Do you offer webinars and teleseminars? I've offered them for years – hundreds of them, and 95% of them have been totally free. Many business owners who market through the Internet do this as a lead generation activity. I did, too.
Over the past few years, though, the market for webinars has changed. New technology has allowed those of us who present to offer better graphics, live links to resources or offers, live chat with prospects who attend our webinars, and downloadable handouts. At the same time, there have been many more people offering webinars and teleseminars. And along with the new technology has come managing many more moving parts before, during, and after a webinar event.
My webinars are no longer free of charge, and I'm wondering if you have made the same decision. When I look at the time and work involved in offering a webinar filled with solid, useful content I can't justify doing them for free any more – even if they are a lead generation activity.
After I've decided on a topic for a webinar (or teleseminar) the real work begins.
- I have to pay my assistant to help set up many parts.
- I have to write the copy that advertises and invites prospects to the webinar.
- My assistant has to create a new page on my website where prospects can sign up to attend.
- We have to create a separate list of signed up people in my autoresponder system.
- We write and send a confirmation e-mail to every person who signed up to attend.
- I have to create the webinar content, usually an hour of Powerpoint presentation that shows the content, useful resources, and often a handout.
- If I create a free handout I have to get my assistant to put that into Word, insert graphics, make it into a PDF, upload the PDF to my website and create a download link that we then have to insert into the confirmation e-mail.
- We have to reserve time on our webinar system (I currently use Instant Teleseminar or Webinar Jam). I pay a monthly fee to Instant Teleseminar and pay an annual fee to use Webinar Jam.
- We create a “reminder” e-mail to go out to everyone who signed up to attend that goes out on the day of the webinar.
- We record the entire webinar or teleseminar.
- After I've spent an hour to an hour and a half delivering the webinar, we go in and capture the recording.
- We create a third e-mail that thanks everyone for attending and sends them a link where they can watch or listen to the webinar again (or for the first time if they didn't attend the event).
- We handle emails from people who signed up, forgot how to access the webinar and want in or forgot or lost the link to the free handout and want us to provide that information to them again.
Attendance might be low at the actual webinar. People who sign up want the link to the recording, and we do provide that. However, my autoresponder systems shows that almost no one actually listens to the replay. It's a rule of thumb that very few prospects will listen to a replay and actually make a purchase from the webinar.
You can probably begin to see that offering a “free” webinar can easily cost several hundreds of dollars in time, staff time and equipment. And in one way, I can justify that it's the cost of doing business and bringing prospects into my door.
But after years of doing this I've come to realize that I've built a list of people who want everything for free. I've had people sign up for webinars for years and never spend a single dime with me. And in fact, when I make even a modest offer that is less than $50 for a product or service these same people will email me and ask why I can't offer that product to them for free!
Like many solo business owners I totally love what I do. I've invested 6 figures and more into increasing my knowledge and skills so that I offer very high quality products and services. In fact, I've invested more in my prospect's businesses than they have invested themselves, in many cases – I've gone the distance to make sure they get the help they need. I'm very generous with my time and expertise.
But on the other hand, I eat and pay for my life with what I make in my business. While I love what I do, I'm also in it to make a profit. I don't need and don't want people on my list who take every free thing I offer but never intend to become a client in some way, however small.
I realize that it's not a smart business move to train your prospects to expect things to be free. Even though the charge for a webinar might be very modest it does show me that the person is invested in learning more about how to run her business. And that's the kind of prospect I want and need.
I'm going to charge for my webinars and test out my theory. I believe I'll get a higher quality list of prospects who realize that they cannot expect to have everything for free.
I'd love to hear your thoughts, and if you charge for your webinars. You can leave a comment below.
If you need help in how to set up a webinar (a more complete checklist than the one above) you can check out my Webinar Planning Checklist.