How To Create A Compelling Webinar Business – Lessons From My Small Biz Disaster

Posted on / by Natalie Sisson / in Business Resources, Social Media / 15 comments

Let’s face it, as a business owner you are always looking for more ways to make money, right? If your business is predominantly online then you know how hard that can be.

In fact making money online requires a lot of tenacity, innovation and persistence. If you hadn’t picked up on it, I’m the queen of finding the best tools out there to help me spread my message and expertise to a greater audience.

I’ve long known the power of webinars for doing just that and the huge benefits of hosting them. If you can tantalize your participants for a full hour and deliver amazing value then you will definitely hear the “Ka Ching” sound on the cash register.

Yet for many of us they represent scary new ground. Including for me!

For a start there is a lot of planning and work to be done before you present your webinar. On top of that there’s technology involved and we all know what that means.

Things will inevitably go wrong, no matter how well prepared you are.

Well I’m here to help you out. In this 2 part series I’m going to share with you my lessons about holding successful webinars and then go on to tell you the exact steps to take to run one yourself.

My Small Biz Disaster Story and what you can learn from it

When I attended Lewis Howes presentation at BlogWorld last year and heard him wax lyrical about the incredible power of webinars for driving new business, I decided to finally give one a shot.

If he and Sean Malarkey could make $23,000 in one webinar with 800 attendees then who knows what success I could have (hint they make a lot more than that now, yes they’re that good).

In fact these two are well worth connecting with – they are both fantastic guys and very generous with their time and knowledge.

So back to the story. I knew had a lot of valuable information to share with entrepreneurs from the Social Media Bootcamps I’d held and subsequently turned into a product. I figured since the initial product launch excitement was dying off I’d show people how much they’d benefit from buying the product by giving away a lot of great tips and content in a 1 hour webinar.

So I followed all the steps I’d written down from that webinar session. I registered with GoToWebinar about 3 days before – they have a 30 day free trial so you might as well plan to hold at least one during that time, if not two. They really do have the gold standard webinar service too.

I put in my key title, main message, and compelling points as to why they should attend and who it would
benefit. I grabbed the URL to register and set up the invite info. Then I went to Mailchimp and set up my email campaign with three `Click here to attend this awesome webinar’ call to actions.

Important Note: If you want to do a webinar, research shows it’s best to hold it on a Thursday at either 12pm EST or 6pm EST onwards. In order to create enough buzz in a limited timeframe you should market your webinar from Monday onwards.

The breakdown looks like this (I’ll cover it in more depth on Friday’s post):

Day 1: Email your list/ tribe/ loyal advocates or put out a blog post on what you’ll be covering.
Day 2 (Tuesday): Is all about promoting it to your social networks.
Day 3: Head back to those on your list who didn’t sign up and come at it from a different angle
Day 4: More on the social networks and a friendly reminder email to those signed up that it starts in 1 hour + A reminder email to those who didn’t sign up that they still can + One last Social Media invite

Unfortunately, mine went a little more like this:

The first mistake I made was screwing up the timing. I checked my calendar twice, sent off my email and then realized I’d made it for the following Thursday. Oops — 11 days of waiting for my webinar.

Then I have to say I got a little slack on letting people know about it – 11 days was too long even for me. I had a strange idea that if people were interested in learning about some excellent social media strategies and get answers to the Top 5 questions asked by businesses they’d just sign up.

Meanwhile I was busy preparing my powerpoint presentation. A rule of thumb is to prepare between 80-100 slides, which sounds insane but most of these are visuals with very little text.

Being a perfectionist I think I spent 8 hours on this alone and I put in too much information. Nonetheless I had around 75 people sign up which was exciting to say the least.

Then disaster struck. I woke up the day before with some dreaded flu. This from the person who gets sick every 2-3 years, I lost my voice. Brilliant.

The next morning was my 9am PST webinar. I sounded like I’d been out the night before and drunk up a storm. But I soldiered on, thanking people for joining the webinar, telling them I had a husky voice for reasons other than chain smoking and letting them know I’d be starting in 10 minutes – this is also key.

As is going online 15 minutes before hand to check all was OK. Needless to say I was talking to just 1 person – but making it sound like hundreds. 🙂 Meawhile I was worried no-one else would turn up.

But then bit by bit, the GoToWebinar dashboard told me I had real people waiting to listen to me – incredible really. I ended up having 30 people join the webinar of which 27 stayed to the bitter
end – yes, I ended up talking for 1 hour and 10 minutes without losing my voice.

I also had a friend kindly attend the webinar and record it on Camtasia’s screen recording software so that I could upload it to Vimeo for people to view later.

A critical factor for any good webinar – most people sign up but can’t actually make it and want to see it later in their own time. Generally, you make it available for playback to people for 72 hours to keep it time sensitive.

But here’s where (another) disaster struck: my friend stepped away from her laptop at one point and found out later that she had recorded 10 minutes of me talking to her screensaver. Luckily it was just a picture of a blue sky and not anything too personal, but it did make the video editing process a little trickier. I went with just telling people in my follow up emails to expect no slides at 33 minutes in.

The result – lots of fabulous feedback and wait for it…. 1 sale! Was 8 hours of preparation, 1 hour of system set up and up to 2 hours of marketing worth $247?

It probably wasn’t my best hourly rate, but the goodwill I created was excellent. I made subsequent sales and gained more credibility and I now have a pretty awesome Slideshare presentation to show people that’s had close to 700 views!

Demystifying Social Media for Business

Plus, I now know all the things that could go wrong and how to overcome them. Taking action is what’s most important, and I feel much more confident in the webinars that I’ve been holding this year. Every time I do I aim to make it that much better for my audience.