Fakeinars, Pitchfests and Webinars

What’s your gut reaction when you see an e-mail from a marketer, inviting you to a webinar? If you haven’t done much screening and unsubscribing from lists for your “guru inbox”, I’m guessing your gut reaction is a negative one. Many people’s history with webinars is that they “have been burnt” and now know better than to attend them, or attend them very cautiously, with their anti-advertisement shields up.

I personally love doing webinars and it’s my favourite way of keeping in touch with my subscribers and customers. There’s nothing wrong with webinars. What I don’t like are Fakeinars and blatant pitchfests… (warning, ranty post ahead)

Live Online Training Session?

It’s been suggested to me that I don’t call webinars webinars, because of the bad rap they tend to get. It was a well-meant suggestion and one that makes a lot of sense. I could say “live online training” or something like that, to avoid the negative connotations that “webinar” has for many people. But it’s still a webinar, in the end.

My suggestion is that we re-name those things that turn people off of webinars in the first place, namely pitchfests (Pitchinar?) and, even worse, Fakeinars.

Pitchfest: The Common Crime

Most commonly, when a marketer invites you to a webinar, it’s because they want you to buy something. While the invitation will invariably speak of “valuable content” and probably also some “secrets revealed”, just for good measure, the actual event will be nothing but one big, long sales-pitch.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with a sales-pitch. We all like to buy stuff and a webinar is as good a way as any to learn about a new product (if the product is interesting/relevant to us, all the better). What I can’t stand is when the webinar content is a classic newbie trap sales-letter, simply converted into a different format. In case you don’t know what I mean, it goes like this:

  • Marketer started out broke and desperate
  • Tried everything, nothing worked
  • Got even more broke and desperate and was about to give up
  • Drags on sob-story for way too long
  • Stumbled upon a simple secret/loophole/glitch
  • Is now incredibly rich and successful
  • Emphasises how incredibly rich and successful he is
  • Emphasises the above some more
  • Is willing to make an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime offer, just for you

A webinar is such a cool, interactive platform, just jamming a long-form sales-letter into the format is a total waste. What’s even worse: when they don’t make any use of interaction features. They don’t do polls, they don’t open the mic for anyone and they ignore questions. This puts them close to the league of an even greater sin than just a standard pitch-orgy…

The Fakeinar: Disrespect, Streamed Straight to Your Browser

The following actually happened to me. I got on a “reputable” marketer’s list…

You know what? This isn’t the Warrior Forum, so I might as well be explicit: I got on Rich Shefren’s list, because I’d heard good things about him. He calls himself the “guru to the gurus” as apparently, he coached many of the big IM gurus, at some point.

So, sometime after signing up, I get a webinar invitation. The premise was that is was going to be about mindset and about being strategic in your online business. Sounded interesting enough.

I could rant about the “event” for pages on end, but let me just keep it to the main annoyances: Once the webinar comes around, you go to a page and “sign up”. A clearly fake loading bar appears and then a pretty bare-bone HTML-page appears, with a streaming video in the middle. Right from the outset, it’s clear that this is everything but a live event. Even though everything’s clearly scripted and edited, they sloppily tried to make it seem like a live event, starting with an announcer saying something like “people are still pouring in and we’re about to get started…”

The announcer then goes on to talk about how great Rich Shefren is, followed by recordings of several other people talking about how great Rich Shefren is, followed by Rich Shefren talking about how great Rich Shefren is. This went on for a good quarter of an hour…

And then followed the typical rags-to-riches story as outlined above.

So, they really got everything wrong. What’s worse, they had a silly “on air” text flashing in red and a questions box below the video. So people who thought it was actually live could submit their questions and be ignored! What a glorious idea!

My point is: it’s incredibly disrespectful to stage  fake webinar like this. Just call it a “video” or, if you insist on being at least somewhat dishonest, a “webinar recording”. It’s not that hard.

Something Relevant

This rant does actually have a relevant purpose. If you, as a marketer, do any kind of personal branding, I highly encourage you do a few webinars. But if you do, use the features that make webinars unique, namely those that let you interact with the attendees. Do Q&A sessions, put up some polls, etc. That’s where the true value of webinars lies – for both parties involved.

And whatever you do, don’t insult your subscriber’s intelligence by sending them to a streaming video that pretends to be a webinar.

What are your thoughts on webinars? Do you attend them, or avoid them? Have you been burnt with fakeinars and pitch-orgies? Let me know in the comments!


About the Author Shane Melaugh

I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better marketer and product creator. Read more about my story here.

follow me on: