It was 2005. I was taking my first online class in grad school. And I wasn’t sure what to expect. Webinars were a new thing. The option to show the presenter’s face online, let alone anyone else on the call, all while switching back and forth between slides, was just unheard of at the time! Nope, we simply had a boring tele-seminar and you still had to upload your presentation to the system to broadcast the visuals. In fact, at the time, we thought that was amazing and so hard to pull off!
One of the two online courses I took from George Washington University was in Event Management. And our class project was to plan, promote, and host a webinar on event technology. Corbin Ball was the speaker.
At the time I took graduate classes both in person at the local campus of La Salle University, and online at George Washington University. And while I was planning this project, I recall feeling very differently about the experience I was having at each school.
Neither experience was necessarily better than the other. They were each great for very different reasons. I mean I couldn’t beat crawling up on my comfy sofa with my laptop, a cup of coffee and my fav Seton Hall sweats, to listen to a lecture and do some reading. Seriously, if I never have to fight for an on-campus parking spot again when I’ve got 15 minutes to get to class and can only find a place at the back of the lot where the car next to me straddled the line so I can barely squeeze out of my driver’s side door, it will be too soon!
But online, there was a level of convenience and a sense of autonomy that I couldn’tget with the mandatory once a week meetings with my professors and classmates. Online the lectures and testing happened on my time schedule. I could ask my professor a question at 2 in the morning if I well pleased. Though I never received a response that late at night.
Even with the elements of convenience and freedom, the experience lacked some things that could only come from an in person class. I missed out on the immediate feedback, both from my professor and colleagues. I missed being part of my schoolmates lives because we would strike up small talk right before class or during the 15-minute coffee break. Even the simple satisfaction of putting a name to a face was simply non-existent when I studied online. (Yes, the Facebook like profiles now common in online classes and forums did not exist 10 years ago!)
Now don’t get me wrong, if I go back to school for a second graduate degree, as I plan to do, I will not hesitate to take it online. But despite the high level of convenience and independence, there is still something about the human, face-to-face interaction that just cannot be replaced with mere online communication.
That is why I feel so strongly that to grow a profitable, recognizable brand you must come from behind the screen to meet your audience. Online training gurus will not tell you this but I’m hear to uncover the hype we’ve come to believe about online trainings particularly for coaches and consultants.
So this week I’d like to share five reasons I believe events are flat out better than online trainings and why you need them in your coaching business.
1 | Live events break thru the noise of other marketing.
When was the last time you opened Facebook or a Google search and you weren’t bombarded with messages from marketers, friends, family, etc. There is just so much happening on any given website these days, it’s just plain noisy!
Tara Gentile wrote in her book Quiet Power Strategy, "The important thing about about building your brand on Facebook is to not become a part of the noise. If you engage your customers meaningfully, give them useful information, entertain them, and find out a way to give them coffee, you won’t be noise."
I think it’s one thing to grab their attention on social media. But it’s altogether a different beast to keep it there. There’s way too much going on.
However at your own event the only marketing message in the room is yours.
This brings me to the second reason.
2 | Live events allow you to share your message with no distractions.
Think of it as a live infomercial for your brand on repeat during prime time. No commercial interruptions. No breaks.
Your message is the one ruminating in the atmosphere. It’s the only one your audience hears. You can ask your audience to refrain from cellphone use. Likely they aren’t going to talk during your presentation. After all they did pay to be there. And frankly, if they do who cares, you already got their money. It’s their loss, not yours! (was that mean to say…sorry?!)
The third reason why face to face trainings and events are better than online is because it brings people together.
3 | Live events build relationships and community that can then be sustained online.
Carrie Revelle-Love was interviewed in Episode 19 of Creative Live’s podcast, Profit. Power. Pursuit., about her research on the competency levels of women entrepreneurs who use online companies to gain essential business skills. One of the things she said fascinated me. She said research shows that women need social support when they are seeking new skills. And recommends if you offer trainings or support products for women, building social interaction into your offerings helps meets their needs and supports their learning.
This makes so much sense! Women in particular like connecting and bonding. Ladies, let’s be honest we don’t go to the bathroom alone for a reason. Put a group of us together, and instantly there’s chatting and exchanging of ideas and recipes. It’s what we do!
Live events offer instant community building opportunities. And hosting your own event is a great way to create what your audience already wants and give it to them in a nice pretty package.
4 | Live events accelerate the sales process.
The fourth thing live, in person trainings does for your business is it speeds up your sales process.
Copyblogger posted a great article on “Six Ways to Get People to Say Yes.” And one of the ways to get a yes from folks is establish your authority. After 3 hours of actionable wisdom bomb dropping, it’s not too much of a stretch to present your next, possibly higher end offer to a captivated, engaged audience.
5 | Live events deepen your audience's emotional connection with your brand.
The final and fifth reason live events are about better than online is the opportunity to deepen connections with your audience. In 2014, a Millward Brown Digital survey revealed that half of digital marketer respondents agreed with this statement: “Digital held promise for brand marketers, but for all its promise, it has never delivered as a branding vehicle.”
Big brand marketers all state that the goal of marketing is to create an emotional connection with people. If that’s the case, it is almost inevitable this will happen during an event. Nowhere can you present your brilliance in a way that is more authentic, more real, and more sincere. Now if you have the personality of a wet napkin in person, then perhaps hosting an event is not for you. But that’s a topic for another post.
So as you see these are five reasons I believe hosting a live event is far better than an online training.
I did get an A on our webinar assignment. But it’s sad that I never got to meet my classmates in person. I wonder what happened to them.
Hmmm… perhaps one day I’ll bump into one at the airport. Ha!
Until next time...