How to Use Webinars to Nurture Your Business Community

webinar tipsIf you’re a vegan entrepreneur with a passion, you probably have ideas, products, services or expertise that you want to share with the world. But like many fellow vegan business owners, sometimes you may struggle with the balance between helping others and keeping your business afloat. It feels good to give, to provide assistance when it is needed. However, you must also earn a living, so how can you do both?

If this type of dilemma has been on your mind, it might be time for you to look into the process of nurturing your community. The nurturing process starts with offering people free advice, information or tools that can help them. However, key to the process (and your business connection) is information about a service or product that can follow up your free offering. By taking potential clients or customers through this process, you are providing them with something of value for free, but ensuring that  if they want additional help, or are ready for the next step, they know you have a product or service that will be useful to them. I like this approach because it allows you to give before you ask anyone to buy. It also allows you to showcase your experience and creates a natural progression to selling your product or service. For example, if you are providing people with weekly recipes, then you might include a link in every email where people can sign up for your paid meal planning program.

The nurturing process can be facilitated in many ways, via blog posts, videos or email services, for example. But far and away one of my favorite tools for nurturing is webinars.

Full disclosure…I’m a webinar fanatic! Every month since 2010 we have hosted a webinar at Vegan Mainstream. The reason I started doing webinars was to give me a way to connect directly with others who shared my passion for veganism and business startup. It wasn’t so easy back in 2010 to find fellow vegan professionals. I was attending vegfests, but at that point there wasn’t much interest in having someone talk about business. It was hard to compete with the food!

So I thought about developing my own direct channel, my own way to speak to the people who were interested. I quickly learned that I didn’t have to travel. I could connect with people all over the world from my home office, and it wasn’t long before I began to establish myself as an expert in my field. I was able not only to get people to show up for a webinar, but most of the people who attended wanted more…and this is where the business connection came in.

I started to use my webinars to not only help others, but also as a tool to educate prospects. If someone wasn’t ready to work with me one-on-one, I would recommend they join a free webinar. This helped people to relax because it gave them a way to get to know me and my services without feeling like they had to commit TODAY. I gave potential customers a way to still engage even if they weren’t quite ready to commit. And honestly, some people never buy, and that’s fine. The goal of the webinar is to help, and then to convert. If I help 50% of the people on the call and a few people buy, then it’s been a worthwhile exercise.

Webinars can be used not only to help others, but also to educate prospects. Click To Tweet

That’s what I love about webinars — it doesn’t have to be all about the sale, if you do it right. You aren’t just pushing a product or service — instead the medium is designed to allow you to help people, to connect with people, and, if you ultimately decide to go that way, to drive revenue. Plus, you can use webinars strictly as a lead-generation tool if your sale process isn’t done online.

So, how do you get started?

First, ask your audience on social media or in your email list what topics they would like to discuss. What’s a burning challenge or obstacle they face? Then develop a webinar that teaches them how to solve it. During the last 10-to-15 minutes of your webinar, you can promote a related product or service. Remember, you must provide value first. Don’t hold back your best stuff…anything offered for free in your webinar needs to be great value. If the free isn’t great value, it’s going to be hard to convince people that the paid product is worth investing in.

An example of how to approach webinar content: if your online course deals with five topics, then teach the first item in your webinar. If it takes 10 hours to learn something, then why not offer up the first hour in your webinar? If people are able to feel, touch and see what they might learn from working with you, they will likely be more willing to move forward and invest.

Know that this concept isn’t limit to service-based businesses. If you sell vegan skin care products, think about hosting a webinar teaching people how to identify the best product for their skin type. If you sell vegan clothes, how about a webinar focusing on how to buy clothes that fit your body type. If you sell vegan protein bars, host a webinar to help people determine the best products to pack and use on race days. The possibilities are endless.

As you navigate your way to balancing the desire to help others while keeping your business soaring, leverage the power of the mighty webinar! This is one tool that can help your non-buyers become buyers and fulfill your desire to help the world. Win, win!

This article first appeared in the June 2017 issue of Vegan Lifestyle Magazine. You can download full issues of the magazine here:

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About the Author:

Stephanie Redcross is the founder and managing director of Vegan Mainstream – a Florida based marketing company that strives to bring mindful companies and services into the mainstream. Having observed her parents’ entrepreneurial spirits and experiences in business ownership, Stephanie learned early on that passion and hard work are the cornerstones to success. Passionate herself about living and advocating a vegan lifestyle for health, environmental, and ethical reasons, Stephanie has made it her life mission to help likeminded entrepreneurs and small to mid-sized companies reach and exceed their goals.

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