Wednesday, July 26, 2006

People Will Burn Out on Teleseminars - My Prediction

Odd how circumstances collide to tell you to pursue an idea sometimes, isn't it?

I was mulling through ideas to blog on today, and checked a mailing list for copywriters I belong to (Marketing Mastermind - Yahoo Groups if anyone's interested.) One of the members asked the group what they thought of the surge in teleseminars being offered by copywriters, marketing consultants, entrepreneurs, etc.

I've listened in on a few of thse myself. Downloaded several more (I think that's the best part - having an MP3 available of the whole thing for later). They've mostly been about one thing - one person's method/take on how to increase business, or how to improve your skills. In writing, naturally. I have no interest in learning how to be a better sewer inspector.

Before I talk about where I think this trend is going, I should differentiate something. When I say 'teleseminar,' I mean the phone calls you sign up online for, dial in to listen, and/or download the recorded call afterward.

I DON'T mean podcasts. Podcasts are simply recorded MP3s about whatever topic the recorder chooses. No calls. Oftentimes, no signups. I think podcasts are intended to be an open, portable platform for sharing ideas and opinions. Teleseminars are intended to be a closed, singular event that instructs/sells.

And there's the big problem. Teleseminars are intended to sell. Let's not fool ourselves here. There's absolutely nothing wrong with educating a potential customer (I'm all in favor of more education!). However, teleseminars have two factors in their makeup working against them because of this.

1. A teleseminar has information wrapped in product promotion. That's a time-honored formula that works - IF there's a ratio observed. Personally, I prefer a 75/25 ratio information/promotion. 60/40 if necessary. However, many teleseminars are reversing that ratio. People are so excited about the ease and convenience of this new medium that they're ignoring some basic psychology.

Which leads right into the second problem:

2. Everyone's rushing to do teleseminars. Much like the blogging craze, ease and low cost are flooding the use of a new marketing medium. Unfortunately, this is a medium that CAN be exhausted. You can read multiple blogs at a time if you want (though I don't recommend it). Nobody has the time to listen to six teleseminars in one day - let alone the fact that it's impossible to do more than one at once.

Teleseminars are starting to garner the perception of being audio sales letters you have to seek out. That's a little like paying the movie theater to see ads. (Does ANYone pay attention to that junk?)

So what am I getting at here? Well, I'm going to do something new today. I'm going to make some predictions. Keep in mind, I'm "only" a professional writer and Web marketing specialist. I lack inflated-value "official" credentials. Take my predictions with your own grain of salt.

Prediction 1 - People Will Burn Out
Critical mass will be reached sometime in the next year. Attendance for teleseminars will slide, then plunge. People will find better ways of getting education - books, blogs, forums, live seminars, etc. The options are in their favor.

Prediction 2 - Teleseminars Will Shrink In Popularity
As a result, professionals will reduce their focus on teleseminars. The information/promotion ratio will flip back to the successful level, making the teleseminars that remain helpful and popular. Their producers will gain followings, much like some blogs have today.

Prediction 3 - Webinars & Podcasts Will Pick Up the Slack
Recognizing that portability is best for some information (like self-improvement series) and interactivity is better for others (like new technology presentations), podcasts and webinars will see a rise. Though it doesn't help teleseminars, the explosion in online video benefits both these mediums.

There you have it. Let's wait and see if any of these prove prophetic. In the meantime, grab a podcast or two and enrich your mind:



At 9:23 AM , Anonymous Brian Clark said...

I agree with you somewhat, but what you're experiencing is what always happens in the "internet marketing," "make more money" arena. In other areas, whether it be health and wellness, law, real estate, kitten grooming, video gaming, (whatever), there's still huge potential for teleseminars. And you're right, 75%/25% is the right mix between pure inforamtion and promotion.

At 9:24 AM , Anonymous Brian Clark said...

Oh yeah, and webinars, screencasting, and podcasting (if done correctly) are coming on strong.

At 12:15 PM , Blogger Blue Ferret said...

Brian! Great to have you here.

I'll admit - this is an area where I'd like not to be 100% right. I'd hate to see an entire medium burn people out (like you've mentioned, there are other areas where that's happened.)

I definitely agree about webinars and podcasts, too. I don't even own an iPod, but I've got podcasts aplenty. You can't beat the portability.

Stop by anytime!


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