The Webinar Formula: How Little Companies Make Big Money from Webinars

Following the Webinar Formula will help you build strong relationships with customers. Photo by Leon Fishman / CC BY 2.0
Following the Webinar Formula will help you build strong relationships with customers. Photo by Leon Fishman / CC BY 2.0

You want to grow your business. You want to make money. You heard webinars are a pretty good way to do it.

They are. But not a magic bullet. Just wanted to get that out of the way.

I used webinars to help turn a profitable side hustle into a full-time, quit-your-day-job type of gig. It wouldn’t have worked without an already sound business model.

There’s a formula that I use to run a successful webinar now. You can follow that same formula, but only if your business is built on a solid foundation.

I’m going to give you the formula. If at any time you find you can’t quite meet the expectations for one of the ingredients, don’t force it. Take a step back and look at the principles you’ve built your business upon.

If you need to do some firming up of the foundation first, that’s a good idea. Your business needs to be build upon legitimate solid ground.

Ready? Let’s get started…

The First Ingredient: Your Expertise

Yes, you have to know something. You have to have some experience and know more than at least the novice entrants into your niche.

You don’t have to know more that everybody. Just enough potential customers that you can build a business. You can become the supreme overlord of [insert your passion here] during the journey.

Photo by chotda / CC BY 2.0
Photo by chotda / CC BY 2.0

I’m not the best football coach in the world. I don’t have any championships. I had no reputation in the industry before I started my business.

But I had already spent 7 years in my profession. Studied my craft tirelessly. I was better than a lot of coaches.

To this day, people ask me how I can make a living teaching people how to coach football when I’ve never won a Super Bowl or even been a Head Coach. It’s simple. No one else is doing it like I do.

Everyone else is still trying to become the master, before the pass down their wisdom. I pass along my wisdom while I work at becoming a master.

Take that and apply it to yourself. What are you good at. Do other people want to be good at it too? Note the wording. Good.

This should be what your entire business is built around. As long as you have some chops in the game, you’ll be respected as an expert by those who know less than you.

The Second Ingredient: Your Audience

You will need an audience that forms your base. Your target audience. If your influence is pretty limited right now, don’t worry. Your webinar can be aimed at a very small audience, as long as they’re all interested in the same thing.

However, if you have some traction in a larger area, I recommend you niche it down for your webinar.

Let’s say you teach others how to bake cakes. Cool. Just started? You can target all your cake bakers.

But you’ll really start seeing results when you get a little more traction, and can niche things down. Get specific when you host your webinar.

Host a webinar on How to Bake a Cake, you might get me in there. I like cake. I’m not paying anybody for cake baking advice (other than Betty Crocker, maybe).

Photo by Marlene / CC BY 2.0
You’ll need a highly targeted audience to get the most success out of your webinar. Photo by Marlene / CC BY 2.0

Host a webinar on How to Bake a Wedding Cake… I’m not showing up. Not because of a fear of commitment (that might be there too). I just have no use for learning how to bake a wedding cake.

Neither does almost anyone else who’s not baking cakes professionally. And that’s who you really want in your cake baking class. Professionals, or at least those who want to appear professional, need to get better. To get better, they are willing to spend money.

Who’s your audience? In summary:

  • Bad: People who like cake.
  • Good: Professional Cake Makers who specialize in creating high end wedding cakes.

The Third Ingredient: Your Topic

Remember the first ingredient was the foundation of your business. What you’re an expert in.

Now you pick a piece of it. Smaller is better. Large enough to have a good audience. Small enough that you aren’t trying to appeal to multiple groups of people.

Maybe your expertise is in baking delicious desserts. Pies, cookies, cakes.

You’ve got a course you sell on baking wedding cakes. It’s your top seller (or your latest product launch, answering a deafening demand from caterers trying to pacify bridezillas everywhere). That’s a good start.

Here’s the mistake a lot of business owners make with their webinars… don’t do this….

Choose the webinar topic “How to Bake a Wedding Cake.” Then proceed to give a rushed, ineffective overview of how to bake a wedding cake.

Your ability to summarize a process will convince very few potential customers that you have the ability to teach the actual process in great depth. It actually does the opposite.

Photo by Ron / CC BY 2.0
Photo by Ron / CC BY 2.0

So what is the right way to handle your topic?

Pick one aspect. Host a webinar on how to bake the perfect base layer for a wedding cake. Leave no stone unturned. Give away all your secrets on this one particular aspect.

Wow your audience with your attention to detail on a seemingly mundane piece of the puzzle. Explain how important it is to get this little piece of the puzzle just right.

How big should the pan be? What do we grease it with? Where can I buy the best ingredients, the perfect mixer… and do any of these things have anything to do with making a cake? (seriously, I don’t know… I picked an example I know relatively little about)

The difference is astounding in how your potential customers perceive you. You’re not someone who knows how to summarize baking a cake! You’re a master wedding cake maker, who has plied your craft for so long and with such attention to detail, that you know the secrets to aspects that most people have never even thought of!

It’s a good thing I’m not married. If there was a piece of old wedding cake in the freezer it would be an endangered species right now.

The Fourth Ingredient: A Headline That Grabs the Right People

Your webinar is now becoming a Web Event. And events have titles.

This ain’t no blog post. Not “How to Bake a Cake” or “6 Steps to Baking a Cake.”

You have a specific audience now, and you’re teaching a specific skill. Announce it!

You want to show wedding caterers (your specific audience) how to bake the perfect foundation to a wedding cake that is the talk of the reception.

Photo by Rexness /  CC BY 2.0
Photo by Rexness / CC BY 2.0

Step back into my world for a minute. Put the cake down, let’s talk football. I’m struggling with the cake thing.

My first webinars were topics like, “5 Keys to Coaching the 4-3 Defense.” That’s a pretty good blog post article. It gets clicks on Twitter. List posts always do.

Too bad it didn’t move products nearly as well.

What did? Try “Coaching Your Defensive Line to Dominate the Line of Scrimmage and Get After the Quarterback in the 4-3 Defense.”

Who’s it for? Not football coaches. There’s too many of them.

How about Defensive Line Coaches in a specific defensive scheme (there’s a difference). It’s for guys who are serious. Who are making coaching football into a passion. Into career. Into something they want to spend money on.

What’s it about? Not just coaching Defensive Linemen. Coaching them to get to the Quarterback! It’s actually only a portion of what the Defensive Line does! (but an exciting portion, making it a good choice)

If none of that makes sense to you… Good! It’s not for you! My webinars are for a highly specific group of people.

And they convert.

Remember, this is not a blog post we’re working on. It is something much more valuable.

You don’t need a catchy headline. You’ll announce your webinar with emails and facebook ads. Not a headline on your blog. SEO will probably never figure into the picture.

That’s where the foundations in your business come in. You get your webinar in front of the right audience because you already have that audience.

If you don’t yet, you have to step back. List building. Traffic generation. Social media. They all figure into having a great webinar.

The Fifth Ingredient: The Next Action

Here’s where a lot of webinars fail. Good topic, I’m interested. I show up.

Great information. I’m taking notes. This is top notch stuff.

The webinar ends. The host starts his pitch.

I close the window. Don’t even listen to the pitch.

Why? Because all this was, was information. Information – good information – to tide me over for an hour til the host was ready to pitch his or her product.

Now, those webinars will still sell some. You have an audience, you have a good product, you know good stuff. You can make sales.

We’re talking about high conversion rates in my formula though. Not just making some sales. You need a Next Action for your audience.

That means your entire webinar was geared towards one goal: what the audience will do when the webinar is over.

A lot of webinars have one goal in mind… but it’s just to get people to buy. You have to care more than that. You have to be more genuine in wanting to help people.

When the webinar is over, your 40 minutes of training has to lead to a next action. A step to take for the now-impassioned audience members.

Yes, it needs to be a task they can absolutely accomplish for free. One that will truly take your highly targeted audience one step closer to their goal.

All that you will offer when you pitch your product… is an easier path. A faster path. A better path. A more complete path.

Take our wedding cake foundation. At the end of the webinar, all of your attendees can immediately go to the grocery store, buy the right ingredients, come home, and bake a foundation.

You’ve taught them how to build the best wedding cake foundation possible.

But that bottom layer ain’t much of a wedding cake without the middle. And the top. And knowing where to find the coolest Bride & Groom for the top.

That’s all in your product. The How to Bake Amazing Wedding Cakes online course. (that’s just the working title… I still can’t bake a cake)

The Sixth Ingredient: The Right Offer for Your Followers

If you are focusing on a subject you actually know something about, chances are you can’t teach it in 40 minutes. And you should never hold back on giving away secrets.

You just can not tell your audience everything they could possibly need – the tremendous depths of your knowledge – in such a short period of time.

Photo by Miran Rijavec / CC BY 2.0
Photo by Miran Rijavec / CC BY 2.0

Take the example of building an autoresponder sequence for email marketers.

Autoresponder sequences are those automated emails you get after you sign up for a website’s free download or newsletter. And there’s a science to them.

In 40 minutes, I could teach you how to write the first one. I can teach you the timing and the tone. But there is so much more.

A complete autoresponder sequence might be 3 to 6 months long (if not longer). That’s a LOT of emails to be written. A huge story.

That means in a webinar about autoresponder sequences, you can learn the basic structure. And even get a glimpse into my mastery of the subject when I break down the first one.

But to build the whole sequence? You need my product. At least, the product I would have if I started delivering webinars on how to write an autoresponder sequence. (as a side note, if I did do that I would sell you Autoresponder Madness)

Is the picture becoming clear to you? Don’t teach the What. Teach the How.

Make a strong effort to teach your audience how to accomplish a very important task for free. Then offer help in the form of your product, or consultation, or anything else you decide to sell.

Your product or service will make accomplishing the task easier, or better. It may serve as a way for those committed souls to take the next, next step. Or you may help specialize the information for each customer, in the form of consulting.

In some way, the product or service you will pitch at the end of the webinar, offers a necessary enhancement to the free service you already gave in your webinar.

Photo by Lettuce1 / CC BY 2.0
Photo by Lettuce1 / CC BY 2.0

And When It’s Over…

Keep in mind that many of your new customers will not become new customers right away. They are anxious to put all the new techniques they have learned to the test.

Many will wander off to get to work. Only to come back in a day, or a week, ready to purchase your help. Your expertise. Your product.

That’s OK. Webinars are not about having a huge audience or making big money on the first night. That’s hype you’ve been sold for too long.

You’re going to have a great follow-up with your customers. In fact, they can’t wait to hear from you again!

A great webinar builds a relationship between you and your audience members. A personal relationship you can’t get with a blog post, or a podcast. The sales will come on the big night. They also come in the days, weeks and years following.

That’s what building a business is all about.

I want to hear your thoughts! How can you apply the Webinar Formula to your business? Leave a comment below!

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