Hands up if you’ve been here: you’re browsing on Instagram, daydreaming about making your side-hustle a reality, when you see a sponsored post. Some massive Insta-celeb is hosting a *free* webinar where they give away all their secrets to making six figures a year doing what they love!
You experience a little bit of doubt — after all, if they really gave away all their 100% reproducible secrets, surely all of us would be “Influencers” and have legions of fans.
But it’s free. What do you have to lose? You sign up and you set a little reminder to watch it in a few days’ time.
What happens next is what happens in every single one of these webinars. How do I know?
In my actual real-life job, we attended a webinar on making webinars (ironic, I know). And the structure was so familiar to me that I wrote down each of the steps. Then I watched Beth Kirby’s webinar: The Art of Instagram: How to Grow Your Following & Reach Your Tribe, and did the same.
They were identical. Here are the steps.
1. They’re the authority.
Every webinar will start with the person explaining why they’re an authority. This is designed to get you to start seeing them as they’ve framed themselves, an answer to your eventual question of, “Why should I trust you?”
For us, it meant talking about the years we’d been in business, our clients, how our founders had PhDs, etc.
For Beth Kirby, she spent the time discussing how many Instagram followers she’d amassed, her various businesses, and a bit about her life story.
Side note: aside from proving that you’re an authority, Beth also took the time to talk a bit about her home life, her passion, what made her human. This is meant to connect with people, get them emotionally invested in her product.
Because make no mistake. Primarily, she’s not here to help you, she’s here to make money. Just like we were. Some people mention their product now in the interest of full disclosure, some people don’t. But keep your eyes peeled.
They also make a point here about saying: you’ll really want to focus on this. Sometimes they’ll give you a workbook to keep engaged under the guise of additional helpfulness, sometimes they’ll frame it as taking some “you time” to focus on what really matters.
End effect? You’re engaged, in the moment, and (later) will be more susceptible to last-minute offers that they’ll pressure you to take advantage of.
2. Selling the lifestyle.
Here’s where they’ll sell on you why you want to be watching this webinar. Obviously you’ve signed up to the webinar, but they need you to be really appreciating what it is they’re about to sell you. Why you should care.
And, surprise, they’re not selling you a product, “masterclass,” or academy. They’re selling you the lifestyle.
For us, a SaaS company, this means we don’t talk about how our product makes you money.
Instead, we talk about how amazing your life is going to be, how much value you can provide for your clients, how all your visitors will turn into paying customers, thanks to our product.
We’re selling you the idea of you, a better version of you, with our product.
Beth didn’t mention her class. Instead, she talked about how she spent years struggling to find a method that “worked” (which resonates with most of her currently-struggling viewers, or else they wouldn’t have signed up to the masterclass versus) where she is now: happy, fulfilled, rich, following her passion.
This is what she’s selling us. The idea that we, too, can have this lifestyle if only we buy what she’s selling.
3. The framework — what gets you to show up.
This is what sets your webinar apart. It’s a two step process.
First, you have to have a really unique selling point. It can’t be generic, like “Get More Instagram Followers” or “Convert More Visitors.”
It has to be specific, and, ideally, brand-appropriate.
Look at Beth’s title: The Art of Instagram: How to Grow Your Following & Reach Your Tribe.
She’s leaning on the concept of a “tribe,” which in Insta-terms means people who love you and pay you money for anything you put out.
Frameworks themselves are what convey your ideas in a nice, easy-to-digest process or diagram that lets people know how it all works.
This is vital. People don’t remember talks, or paragraphs. They remember shapes and objects much easier.
For us, we had a little three-triangle diagram, each with a word, all starting with the same letter. Easy to remember.
Beth had three bullet points which addressed her potential clients’ fears… without giving any real answers away.
You’ll receive some answers, but they will be information you already know, or the solution will be manual, fiddly, time-consuming, or in some other way hard enough for you to see it would work — but it’s not what you want to do.
This setup is designed to make you feel like you’re receiving valuable content, when in fact you’re being set up for the most important stage: the turn.
4. The product you’re being sold.
Here’s where you’ll start to get an inkling that, spoiler alert, you’re not going to actually be getting valuable information on these webinars.
So here’s how they’ll try to convince you otherwise.
They’ll tell you the real problem. This is the One Thing that’s stopping you from being successful! This is the single obstacle, now that you have your three worthless answers to the other most common problems.
Sure, you can do follow-unfollow, but there’s a real and better way to connect with your followers!
Next, give a solution.
This is the golden ticket. This is what the whole webinar is hinging on.
Guess what — you have to pay for it.
The real solution to your REAL problem, or whatever they’ve told you is your real problem, is to get involved in this all-singing, all-dancing package.
5. Extras for additional “value.”
This is where it gets a bit tedious, as they really pile on these extra bonus bits that nobody really cares about.
They list the benefits. All the different modules. All the diverse classes. It’s fun, it’s easy, you get to connect with fellow Insta-wannabes. You can do it on your evenings with a mug of mocha. (They’re still trying to sell you on the lifestyle here.)
Throw in a few testimonials. Real people, like you, have paid money for this! These will have three features to them. First, the person used to be like you. They used to struggle, like you’re struggling now! Then, they are no longer struggling. They are living their dream life. They are where you want to be.
Finally, this wasn’t due to some fluke or accident: it is 100% attributable to the Masterclass/course/academy you’re being sold.
Then come the add-ons. Influencers know that a big price tag will put people off… so they pretend you get a bunch of free stuff thrown in. And this is the bit that annoys me the most, because where did they come up with these numbers?
You know the ones: this course costs $999, but you also get five bonus modules thrown in for free! These modules are valued at $500! But wait, there’s more! You also get ten more hours of bonus footage! Valued at $2,499!
And wait: the course is half off! So really, they tell you, you’re getting all of this incredible content, “valued” at $3,998, for only $499. Amazing.
Then you’re told this incredible deal will not last forever. The last step in making you the blogger/Influencer/travelling ninja of your dreams is buying this package, and you can only do it for the next thirty minutes.
It all comes down to this: buy now.
This may have seemed like a rant, and truthfully, it was. I’m sick of being sold stuff under the guise of giving me helpful advice. I’m wise to their tricks, and I’m not going to watch any more of these webinars. They’re no more than glorified click bait.
I don’t click on articles that say “number seven will shock you!” and I won’t watch webinars that don’t give real value after promising they would.
For me, what convinces me to give people my money? Real value. Not “perceived” value, with fake solutions engineered to set me up for a drop, but actual solutions to my problems.
In 2019, we all need to do better. I’ll be pushing the company I work for to deliver actual solutions in our webinars and eBooks, and I hope our potential clients will see how we actually can help their business, rather than trying to trick them into a sale.
We should know by now that nothing is truly free, and if it claims it is, it’s deceitful.
And the next time I’m shown an ad that tries to convince me this person is going to tell me all their secrets for free? I won’t waste my time. And neither should you.