Should I offer a free teleclass to get clients?

Q & A by C.J. HaydenYou’ve probably seen many people offering free teleclasses or webinars to land clients for their products and services, and it may seem to you like this is an easy, affordable approach. But it’s not for everyone. Whether or not this is a good idea depends quite a bit on how you plan to attract people to attend.

If you have a substantial pre-existing email list, or a large roster of Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn connections, and the majority of those people are likely candidates for your offer, then you have a ready-made audience for a free teleclass or webinar, and will be able to fill your program without too much difficulty.

But if you do not already have a large list like this, you will have to do quite a bit of work to attract an audience for your program. If you’re not prepared to do this sort of intensive promotion for several weeks leading up to your event, you may find yourself giving a program for only a handful of people, which can be quite disappointing, and also not as conducive to encouraging people to do business with you.

What you may wish to do instead of hosting your own program is to look for other groups who might have you as a guest speaker on their own regular virtual gathering for members, students, customers, etc. That way, the sponsoring group will advertise it to their list, and all you have to do is show up and present a good program.

There are more and more groups all the time that meet via teleconference or webinar, so this can be a great way to offer a virtual program without having to recruit the audience yourself.

The one drawback to this approach is that you will not automatically have a roster of everyone who attends your program in order to follow up with them afterward, but there are a couple of ways to handle this. The easiest way to find out who is attending is to ask the sponsoring group to share the registration list with you. You may be surprised how many groups are willing to do this.

If the group doesn’t wish to share the program registration list, then be prepared to make an enticing special offer to those who attend. If you offer a free bonus of some kind — an ebook, audio or video download, or resource guide — then you will be able to capture the contact information of the people who sign up for your bonus.

Just because your program is free doesn’t mean it will be easy for you to attract an audience for it on your own, if you don’t already have a large following. People’s time is as valuable to them as their money, and they are often reluctant to attend a program when they don’t already know the presenter.

This is one more reason why finding sponsors for your program can be valuable. When your program is sponsored by a group the audience is affiliated with, it acts as a third-party endorsement. Group members will not only be more likely to attend your program, but also more likely to buy from you afterward, because you will have more of their trust.

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