Webinars: The Seductive Sirens of Online Biz

Webinars, Siren

Since when does being “relentlessly helpful” mean selling people something that “could” be helpful.

You see it everywhere.  How do I get a following?  How do I get people to opt-in to my email list?  How do I get people to notice me?

Be relentlessly helpful” is the advice I’ve seen many times.  It’s sort of along the same vein as “epic content”, which I ranted about recently (totally spurred by Ash’s post on the same issue, by the way).

So that’s probably why it annoys me so much.

I’m beginning to get annoyed with seeing all the same stuff, over and over.  How can SO many different people be selling their advice, when it’s the exact same advice as everyone else?  Whose idea was it originally, anyway?

Enter the WEBINAR.

Ah, the webinar…

I have a love/hate relationship with webinars.

I have probably watched 1,000 since I quit my job (ok, exaggerating).  And I usually get at least one tidbit of information that I didn’t know before.  In fact, many have lead me to another source of info, then to another, and so forth…basically getting me where I am now, whether I took the bait at the end or not.

But mostly I just end up disappointed.

The content is always a watered-down version of what they “teach” in their membership program or online class or ebook.  And that’s precisely what the webinar was set up for in the first place.  To sell you their shit.

The webinar is supposed to teach you just enough to know that you need to know so much more about the topic.  Then, they very cleverly position their product/class/program as the solution.  As having exactly ALL that missing information you need.

And there’s ALWAYS a “special” deal, JUST for you webinar attendees because we love you just that much!!  But only for the next 25 people who buy!  But actually, ten minutes later we’ve decided that we want ALL of you to get the deal, so we’ll keep it open until midnight tonight (wow didn’t see THAT coming from a freaking mile away).  And the lovely host of this webinar brought us on just because s/he loves you and wants you to be so successful!! (Not because they’re in an affiliate program with us or anything).

And you’ll take it.  You’ll buy the damn thing.  You’ve been sold.

It’s freaking fantastic, actually.  I mean, it works.  People are good at it.  It’s a great marketing tool.

But I guess my problem with it is this.  Most webinars aren’t set up to help the attendee at all.  They’re set up to help the person get sales.

“But it’s our way of being relentlessly helpful”, they’ll say.  “We’re giving free information!”

I attended a webinar a while back where the subject was making effective Facebook ads or something.  One of the key things that this person “taught” us was this…

You’ve got to use the right pictures!

Ok!  Makes total sense.  Now, pray tell, what shall I look for in the “right” picture?

They literally said absolutely nothing about it.  Nothing other than “you need to use the right picture.”

So I’m sure most of the attendees were hooked, and wanted to know more, so they bought the $2,000 membership or whatever bullshit was being sold at the end.

Not me, though.  I vowed months ago to resist the offer at the end of every webinar.  I turn it off now when the presentation is over and the sales pitch starts (if I even watch them anymore, which I rarely do).

Why am I griping about this?

I’m an aspiring copywriter, after all.  I understand the importance of the “hook”.  The freebie.  The teaser.

So why would I be disappointed to see it being used out in the world in this way?

Because I think there are other ways of being “relentlessly helpful” that don’t end in a sales pitch.

Why can’t we be helpful just to be HELPFUL?  If your stuff is actually worth a grain of salt, and people like what they see and are actually *gasp* HELPED by it, then they’re going to think of you the next time they need something in your category.  You’ll probably get their business anyway, even if it’s not the second the webinar is over.

Why can’t we give them a free ebook?  A free chapter?  And sure if you MUST host a webinar, why not cover a topic in its entirety, with no sales pitch at the end?

I’m not saying give away all your knowledge, if that’s how you make your living by selling it.  But is it really going to hurt you to actually share all you can on one measly little topic, and not withhold important parts until you get that sale?

I say this as the budding online entrepreneur, who is disillusioned with how few people seem to really want to help others get into this industry without making a buck off of it.  And how many people sell their often too-broad “advice”, complete with zero actionable steps, and full of stuff that honestly you can Google yourself.

Guess that’s business for you…and it’s time for me to get used to it.

In a couple years when I’m giving a “teasinar” and asking you to buy my stupid course/book/program/whatever, you have my permission to link to this post and slap me across the face.


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