7 Steps to Powerful Online Seminars

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For many businesses, particularly service oriented businesses, getting up in front of a group of prospects with the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise is one of the best lead conversion opportunities going.

webinarHolding workshops and seminars live and in person has long been an effective tool. The web makes this tool even more powerful and more affordable as it allow you to conduct online versions of seminars that don’t require you to rent a room or your prospects to leave their homes and offices.

Online seminars are a marketing tool every business should consider adding to the mix. Below are seven steps to consider to make your online seminars pay.

1) Get sponsored

Before you go too far down the seminar path consider getting sponsors to join you. This doesn’t have to be some big name corporate deal, give strategic partners the opportunity to join you in promoting your educational sessions for the right to call themselves a sponsor. Round-up prizes from related businesses that want the exposure their prize garners in your promotion. Free stuff drives enrollment!

2) Educate, don’t sell

Make certain that your “free” session is packed with content so good people would pay for it. That’s the expectation these days. If you create seminars that are basically veiled sales presentations, you won’t reap the benefits of this expertise play and people won’t come back or tell friends about your great seminars. There’s a time and place for the sales pitch, but only after you’ve established trust through sharing valuable information. People are OK with a “here’s the sales pitch” at the end of a presentation that was time well spent.

Consider creating a series of events and promoting them together. This can help build momentum and allow you to build a loyal following.

3) Pick your platform

There are dozens of online platforms for hosting your web seminars but choose your platform with some considerations in mind.

  • Free may not be the best option if you are using this tactic to demonstrate how professional your business is.
  • Look for a tool that offers some interaction tools such as polling, questions, chat, even video
  • Make sure your chosen tool can handle the numbers you plan to enroll
  • Be certain you can easily record your sessions for future marketing use
  • Look for ease of use and follow-up reminder email automation

GoToWebinar (a sponsor of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast), Acrobat Connect and WebEx all offer the features above

4) Cause interaction

Use the functionality of your online webinar tool to get the audience involved. Polls are a great way to take the temperature of your audience and the results can make for both interesting discussion during your session and follow-up discussion in another form of content such as a blog post. With small groups you may want to allow video or audio chat, but it’s always a good idea to take questions from the attendees. Most platforms also allow you to conduct a survey at some point in your presentation. This is a nice way to end a presentation to get feedback from the audience and even let them vote on other topics they would like to hear in the future.

5) Create a backchannel

Lots of people attend webinars these days and share information they hear with their followers on Twitter. It’s become common practice to create a hashtag for your events so people who attend or those that don’t have an easy way to collect all of the comments made by listeners. Some presenters go as far as having an assistant monitor and tweet during the presentation to keep the conversation lively and accurate. This free PowerPoint Twitter Tool allows you to create tweets and have them posted automatically during your presentation.

6) Have bonus content

Because there is so much free information out there online the expectations for what you provide as free package have grown. In addition to the event itself consider creating a PDF workbook or collection of blog posts from yourself, related bloggers or strategic partners and delivering that document along with your follow-up. This gives you another reason to reach out and remind your attendees about the great content and gently about the products and services you offer.

7) Promote the archive

Use your chosen platform to record your presentation. Upload your recorded session to a video host such as Vimeo or YouTube and embed the video in a web page surrounded by additional resources and further reading links related to the topic. This is a great way to use the session for future marketing efforts and create the kind of page and content that search engines love. Consider using a service like CastingWords to transcribe the session, combine three or four session with video, transcript, resources and your collection of blog post PDF and you’ve just created a product that you can sell!

Handling all the moving parts of setting up, promoting, running and archiving live events can seem a bit overwhelming at first, but the long term payoff in terms of expertise, content, and trust building is worth every bit of it.

Image credit: hildgrim


Tags

acrobat connect, gotowebinar, webex, webinar


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  1. You hit the nail on the head with veiled sales pitches – I completely agree that they don’t work – I agree that you need to deliver value before they buy. I’ve been to both kinds of workshops, the ones where they are trying to sell you something and the ones where they are trying to give you something, and the ones that made the biggest impression (and got me talking about them with others) were the ones where value was given.

    The strongest negative impression was from a workshop where you were walked along a path that led to… buying their service. Felt very “had.”

    Love the blog, love the podcast. Keep up the great work!

    …Allen
    The Small Business Biker

    1. Thanks Allen – I think people are even more accepting if you say, “hey, there’s a sales pitch at the end of this” than if they feel tricked – that’s the worst marketing feeling your can have or create.

    2. Since you have no face to face contact with participants, online seminars can be tough. The key to doing it right is to keep things short and pithy. Give people what they want as quickly and efficiently as possible.

      I suggest that you get my best selling book on the topic: Marketing and Promoting Your Own Seminars and Workshops.

      Furthermore, you can also sign up to receive my FREE 52 week MASTERS course on Seminars and Seminar Marketing, go to: http://www.SeminarMarketingExpert.com.

      Thank you and God bless.

  2. John – Great stuff.

    Here is my question as I’ve thought often about doing online seminars:

    I hate the BS sales pitches. I’d rather charge a reasonable amount for a webinar (example: $47 or something) as opposed to “FREE” but I’m going to try to sell you something for say $1,500. Have you seen success with just a reasonable amount as opposed to a massive upsell?

    Also, by popular request would love to have you back on the show to talk about your favorite marketing tools and strategies for entrepreneurs in 2010 🙂

    1. David, I think you have an opportunity to not do the BS sales pitches – nobody says you have to. Sure, people will pay for something they know is good, the problem is there are lots of people putting on good free stuff – use free, overdeliver and you will build trust that allows people to want to buy as opposed to you having to sell.

  3. You hit the nail on the head with veiled sales pitches – I completely agree that they don't work – I agree that you need to deliver value before they buy. I've been to both kinds of workshops, the ones where they are trying to sell you something and the ones where they are trying to give you something, and the ones that made the biggest impression (and got me talking about them with others) were the ones where value was given.

    The strongest negative impression was from a workshop where you were walked along a path that led to… buying their service. Felt very “had.”

    Love the blog, love the podcast. Keep up the great work!

    …Allen
    The Small Business Biker

  4. Thanks Allen – I think people are even more accepting if you say, “hey, there's a sales pitch at the end of this” than if they feel tricked – that's the worst marketing feeling your can have or create.

  5. John – Great stuff.

    Here is my question as I've thought often about doing online seminars:

    I hate the BS sales pitches. I'd rather charge a reasonable amount for a webinar (example: $47 or something) as opposed to “FREE” but I'm going to try to sell you something for say $1,500. Have you seen success with just a reasonable amount as opposed to a massive upsell?

    Also, by popular request would love to have you back on the show to talk about your favorite marketing tools and strategies for entrepreneurs in 2010 🙂

  6. David, I think you have an opportunity to not do the BS sales pitches – nobody says you have to. Sure, people will pay for something they know is good, the problem is there are lots of people putting on good free stuff – use free, overdeliver and you will build trust that allows people to want to buy as opposed to you having to sell.

  7. Thanks so much for this post. I have been trying to get the hang of webinars for a while now. This post is so timely.

    I agree that offering a workbook or package is a nice touch to a webinar. I have gone to a few webinars online, but havent actually hosted one. This post has gotten me fired up!

  8. Enjoyed this blog post! I have attend a few FREE seminars and the presenter would sell their product or services through out the whole seminar. Now, it’s OK the sell at the end, but not the whole entire seminar. It’s annoying!

  9. It’s amazing what can be done through the web now. I think one of the most important things is keeping your viewers and audience, interested and alert during free webinars and seminars. Lots of times the conversation will just drag on and on and get boring which is something you want to do your best in not doing. Otherwise, people will leave in flocks.

  10. Thanks so much for this post. I have been trying to get the hang of webinars for a while now. This post is so timely.

    I agree that offering a workbook or package is a nice touch to a webinar. I have gone to a few webinars online, but havent actually hosted one. This post has gotten me fired up!

  11. Enjoyed this blog post! I have attend a few FREE seminars and the presenter would sell their product or services through out the whole seminar. Now, it's OK the sell at the end, but not the whole entire seminar. It's annoying!

  12. It's amazing what can be done through the web now. I think one of the most important things is keeping your viewers and audience, interested and alert during free webinars and seminars. Lots of times the conversation will just drag on and on and get boring which is something you want to do your best in not doing. Otherwise, people will leave in flocks.

  13. Great tips John. I particularly like the back channel, and bonus content so that you can under promise and over deliver to your audience. Educating, not selling is also important because I think that we can all agree we get enough sales pitches already. Thanks for sharing John.

  14. Great tips John. I particularly like the back channel, and bonus content so that you can under promise and over deliver to your audience. Educating, not selling is also important because I think that we can all agree we get enough sales pitches already. Thanks for sharing John.

  15. John,

    Thanks so much for the informative post, including some specific tools you’ve used. Just reading this stirs up my imagination about how I can do a Webinar and network with/involve some related local business owners at the same time. Great, timely info.

  16. John,

    Thanks so much for the informative post, including some specific tools you've used. Just reading this stirs up my imagination about how I can do a Webinar and network with/involve some related local business owners at the same time. Great, timely info.

  17. Thanks for the tips John,
    Online webinars are also very powerful mediums for demonstrating online tools and applications. Somehow it works so much better showing someone how it works than telling them how it works

  18. Thanks for the tips John,
    Online webinars are also very powerful mediums for demonstrating online tools and applications. Somehow it works so much better showing someone how it works than telling them how it works

  19. Since you have no face to face contact with participants, online seminars can be tough. The key to doing it right is to keep things short and pithy. Give people what they want as quickly and efficiently as possible.

    I suggest that you get my best selling book on the topic: Marketing and Promoting Your Own Seminars and Workshops.

    Furthermore, you can also sign up to receive my FREE 52 week MASTERS course on Seminars and Seminar Marketing, go to: http://www.SeminarMarketingExpert.com.

    Thank you and God bless.

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