I’m in New York for Blog World Expo! As a result, I’m working hard rehearsing my presentations to make sure they are top notch this week. In the mean time, I’m happy to welcome back Lain Ehmann in a guest post today.
She’s actually here in New York with me,
so I’ll try to get a picture of us together and post it here later. and we took a picture together!
Lain was a recent guest on SPI Podcast Session #37: How to Monetize a Hobby, and to refresh your memory she shared her success story about creating a six-figure business out of her passion for scrapbooking.
After the episode aired, a lot of people contacted both Lain and me about how she did her webinar events, so I asked her to come back with more information.
Please welcome back, Lain from LayoutaDay.com.
After sharing my success story with Pat, I got a lot of questions about how I do what I’m doing. One of the biggest areas of interest was about the webinars (or “scrapinars” as I call them) and how I use them to generate qualified traffic and subscribers. People wanted to know specifics like:
- What’s the best webinar platform?
- How do you choose a topic?
- How do you promote your webinars?
- How do you convert viewers to subscribers?
So Pat invited me back to share answers to those questions and more, in excruciating detail.
The idea of hosting a webinar sounds good. You invite a bunch of people to come hang out, you spend an hour or two online with them, and they become raving fans, sign up for your mailing list, and buy every product and offer you send their way. Right?
Well, it’s not quite that easy. But it is straightforward. The principles I use can be transferred to other industries, other channels (like a teleseminar if you prefer voice-only), or even a Twitter chat party. So, boys and girls, let’s get started…
This isn’t as slick as the videos Pat makes but I’m still getting used to my Wacom tablet!
To summarize, I create a high-value free item (the webinar), which I advertise and encourage others to advertise for me. When people register for the free webinar, they’re automatically added to my main email list (with its 62 weeks’ worth of autoresponder messages!) and sent into my sales funnel.
Let’s break that into steps:
Step One. Know Your Market.
Before you can determine a proper topic for a webinar and choose the right platform, you need to know your market. What will they think is valuable? What questions do they have? Are they audial or visual learners? How many people do you think will attend your event? Will they want to chat with each other during the event, or are they less social? Having a good target market profile is essential.
I AM my target market – that makes it easy! I follow the chatter in the industry and know what questions people have, and what topics and products are trending. Then I can choose a narrow topic to share with them at the webinar (see more on topic selection below).
Step Two. Choose a Topic.
Topic selection is critical because you need a subject that is appealing, new or unique, and easily covered in a single session.
DON’T PICK SOMETHING THAT “EVERYONE ELSE” IS DOING. Use this as an opportunity to strut your stuff. Pick a topic that is one you personally can blow out of the water. Give away your best stuff – or a portion of it – and leave ‘em begging for more!
Note: I often invite others to contribute their expertise to my free webinars. I won’t cover that too much here, as it’s sort of an advanced topic, but maybe Pat will invite me back in the future to talk more about “producing” events for others to “perform” at (hint, hint – Pat, are you paying attention? Yeah, I’m like the Billy Graham of scrapbooking.). Producing events can be successful and profitable, but today let’s talk about what YOU can do without anyone else’s involvement.
Let’s use the internet marketing niche, since that’s one most will be familiar with, even if you’re not in it yourself.
Instead of: Choose:
“How to Build Traffic” “Building Traffic with Pinterest in 10 Minutes a Day”
“Social Media for Business Owners” “How to Turn Twitter into Your Personal Referral Machine TODAY!”
“Better Productivity” “How to Invest 30 Minutes and Gain 4 Hours for Your Business Every Day”
Are you getting the hang of it? Targeted, snappy, appealing, benefit-driven. Let your audience know that spending an hour with you is going to drastically improve their life.
Step Three. Pick Your Poison.
Choosing a webinar platform has caused me more grey hairs than my kids – and I have three! (kids, not grey hairs). I’ve looked at all the major ones including:
I currently use Webex, but to be honest, I’m not thrilled with it. I chose it because it was the best option at the time for what I was trying to do (stream pre-recorded video live to an audience of over 500, allowing chat functions for all, and enabled recording). Because I invested in that technology for my paid events (and when I say “invested,” I mean I pay $400 a month), I wanted to leverage it for other uses, so I use it for my free webinars. I would NOT recommend it for those who are technologically shy, who don’t need the robust system, or who don’t have a bottle of hair dye on-hand.
Instead, I’d make a list of your requirements and choose accordingly. Most offer a free trial of some sort, so make use of it! One size does NOT fit all, and though I’d love to tell you that Brand XYZ is the absolute BEST option for EVERYONE, I can’t. You’re going to have to do some legwork. Don’t hate me.
Step Four. Set Your Infrastructure.
There are many reasons for holding a webinar, but we’re aiming to build our email list. That means we need a way to capture people who sign up for the webinar and usher them to our main list. I use Aweber, and this is how I do it (you may want to enlarge the video using the Full Screen icon in the bottom right of the video screen):
I’m not going to get into the details of creating opt-in pages and setting up email lists, as it depends on what autoresponder service and theme you have. But I will say that WPSales Engine is a paid plug-in for WordPress blogs that makes creating sales pages and opt-in pages fairly painless. That’s what I used to create the page in the following video (you may want to enlarge the video using the Full Screen icon in the bottom right of the video screen):
One hint: I don’t put the time of the event on the opt-in page. They have to register to see what time it will be held. Since I always make a replay available for a short period of time after the webinar, it doesn’t really matter if they can attend or not. I want to capture them even if they are unable to attend. Sometimes people might say, “Oh, it’s at 5 PM. I can’t be there so I won’t register.” I’d rather have them realize AFTER they’ve signed up that they can’t attend live.
Step Five. Communicate.
I start communicating IMMEDIATELY with my attendees. As soon as they sign up for the list, they get an enthusiastic message from me:
I make sure to highlight the date and time, as well as the fact that a replay will be available for a limited time. I also give them a few hints about the technology we’ll be using.
Then I send two more reminders, one the day before the event and one the day of the event, just as reminders. This might seem like overkill, but every time I get emails saying, “Thanks so much for sending the reminder this morning! I would’ve forgotten!”
Step Six. Promote!
There are tons of ways to promote your events. Take Pat’s advice and “be everywhere!”. Here is a list of places I promote my event. Not all of these may apply to you, but it’s a starting point to get your imagination going!
- On my blog – dedicated blog post
- On my podcast – mentioned several times before the actual event
- In the sidebars of others’ blogs – I create a cool sidebar image and encourage others to include it on their blogs, with a link back to the opt-in page
- On Pinterest – I pin the sidebar image and edit the link to direct to the opt-in page
- On Facebook – on my private group as well as on my own personal timeline
- On LinkedIn – I’m the moderator of an industry-specific group and members of several others, and I post the event there
- Through my affiliates – they can tag the link to the event with their own affiliate code, so if someone registers for the event through their link and purchases something in the future, they get credit
- Through my email list – I send an invitation to my main list and encourage them to invite their friends
- Through YouTube and Vimeo – I post the promo video on both sites
- Through Twitter – I tweet about the event multiple times a week during the month before the event. You can use Hootsuite or BufferApp to schedule the tweets so you don’t have to remember to do it daily. I change up the language and the time of day I tweet so it doesn’t look repetitive.
Step Seven. Strut Your Stuff.
I won’t get into the details of your actual event because that will rely largely on your topic, your market, and the platform you chose. But just make sure of a few things:
- Practice beforehand. Make sure you know how the technology works!
- Engage the audience. Chat ‘em up as they start to trickle in. Mention them by name. Ask questions like, “Where are you from?” Work the room!
- Have fun. The more you enjoy the event, the more your audience will.
- Stay calm. Something ALWAYS goes wrong with technology. Just stay calm and carry on. If you freak, everyone else will, too. It also makes you look unprofessional. Whatever happens, keep your cool.
- Don’t forget to record! Put a big note next to your monitor if you need to!
Step Eight. Follow Up.
After the event is over, your work doesn’t end! I immediately follow up with a “thank you” email, reiterating how fun the event was, and then the next day I send out the replay link. Capture testimonials via Twitter, Facebook, and email, and make sure you add them to your testimonials file. (You do have a testimonials file, don’t you?)
If you’ve set up the process correctly, all those webinar registrants are now cozily embedded in your mail email list. Yeah, some won’t stick around long, but each time you hold a webinar, your main list will grow. Case in point: As of this writing, I’ve hosted four free webinars with a total of 1602 registrants. In that same period of time, my main list grew by almost 31 percent. Not all the growth is due to the free webinars, but I know a large part is.
Creating webinars like this and recording them results in a bunch of amazing benefits:
- Product creation. I eventually turn these recordings into products and sell them.
- Expert status. When you position yourself as a teacher, you’re an expert. And experts are cool! (Just ask Pat!)
- Market research. You get to know your market better through connecting with them live, and you also hear their questions, concerns, and problems first-hand. You don’t have to guess what’s on their mind; you hear it.
- Community involvement. The more your community connects with you and with others, the greater a sense of cohesion they’ll develop. And they’ll also start to see you as their leader!
I know this is a lot of information to digest, and that you’ve probably got more questions. I’ll be popping in over the next few days to answer, so ask away.
Lain Ehmann inspires women to document their personal stories through project ideas, online classes, podcast, and blog, http://www.layoutaday.com. She also teaches online business owners how to make their audiences fall in love with them through the Business Love Potion podcast at http://www.businesslovepotion.com.