The first time I ever attended a webinar, I was amazed. I had never witnessed such excitement at the end of a presentation before. Coming from academia, our lectures or presentations always ended with little fanfare. This online webinar blew my mind.

There was ‘this’ bonus and ‘that’ bonus. But you had to act quickly because these bonuses were going to disappear 15 minutes after the webinar ended. I felt like I was watching a live version of late-night TV infomercials – BUT WAIT! If you act now, you can also have THIS bonus! Whew! It made my head spin.


I can’t remember if I purchased from that first webinar or not. But I was fascinated by the spectacle of the push for sales at the end. It was around 6 months into my digital marketing journey when I came across the BEST webinar I had attended to date.

It was being promoted by a well-known black hat SEO guru. (Yes, I even ended up in that world for a, thankfully, very brief stint.) The presenter was all hype. I was so taken in by the excitement he generated that I ended up running to my wallet to whip my credit card out as I didn’t want to miss out on this opportunity. I wanted the course he was selling.

Two thousand dollars later, I was officially in his community and course. I was thrilled for the first few weeks as I consumed content and quickly had little “wins” that built my confidence. But there was something else stirring in me that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. All I knew was that I had a feeling of discomfort in his group the more I consumed the content and participated in his community. Something wasn’t quite right.


It was when I came across 2 modules in his course did the pieces finally come together.

I realized that this guy had no idea what he was talking about. The first module that started bringing this clarity, was on webinars. He showed, step-by-step, how to create a webinar that will sell. It was only when I was creating my own did I see that he actually provided no useful content in his webinars. It was all simply hype and smoke and mirrors. There was NO substance to them at all.

And then came the talk of bonuses.

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Ah ha! This was what brought my discomfort into sharp focus – the bonuses were used to force the sale. Yes. Force the sale. That’s why there was so much hype at the end of the webinar. Emotions often overrule logic.

That’s why, at the end of a webinar, if you have just enough amount of fear of missing out + excitement about the offer, it can = making a sale that, perhaps, otherwise wouldn’t occur.

You might be thinking all sorts of things right now about webinars you’ve given or attended. Your mind might be buzzing right now.

Good.

Let’s look at this further.

Why bonuses are destructive

Firstly, when I write that bonuses are destructive, let me explain what I mean by that. Stay with me here cause I’m going to veer just slightly to build the foundation of my statement.

A while back, I had an experience that was so impactful it changed how my business operates. It made me question so many things about my business – especially fundamental things like what was the most important aspect of my business – Sales? Relationships with customers and clients? Being respected in my niche? Being of service to those I could help?

This experience had shaken me to my core.

But it brought into sharp focus the foundation for my business —

RESPECT

Once I had come to see that respect was the entire foundation of my business, I no longer wanted nor needed to use bonuses in my webinars or offers. I saw that by using them, I was destroying the trust and respect my potential customers and clients had in me.

Bonuses that are used at the end of webinars or to help sell an offer are employed to take people who are on the fence and push them over to the side of the seller.

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My pivotal experience demonstrated that. I was not sure I wanted to buy the course until the bonus of being able to have weekly, live calls with the guru selling the course was offered. Up until that point, I was on the fence and having some serious doubts about the offer. That bonus tipped me over to the seller’s side. And I make the purchase.

It was only after discovering that the bonus wasn’t actually being offered as presented, did I start to question my feelings. I was feeling angry, disappointed, frustrated and disrespected. It was through processing these emotions I discovered that bonuses are used to the seller’s benefit; they do not take into consideration the buyer’s position. Bonuses are simply used to push a potential customer into a sale they might not otherwise have taken. They force the sale.

Now, think about a close to a webinar or offer that’s based on respect of the potential buyer’s position. Instead of trying to push them into a sale via stacking bonuses one after the other, a few options can be presented so the buyer can decide when they are ready to buy.

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All information about the product would be presented in the webinar or offer, so the potential buyer can make an informed decision as to whether they really want to the product, without the pressure of a clock forcing them to decide quickly or bonuses that might disappear forever if they don’t act immediately.

This model sets the potential buyer as the prominent figure in the sale, rather than the seller.

For certain, this model is not typically used in the digital marketing space. The formula of using urgency, scarcity and other tactics to make a sale has been the prevailing model. But it doesn’t have to be.

I decided after my experience with that guru and his course that I would not use manipulative tactics like bonuses or false urgency or false scarcity to make sales. Instead, I prefer to RESPECT the position of the potential buyer and let them decide when they should buy. This allows our relationship to start out from a positive position – one based on respect and trust.

Using manipulative tactics, like bonuses to force a sale, are destructive to that new relationship. For many people, it introduces doubt, disrespect and distrust into this relationship. And they may not even be aware of it. But it shows in their refunds or their unsubscribing from email lists shortly after the sale or in the lack of consumption of the product or service they just purchased.

This is the choice I’ve decided to make for my business. Respect for the position of my potential buyers is more important to me than making the greatest number of sales possible. And not using bonuses in my webinars and offers is how I show that respect.

I’d love to know what you think.

Will you change how you’re selling now that you know there’s an alternative method?

Let me know in the comments below.