Steve Pipe explains why webinars are the easiest and cheapest way to grow your practice
In my last article I explained how you can host the right kind of seminars to win new clients (Winter 2017 issue). We looked at a case study of how a Yorkshire sole practitioner had run a seminar that lined up 36 fee earning meetings and 14 new referrals, and which he estimated would add an extra £75,000 to his gross recurring fees. This time I want to focus on something that can be even easier and even more rewarding for you: webinars.
Example results accountants are getting from webinars
Here is the text of the email I received from Birmingham-based Andrew James after the webinar I ran for his practice in late 2017: “As I said in my initial email, WOW! This morning’s Get and Give A Million webinar was brilliant. Very quickly, since I know you are about to go out, the key results were:
- 116 businesses and 19 accountants registered to attend.
- 56 businesses attended – only one of whom were clients – all others were prospects.
- 87% of them rated it as “Excellent”.
- 17 have already requested a meeting, with more to follow.
- 100% of them have promised us referrals – so that should be at least 17 referrals.
- And we also have 99 other leads to follow up ie all those who registered but have not yet arranged a meeting.
I can honestly say that in the 30 odd years I have been running James Stanley & Co, this has been without a doubt the easiest, quickest, cheapest and most effective thing we have ever done to grow our firm. It has opened up so many doors for us.”
Why webinars beat seminars
There are at least seven reasons why you should prioritise running webinars. They are:
- Cheaper: You don’t need to spend a single penny on venues, equipment hire, catering, event branding, event stationary etc. All you need is a computer, webcam, internet connection and an online webinar service (personally I use Zoom.us, which costs $55 a month, but there are cheaper alternatives)
- Easier to organise: You don’t have to plan webinars ages in advance (the lead time can be as little as 2-4 weeks, compared to at least three months for a successful seminar). You don’t have to find a venue, negotiate a price or liaise with them over logistics. You don’t need to get involved in processing delegate bookings, since they will be dealt with automatically by your webinar platform’s registration and reminder tools. And you don’t have to get there early to set up the room.
- Easier to promote: Sending out emails and making a few phone calls is often all it takes.
- Easier to present: You don’t have to go up on stage, face an audience or even speak in public. Instead, you simply sit at your desk and talk to your computer. Typically webinars are much shorter than seminars, so you won’t have to spend as long preparing your slides or what you’re going to say.
- Easier to win new clients: Because webinars are more convenient to attend than seminars, people are more likely to book. Because your webinar software will send them automated reminders, people are also more likely to turn up. And, if you structure your webinar in the right way, they are also more likely to be willing to do business with you afterwards (or at least to have a meeting with you afterwards).
- Easier to leverage: Webinars can usually be recorded and broadcast with no extra cost or effort. As a result, you can reach even larger audiences, including those who weren’t able to attend when the webinar was live.
- Less downside: If very few people turn up to a seminar, it really can look like a failure, and damage your reputation in the eyes of the audience. In contrast, webinar delegates have no idea how many people have turned up, so there is never a risk of your webinars looking like a failure.
Make your webinars successful
Based on my experience of what works, here are my seven top tips for using webinars to enhance your reputation and grow your practice:
- Ensure they are highly valuable: Focus on high value content that has the potential to make a significant difference to delegates’ profits, cashflow, bank account, tax bills, business value, personal wealth or work-life balance.
- Get the timing right: I find that 60-90 minute webinars at 10AM on Monday, Tuesdays or Wednesday work really well. And I would certainly suggest avoiding Mondays and Fridays.
- Don’t rely on social media: Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook have their uses, but in my experience, they are likely to drive enough people to attend. Instead, I recommend a three-step approach to get people at your webinar:
STEP 1: As soon as possible, talk to all your very best clients, suppliers, and other business contacts in order to invite them to your webinar and ask them to invite their customers, suppliers and contacts to attend.
STEP 2: In the two to four weeks before your webinar, invite in person (i.e. face to face or over the phone) the rest of your best clients and prospects, along with everyone else you have meetings with or talk to on the phone.
STEP 3: In the two weeks before your webinar send every single person on your database a series of three carefully written invitation emails.
- Use a webcam: PowerPoint only webinars are boring. You will get much better engagement with your audience by turning your webcam on, so they can see as well as hear you.
- Get the right equipment: Don’t rely on the webcam and microphone built into your laptop. Instead, invest a few pounds in a separate HD webcam, since that will give you much better picture and sound quality.
- Set the room up correctly: Sitting with your back to a window makes you look like you are on a witness protection scheme! Instead, make sure that there is adequate light from in front of you and to either side. And position your webcam at eye level, so your audience doesn’t feel you are looking down at them.
- Make a compelling offer: If you are going to turn delegates into new clients and/or extra fees, then you must make a compelling offer during the webinar. That offer should involve an easy next step for them to take with the webinar content. And if you want to charge for that next step, you should also make it risk free.
Done this way, webinars will become a remarkably easy and cheap way to grow your reputation and practice.
And if you want to see the exact system Andrew James used to make his webinar such a success, along with a recording of the webinar itself, please contact me and I will gladly send them to you.
- Steve Pipe FCA is a leading researcher. Contact him via firstname.lastname@example.org and at www.stevepipe.com
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