How to Use Webinars to Increase Sales in 5 Steps

Let’s face it. Our baby is ugly. The word “webinar” has become synonymous with “boring.” But for a minority of B-to-B marketers, webinars are money in the bank. Are you wondering how to use webinars to increase sales and generate leads? I’ve discovered the answer: Helping viewers get so confident, so trusting, that they jump at the chance to engage more seriously.

Let’s face it. Our baby is ugly. The word “webinar” has become synonymous with “boring.” But for a minority of B-to-B marketers, webinars are money in the bank. Are you wondering how to use webinars to increase sales and generate leads? I’ve discovered the answer: Helping viewers get so confident, so trusting, that they jump at the chance to engage more seriously.

Living Proof
On average, most webinars keep 40 percent of their listeners attention from start-to-finish. My webinars keep 94 percent of attendees to the end. My best webinar had a 29 percent close rate.

I’m not bragging; I’m following the success tips of others and sharing what I learned with you. Here’s how to use webinars to increase sales in five steps.

The 5 Steps to Success

  1. Go beyond relevant: Make the title irresistible. Your topic must be goal-oriented-specific to a pain, fear, goal or ambition of your customer. More importantly, your title must promise complete satisfaction in a way that customers cannot resist acting on (signing-up AND showing-up).
  2. Skip the introduction. Other than a passionate 30-60 seconds on why you are bothering to invest your time, skip it! After all, you’re talking into the air at them, alone in a room. You must be on a mission. This is where you connect with the audience. It’s do or die.
  3. Promise viewers something NEW. Literally say to them, “I know you don’t have time to waste, so I’m not going to waste it. Most likely, what I’m about to tell you about ______ (insert audience’s goal or pain) will be new to you … you’ve probably not heard this before.”
  4. Meet that expectation & create hunger for more. Give insights and next steps they’ve never heard before. Be crystal clear. Use stories to illustrate, punctuate. Guide prospects in ways that encourage them to ask more questions and creates intense curiosity in what else you can offer (e.g., what you sell).
  5. Help customers, and yourself, with a call-to-action. At the end of your webinar, if you’ve structured it correctly, viewers will crave more from you. They’ll want more clarity, more insights … more specific details about you or your business. Your call to action gives them a way to satisfy that hunger—and it gives you a lead (or sale).

Want to see a webinar like this in-action? Check out this LinkedIn webinar and come back to the five steps above—notice how it follows these guidelines.

Without This Essential Piece You’ll Fail
Many webinar hosts unknowingly sabotage their programs—even after following the above guidelines. They forget the basics of good communication. If you don’t follow the Golden Rule it will cost you:

  • Tell them what you’re about to tell them (the main insight, short-cut, better way or remedy)
  • Tell them the “better way” (at a high level, yet specific)
  • Tell them what you just told them (come back and remind of the main point)

This approach serves your most essential goal: Getting customers CLEAR on your message. Without clarity your webinar will fail

Remember the last time you were clear—really clear—on something? Remember how you felt? Remember the sense of confidence that came with your “ah-ha moment?”

That’s your webinar’s job: get buyers crystal clear, confident in themselves and trusting you.

Structure the entire webinar to follow this flow. Similarly, structure each section of your webinar this way. Doing so will help you sell toward the end.

Make Every Second Count
Most webinars are not bad. They don’t suck. The are horrible in every way. Don’t let yours fall into this category. Use the above “format formula” to structure your webinar. Make it grab and hold your audience to the very end. Make it generate leads. Make every single second of your presentation specific to “what’s in it” for them.

Here’s what I do: When done creating your images and script go back over your presentation. Ask yourself, “so what?” on each image.

Once you’re done crafting the message, it’s time to forget about “the what.” Focus on the WHY. If you cannot answer the question, “why does this matter to the viewer?” with conviction rip out that image and/or section of your scrip.

Push yourself. Now you know how to use webinars to increase sales. Good luck!

The No. 1 Most Overlooked Video Content Marketing Strategy

Is your video content marketing strategy producing leads? Most B-to-B marketers are generating views, clicks, shares and likes, but netting few leads. Don’t be one of them. Generating leads and sales with video isn’t difficult if you get back to basics. The trick is publishing videos that create self-confidence in your viewers. This is a faster, easier way to create engaging discussion—and ultimately trust in you.

Is your video content marketing strategy producing leads? Most B-to-B marketers are generating views, clicks, shares and likes, but netting few leads. Don’t be one of them. Generating leads and sales with video isn’t difficult if you get back to basics. The trick is publishing videos that create self-confidence in your viewers. This is a faster, easier way to create engaging discussion—and ultimately trust in you.

What Does Confidence Have to Do With It?
Don’t let any gurus convince you that “social selling” is somehow mystical, new or different.

In video marketing, trust is rarely earned by what you say in videos or how you say it. Trust is earned by what your videos DO for prospects that gets them confident in themselves as buyers.

For example, have you ever watched and taken action on a short video? Maybe it was a direct TV infomercial where you saw a product demo. You probably didn’t need what was being sold, but you took action anyway. Why?

Confidence.

Even if it’s purely novel, after watching a product demo humans are “hard wired” to react. But only if we witness a transfer of confidence—from seller to buyer. Or from “the converted” to the skeptic.

If written, shot, edited and distributed correctly, videos of various lengths can produce leads consistently. These exceptional videos succeed because they do one thing better than others.

Why Confidence Works So Well
You might think going viral is the key, but it’s not. Videos that create leads work because they demonstrate raw, credible, believable confidence in action.

Videos that generate leads tap into skepticism, fear, annoyance and ambition—and put it to work for the seller. Again, think in terms of infomercials: from kitchen gadgets (skepticism) to fear (financial and medical) or ambition (college, weight loss).

Effective video “brings to life” the benefits of the emotional end goal of everyone on planet earth: confidence. No, not the functional benefits of the product, the emotional end benefit in its most raw state.

Where to Start: How to Create Confidence
Effective videos grab attention. They have a title that is simply irresistible and relates to a fear, ambition, goal or problem. Effective titles make a promise. An effective video content marketing strategy delivers that promise in a way that either:

  1. transfers confidence from someone on camera to the viewer or
  2. manufactures confidence by giving tips, actionable advice or “better ways.”

The best way to get started is a video treatment—a rough concept of how your video will flow. The easiest kind of video to produce is one that increases the success rate of prospects.

Right now, think about something you know that most customers don’t. What danger, risk or hidden opportunity do you know about that they don’t, right now. What would really move prospects’ needles if you had 60 seconds to tell them? Jot down your ideas.

Create a video treatment that demonstrates a better way, shows steps to solve a problem or provokes an emotional reaction (fear, excitement) in the viewer. Don’t be shy.

For example, ask a question customers need answered in a way that might scare viewers a bit. Then answer it in a way that leaves them wanting more details.

When and How to Make a Call to Action
The goal of your B-to-B video content marketing strategy is to get prospects so confident in themselves they take action. Everything else is wasting time. Forget about trying to influence prospects. Get viewers to act.

If you followed the above formula, you’re on track. Now we need to nudge viewers with a call to action. This nudge capitalizes on the momentary confidence you just created or transferred to the viewer.

At this point, customers should be starting to feel a sense of trust in your words. You’ve proven yourself to be bold, have something to say, ask the tough questions or give out “tough love” advice. Will they trust you enough to buy from you? Maybe, maybe not.

Prospects will, however, be willing to trade their contact information in exchange for more of that confidence you just gave them.

They’ll be more willing to become a lead. All they need is that call to action. Make it easy for prospects to act on that impulse you just created.

Effective Video Content Marketing Makes Prospects Crave More
Content that creates leads makes prospects think, “Gosh, I wonder what else the author of this article knows that I need to know!” or “Wow, I see the opportunity more clearly now; how can I get access to more of this kind of thinking?”

Maybe your offer will be to teach customers a new skill or go deeper into solving a problem for them. You might offer a multi-part video tutorial, ebook or stream of email tips that guide and motivate prospects each week.

There are a handful of options. The idea is to use a call to action to get viewers off your video and onto a lead nurturing process.

Remember: Trust is earned by what your videos do for prospects that gets them confident in themselves. If you follow these simple guidelines you’ll be making videos that sell for you. You’ll have an effective video content marketing strategy.

Good luck!

The Direct Mail Formula for Great Online Video Series

Planning an online video is a bit like planning and writing a direct mail letter: It helps to have a formula. You need a framework and, perhaps most importantly, a plan to build engagement that leads to closing a sale or prompting a contribution. Today we share three tips for creating a series of online videos in a framework that could resemble chapters in a book. Each chapter builds on another, building confidence and desire from the viewer. The final chapter is where direct mail copywriting principles

Planning an online video is a bit like planning and writing a direct mail letter. It helps to have a formula. You need a framework and perhaps most importantly, a plan to build engagement that leads to closing a sale or prompting a contribution. Today we share three tips for creating a series of online videos in a framework that could resemble chapters in a book. Each chapter builds on another, building confidence and desire from the viewer. The final chapter is where direct mail copywriting principles can be effectively used to close the sale or contribution.

A framework can serve to break your message into segments, each standing on its own.

Viewers can take a mental break between videos as they figuratively turn the page to be taken to something new in the book in a future video.

In today’s video, you’ll learn about three steps you can use to shape your story in video. We also include tips on how to close the sale using direct mail best practices. As you get into the close of your video, it’s all about momentum. Keep it going. Keep it tight. Finish strong.

(If the video isn’t just above this line, click here to view it.)

When you have a considerable amount of information to share, dividing it into a framework can make it easier for your customers or prospects to follow your intended path to purchase. It engages the audience, and, when done properly, leads viewers to the conclusion that they should buy now.

This is the same principle we used recently to increase sales by 20 percent for an organization.

You may be familiar with the AIDA formula (Attention—Interest—Desire—Action) used by direct mail copywriters to sell and move readers to action. It can apply over time in a series of videos, too. Get the viewer’s attention, create desire, and build trust and confidence. Motivate the viewer to take action as the story or message unfolds, the viewer is ultimately prompted to take action and buy, or in the case of fundraising, make a donation.

Another bonus of a series of videos is that when distributed through social media, you can ask your viewers to “like” or pass along their impressions of each video. That creates the opportunity for your message to spread virally over the timespan of the series.

With these steps to build chapters along with these closing techniques, all designed to lead to sale, your online video messages are better positioned to sell more.

6 Video Presentation Tips to Elevate Your Online Marketing

The video you create is but one component of your online direct marketing campaign. Yes, the video is what viewers are driven to—it’s the vehicle that delivers your story. However, without lists, email and landing page copywriting and design, blog comments and posts, social media entries, pay-per-click ads, YouTube advertising, etc., your video

Online Video Marketing Deep Dive co-author Perry Alexander takes over this week while Gary is away.

The video you create is but one component of your online direct marketing campaign. Yes, the video is what viewers are driven to—it’s the vehicle that delivers your story. However, without lists, email and landing page copywriting and design, blog comments and posts, social media entries, pay-per-click ads, YouTube advertising, etc., your video stands little chance to be viewed.

Think of the parallel: We know that without the intentional series of steps to get our direct mail package into readers’ hands, opened and scanned long enough for them to catch the lead, there’s slim chance it’ll make any impact.

Just as the direct mail letter headline and lead must drive the reader to stick with it, so must the first few seconds of your video. Your video must create and instantly set the visual and auditory tone that will draw the viewer through those precious first few seconds and into your story.

My co-author and business colleague, Gary Hennerberg, is the master copywriter of our team and, as he says, I “make stuff look good.” I make sure the story isn’t overshadowed by lousy presentation or distractions, which can repel, or at least divert the reader. Let’s go through some of the ways to make your video command attention—during the first few seconds and beyond.

  1. Bad audio will douse viewers’ interest long before bad video will. Don’t rely on your on-camera mike or, worse, your computer mike. You’ve heard these videos—they sound like they were recorded in a barrel or a cave. Viewer’s interpretation: Your presentation was slapped together, therefore your product or service is, too, so why should I bother listening?
    The Deep Dive:
    If your camera has a mike input, use a lav mike (Gary and I each use a $25 Audio-Technica). If there’s no external mike input on your camera, use a digital voice recorder to record quality sound, either through its built-in mikes or plug the lav mike into it (we both use the same $100 Sony recorder). Then, in editing, sync the audio from both the camera and voice recorder, then mute the camera audio. The mechanics of this are tricky at first, but once you’ve done it a couple of times it becomes routine and your sound is crisp and clear.
  2. Bad video won’t help matters. A webcam video looks like, well, you used a webcam—even an HD webcam. Not only is the image soft, but exposure is usually off, color isn’t great, and what about all that stuff in the background behind you? The message struggles to get out. Again, it screams that your story doesn’t deserve the viewer’s consideration. It’s just a throwaway webcam production about a throwaway idea. What does your viewer do? Click away to something else after just a few seconds.
    The Deep Dive:
    You wouldn’t dream of tossing a half-baked direct mail piece out into the market, expecting it to convince your audience of the value of whatever you’re offering them, would you? Anything that distracts from the message must be stripped away so only the message is noticed. Same with video. Get a $100 Flip or Sony camera and a tripod, or even the latest iPhone. Better: spend $400 for an HD video camera for long-form videos. If your shots are under 5-10 minutes each, use your DSLR. (We use a $100 flip-type camera on Gary’s videos.)
  3. On-camera jitters? Maybe the prospect of speaking into a camera lens is frightening, or at least off-putting. Really, though, after several miserable attempts, you will improve. Evenutally you get to where you imagine you’re just talking with another person in the room, and your fear melts away.
    The Deep Dive:
    Your job is to tell the story. How? Reveal your personality and mastery. Build trust. The call-to-action will produce nothing for you until after that’s all been established. Consider being in front of the camera just long enough to introduce your premise, then moving into slides, charts, photos, graphics or other images that tell your story. That way, you don’t have to memorize a long script. You can refer to notes as you narrate what’s on screen. On-camera script reading is usually deadly, anyway. If you’re on screen for a quick 20-30 seconds, know your stuff. Roll through several takes until you’ve looked that monster in the eye (lens), and said your piece naturally, completely, and with relaxed authority. Now you have their attention and trust!
  4. Stock photos, stock footage, stock music, stock sound effects? You’ve seen the websites with stiff and trite stock photos. Somebody, please explain what that might ever accomplish, because we’ve all seen that picture a thousand times. Filler doesn’t move the story along. But, relevant graphics that work can emphasize a point quickly and vividly. An occasional “foley” sound effect can emphasize a point, just don’t overuse transition swooshes, or they’ll become distracting gimmicks.
    The Deep Dive:
    Map out your storyline. What images will support or clarify what you’re saying? Use images that are specific to your product, service, technique, timeliness, etc. Short of that, invest time finding stock images, footage, music or sounds. It’s all online, and for not much money. YouTube and Vimeo even offer stock music beds you can use at no cost. But be careful in your choices. Be brutal in editing. Anything that distracts or detracts from your story and message, leading to your call-to-action, must be cut.
  5. Go short or go long? Conventional wisdom, born out by YouTube analytics, is that video viewer falloff is precipitous after the first 30 seconds or less. So, does that mean we must never consider creating a 3-minute or, horrors, a 15-minute video? Perhaps. Remember, everything must serve to support the story. Do that right, and they’ll stay with you.
    The Deep Dive:
    Conventional wisdom has always warned us not to use long-form copy in letters. However, seasoned, successful copywriters know that a well-told story will hold interest across 2, 4, even 16 pages. Same with video. Don’t rush to push features, advantages, benefits. Find the relevant hook, then reveal, build and educate about the issue. Lead them to want—then crave—the answer to the quandary or dilemma you’re setting up. Now, the sales copy tastes like good soup.
  6. Editing is half the storytelling. Putting up an unedited video is like mailing the first draft of your letter. It’s probably loose, meandering, dulling to the senses. Resist, revise and remove whatever doesn’t move your story along!
    The Deep Dive:
    Video editing brings clarity and precision to your story. The pace and direction are honed so the viewer is drawn in and held through the call-to-action. It’s an interwoven dance of timing, splicing, movement, color, design, sound, mood and the ruthless removal of what’s not contributing. But, you need two things: A) the knack to know when it’s right and when it’s not and, B) mastery of a video editing program, so you can accomplish your vision.

There’s so much more to cover, but perhaps you’re getting a sense of how online video marketing requires many skills and decisions so familiar to the direct mail pro. Different tools … different vehicles … similar foundational concepts. As always, we invite your comments, criticism or questions.

Drop me an email, and we’ll get you the list of resources, brand names, part numbers and such of what we’ve found works in our ever-evolving video marketing tool chest: perry@acm-initiatives.com

12 Reasons to Fuse Direct Marketing and Video Marketing Now

Tried and true direct marketing formulas + online video = your next powerful marketing opportunity. Blending direct marketing sales approaches with online video, where 40 billion videos are watched monthly, can showcase your products and services, build trust, close deals, and raise money. Here are reasons to fuse

Tried and true direct marketing formulas + online video = your next powerful marketing opportunity. Blending direct marketing sales approaches with online video, where 40 billion videos are watched monthly, can showcase your products and services, build trust, close deals, and raise money. Here are reasons to fuse together the power of direct marketing with online video. Today we begin with the first 6 reasons.

1. Now is the early stage for the blending of DM disciplines and online video. While DM and video have been around for years, many marketers have yet to blend the methodologies together. The Deep Dive: Early adopters have been using video with streaming words and voice-over, interviews and product demonstrations. But the next stage of successful video uses proven direct marketing copywriting techniques and call-to-action in video script writing, and uses DM design techniques that will move production values to a higher level.

2. Online video use and views are exploding.

  • In just one recent month, 181 million U.S. Internet users watched 43.5 billion videos averaging over 22 hours per viewer.
  • Over 84% of internet users watched an online video.
  • Americans watched over 5.6 billion online video ads. In fact, online video ads are 38% more memorable than TV ads.

The Deep Dive: According to comScore.com, a global source of digital market intelligence, online video viewing was up 43% from Dec. 2010 to Dec. 2011 This video is a summary of comScore’s findings about the explosive increases in online video viewing during the past year. (By the way, we’ll show you, in an upcoming post, how you can drastically improve upon their really distracting audio quality for about $30.)

If you’re not incorporating video in your marketing strategy, you’re out-of-date.

3. Consumers’ attention span is shorter than ever, and it’s not likely to increase. People will give you a few seconds to watch a video. Engage them quickly, and they’ll stick with you long enough to get your message across and prompt enough curiosity to check you out more. The Deep Dive: Does this strategy sound a lot like using a compelling teaser on an outer envelope, or a strong subject line in an email? Of course it does! So, set up your video strategy properly by getting the viewer to opt-in to watch more of your future videos.

4. Websites with video are perceived as having higher importance. When you add videos, you attract more in-linking domains than with plain text. The Deep Dive: Video inclusion on your social media or blog posts has been shown to triple inbound linking. The following chart is from a well-respected seomoz.org blog post that goes more deeply into this topic. http://www.seomoz.org/blog/what-makes-a-link-worthy-post-part-1.

5. An inbound marketing strategy may be a challenge for a traditional direct marketer to accept, but video has the power to draw prospective customers to you. The Deep Dive: Video on blogs and posted YouTube can be shared on social media and will draw traffic to you. This is a far more powerful-and less costly-marketing strategy than pushing your unsolicited message using outbound marketing strategies.

6. Online video analytics are amazing. Post your video on YouTube and over time you’ll see not only how many times your video was viewed, but second-by-second you’ll see retention levels and discover at what point you lost your viewer. You’ll see demographic information. You’ll be smarter so much faster that your head will spin. The Deep Dive: If you’re a traditional direct marketer, you surely love numbers. With video, you get a lot of data to crunch that will make you smarter and your selling more effective.

In our next post, we’ll reveal six more reasons why you should fuse direct marketing and video marketing now. In the meantime, comment below and tell us your video marketing successes or what you’d like to read in future blog posts.

HULU.COM: An Intriguing Advertising Opportunity

Hulu is a fascinating Web site. Not only can its content be riveting to the viewer, but also represents a highly efficient medium for advertisers, enabling them to close the loop and measure actual ROI.

When I read that Hulu is drawing huge audiences, I went to the Web site and clicked on a movie—”Abel Raises Cain.” It is a 82-minute documentary about professional hoaxer Alan Abel, who was famous in the late 1950s for dreaming up and publicizing the “Society of Indecency to Naked Animals” with the mission of clothing naked animals. Over the years he has duped the media and made talk show hosts look like chumps and generally made a hilarious nuisance of himself with a slew of nutsy-fagen schemes, many of which are chronicled in this film.

This unique Web site offers full-length television shows and motion pictures; viewers remain on the site for a long time, sometimes a couple of hours—a boon for advertisers.

I sat through the entire film, which was presented with “limited commercial interruptions.” The TV-type commercial advertisements ranged in length from 10 to 30 seconds. Among the advertisers:
“Angels and Demons” (upcoming Tom Hanks film)
Nestea Green Tea
Honda Insight
Healthful Cat Food, Purina
Sprint Now Network
Swiffer Cleaner
Coldwell Banker

Returning to “Abel Raising Cain” on another day, I found additional advertisers:
American Chemistry Council
BMW Z4 Roadster
Toyota Prius
Panasonic Viera
Plan B Levenorgestra
Citi

At the end of this blog is a screenshot snapped during the BMW commercial. As you will see, the moving picture area takes up about half the computer screen, leaving a blank area above. At upper left is the film title, running time and the number of stars by reviewers. At upper right is a small response box that shows the car, the BMW logo and the headline:
The all-new Z4 Roadster
An Expression of Joy.

In light gray mousetype are two words: “Explore now”—the hyperlink to more information.

Once the commercial is finished and the film resumes, this little box remains on screen until the next commercial interruption. Then the next commercial’s response box stays on the screen. For the advertiser, this represents his presence onscreen for far longer than the 10-30 seconds allotted in the commercial.

Further, Hulu combines the razzle-dazzle of action-packed TV commercials with the advantage of direct marketing. The prospect clicks on the box, the advertiser has a record of the response to that commercial and that venue. This closes the loop: ad — response to ad — further info requested — and (hopefully) sale. The advertiser can do the arithmetic, measure the sales and determine whether the ad more than paid for itself or whether it was a financial loser.

This is far more valuable than running an ad on old-fashioned TV and hoping that people (1) have not left the room for a potty break and (2) will remember the thing when they are at the car dealer or supermarket.

What a direct marketer would do differently:
1. The response box at upper right is tiny compared to everything else going on. If Hulu wants happy advertisers, it should at least double its size, so that it is immediately obvious what to do.

2. The advertisers must make a terrific offer—something Free, for example—so the movie watcher is impelled to leave the film and go for the freebie. Or download a $500 certificate. With the tiny box and mousetype, these advertisers seem almost ashamed to ask you interrupt your movie to see what they have to offer. “Learn more” or “Explore now” in teeny-tiny light gray mousetype is not a compelling call to action.

3. My sense is that Hulu may be a tremendously efficient and relatively low-cost medium for testing TV commercials. Run an A-B split where one viewer gets the A commercial and the next viewer gets B and so on. The commercial that wins—gets the most responses—becomes control and is rolled out on TV, in movie theaters and anywhere else … until it is displaced by new commercial that tests better on Hulu.

With the Hulu model, razzle-dazzle TV-type commercials are combined with an immediate direct response mechanism. Trouble is that it is obvious the advertisers are allowing the general agencies that created the great commercials to handle the direct marketing element, which they know nothing about.

Old rule: never use a general agency for direct marketing.

But do spend some time at Hulu and think through how you might use it—either for sales or for testing.