Most webinars miss the critical step of telling a story. If you tweak your webinar ever so slightly, you'll see improved performance.
Running a successful webinar is like overhauling an old motorcycle. I’ve seen beautiful old bikes that sit on blocks for years, being tinkered with. Effort is not given in the quantity nor the quality needed to really make the bike run. So, it sits. It becomes a time and money-suck. The level of focus required to get the bike not just firing, but fully restored, is tremendous.
Anyone can buy a junker and fall in love with the idea of restoring it, but few have the patience.
The same is true of running a webinar. At the end of the day, a Google Hangout and a promotional email to your company’s mailing list is all that’s needed to have a webinar. But is it going to be fine-tuned? Is it going to be a beautiful, effective and informative webinar? Will it bring you back more profit than the expense? Not if you put haphazard effort into it.
Recently, a client came to me about a webinar. He had people sign up, he had a few take action at the end, but the numbers were abysmal. The complexity of getting to where he was, though, was about as much as his team could handle. They had to deal with:
- Webinar signup pages
- Promotional emails
- Reminder emails
- Angry “don’t spam me” messages
- Structuring content for the webinar
- Dealing with technical issues
- Delivering the webinar
- Getting offended when people drop off the webinar
- Making a close on the webinar
- Being unhappy with the lackluster results but not knowing what to do
If that’s a cycle you’ve been through, you need to structure a webinar that gets people to take action.
Make your webinar a winner with a story
The keys to hosting a successful webinar are attention and hand holding. It’s really a simple equation. If I keep your attention and walk you through all the things you need to do, step-by-step, you’ll probably do them. If I lose your attention or skip over a critical step, I’ll lose you.
To get and keep someone’s attention, it’s best to use what’s worked for millennia: stories. People love stories. We’re a storied culture. Before we had a written language, we used stories to pass down lessons and skills. Everyone loves a good story and in every good story, there’s conflict.
No conflict, no attention
When there’s conflict in a film, you’re attentive. The moment the conflict resolves, you run for a bathroom break. A good story keeps the conflict noted and builds anticipation.
Therefore, if your webinar lacks conflict, it will suffer a loss of attention. To add conflict, add a story at the beginning of the webinar that emotionally hooks the reader. But don’t start with “In a galaxy far, far away…”. Instead, start like a good Tarantino film, where you jump right into the story. Transport the attendee from their boring desk and into a story where you’re narrating the struggles of the main character, you or someone you know. Just like Quentin did with Kill Bill, start in the middle of the fight scene.
You’ll probably need to introduce yourself in the webinar and state why you’re hosting it. It’s boring content, but a necessity for many webinars. Instead of doing that at the start (“Hey I’m Casey and in today’s webinar…”), throw that in after you build a bit of anticipation and attention. People will focus on you. They’ll listen. They’ll be engaged.
Then go back to the story. Resolve the conflict, but then identify another conflict. Keep their attention. Cycle through stories. It’s okay to have two, three, maybe up to four different, inter-connected stories in your webinar. Maybe you just use one. No matter what you choose, the importance is keeping attention through conflict.
Adding the step-by-step call to action
So many webinars that I attend provide great information, but offer zero story, and then drop me at the end by saying, “Reach out if you want to work together.” There’s no clear call to action. I don’t know explicitly what to do. Here’s what I’ve found to dramatically increase the close-rate on any webinar:
- State a clear call to action. This could be “Click the button that just appeared and fill out the accompanying form to claim your free copy of my book, ‘How to Slay the Sales Dragon’. You’ll just pay shipping, but the book is my gift to you.”
- Give the call to action urgency. “We only have 50 copies available and won’t have another printing for 2 more weeks. If you order today, you’ll be guaranteed a copy.”
- Tell me WHY I need it. Be explicit. Tell me if it’s for me. Qualify me. “This book isn’t for everyone. If you love cold calling, or have a team cold prospecting for you, this book isn’t for you. But if you want to get your ideal prospect on the phone without making 300 dials first, this book will give you the same strategy I used to help Acme Corp grow their B2B division 200 percent in 8 months.”
- Show me how to do it. Walk me through the steps on your screen. Be patient and go slow, not everyone is as computer savvy as you are. Repeat yourself. Make the instructions clear. Show me the form. Show me the “Thanks for requesting your free copy!” page.
Tie it all back to the conflict
This is the big secret— continuity within your message. If your opening story defined a conflict, spin your call to action to resolve the conflict for the attendee. “By ordering this book and putting just the first 2 chapters into place within your organization, you’ll be able to reduce your prospecting costs by up to 65 percent and win more deals. If you don’t, you may end up like [CHARACTER] and witness your business face a similar fate of certain death. Competition is hungry and unless you grab this sword, they’ll crush you.”
Your job is to take these two strategies, attention and hand holding, and inject them into your webinar. Create a webinar that’s attention-grabbing. Entertain your visitors, not with humor, but with the thread that ties all humanity together: story.
Then structure your call to action at the close of the webinar to hold that attendee’s attention and bend them to your will. Get them to take action so they can receive the reward they desire.
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