Mickey and Judy at 42nd Street
“Hey, Kids! Let’s put on a show!” yells the ever-enthusiastic Mickey Rooney to Judy Garland and the rest of the talented youngsters standing below him.  Then, in a matter of less than a minute, we get clips of rehearsals, set building, costume fittings, and Voila! They’re on Broadway on a stage that would fill a football stadium – or MGM’s backlot.

It looks so easy: Set a goal to put on a fabulous show; get it ready; and open the curtain to massive adulation, audiences and applause.

The reality: We all know it takes a ton of work to put on a show, or launch a new product or business. But does the work have to be grueling? No. In fact, it can be a lot of fun.

The Andy Hardy movies (shown occasionally on WGN when I was growing up – puhleeze, I’m not that old!) did a wonderful job of making us think how easy it is to execute a pretty complicated project. They did such a wonderful job of it that we didn’t realize how much work was involved to really get the actors rehearsed, sets built and costumes sewn. There were likely thousands behind the scenes working towards making it happen!

From Iowa Farm to Glitzy Webinar-Broadway

Launching a new product or strategy may be exciting, but they also require a great deal of work behind the scenes to make them appear effortless on stage as well. It may not take thousands to put on a webinar, but it does take a bit of advance work.

GOAL: Build client base through free webinars.

BACKSTORY: The theory, of course, is that the attendees of the webinar will find your content so valuable that they’ll sign up for paid courses or more deluxe products. Statistics actually show that sales conversion is about 25% compared to only 3% using traditional marketing methods.

THE LURE OF BRIGHT LIGHTS: What’s so attractive about a webinar? Many are free, providing information attendees might otherwise have to pay to receive. The attendees can enjoy it from the comfort of their home, office or cabana chair two thousand miles away.

The convenience of online learning modules is not having to get in your car and drive to a not-so-nearby Sheraton Hotel. Geography is no longer a limitation. Scheduling? Since the webinar is being held during an important meeting, you can watch the replay the next day or next week (from your cabana chair).

You can stop it to replay an important question or answer, or just write down notes. Try doing that from the Grand Ballroom of your local Marriott while sitting on an uncomfortable stacking hotel chair three rows from the back!

For the producer, the webinar is equally attractive because she can record it and attract additional audiences through replays. She can repackage it with other webinars into a complete training program. She can clip bite-size pieces of it to use as Tweets or newsletter material. The possibilities are endless.

Getting the Show on the Road

While Broadway productions actually do tryouts out-of-town (except, evidently, Spiderman), the internet is both Broadway and out-of-town. Webinars can be practiced upon smaller, invitation-only audiences to work out the kinks. But how exactly do you plan to get the proverbial ‘butts in seats’?

If you’re Donald Trump, Anthony Robbins or Oprah, you have but to announce when and where the show will be held to attract a large audience. But if your fan base isn’t already hanging on your every word, you’ll need more than just an announcement to attract attendees.

The Producer’s Playbook

Let’s run Mickey and Judy’s production in reverse for a bit so you can see how a big splash can be made with your webinar:

How many webinar attendees are you hoping for? 1,000? 500? 100? 25? Whatever number you’re hoping for – and be thankful attendees can’t see any unsold empty seats online – you’ll need to do a LOT of promotion to gain the desired number of attendees.

How many invitations to the webinar do you need to send out? That’s the $64,000 question because there are so many variables involved. First, how big is your own email list? And remember, your own email list likely consists primarily of existing customers. If your goal is to attract new customers, then your own email list is likely to yield few new clients.

Second, whether or not you email to only your own customers or also reach prospective clients with your list, how many will sign up for the webinar? The only firm statistic being reported these days is that 50% of registrants actually attend a live webinar. So if your goal is 50 attendees, you need 100 to sign up. How do you get those 100 to sign up?

Third, should you buy an email list? Marketers generally agree that purchased email lists are no-no’s. These folks haven’t opted-in. Your invitation will be an intrusion to their privacy (and a violation of the CAN-SPAM Act). You could pursue your email invitation reach via affiliate marketing.

Affiliate Marketing
is the process where you pay (usually) a 50% commission on any product you sell to an affiliate’s customer. Affiliate marketing is a separate newsletter. So we’ll do that another day. But this may be a terrific strategy to build your customer base with greater speed.

What about growing your own email list to include many more prospects that haven’t yet converted to clients? Good idea! How do we do this?

You may already be using an array of tools such as a blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter and traditional marketing venues to attract new clients. Depending upon how well each of these platforms is performing for you, your email list may be building at a steady clip.

If you haven’t yet arrived at getting these many mediums to attract in a steady stream of interested parties, you’ll need to focus some attention on them. (Remember, we said it was a lot of work to get the show well-rehearsed, sets up and painted, costumes fitted and ready to hit the stage!)

If your “show” stars “unknowns” ticket sales (free or paid) will be difficult to make. You’re still asking folks for their valuable time. (Even Camelot did poorly upon opening on Broadway, and it wasn’t until Julie Andrews and Richard Burton went on the Today Show to promote it that ticket sales began to take off. Why? Because they gave away a free sample that everyone enjoyed!)

Is the suspense getting to you yet? Would you just prefer the Cliffnotes version?

Very well. Imagine now Mickey and Judy back in forward motion but at high speed:

  1. Your website must be humming along, regularly updated and have the webinar information/links easy to find on the home page and/or landing page(s).
  2. Your blog must be updated frequently (which often means daily) with relevant content to your prospective webinar attendees. (And you must have an archive of your many blogs posts!)
  3. Your blog content must be regularly and frequently pushed out to your email subscriber list as a newsletter. (This is a step I’ve yet to get synchronized myself!) Your blog content is the same as your newsletter content.
  4. Your social media pages (see above) must all be regularly updated with content and include an easy sign up form for your newsletter asking for only first name and email address – no more! (You can ask later for more information when they trust you and have established a rapport.)
  5. You must regularly build and delivery campaigns (to attract more prospects) around giving away your white papers. Giving away? Oh, yes! Did you miss the memo? We’re in “The Thank You Economy” now. (Ask Gary Vaynerchuk.) If the idea of giving away your hard-earned knowledge makes you uneasy, we’ll need to have a separate discussion. In the meantime, think of it this way: Write enough content-rich white papers and you’ll have enough material for a great e-book!

Now how many white papers do you need to promote, or lead up to, your webinar? Depends on a zillion different factors. Does your webinar topic require attendees to learn and understand some backstory?

Remember, a great deal of the purpose of your newsletter content, tweets, LinkedIn status updates and so on, is to provide breadcrumbs to lead them along to buy (like Julie and Richard Burton singing “What Do the Simple Folk Do?” on TV). It’s just like a movie trailer: a snippet of one scene, a clip of someone falling off a cliff. Do they survive? Stay tuned! You’ll have to show up at the theater to find out. Your white paper serves the same purpose: Give them enough information to want to show up for the webinar to see the full show.

Movie Trailers for Films Released at Christmas Are Out Now!

Exactly how far in advance of your webinar do you need to begin blogging, sending newsletters, tweeting, white papering, etc.? The answer is different for every business. Some can begin announcing the date and time of their next webinar less than a month away. These are companies that have been promoting their services online already for years; their reputation is established.

If you are new to online marketing, you’ll need to get your ducks in a row: blogging, sending newsletters, conversing with folks on social media sites BEFORE announcing a webinar. It’s all building relationships where none currently exist. (Even when Aunt Mavis receives an invitation for a niece’s wedding she hasn’t seen since birth, she usually gets six to eight weeks advance notice!)

The longer the amount of time you are building those online relationships, the greater your conversion rate will be to attract webinar attendees. You may announce the date and time of your webinar only a few weeks in advance, but if you don’t already have a long correspondence built up with your fan base, it will be difficult to attract attendees.

Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Does it seem a little complicated? If so, that’s understandable! There are a lot of details to implement and keep track of along the way. If you’d like a checklist to help you keep track of those webinar details, click on the link below to get your checklist. (No sign up required. Just click!)

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