EventBuilder webinar strategies blog

What's a webinar worth? (Part two of two)

February 15 2011 / by Roger Courville

In yesterday's post we explored the first five of ten questions.  See that post for the brief into to why, otherwise read on.

How do you value relationships?
To be fair, some gigs are one-shot events, and it's not wrong.  But for speakers and buyers alike, the first gig is the most expensive.  It doesn't mean subsequent events are discounted 90%, but how does relationship fit into the picture?

Lessons learned
One client I've been working for consistently for more than four years.  In that time I've kept my fees the same despite my company's healthcare costs going up 40%.  Do I "discount" the price?  No.  Have I consciously decided to make less real money in honor of their loyalty?  Absolutely.  Have I turned down higher paying single gigs to honor that relationship?  Yes.  Who wins?  Everybody.

Questions to explore
Speakers:  to be real, nobody ever books you for a multi-year gig out of the chute…you're going to have to prove yourself.  Ask yourself two questions:  usually the first gig is more expensive to deliver…how much do you want to give away to prove yourself?  Subsequent gigs may cost you less to deliver, but you'll also deliver more value because you've refined the material, know the audience better, etc.  Are you clear (and communicating) what that value is as it grows?

Buyers:  what's the ongoing need you have?  Even if the speaker agrees to a cheap price, is it sustainable for either of you?  What might the difference be between someone "doing a gig to get paid" and someone who "goes over the top to deliver value and loyalty?"

How do you/they value the recording or other materials?
Go to any conference and one of the terms for the speakers is that they don't get to make a recording of their presentation…the conference producers typically reserve that right.  Same goes for attendees (though I've never seen anybody get kicked out for holding up a camera).  The message, however, is clear.  This is a time-place activity, and other forms of distribution have other terms.

Lessons learned
Because making a recording of a web-based presentation is push-button simple, buyers often assume that because it's push-button simple that it's a given to be included.  What I've learned is that my intellectual property has value, and the recorded experience isn't the same as the live experience.  At a minimum I evaluate exposure of the content and have an additional price for that.  However, there's another enlightened way to tackle that.

One thing to consider is delivering a rocking, radically experiential live presentation and creating a recording of the same material separately (sans conversations, Q&A, etc.).  I've even got several clients for whom I've "chunked" that recording into several short, consumable recordings with a special, customized handout.  The real beneficiaries?  The audience.  Live attendees get a learning experience designed for them, and so do the on-demand watchers of the recordings.  The real lesson:  it won't be valued if it's not demonstrated to be of value.

One other lesson:  my own content and presentations have evolved a lot (what?  getting better at what I do?  crazy!).  I don't want too many old recordings floating around.  I always make them a 1-year license unless otherwise negotiated.

Questions to explore
Speakers:  There's no easy answer.  Is what you deliver easily experienced in a recording?  Is it a sub-par substitute for the real you?  Do you charge a flat-fee or per head?  The former is easy to adjudicate on a recording, the latter gets a LOT more complex.

Buyers:  The value of something isn't what it costs to make…but that doesn't mean as the buyer you can't beat up your speaker for a free recording.  Will it deliver the experience you want?  Will it be 'good enough?'  As for other materials, remember that the best visual presentations make lousy handouts, and great, well-written handouts make lousy presentation slides.  Is the takeaway for the audience useful?  Or just "get by because that's what everyone else does?"

How do you/they value leads?
Some speaking engagements, and likewise some webinars/webcasts, may offer an opportunity for the speaker to get the registrant list.

Lessons learned
If I had a nickel for every time I heard a potential booking agent tell me how much exposure I'd get, I'd be writing this blog post from a yacht somewhere warmer than Portland, Oregon.  That said, all my business is either from someone who's seen me walk my talk or a referral from someone who's seen me walk my talk.  The reality, speaking a lot is the best way to get more speaking business.  Here's another reality…you have to know your core audience.  I cater to medium and large businesses because I'm the most expensive guy in my industry, while about 94% of companies in the U.S. have 15 or fewer employees.  I love little companies (I own one), and I sincerely appreciate each time they spend $20 on amazon.com or send me a nice note.  But they don't hire me.

Questions to explore
Speakers:  The biggest question is, "If you get leads, do you have a system for following up and monetizing them?"  If you don't, they're worth nothing.  If you do, what percentage of those leads are in your target market, and what's your hit/close rate for monetizing them.  Figure that out, and you'll know what they're worth.

Buyers:  It's a nice offer, but be careful with it.  Is it of value?  You might be able to get them to lower their asking price.  It isn't?  Then you're negotiating with no leverage.

What's your/their benchmark for a "successful" webinar?
Here's the painful reality.  Most webinar skills are learned like golf skills…from Uncle Joe (and Uncle Joe's a hack, but he happens to know more than me, so I hack, too).  I hate to say it, but even the 'models' delivered by most conferencing companies are sub-par.  Why?  Because they do it for lead generation…and they don't tell a speaker to go away if they can draw a crowd but suck in a virtual presentation.  The second reason is that in most cases conferencing companies' webinars are produced by people who are execution/operational, not kick-ass presenters.  This is NOT a denigration (please hear me clearly)…it's the reality of the business model.  Software companies are in the software operation business, not the presentation excellence business.

Similarly, blog posts tend to be dangerously shallow, telling you what, but not necessarily why and how.  There's no "7 tips to get rich" anywhere in the world, and while someone may glean great tidbits from blog posts, they're no substitute for a deep learning experience.

Lessons learned
The word "educate" comes from the Latin meaning "to draw out."  In other words, you have to meet people where they are.  Some do just want a few tips, and there's nothing wrong with that.  But life- and business-changing professional development don't happen overnight.

Questions to explore
Speakers:  What are you going to do to get your chops in shape?  Trial and error?  Learn from somebody?  Read a book?

Buyers:  Do you want champagne on a beer budget?  (It's okay, we all do!)  Have you established what's important to you, your negotiable and non-negotiables?  The better you can articulate what you need, the better you'll find the balance in the quality-price tension we all deal with.

Finally, the big one…what's your/their experience with hybrid events?
Recently I was watching a special about the early days of the Ed Sullivan Show, and I was amazed at how a (then) very young Mick Jagger made serious eye contact with the camera…in between times of making eye contact with the audience.

The single hardest presentation scenario is trying to engage two different audiences having two different experiences.  You have two places to look, engage, and interact.

Lessons learned
The reality:  meeting planners and conferences are under tremendous pressure to reach more audiences and monetize them.  More common in terms of frequency, there's a corporate habit of a team that's in the same building filing into a conference room to gather around a desk phone and project something on a screen.  Either way, you've got the same problem that takes even more skill to pull off well.

Questions to ask
Speakers:  Will there be a mixed audience?  If so, how will you take questions?  If you've got handouts, who gets what and how?  If those attendees online are multitasking through a one-camera broadcast that doesn't otherwise engage them, how might that affect their willingness to respond to your marketing follow up (if you get the leads)?

Buyers:  Frankly, most speakers are pretty naive here, meaning you've got an opportunity.  I'd be more concerned with answering, "How is this speaker going to make sure those remote attendees felt included and like they got their money's worth?"

Bottom line

Speakers:  if you don't know where to start, begin by charging the same price for your online presentation as you would in person.  Doing so communicates that you see value in what you deliver, not where you deliver it.  Then, using the ideas in these 10 questions, you can figure out where to adjust.

Buyers:  just like the publishing industry has struggled with how to charge for content online (and many have found how to do it quite nicely), remember that online doesn't mean free.  It also doesn't mean that you have to accept the same old thing...in fact, you shouldn't.  Demand that the online version of a presentation has it's own unique value to your audience.

Continuing the rock band analogy, some bands are great live, but their recordings aren't so hot.  Conversely, some make great recordings, but their live shows are lackluster.  Moving a presentation from offline to online similarly transforms the experience for presenter and audience alike.  When it really clicks, it's a boon for both speakers and buyers of speaking/training services…uniquely powerful in the overall mix of doing business.

When it doesn't, well… pass the No-Doz.

Good luck!

Topics: Ask, ask, Business, Content, Online vs. Offline, online vs. offline, Promotion

Roger Courville

Written by Roger Courville

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