- A summary of the key points from this episode was generously donated by Sweet Fish Media: 5 Steps to Hosting the Perfect Webinar
[00:00] Mike: In this episode of Startups For the Rest of Us, I’m going to be talking to Brennan Dunn about how to run successful webinars. This is Startups For the Rest of Us Episode 209.
[00:13] Welcome to Startups For the Rest of Us, the podcast that helps developers, designers, and entrepreneurs be awesome at launching software products. Whether you’ve built your first product or you’re just thinking about it. I’m Mike –
[00:21] Brennan: – and I’m Brennan –
[00:21] Mike: – and we’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. How you doing this week Brennan?
[00:25] Brennan: I’m good. I’m good. I’ve broke ground finally on my new course, so things are good.
[00:31] Mike: Excellent. If you’re not familiar with who Brennan is, I want to give you a quick introduction. He is the founder of Planscope, he’s written several books and courses on consulting, which you can find at doubleyourfreelancing.com, and he is also a former speaker at Microconf and will also be speaking at the upcoming Microconf Europe in Prague. Thanks, and welcome to the show Brennan.
[00:49] Brennan: Thanks Mike.
[00:50] Mike: So today we’re going to be talking a little bit about how to run successful webinars. Brennan, you’ve run quite a few webinars. I think one of the first things we should start out with is – when you’re first starting to look to put together a webinar and considering doing it, what are some of the first things you should think about? Are their target audiences you should have in mind? What’s the first thing they should start doing?
[01:10] Brennan: First, I think you need to realize what the goal of the webinar is, both for you and the audience. For you, it’s probably to promote or sell a product, in your case. With Auditshark, you’ll probably be wanting to teach somebody something about security, so that ultimately they can understand why it’s important to have a secure infrastructure, which will then ultimately lead them to Auditshark, right? I think you need to figure out both what the role of the webinar is, and on top of that, what the takeaways are for the attendees.
[01:40] The target audience, I think – It’s probably not that hard to determine if you already have a product in mind that the webinar’s for. If you have a info product, or a software product, or whatever it might be. Hopefully you already know who the ideal user is, right? That’s probably the easier part if you have a product in mind. But, a really good webinar is meant to – It’s kind of like an interactive blog post in that you’re teaching something and it’s interactive. People can ask you to clarify something, or have live Q&A, and do a lot of really fun things that you really can’t do traditionally through a newsletter or through blogging or through whatever else.
[02:17] Mike: Yeah. When I was putting together my first webinar for Auditshark, one of the things that jumped into my mind was – Obviously there’s a reason I’m doing the webinars because I want to help bring awareness for Auditshark and help drive sales, and things like that. But, the key thing that came to my mind first was, “What’s in it for the person who’s coming to the webinar, and why should they even care? Why should they spend the 45 minutes to an hour even bothering to come to the webinar, and what can I offer them that is going to” – especially to entice them to come and attend? It’s sort of “Marketing 101”, but “What’s in it for me?” is really the underlying question.
[02:48] Brennan: It should be. I think you really do need to be respectful of the person’s time and really understand that even if you are trying to sell something, I think the webinar itself should be valuable in its own right, even if you’re not selling anything. I think you really need to think: even if nobody buys, will they still walk away from this event thinking, “You know what? It was worthwhile for me to attend”. And that’s why I’m a big fan of a training webinar, or something like that, versus – Because some of the more seedier parts of the internet might have webinars that are more like pitching people on timeshares. I’m very big on having a very dense, educational webinar that coincides and aligns with whatever product I’m trying to up-sell.
[03:27] Mike: It’s almost the difference between doing an educational webinar, versus an education on how to use my product webinar.
[03:34] Brennan: No one cares about your product; they care about what it can do for them. I’m very big on the idea of: let the webinar demonstrate the “why”, and let the product come in as the natural “how”. Why is security important? Why does it matter? What are the implications of an insecure infrastructure, case studies, right? Then the “how” is obviously – the “how” is: if this is all resonating with you, and this makes sense, and you don’t want to have exploits or whatever else happen on your systems, then look at Auditshark. That’s the goal, right?
[04:04] Mike: Yes. There’s a couple other things on the educational side of things that help, because even if somebody comes to the webinar and they look at the product and they say, “Well that’s not really for me”, if you didn’t give them anything of value, they will probably never come to a future webinar. So, even if they’re not at a point right now or not ready to buy just yet, they may be down the road. I think if you turn it into too much of a sales pitch right away, they’re going to get turned off. They’re not going to come back to a future one. You’ve lost them as a future customer.
[04:31] Brennan: I think this is true of webinars, newsletters, really any form of marketing.
[04:37] Mike: So we talked a little bit about the fact that the target audience should come away and have learned something. But, one of the things you have to also ask is: why should you use a webinar? When are appropriate times to use webinars?
[04:49] Brennan: I think there are a lot of different ways a webinar can be used successfully. One of the ways that I think it underused is a way to learn about your audience and what they need. Let’s say before I wrote my course on pricing for freelancers, I could have hosted a webinar to my list; to my audience, talking about what I might even put in the course, right? Just a feeler to find out if this is something that resonates with people. Do people care about this product that I’m thinking about putting together? A webinar is a great way to do real-time validation, because you can talk to people about what it is you’re thinking about putting together and get feedback during the Q&A or even in real-time. I think it’s a really good way to scope out a product before you do the legwork needed to actually build the product.
[05:31] The second thing, which I think is the more used case, is using it to promote an existing product. If you have a software product out there, a webinar is a fantastic way of promoting it. I think the two real distinctions between a webinar and traditional forms of marketing like a newsletter or a blog post are: it’s interactive, meaning people can say, “Hey Brennan, can you clarify what you said about x, y, and z, and can you tell me more about that?”, and on top of that – another big thing – is that you can’t skip forward. The attendee cannot skip ahead. Let’s say you launch your product and you put together a really good sales page. A lot of people are just going to skip to the bottom and the pricing, and go there before they actually know what the products about, what the benefits are, and so on.
[06:14] The way that webinars are structured, because they’re live, is you can’t skip ahead, which I think when done right can really make them valuable. I’ve had webinars where 40% of the people who attended bought for me, because if they make it to the end, it’s very self-segmenting. Is this for them, or isn’t it? They know what it is and why they need it at that point.
[06:34] Mike: I really like the credibility aspect, because when you go to a sales page, it feels like you have to work a heck of a lot harder on the back-end to make sure that you’re putting the right information upfront to not only get the people who are going to read everything, but also to get the people who are just going to skim the content to figure out if it’s for them. But with the webinar, as you said, you get a lot more engagement and they’re hearing a live person on the other end of it, versus a website where it’s a little less personal. A webinar is very personal because you’re actually sitting there listening to the person who’s talking to you.
[07:06] Brennan: Right, you hear a human’s voice. A lot of them will have some sort of real-time chat where you can talk to other people who are attending. When I do a webinar I break the ice with asking everyone where they’re from. It’s really personal compared, like you said, to a static sales page.
[07:21] Mike: What are some of the disadvantages of hosting a webinar? What are some of the things that would actually turn you away from using a webinar?
[07:27] Brennan: First, you need to show up to make it happen. With a really great sales website, the idea is you can let it run on its own and if it’s effective it generates and drives sales to you. With a webinar, it still requires you to attend, like it’s a live event every time you do it. So, it requires time. On top of that, it’s one thing for me to blog weekly, and send it out to my audience, but they can read it and consume it on their own time. Whereas, typically with a webinar, you’re making people schedule, and asking, “Am I free on Tuesday at 2 pm EST?”, and especially if you have a lot of people from all over the planet, it’s logistically harder sometimes, and people really need to think, “Can I attend? Can I actually blank out my schedule for an hour on this day at this time?”. So that, I think, is one impediment – mainly for the audience, not as much for you.
[08:13] Mike: I think it is a little bit of an impediment for you because you have to think of where people are going to be attending from and what segment of your audience you’re basically going to ignore. We have this problem with the Micropreneur Academy where we’ll hosts an academy conference call. We’ll post a number and people can call in from all over the world, and we typically aim for an evening of Wednesday or Thursday. So it’s evening for the US, we have people calling in from India and it’s 2am or 3am there. It’s like, “Wow! You’re a trooper”, but when you have a worldwide community like that, it’s very hard to do those types of schedules without shunning some part of the world.
[08:52] Brennan: I’ve seen people who offer maybe two or three different versions of the same event. They might have one be at 7am EST and another one might be 2pm EST, and then you can choose which one is best for you. That’s one way to work around that.
[09:09] Mike: Let’s talk about some of the technical logistics. How do you go about hosting a webinar? What sorts of tools or technology should you be using? What should you at least give some consideration to?
[09:19] Brennan: There’s a lot of different options out there. My favorite – and it’s also the most economic – is using Hangouts on Air. A Hangout on Air is basically a Google Hangout, but it doesn’t have any limit to the number of attendees who can attend, and it auto-records everything that you do. What I do now is, I put together a very simple static page that has two iframe embeds basically. It has an iframe embed for a Google Hangout, and it also has an iframe embed for a service I use called Chatroll, which is a real-time chat widget.
[09:48] So I just put these two up and that is the entire – at least the hosting – that the viewing part of the webinar. There’s also GoToWebinar which is also an option, but I think that’s $100/month. It’s desktop software, but I just like how mine requires to just go to a webpage and as long as you can watch YouTube videos you can watch my webinar.
[10:05] Those are really the two main options. I think there’s Livestream also, I’ve never really used that. I would recommend for most people Hangouts on Air is by-far the easiest and most economic way to get started.
[10:17] Mike: I signed up for a GoToWebinar and I did my first webinar through there. My 30-day trial recently ended with them and they sent me this email saying, “Hey, your trial just ended. We’ll give you $10 off if you sign up now”, and it ended up being $39/month instead of $49/month, but that’s for their lower-end plan for only up to 100 attendees. The downside I saw with those was that the conversion rates were actually really low because they don’t give you any customization for the registration page. You can select which fields you want to get. Basically, just the user experience for signing up and registering for the webinar – it’s completely in their hands.
[10:55] Brennan: The registration flow is horrible; you can’t control it. Like you said, I don’t even think you can control the emails they send out. I think they send out a reminder email the day before, and then maybe one an hour before.
[11:06] Mike: You have some flexibility there you can set-up a bunch of different reminders. You can pre set-up polls and stuff like that for inside the webinar, and you can also customize the emails that get sent out afterwards. Once they get all of the registrations in, you can download them into Excel. From there you can do a MailChimp import. You can do your own things if you really want to. That initial registration page – it does not convert well.
[11:29] Brennan: The webinars I’ve been doing – the registration page gets about an 85% average conversion rate. In the show notes, I’d be happy to link to one of those as an example. I like having control over the entire registration confirmation flow, along with the emails that go out beforehand. I like being the one to send it. So I actually use my marketing software to do registration for me. I use Infusionsoft, but this can be done in Drip or MailChimp, AWeber, or whatever. But really, all you really need to do is create a list for that webinar, design a custom page, advertising the webinar, and then have an opt-in form, which is literally name and email.
[12:09] They get on that list, and you have an auto-responder that is scheduled to go out. I’ll send out a few emails before the actual event, and then I’ll be the one promoting, “Hey, the event is about to start”. Then after the event, I send out the replay mail, and any additional emails that relate to the pitch that I had. I think you can do a lot with a free MailChimp account with Hangouts on Air, and Chatroll does cost about $50/month minimum. Those three things plus some knowledge about how to glue it all together can basically give you what you need.
[12:40] Mike: Even if you’re paying $50/month for Chatroll, that’s only marginally more expensive than something like GoToWebinar – there you’re limited to just 100 people. Plus, people have to download their stuff, and I found this out the hard way. Their recordings don’t always work. I recorded my first webinar, and somebody emailed me, “Hey, I missed the webinar. Can you send me a recording of it?”. I said “sure” and thought this would be a good time to check and see how well the recording is.
[13:05] The recording was awful. It skipped all over the place, the transitions were terrible, and it just did not work. I had no choice to say, “Look, this recording didn’t come out well”, but I was kind of able to turn it around and say, “Hey, this didn’t work out well with the recording but if you would like a personalized demo or personalized webinar I can certainly do that”.
[13:23] Brennan: That’s what I love about Hangouts is that they come out as YouTube videos automatically – no matter what. You don’t need to worry about recording. It does it for you.
[13:30] Mike: So – Hangouts on Air from Google, a combination of Chatroll and a custom landing page for the people who you’re driving it to, and then in terms of getting people registered for it – very simple integration with like AWeber or Infusionsoft or MailChimp, or what have you.
[13:46] Brennan: Exactly. That’s it.
[13:47] Mike: That’s basically all you need to handle of all the technical side of stuff. Let’s dig a little bit into driving people to that landing page for the webinar. How do you drive people specifically to that page and get them to sign up?
[13:59] Brennan: If you’re promoting to your own lists it’s a lot easier. They’re used to hearing from you already – they know who you are. What I’ve done in the past is I will typically send out two or three emails spaced out where I talk about what they’re going to get out of it. I don’t actually say, “Join my webinar, here’s the link, cheers, Brennan”, I don’t do it like that. I’ll talk about an example of something that happened to me back before I learned how to price – this is what my life was like these are the kind of clients I was working with. Then I segwayed from that into: I’m going to be talking about all of this, what I learned over the years in building up my consultancy; if you’d like to join, there’s limited availability, but click this link – I’d also include the date and time.
[14:41] I did this one launch on doubling your freelancing rate last May, and I got quite a big turnout from my own list. I think it was really effective too because – It’s a way if you’re constantly talking to your list, it’s like a one-to-many. It’s you up at the top, and your broadcasting hundreds to thousands of emails to all of these people. There’s no two-way relationship.
[15:00] Mike: You’re not getting that interaction.
[15:02] Brennan: Yeah. But, it’s one thing if you can invite your list to a live event. They can talk to each other in the Chatroll, and they can also ask you questions and you can answer them live. You can say, “Yes Bob, great question, let me address this”. It’s just a great way to get to know who your audience is and help them get to know you better on a more personal level. That’s what I would do with my own email list. I would think: well, is this a launch or is this a meet and greet event, or am I really doing a formal promotion for a product of mine. It’s always going to be better for that. I get a very good conversion rate for my own list. I get upwards of 90% typically when promoting my own list. But if you’re going to look into paid acquisition or the typical social stuff, you’re definitely going to get lower returns, right? You’re going to get lower conversions. But, people like John Lee Dumas have done extremely well with paid ads when it comes to promoting webinars. I don’t know, Mike, if you’ve ever seen any of John’s ads in your Facebook feed –
[16:00] Mike: Yep.
[16:00] Brennan: – but he makes a killing. If you look at his income reports, he does most of his sales through webinars. I think it’s useful because traditionally, when most of us think of doing a paid advertising campaign, it’s usually: let’s drive people to the marketing site and let’s get them to hopefully buy. But when people are on Facebook and just browsing the web, usually not in a “pull out my credit card and buy something” mood. They’re just casually looking around. If you can find lower ways to convert people from a paid campaign through a webinar opt-in or an email course opt-in or something, I generally think that’s a lot more effective than just driving people to a product webpage.
[16:42] Mike: Part of the way you need to think about it is putting them at the first step of what your sales funnel looks like. Ultimately you want them to buy something way down the road, but there’s a series of other steps you want them to go through first, or at least start them on that path. Even if you get one touch with them, which is an advertisement of some kind, they’re probably not going to buy right away.
[17:03] But, you need to get them on that path somehow, and using a webinar says, “Hey, just give me your email address and I’ll send you a link to this webinar and you’ll get a bunch of free educational stuff that’s going to help you out. If it doesn’t help them out, they’re probably not coming back. But if they do find a value in it, then they’ve started on that path and they may start looking at you more. Eventually, they’ll say that they’re finding value in this, and paying money to get the product they’re offering is ultimately going to benefit them far more than just listening to free webinars.
[17:35] Brennan: I think it’s harder for you to promote to somebody who doesn’t already know who you are to ask them to blank out their calendar and attend a webinar. I’ve seen them offer something immediately too, like a worksheet or PDF report – something they get immediately upon opting in. That way – it’s not like when you see a Facebook ad, you click it, you opt-in and wait a week before you get anything – you get something immediately. But, you’re also hoping they can attend the real event, which is the webinar.
[18:05] Mike: Yeah. You’re kind of satisfying that need for instant gratification that we’re all used to on the Internet.
[18:09] Brennan: Right. A lot of people will say, “Fill out this worksheet before you attend”, because a lot of it will be in line with what they’re going to be presenting on. Say I was doing a webinar on pricing. I might give people a worksheet, “Now fill out these questions about your experience pricing, what fears you have around pricing”, just so they can get that emotional buy-in into what the webinar will be covering. So if you give them something of value immediately, that thing of value needs to coincide nicely with the webinar itself.
[18:37] Mike: What I’ve seen, I think LeadPages did this, when I registered for one of their webinars I went into it and looked at what they sent over, and it was actually a worksheet that went along with the webinar. Their webinar was going to walk through a bunch of things, and it was almost like a mad-libs thing. That is what the worksheet was. You had to fill it in, and it didn’t make much sense unless you actually attended the webinar to be able to connect some of those dots. So, it was kind of interesting, but at the same time I looked at it and said, “This is going do make me do some work”.
[19:08] Brennan: You could just offer a free report or a free eBook download or something too. That isn’t as intensive. Like you said, you have to rack your brain and think through stuff.
[19:19] Mike: You can tap your own email list, you can leverage some paid advertising or use social networks like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and various ads and stuff within those. Are there any other ways you can think of that people can use to drive people to a webinar?
[19:32] Brennan: I’ve had a lot of luck over the past few months with something called a joint-venture webinar. And what that is, is I will approach somebody in the complimentary audience, someone who has done the groundwork of getting an audience of consultants, and I will say to them, “I have a product that I think could be really valuable to your audience, but on top of that, I want to train your audience for free on a gist for my product”. There will be a soft up-sell at the end for the people who get a lot of my training and want to take it to that next step. But it’s not a overrated right, it’s not a hard sell. On top of that, I want to offer you, the audience owner – let’s do a rev-share of any sales that come as a result of that.
[20:10] So, I think there’s huge benefits for this. First off, if you go to an audience that has maybe tens of thousands of people, if they promote your event to their list, not only do you have a lot of potential sales that can come from that, but you’re also going to grab a whole lot of email addresses. You’re going to get a lot of new opt-ins, which is awesome. It’s hard, because unless you have a track record of your product and yourself being capable of delivering a large amount of value – if you have something untested. If you have a new product and nobody knows who you are, and you go to somebody with a list of 100,000 people and say, “Will you promote this?”, you’re probably not going to get very far.
[20:46] But, I would look out for people that are either in your immediate network that you know through conferences, or whatever else, and try to come up with something where you can say, “I want to provide value to your audience and make your look better to your audience by giving them something”, and then basically having a self-segmenting offer to them which is: if you want to take this product to the next level, I have a product that will help you do that. But if all your webinar is doing is trying to sell the product and nobody gets any value from it, no one will come back. And on top of that whoever promoted you is not going to be very happy with you.
[21:20] Mike: So this is more about credibility with these people you’re trying to tap into for a joint venture. You might be able to go to them – If you pre-record something that might help. But I think you’re right. You almost need to be making that pitch to someone who is at your level or even a little bit above. You probably don’t want to go down. If you have a list of 1,000 people you don’t want to approach someone who has 10,000 or 20,000 because the return for them is probably not nearly as big as it would be for you. So, baby steps up, but you’re not going to be able to make those huge leaps that you might have read are possible on TechCrunch.
[21:53] Brennan: Yeah, they’re going to want to see proof. If you’ve done this to your own list, and you can point them to recording, that’s much better than having nothing else before that. You should definitely do this first with your own audience and start there and maybe eventually doing a joint-venture.
[22:07] Mike: One of the things you touched on earlier was when you’re driving people to the lists and being able to give away different things so that whether it’s a white paper, various ways to entice people to sign up. What is typical for the registration rates? I think you said some of them for your own lists you’ve seen upwards of 85-90% for opt-in rates. What would be the typical range of other options? So if it’s paid advertising, what sorts of things can people look at to say “I’m doing well” or “These are areas where I obviously need to improve” because maybe somebody’s getting 20% and they’re thinking that’s great, but realistically they should probably be getting 40-50%.
[22:46] Brennan: I think you should definitely be getting upwards of about 50%. Everyone I know who has registration opt-in pages for webinars seem to be getting above that. The thing you don’t want to be doing is to have too much stuff that it’s keeping someone from opting in. It’s the typical squeeze-page set up where you don’t have much. You have a headline, a very basic sentence or two on why they should attend, the date and time it’s at, a type in your email, “click join”, then maybe under that, a bit about who you are and maybe four or five bullet points on what they’ll get from it.
[23:21] I think the more you add, the less likely someone is to opt in. At this point, you want to have as many people as possible opting in, because after they opt in is when you want to try to get them to actually attend. I think a lot of us will look at, “Oh yay, I got 1,000 people” to opt in or register, but then 100 people show up. Show up rates are very, very minimal. There are some things we should talk about how you can get more people to attend.
[23:48] But, one of the things I love about the joint-venture approach is that even if you get 1000 registrations but only 200 people show up, you still have 1000 new people on your list. This same thing applies for paid acquisition, doing social marketing, any sort of thing like that. You should definitely be aiming for above 50%. I think a really good squeeze-paged with not much you can do except put your email address in and click a button. You should be getting closer to 90%.
[24:14] Mike: I think those are great numbers for people to have at their fingertips. Now what about follow-up referrals and things like that? I’ve seen some landing pages where after you put in your email address and said yes you will claim your spot and confirm to attend this event. I’ve also seen pages where they’ll ask you to help promote it by sending out a tweet, or emailing friends. Do you see that those types of things work well? Or no?
[24:39] Brennan: I have actually. What I will typically do is on the confirmation page is I’ll have a to have a “Share on Facebook, Tweet this” link and say “thank you”, and I also have a widget that will let them add it to their calendar. Basically the confirmation page is: stick it on your calendar and why don’t you tell somebody about it. But in the email that I send out. So, immediately upon opting in I send a welcome email. And this welcome email it’s very simple. It’s basically, “Hey! I’m really excited. I can’t wait to see you at the live event. Can you do something for me?”. I have a form that will help me learn a bit more about who you are and what you need to get out of this event.
[25:14] If you’re going to give me an hour of your time, I want to make sure I cover what you need to hear. So click this link fill out this form, it will take you about a minute. And just tell me a bit about what you need to hear from me on whatever date the webinar is. That’s just a link to a Woofu form, or it can be a Google form. But it’s literally, “What made you want to opt in?” “What drew you to this?” and also “What are you hoping to get out of this event?” And what I found is when people filled that out, and I found about half of the people who have ever registered for my webinars end up filling out that form, I get a lot of raw data.
[25:46] But on top of that they’re much more likely to actually attend. Because now they’re vested. They’re engaged with the event before it’s even happening. If they’ve taken the time to say, “I’m hoping you cover x, y, z”, the likelihood they’ll attend is much higher. But on top of that after I link to that form, at the end of that form I say can you do one more thing for me “I want to do my best to make sure I address whatever it is you just put in that form. But can you try to get one or two new people from your network to attend that you think would get a lot of value out of this?”. I’ll usually have about three tweets that they can copy and paste.
[26:22] And I’ve gotten a lot of people. Like whenever I do these events I’ll have a lot of people on Twitter sharing the url which gets even more people into it. So, that’s typically what I’ll do for that first welcoming email that I send out immediately on opt in.
[26:37] Mike: So, this sounds like taking the corporate face or feel of the company that’s behind the webinar and putting a person’s face on it to say, “Although you’re getting a webinar with such-and-such company, you’re actually talking to me Brennan Dunn”.
[26:51] Brennan: That’s right.
[26:52] Mike: It’s just got that personal feel to it, so you’re creating this one-on-one relationship with somebody. Not necessarily, “I have a webinar with BidSketch or whatever the company is”.
[27:01] Brennan: Nobody wants to go to a webinar to talk to BidSketch the company. They want to talk to a person, so I think it’s important that whoever’s going to be presenting for the company is the one that needs to be behind these emails.
[27:13] Mike: Some of those emails obviously are aimed at increasing the likelihood that people are going to attend. What are some of the other ways? I think an email sequence and timing that email sequence leading up to the event is also a good way.
[27:26] Brennan: You need to get people excited. You really want to make sure to get people to attend. Mine would change depending on how far out the event is. I’ve done events where I’ve opened that registration a few weeks in advance, but typically those don’t perform as well. I’ve found that just sending an email starting to promote the event less than a week before it happens those tends to be the most effective in terms of turn-out and how valuable that event was.
[27:51] I’ll typically send a welcome email, and usually another email on a weekend – the Sunday before. Usually I’ll run events Tuesday or Wednesday. I’ll send this on a Sunday, and I’ll basically say “Are you ready?” in the subject. Inside, I’ll reiterate why I’m excited to have them to attend, but then I’ll copy and paste a few of the responses I got from people and almost use it like testimonials. Like, “I’ve struggled with pricing myself at $20/hour for years, I don’t know how to get out of that. I can’t wait to figure that out. – Laura” or something like that. I’ll do this for maybe four or five of the responses that I got.
[28:29] It’s really just a way to really not only have another way to promote that hey if you haven’t filled out the form. Fill it out so I know. But also as a way to showcase that first off there are other real people attending and secondly people are like dying for this info and I plan on sharing how to fix these different problems that I’ve just listed out. So it’s just a way to kind of again remind people “Hey! You got an event coming up”and on top that really just build that excited for them to attend. I usually send it the Sunday before the event and then again if my event’s on say Tuesday, and let’s say it’s at 7am my time, I’ll send out a reminder saying, “By the way, the event is coming out later today” and I’ll also give people the live-link for the first time. I’ll tell them to set an alarm on their phone, make sure it is on their calendar, they won’t want to miss it, and that even though there will be a replay, you can’t ask questions to a video. If you attend live, you’ll have an avenue to ask questions about what I’m presenting. So it’s really important that they show up live.
[29:29] Mike: Now these are all things you can schedule well in advance because people sign up for it. This is specifically for the mailing list that you’ve set up for this particular webinar. Do you go back to your primary email list and continue trying to get people signed up for the webinar? How do you manage the back-and-forth between those two lists? I don’t think you want to beat your existing subscribers over the head with your webinars, because if you’re doing that, it’s almost like you’re abusing the privilege of having their email address.
[30:00] Brennan: I agree. I will typically only send two or three emails max about a webinar. It’s easy for me to do this with Infusionsoft – I can filter out people who have already registered from getting those follow-up emails. So if you’ve already opted into the webinar, you’re not going to get that reminder email to the general list about the webinar. I do that.
[30:19] Mike: So when you are giving the webinar. Let’s talk about the different things people can do to keep people engaged when you’re giving the webinar, and the types of logistical things you need to deal with during the webinar. So I think the first one is Should you record it? In some ways this is a no-brainer. You’re using the Hangouts which automatically records it so you don’t necessarily have to worry about that, but the question is: now that you have the recording, should you do anything with it? Should you repurpose that recording? Should you send it to people afterwards? I think there’s some pros and cons there that you might want to talk a little bit about.
[30:52] Brennan: I’ve done experimenting on record, not record – obviously you always record it, but do you share the recording or don’t you? What I found works best. The beautiful thing about Hangouts on Air is that live page you send people to to watch the webinar. If they were to refresh that page or go to that page after the event, it will automatically start playing the recording. That’s just how Hangouts works.
[31:21]So what I’ll typically do after the event, and this is part of that auto-responder for the pre-event and post-event, about two hours after the event I’ll send out a replay email where I’ll say, “Hey you guys are awesome, thank you so much. For those of you who couldn’t make it, here’s the video. But there is time-sensitive stuff that I mention in the video, so I will need to take it down on this date at this time”, which is typically the end of your sales window.
[31:37] This way people who are geographically all over the planet can watch it on their own time. Usually it’s a day or two window period I’ll set up. But the benefit of this it’s not an open-ended, yeah you can watch it from a year from now if you want. There is still some urgency behind it. You want people to watch the video especially if you have a timed promotion. No one will act on that promotion probably until they’ve seen the webinar probably. So, you want as many people as possible to watch the webinar. So I’ll usually do a replay, but take it down after a certain amount of time.
[32:07] Mike: Yeah, I think that’s really really great advice. When you’re running the webinar, why don’t you talk about some of the objections some people have, and how you address those directly within the webinar.
[32:17] Brennan: We’ve been talking a lot about the webinar but we haven’t talked about what’s in the webinar – format-wise and everything. The formula that I use for putting these together – I’ll start with ice breakers where I ask people where they’re from, what they do, and livechat is great for this because they’ll just type it out and I’ll respond to people in real time.
[32:38] Then I’ll jump into the training. Within the training there are two schools of thought. The first is you can either gloss over your entire product. Let’s say you have a course. You could sum up the entire course in the event, but still make it so even if somebody doesn’t buy the course they can still learn something, or alternatively you can drive into one specific part of the product. So with my product, Planscope, I could talk solely about client communication and how important it is to keep your clients addressed on what you’re working on, progress, budget usage, and everything. The selling point could be that Planscope does this.
[33:13] It also does a lot more. I would have focused on one core feature. That would allow me to do future webinars that allow me to hop around the future benefits that the product provides. You’ll typically do this training, and I usually spend about 30 minutes doing that. You need to have a bridge. Let’s go back to Auditshark. Let’s say you presented on the importance of security and how vital it is to have a secure system. The bridge that ties the training in with the product is something like this.
[33:45] On one hand, you could do what I did with Auditshark. I manually went in to all of my machines to make sure all of these settings were set. It took a lot of time. I was manually addressing and diagnosing and running diagnostics all the time on my machines. It took a lot of time. Or you could do what I’m doing now, which is, why I built Auditshark which is, you pay for Auditshark and we’ll do the majority of this for you. Do you want to go the shortcut or the long road?
[34:13] The training should set people up so they are equipped to take the long road. You can teach them about how to do what Auditshark does automatically. You could train them on how to do it manually. Basically, the pitch is really: if this is stuff that matters to your business, and your time is valuable enough where you don’t want to do all of this manually, here’s the product for you. I’ve built the product that automates much of this.
[34:36] Mike: That’s exactly what I did with my webinar. I basically talked about how to implement a security plan, which was geared more toward: these are the things that you should be doing. Then walk them through that process on how to do that stuff, where to start, where to finish, and what are the different gotcha’s and what sources of authority you should be looking at. Then walk into the process of how to verify those things inside of your environment.
[35:00] Then it was like – by the way, if you want to not have to go to every one of these machines individually and check all of this stuff, this product will do it automatically for you. It will pull back on everything and you can report on it and you can slice the data however you like.
[35:14] Brennan: If somebody doesn’t value their time all that much, they can take what you train them on and do it themselves manually, right? But, The goal with Auditshark in this case is to remove that need. Remove that time spent. It’s like when I sell Double Your Freelancing Rate, the way I sell it is: this is stuff I literally spent years of trial and errors on writing proposals and qualifying new clients. How do I do all of this kind of stuff?
[35:38] I packaged that into a start-to-finish framework that is this product. it’s really like, yes. You can take what I just covered and practice and tweak things and everything else, or I have a product that will help you get to that finish line and goal, which is the reason your hear, which is a lot faster than how you would get there otherwise.
[35:57] Mike: That’s a great tactic in general because you’re talking about what they’re doing, what are the different ways they’re going to accomplish whatever the ultimate solution would be, and walk them through the pains they’re having. It’s actually reinforcing the problems that they have to go through to do this. Maybe they know some of the different things they’ve learned over the years to get from point A to point B a little bit faster, but the tool is really what drives the value. That tool automates a lot of it. You’re trying to walk them through to this point where they recognize where they are today, and they realize what the potential solution is for all of their problems with the service or product that you’re offering. At that point, it becomes a much easier sell to say: Hey if you give us your credit card, we can solve most of these problems for you very quickly. You don’t have to worry about them ever again.
[36:48] Brennan: After you do the training with that kind of pitch, I definitely think there needs to be some sort of urgency factor – whether that’s a discount, or some added benefit, or something like that. I’ve found that having a day or two to get it at that discount or with that extra benefit is typically ideal. I’ve found that 40% of people who end up buying do so within an hour or so afterward. The other 60% actually come with the emails I send after the live webinar.
[37:22] I already mentioned the first email which is the replay, which also includes a worksheet I put together that is actually in the course that I give away for free. It’s a worksheet that coincides with a lot of what I covered in the live event. So I give that away also for free along with the replay in that first email. The next day I’ll send out another email where I overcome objections. Somebody attended or they watched the replay, and they’re thinking, “Well this is all great, but is it really for me? Am I at the point of my life where I really need something like this?”.
[37:52] So I really just help people self qualify. I tell them “If this is where you are then yes you should do this.” But if this describes you then maybe you should do this first. So it’s just a way to really help qualify people into does this really make sense for them to adopt product which is being pitch and it’s also a great way to really further described on paper this time in writing with a bit about include sales copy on the value and benefits of the product.
[38:18] And that will typically be the second email I send. Then I’ll send a final email, which is usually a few hours before the sales wrap up. I say, “if you haven’t watched the replay yet, do it, because I need to take it off because in that replay I give out this coupon or this offer code that is going to go away. It won’t work anymore so I’m going to be taking down the video. So please watch it soon.” I’ll also include a link to the slide-deck that I used. I’ll also include a closing testimonial that really is meant to drive people to it.
[38:50] Mike: So, we’ve got the follow-up email sequence, the link to the replay, any additional documents or materials, a link to the slide-deck. There’s a very specific sequence that you go through that essentially winds down the webinar. You have the intro emails leading up to the webinar, the webinar itself, and then it winds down to whatever the end of that sale or promotion is for that webinar. Is that right? –
[39:12] Brennan: That’s right.
[39:13] Mike: I think that’s a very regimented sales process you’ve probably tested quite a bit. Correct?
[39:17] Brennan: Yeah. Like I said, I’ve done this 13 times to other peoples’ lists and about four or five times to my own list, and I’ve definitely iterated on all of this. The way I have just outlined, for what I’ve been doing it, is most ideal. I’ve seen people who don’t do replays, people like Ramit Sethi do not offer replays, so you either see it live or you don’t see it. I think that there’s a lot of pros to that, but you could also be missing out on some.
[39:42] There are a lot other interesting things you can do. Another thing Ramit does. Is he will do things like he will ask questions live. Usually not questions, more like things he wants people to agree with. Like, “Have you ever feared X?” “Have you ever feared that a hacker could get into your server?” or something. And then, “If you have, let me know in the chat”. Then he’ll get a flood of, “yes yes yes” and it’s kind of like a psychological mass-confirmation thing. So I’ve seen that work.
[40:07] There are so many different techniques and strategies. I think ultimately, you need to have a way to excite people to attend. You need to have an event that is informative, educational, and more importantly ties really nicely in with the product you’re trying to sell. Finally, you just need to close the deal afterward.
[40:26] Mike: I think that’s all really great, sound advice. One thing that might be in the back of people’s minds at this point is that they may have a fear of running webinars. What are some of the fears that people might come across in trying to set up their own webinars. One that comes to mind I’ve seen other people mention before, is “What if I host this webinar, and nobody shows up”, especially if you have a live chat there where people can see how many people are in the webinar. I think with your implementation of Chatroll then, if everyone can see what everyone else is chatting, then that might be a very valid concern. What are your thoughts about that?
[41:00] Brennan: I would use some discretion in that. If only ten people register, I would probably not put Chatroll up, just because that means probably one or two people would attend. I think that would be a little of awkward. I think there’s room to tell people to tweet questions instead of having a chat box. That’s another thing I have seen people do, especially when they don’t have a chat element.
[41:23] Chat elements are good, but if you don’t have one, no one really knows. You could have one person watching live, or 1000 people. To the attendees can’t discern how many are attending, right? You can’t really fail. One person attending is not failure. It’s not the goal you were hoping to hit, but it still gives you practice and helps you build confidence so you can do it better next time.
[41:44] Even if nobody attends, you can just try it again. Figure out why people didn’t attend, you can reach out to people. Email everyone. One thing I like doing if you have a small list – I used to do seminars for my agency where we would basically do this, but offline at our office using seminars and networking. One of the things that worked really well when you have a smaller audience is to email everyone individually who registers and say basically that first email I mentioned – do that, but don’t do it as an auto-responder.
[42:12] Do it as a, “Hey Mike. Googled you and found your website. Awesome! It looks like you’re doing this really cool! Can’t wait to have you here. Can I ask you a few questions? I’m still wrapping up on the material I’ll be presenting on, but I want to ask you specifically, Mike Taber, some questions. I want to know what you’re looking to get out of this so that I can really tailor this event just to you.
[42:31] If you have a smaller list and you’re thinking the reception won’t be as big as you want it to be maybe- I’ve had 900 people attend live, so I couldn’t do that with them – but if you’re talking about a list of maybe a few 100 people, it might be better for you to be a little more personable and to actually turn off some of the auto-responders and write people manually.
[42:51] Mike: And the other thing you can do which I actually did was I went through the list of people who signed up for my webinar and I picked out different people to see what companies they were in – essentially using their registration email address from. Even people who registered with Gmail accounts I was able to backtrack through Reportive and identify people through LinkedIn and there were people who signed up from 25,000 employee companies, like Senior IT Auditor at a public company. It’s like, that’s a really good lead. I want to touch base with that person. Those are the types of things you can also do.
[43:22] Brennan: Right. I think it’s very valuable, both for learning – You’ll get to learn who your audiences. It’s just a lot more than just knowing you have 500 people on a list. It’s so much better when you know actually who is on that list.
[43:36] Mike: That leads me to the very last question. After people have signed up for the webinar, whether they attended or not, what do you do with those email addresses afterwards? Do you essentially add them to your main list? Or what?
[43:47] Brennan: That’s what I do. I’ve seen it work really nicely by having a P.S. segway in your last email saying, “By the way next week I’m going to be writing to you on (whatever your theme is)” and I want to maybe say “if you’re not interested in getting my weekly emails on consulting, just click the unsubscribe link at the bottom of this email”, and then by default opt-in anyone who doesn’t do that.
[44:07] Mike: Very cool. Well thank you for coming on the show Brennan. It was very educational and I think a lot of people are going to get a lot out of this. Where can people find you if they want to hear more from you?
[44:15] Brennan: Awesome. So thanks Mike first off for having me. I finally have a new centralized website. It’s doubleyourfreelancing.com. It has three plus years of weekly blog posts on consulting, along with all of my courses and everything else. It also has if you want to send me an email. The about page there’s a link to email me.
[44:33] Mike: Excellent, we’ll link that in with the show notes. If you have a question for us you can call it into our voicemail number at 1-888-801-9690. Or you can email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our theme music is an excerpt from “We’re Out of Control” by Moot, used under creative commons. Subscribe to us on iTunes by searching for “start ups” and visit startupsfortherestofus.com for a full transcript of each episode. Thanks for listening.