One of my favorite things to do for my regular clients is to serve as a sounding board. They’ll send me an e-mail, start a conversation in Asana, or give me a call via Skype and we’ll really dig into a particular problem, issue, or idea for their business and work through all the kinks. As part of this process, it’s often my job to play Devil’s Advocate – to explore all the sides of that particular issue and ask the “What if?” questions that will help us make sure we’ve covered all the angles.
So I’ve decided that periodically I’ll use this blog to do the same thing – I’ll play Devil’s Advocate or argue an opposing position to an issue affecting small business owners. I’d love for you to join in the conversation with me – it begins in the comments!
Recently I’ve noticed a hot-button word in the world of small business owners: webinar. If you follow anyone at all who provides advice to small business owners, chances are you’ve seen them advertising a live webinar to teach you the top 10 ways to do something that’s going to skyrocket your business.
I’ll admit it, I’ve been sucked in – I’ve read the pitch e-mails, found the lead-ins intriguing, and sometimes I even go so far as to actually register for the webinar. The thing is, though, I’m never going to actually attend it.
1 – Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Seriously, I don’t. I work from home for very limited hours, for a group of fabulous clients who keep my VA To Do list quite filled up. When there’s extra time from that work I spend my working hours squeezing in time for blog posts like this one and other useful content for small business owners. I home-school three children who are in three different grades, and I keep busy cleaning a house that is routinely trashed by three children and a menagerie of pets. And then, of course, I’ve also got to make time to not go insane, by carving out some “me time” at least a few times a week.
All that adds up to NOT a lot of time for your webinar. Your 90-minute, live webinar that I have to attend in-person at a specific time. If your webinar were an e-book, I could read it while my kids were at the playground or in the bathtub. If it were an online course, I could fit it into my schedule in 30-minute increments. If it were a blog post, I could read it on my phone while waiting for my dental appointment. But it’s not any of those things; it’s a webinar, and it doesn’t fit into my schedule.
I won’t be attending your next webinar on the top 10 ways to fix my biz problems – and here’s why: http://tiny.cc/nowebinars #JessCookOnline (Click to tweet this!)
2 – You’re not the boss of me.
The biggest reason I resist webinars is sort of hard to explain, but it boils down to this: having to sign up for a live event of some sort makes me feel like a caged animal. It’s the same reason I watch Netflix instead of network TV – I like to do things on my own time, when I have the time. I don’t want a standing appointment, or even a one-time thing. I don’t want to be pinned down by your timeline; I want to fit your thing into my own.
Let’s face it: I’m in business for myself because I don’t want anyone else to be my boss. So when you schedule a webinar and tell me I have to show up on this day at that time or else I’m not going to get the information, I automatically resist. Now you’re taking MY time, and you’re not giving me a lot of options. Even if I have choices of different sessions to attend, it’s still annoying to me because the options you give me may not be optimal for my schedule (see Reason #1).
I’ve spent some time with Gretchen Rubin’s book, Better Than Before, and in that process I think I’ve figured out that I’m a Questioner with Rebel tendencies (more on that here). So basically, if I’m going to do something, I need to understand the benefits of it, and I need to really buy into those benefits or I’m going to resist it on principle just because you’re telling me to do it. With a webinar, usually the sales pitch gives you just enough information to wonder if it’s going to be good (which is on purpose, I know), but not enough information to guarantee it’s worth surrendering 90 minutes of my afternoon listening to you. You’re not paying me to be there, so it’s really hard for me to justify giving you that much of my working week.
3 – There’s no fast-forward button.
Your webinar sounds really educational, and I bet I could learn a lot. But even *IF* I had time to meet you at your appointed time and show up for the live event, I probably don’t want to spend my time listening to everyone else ask you super-specific questions about their businesses. You might spend 20 of those 90 minutes talking about something that doesn’t apply to me, because I don’t sell handmade goods, and I’d prefer to skip that part. Maybe I just need to get up in the middle of it because my six-year-old is screaming his head off in the living room and I need to find out if it’s because he’s bleeding or if it’s just that his older brother looked at him the wrong way. If your webinar allowed me to pause, rewind, and fast-forward, it’d make the whole package a lot more appealing to me. But it doesn’t, because it’s a live event, so you can count me out.
So… what’s the point?
Maybe your webinar is raking in the cash for you. Maybe I’m the only entrepreneur who has a very limited amount of time to work on her business, but I seriously doubt it. So maybe, that means you’re losing more than just my attendance at your live online events. Maybe it’s not just me who’s opting out of your webinar because it doesn’t work for me or my schedule. Maybe there’s a way for you to grab the attention of the people who love to show up for free live events on the Internet, and ALSO the rebels like me who want your information on our own terms.
The easiest solution here? Record the damn webinar! Then put the link to the recording somewhere I can access it, on my own time. With the option to rewind, fast-forward, and pause you in the middle of whatever it is you’re talking about. So I can take notes, go to the bathroom, or answer the phone without missing anything! So I can actually take the time to digest what you’re saying, and think about whether the thing you’re selling at the end of the webinar is actually something I want to buy, instead of feeling pressured into it by the perceived hustle of a live event.
Is that so hard?
What do you think – am I alone in my anti-webinar stance, or do you have similar feelings about having to schedule someone’s live event on your calendar? Do you appreciate the accountability of an appointment, or do you get frustrated when you can’t work it into your schedule? Is there a reason you’re hosting live webinars with no recording that beats my reason for asking for one? Seriously, I’d love to know! Leave me a comment and let’s talk!