.
Sales Strategy #1: Be transparent. Make it very clear to your attendees which portions of your webinar, are going to be educational and which are going to be where you make them a special offer.
Announce when you’ll be informing and when you’ll be selling, and don’t try to disguise one with the other. They signed up to learn something, and that’s what they should be able to do. Ideally, the webinar should be about 90% educational, and 10% sales.
Sales Strategy #2: Show them, don’t sell them. During the sales portion, the best strategy is to show what you want them to buy rather than selling them on it. Give a demonstration, something that proves the effectiveness of your product. Highlight the experiences of people who have benefitted from your work.
By demonstrating your product’s value rather than trying to convince the audience of it, you won’t need to do much selling. If you have an online course, give them a demo of the members’ area. Show them the quality of your videos and the engagement in your community. Prove to your audience that they’ve come to the right place.
Sales Strategy #3: Give them a reason to buy. Macy’s runs a one-day sale every Wednesday. Want to guess why? Because they know when they give their customers a reason to come into their stores, they’ll come into their stores. Pretty simple right?
So reward your webinar attendees for attending with a special offer. A discount they can’t get anywhere else. Throw in a bonus or two if they buy the day of the webinar. Reward action takers. Also, make sure you offer some sort of risk reversal, like a money back guarantee.
Sales Strategy #4: Follow up. Send emails, and reach out through social media to thank attendees. Some webinar platforms have automatic follow-up features that do this for you. Webinar Ninja, for example, cannot only send follow up emails to attendees, but to registrants who signed up but didn’t attend, expressing regrets and offering a playback link. Attendees who left early can be sent a separate email asking for specific feedback.
Following up thoroughly allows you to continue the conversation beyond the webinar, and lay the foundation for future opportunities, so take advantage of features like these.
What I’ve learned over the course of using and designing a webinar platform comes down to a simple but demanding philosophy. Put simply, no one can make anyone buy anything.
True salesmanship isn’t the ability to sell sand in the desert; it’s the ability to find creative solutions, and having the courage and passion to bring them to market. The best way to do that is through a policy of ruthless honesty, not in the sense of being critical towards others or towards the competition, but honesty about yourself and what you’re offering.
Webinars are the growth and sales tool most conducive to living that philosophy. They’re a way of offering something to consumers that simultaneously benefits them and the host.
By giving something to attendees, rather than simply trying to get something from them, you unlock the only sales strategy that works best on the web: substance.
If your product is worth buying, it will sell as long as you have the confidence to share yourself and your vision with the virtual room, hiding nothing and revealing the truth about what you can and can’t offer.
It requires trusting the audience to make smart decisions on their own. It requires putting your own money where your mouth is, and having the boldness to trust in the strength of what you’re bringing to the table.
It also requires patience, and practice. The more webinars you host, the better you’ll get at both designing and executing your program. Try it, and no matter how it goes, try it again, and again.
Getting comfortable with the technology (and the audience) is paramount. Like any teacher, you’ll discover what works best for you, what captivates an audience, what loses their attention, what inspires them, and what doesn’t. All along the way you’ll discover as much about yourself as you will about salesmanship.
With the right product, the right attitude, and the right platform, you can open the door to entirely new realms of possibility through webinars.
Whew! You made it to end of this post. Thanks for sticking with me. I hope you learned something. If you want to learn even more about hosting webinars, check out my free 7-part video course Plan & Launch Your First Webinar.