Webinars are a powerful tool for audience growth, marketing, sales, training and education.
There's no doubt about it.
There isn't a single online marketing strategy I know of that can, in a matter of 60-minutes:
- Tell your story
- Establish trust with a cold audience
- Teach a valuable skill or concept
- Generate multiple new customers
But with great power comes great responsibility! There is a lot to know about webinars, so let's jump in and answer some of the most common questions about webinars.
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# What is a webinar?
A webinar is a seminar... on the web, hence "webinar". Sometimes referred to as webcasts, web conferences, workshops, or (the one I dislike the most) "live trainings", webinars are online video events in which a person or company will host a video presentation for a group of attendees who wish to learn something, acquire training, network together, or make a purchasing decision about a product or service.
# Live Webinar vs. Evergreen Webinar vs. Fake Live Webinar
Webinars can be live or evergreen. In a live webinar, the host is live-streaming to an audience and can interact in real-time with the attendees. In an evergreen, or "on-demand" webinar, an attendee registers to watch a pre-recorded video presentation.
If your webinar is live, you may market and present it as a truly live event.
However, if your webinar is pre-recorded, it's paramount that you make that distinction in your marketing and presentation.
There's nothing wrong with an evergreen webinar in and of itself, but the problem is when marketers make it seem like the webinar is, in fact, live and in real-time. There is a new term for these fake live webinars, called "Fake-inars". It's bad practice and completely unethical.
# The different types of webinars
There are many different types of webinars, actually!
ConvertKit wrote an article on their blog stating that there are 6 different webinar formats, here are the 6 common formats, with my own spin on them:
The Lead Generation Webinar, where you offer a free webinar (live or evergreen) to your audience as a method of growing your email list. A standard lead generation strategy is to use a "lead magnet" such as a free PDF checklist, whitepaper, or eBook in exchange for a website visitor's email. However, a webinar is much more valuable and interesting than a little PDF checklist and will also build trust more quickly with the new lead.
The Joint Venture (or JV) Webinar, where you and another person or company co-host the webinar, typically for the purpose of collaboration, bringing outside authority and expertise, and to gain exposure to a new audience. If the JV is a sales webinar, usually both parties will combine their offerings into one bundle and share the revenue.
The Education Webinar, where you simply teach a concept or topic to the attendees. No pitch, no sale, no close. Just pure education. These are good for audience building, establishing trust and authority within a niche, and keeping current customers happy and engaged.
The Demo Webinar, where you demonstrate your software or product to your target audience with the intent of having them purchase or subscribe to the software at the end of the webinar. This is popular with Software-as-a-Service companies who want to give their prospective customers a "try before they buy".
The Q&A Webinar, where you routinely host a live presentation in order to answer common questions from your audience, your customers or your students. For a long time, I've been hosting a weekly "Office Hours Live" for my students in my Launch Course in order to answer their questions and to provide extra support and coaching in their freelancing journeys.
The Sales Webinar, where you tell your story, introduce a problem, teach a core topic, then offer your product or service as the solution. This is by far the most popular webinar format, as it's a direct revenue generator. Unfortunately, this is also the most controversial webinar format as many have used the power of the sales webinar to generate profit in an unethical manner.
Let's dig into the Sales Webinar a bit more.
# Why most sales webinars follow the same format
Many sales webinars tend to use the exact same format... and I mean, literally, the exact same script. I'll dig into that in a moment.
The reason you've probably noticed that most sales webinars use the same format is that proven structure & systems just work. There is no need to re-invent the wheel when something just works!
That said, the format that every marketer seems to latch onto is losing effectiveness as it gains more popularity and widespread adoption. Basically, when every marketer looks, sounds and acts the same, the marketplace notices the pattern and ultimately becomes tired of the format.
Which leads marketers to a crossroads:
- Dig in their heels and find increasingly more unethical ways to sell
- Pivot and try a new and creative way to sell (my suggestion: honest marketing!)
Now, what about this script that everyone seems to use?
It's called The Perfect Webinar Script which is a book written by Russell Brunson, a widely known internet marketer who is also the founder of ClickFunnels, a popular marketing funnel software.
Before I go any further, I want to make it very clear that this is not a dig on Mr. Brunson or his software company. I actually have read his books, and am a customer of his software.
With that out of the way, the Perfect Webinar script is a highly systemized and formulaic approach to sales webinars. There are many ways to approach sales webinars, and the Perfect Webinar script is just one way, albeit a very popular way, to approach them. This script has become so popular and widely adopted that I believe that nearly every sales webinar out there has been either directly or indirectly influenced by this script.
Now, I'm not going to dive into the entire webinar script here (there's a whole book on this topic), but in summary, the script everyone follows looks like this:
Intro (15 minutes)
- With a bold promise (i.e. "By the end of this webinar, you will learn XYZ")
- A hook to encourage people to stick around to the sales pitch (i.e. "Stay until the end for a free gift")
- Introduce the core pain point that your target audience experiences and desires to have eradicated from their life (i.e. "You're probably struggling to lose weight, have tried everything and you're ready to give up")
- Begin your personal introduction using the "hero's journey" narrative to receive empathy from the audience
- Position yourself as the expert (i.e. "I was where you are now, achieved X, and now I have the formula")
Training (45 minutes)
- Introduce the core topic of the webinar, also called The One Thing
- Break the One Thing into three sections, or "secrets"
- For example, One Thing: How to land your first client; Secret #1: Finding the problem; Secret #2: Creating your offer; Secret #3: Marketing your offer
- Many marketers use the training section to "give a taste", "tease the solution", or "illustrate the why" so as to not give too much away in the free webinar (saving the real solution for the product or service at the end of the webinar)
- With every step of the webinar, the goal is to facilitate audience participation, encourage interaction and break and rebuild belief patterns (i.e. "Don't believe you can achieve X? Let me show you how you can by doing Y")
Transition (2 minutes)
- The transition from the training section into the pitch
- This is the part most marketers hate doing as it can feel awkward and break the flow of your webinar
- The way most marketers approach the transition is by asking a question, such as: "Why did you show up today?", "Would you like to know how to implement the 3 secrets you learned today?", "How would it feel to achieve [the one thing] in XYZ time?"
- The answers to the above questions make a more seamless transition to the pitch, i.e. "If you'd like to achieve [the one thing] in XYZ time, you can do so by [purchasing product or service]"
Pitch (15 minutes)
- Present the product or service as a solution to the main problem your audience experiences, and the fast track method for implementing the "three secrets" you presented in your Training section
- Show your solution, don't just talk about it
- Include testimonials and past customer results
- Utilize the "Value Stack" to show how valuable your solution is compared to the price the attendees will pay (i.e. Core Product: $1997 value; Bonus #1: $497 value; Super Bonus #2: $1997 value; Extra Training #3: $4997; Total Value: $9488)
- Determining each value is as simple as choosing arbitrary prices, but you can also loosely determine the value by asking the question "how much would I charge for this standalone item?"
- Then present the price by comparing it to the "Value Stack" (i.e. Total value is $9488, but you pay $997)
- The trick is to have the Value Stack be precisely ten times the value of the price you're asking (i.e. Value Stack: $10k, Asking Price: $997)
Close (5 minutes)
- This is the end of the webinar where you give one final push for the sale
- Typically there is a short countdown timer with some time for Q&A while the clock ticks down
- Sell hard by using the "two choices" method (i.e. "You have two choices, the old way and the new way")
- The old way is the way you've always done it (which hasn't produced any results for you)
- The new way is the product or service being offered in the webinar
- Give them a last chance to join on the spot (typically with a discount for live attendees)
- Say thank you and end with a link to access their free gift (the hook you offered in the introduction)
There it is, the tried and true sales webinar format used by millions of marketers up and down the web! I've used a variation of this webinar format on many occasions, sometimes resulting in great success, other times not so much.
But you may be wondering...
# Is this sales webinar format ethical?
Let's be honest, some of those tactics in the script sound a bit shady, don't they? That's because some of those tactics are intentionally manipulative. There is a lot of underlying psychological Jiu-Jitsu happening beneath the surface.
Here is my take on it. Like many marketing and sales tactics, using a "proven formula" is not inherently evil or immoral; the determining factor is the intention behind the use of the formula. If you're using the formula in order to lie and deceive your attendees into purchasing a lousy product or service, then you are acting unethically. On the flip side, you can also use the formula to genuinely serve your audience and be transparent about your sales pitch.
Think of the Kung Fu Master. The martial art itself is not evil; however, the master can choose to use the art in evil ways.
Also, just because a formula is proven or a script is "perfect", it doesn't mean it's a one-size-fits-all approach that will work for your business! Rigidly sticking to a formula makes you look and sound like everyone else. It's so boring, unoriginal, obvious, and just makes you come across as inauthentic.
The reason Mr. Brunson can pull off the "Perfect Webinar Script" so well is because it's his original idea. Seriously, if you watch one of his webinars, just see how hard it is NOT to buy his offering... even if you've never heard of it before. He follows his webinar formula to the tee and nails it. The guy knows how to connect, tell a story, sell his stuff, and make you thank him for it when he's done.
And then he teaches his strategy to everyone else. This increases his authority, and his ability to sell related products and services to his audience. It's brilliant.
Some people think that the following phrase means you're creating your own competition:
Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime
But nay, the expert marketer knows that if you "teach a man to fish" you can sell him fishing gear.
But I digress.
Rules and formulas are not necessarily unethical—the rules are in place to show you what works—rather, it's the intention behind the use of such formulas that determines if something is unethical.
Think of our Kung Fu Master... the Kung Fu (formula) is not evil, but the Master can choose to be.
Alright, let's get this straight...
If the classic formula for a sales webinar is not inherently bad but the formula is tired & overused, how should we approach our sales webinars?
# Break the rules & spice things up with honesty
Pablo Picasso, the world-famous artist, once said,
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”
As a marketer, formulas are your friend as they provide you with a structure that just works. There's no need to re-invent the wheel and try to be clever.
At its core, the sales webinar formula is very simple:
- Teach Something
Mr. Brunson simply uses a standard flow for an ordinary sales webinar and injects it with micro-detail about exactly what to say, how to say it and when to say it. The problem is when marketers accept this approach as Gospel and then every sales webinar ends up sounding the same, and then marketers are left wondering why their webinars don't work anymore.
My recommendation is simple: use the classic sales webinar formula as a guideline (not Gospel), then break the rules and spice things up with honesty and originality. Don't be afraid to experiment and royally screw it up!
What would happen if you...
- Flipped the script upside down?
- Let your audience know you were going to offer them something at the end of the webinar?
- Gave away "too much" for free?
- Didn't pitch anything in the webinar at all, and saved it for a follow-up email?
- Tore up your script and kept it casual?
Remember, following a structure can be a good thing as it can prevent you from rambling on, going off on tangents and maintain your audience's attention. But allow yourself some major flexibility to be yourself.
My rule of thumb is to look at what everyone else is doing, and then do something radically different. Marketing Honestly is exactly that — too many online marketers opt for deception, trickery and flimflammery. I'm doing the exact opposite and laying it all out there for you to see.
# Marketing Honestly Sales Webinar Format
If I can give you a more concrete structure to follow in your next sales webinar, I'd recommend something like this:
Introduction (5 minutes)
- Greeting & introduce yourself (scrap the lengthy "origin story")
- Why you're qualified to teach your topic
- Be honest about what your audience can expect (i.e "I'll teach you X, show you how to Y, and then if you want my help with these things, I'll offer you Z at the end of the webinar. Okay?")
- Give your audience the option of accessing your call to action at any point during the webinar (not the last 15 minutes, like most sales webinars)
- Introduce the "big idea" your webinar is focused around
Teach Something (30 minutes)
- Three main teaching points all centered around your big idea
- Actually teach something valuable, juicy and tangible
- Don't just tease a topic and save the solution for your paid offering
- Rule of thumb: Serve your audience generously and unapologetically
- Some marketing experts say that giving away "too much" for free in this section will discourage your audience from purchasing your paid offering. I disagree. If your paid offering is actually valuable and will genuinely make your audience's life better, they'll buy it regardless of how much you gave away.
Transition (1 minute)
- Let your audience know that they've got what they need to get to work on solving the problem themselves, and there's nothing wrong with going the DIY route
- Then tell them if they need extra assistance solving the problem, or want somebody to take care of it for them, you're positioned to do exactly that
Pitch (10 minutes)
- Introduce your offering as the done-with-you, or done-for-you solution (remember, they can always do-it-themselves)
- Provide features & the benefits as they relate to your audience
- Show don't tell
- Relevant and real testimonials
- Show them how to get started
- Option: omit the pitch entirely and just pitch them in a followup email sequence
Q&A (10 minutes)
- Answer your audience's questions
- Closing remarks & provide any free downloads or gifts you promised
# Trusted tools for hosting a webinar
There are dozens of webinar software and tools available to marketers, but at its core, it's important to remember that you don't need fancy and expensive software to deliver an effective, honest and profitable sales webinar. All you need is:
- Live-streaming software
- Your message
- A way for your audience to comment and interact
- A product or service to sell
- A way for your audience to buy
If you want to host a sales webinar for free, you can simply use YouTube Live or Facebook Live. That's it. Both YouTube and Facebook allow you to create live-stream events that will notify registrants when you're about to go live.
If you'd like to take it a step further, you can code a simple web page (or have somebody who knows how to do this) with HTML & CSS with the embedded live stream, the live comments section, and a call to action button.
If you're using an email marketing tool, like ConvertKit, you can create an automated webinar followup sequence to share the webinar replay and pitch your offering in an email.
Now, if you'd like to pay for software to take care of everything for you, there are some excellent webinar tools available. I won't list them all out here, but I'll share with you my recommendations that I've used as both a host and an attendee.
Recommended webinar software
Well there it is, folks! Sales webinars are powerful list builders and revenue generators, but with great power comes great responsibility. And here at Marketing Honestly, I want to equip you with the knowledge and tools to use these marketing strategies such as sales webinars in an honest and ethical manner, so you can grow your business, serve your audience and be able to sleep at night knowing that you aren't scamming anyone out of their livelihoods.
If this honest guide to sales webinars was useful to you, please consider downloading the PDF version of the guide and joining my email list, or sharing this guide with a fellow marketer!