Profitable Perks of Adding the Webinar Business Model to Your Multiplatform Arsenal

The webinar business model offers one of the most profitable and recyclable content platforms a publisher can utilize

01-when-a-great-niche-publishing-strategy-spurs-growthIt always amazes me how people can worry about good things that happen. Sharon (not her real name) runs a successful $5 million special interest B2C publishing company that now has a successful webinar business model.

After 9/11, her live conference business took a hit, as did many live events during that time when many people feared air travel.

Many years later, she did her first paid webinar, which drew about 80 people at $149 per person. And a few years after that, she was selling about 2,000 seats to 15 webinars, generating about $300,000 in revenue. In addition to being six percent of her top-line revenues, webinars rose to 17 percent of her profits.

But like many publishers who are just getting started in multiplatform publishing, Sharon worried that her webinar business was not growing fast enough, even though year-over-year revenues went up 15 percent. She also worried that webinar profit margins were too high to hold (with, mind you, almost no marketing cost, as she only promotes webinars using her email list). And, of course, she worried about whether she’d be able to come up with another new product type to keep her business growing (don’t we all?).

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The reason for Sharon’s worry at the time was that she hadn’t quite adopted the multiplatform publishing mentality – relying on many platforms for multiple sources of income. The more digital, the lower the cost, the higher the margins. Meanwhile, her live conference business recovered to pre-9/11 revenue levels with higher profit margins based on increased use of email to promote her live events.

03-when-a-great-niche-publishing-strategy-spurs-growthAdditionally, webinars are products that can be recycled across many free and profitable platforms. A webinar becomes:

  • a series of blog posts, recycling imagery and concepts
  • a session at a live event
  • an article in a magazine
  • a chapter in a book
  • a free download
  • an audio CD
  • a downloadable transcript
  • a module in a membership website
  • an on-demand video

Now in a multiplatform state of mind, Sharon’s webinar encores, audio CDs, and transcripts account for 25 percent of her business.

Her pricing strategy is stringent. She rarely offers a discount based on the media it is accessed on. The user will pay the same price regardless of whether they purchase a live webinar or the 24/7 encore presentation of that webinar.

Even more, her webinars have become the driving force for all of their content products. For example, their management report business is driven by their webinar business. They end up being repackaged webinars with additional content from the company’s editorial files.

Pros and cons of webinars as a product

Webinars are generally one-way conversations with an audience that is listening to audio over the phone and watching your presentation over the web. They might also be listening to audio over the web, but still support the “one-to-many” model where a presenter (or presenters) conducts the webinar for an audience that could include hundreds of attendees. In some cases, hosts may open the webinar up to discussion, taking questions that are typed in.

Beacon Live, a webinar software company, outlines what they feel are the pros and cons of webinars in their whitepaper:

Webinar Pros:

  • More than 84 percent of all people are visual learners.
  • Webinars are a one-to-many system, where visuals and audio come “streaming” through the computer.
  • Can easily create a “hybrid” with audio conferences, meaning attendees can choose webinar option or audio-only option; both groups would hear the same presentation.
  • Webinars are an interactive medium, and the more interactive the medium, the better the satisfaction and the higher the increase in repeat customer rates, which can often translate to more revenue for your company.
  • Recorded video clips can be easily added.
  • Simple and easy to use, with no downloads required.
  • The best webinar services provide useful features, such as instant polls, live chat (perfect for Q&A), live desktop share, and the ability for several users to control slides. Live chat and Q&A allows you to screen questions and only answer the ones you want. Still, you can capture all of the questions, which provides you an additional marketing opportunity: You can communicate with the audience by sending an email with the answers to all of the questions after the event ends.
  • Post call reports are available showing login times, attention to content, duration, etc.

Webinar Cons:

  • You’ll need more prep time than you would need for an audio conference or even a web conference; slides and other materials need to be dynamic and polished.
  • Rehearsal time is critical.
  • A polished presenter or speaker is a must.

The webinar business model is very profitable and offer perfect products to promote via email because they are timely and are delivered electronically. Although they used to be almost exclusively used by B2B publishers for several years, we’re seeing more special-interest B2C publishers moving into this format.

If you’re looking to build a new revenue stream using audio conferences and webinars, or are looking for new ways to promote, structure, and market your existing digital events, schedule a time to chat and we can talk more about it.



    What, in your opinion, are the top webinar platforms in terms of reliability, simplicity, and user experience?

    Nice article – you’ve inspired me!


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