How to Create, Host, and Profit from Teleclasses

Teleseminars have been one of the most effective ways for growing my business coaching practice, practicing public speaking, and educating my customer base. I now have a system that puts the promotion in the hands of my audience and maximizes the return on the time invested.

Want to know how I do it? I thought you might.

First, what is a teleseminar?

A teleseminar, training call, or any other name you might here them called in the world of marketing on the interwebs, is simply a phone call that you invite your audience or customers to. It could be an interview, a lecture, or just a Q&A jam session.

It’s an opportunity to put your mojo on display, show off your personality (and your smarts), and get realtime feedback from your guests. It’s also an opportunity to gab with another brilliant entrepreneur/expert/author/general smartypants.

What kind of business is a teleclass appropriate for?

Any learning-based or -related business can benefit from a teleclass. Life coaches, wellness coaches, yoga teachers, creativity advocates, school teachers, designers, tutors, artists, accountants, writers, etc…

If you have an opinion or perspective on something related to your business & how you serve your customers, you should try a teleclass. If you’ve ever thought, “If only I had a microphone & a stage, I’d talk about this,” you should try a teleclass. If your customers ask you the sames questions regularly about what you do, how you do it, or how they could use your product better, you should try a teleclass.

Choose a topic.

You can host a teleseminar on any topic. Generally, mine fall into 3 categories:

  • Material I want to explore further in the pre-product phase.
  • Information that’s valuable on its own but makes a great introduction to a paid offering (my own or someone else’s).
  • List builders, including big name interviews & free products.

If your goal is to explore information in the pre-product phase, your first priority to gauge your audience’s interest in what you want to teach. If you get a great turn out with lots of questions, you’ve got your answer. Similarly, if there’s just a feeling of excitement or anticipation around the event, you’ll know you’re on to something.

If your goal is to help launch a paid offering, your first priority should be teaching a very specific lesson from that offering and aiming to deliver results on just that lesson. Don’t worry about giving a whole overview – real results are really more effective.

If you’re aiming to build a list, go for those topics that are going to allow you to make a name for yourself. Try to fill a need no one else is filling. You can also partner with a special guest that has a related audience that you can use to fill seats.

When choosing a topic, keep in mind that there’s only so much information that your listeners can take in an hour’s time. You’re better off narrowing the focus to something that can be comfortably covered in the time you’ve set aside and allow for live Q&A.

A note on live Q&A: If you’re not willing to answer questions on the phone, don’t have an event. Pre-record the resource and offer it on its own. When you offer Q&A, you’re rewarding people who are willing to show up live.

Decide on a conference line provider.

Do not, I repeat, do not use a free conference call line. This immediately reduces your credibility & authority as a business owner. On top of that, these services simply do not off the functionality you need to pull off a truly remarkable event.

Instant TeleseminarThe service I am currently using for my conference call line is InstantTeleseminar.com. They offer a 21-day $1 trial so that you can give it a whirl. I like this system because it’s professional, easy to embed on my own web pages, and has the capability for guests to “raise their hands” so that I can keep the line clear. It also automatically records every call which means I don’t need to panic if I forget to hit the record button.

Maestro ConferenceAnother popular option is Maestro Conference. Maestro offers some additional functionality in terms of small groups, individual call-in pages, and screen sharing. It also costs a little bit more per month. If you do a lot of group coaching or learning, Maestro might be the best option for you. Maestro offers a 30-day free trial.

Both options allow international listeners to call in via Skype.

Create a landing page for your teleclass.

People are short on time & attention. Everywhere they go (online or off) they’re being bombarded by demands on both. It’s important to put effort into a landing page for your teleclass to set what you’re offering apart from the crowd.

Think of your landing page much like you would think of a sales page for a product or service. Tell your audience what they’ll gain by listening in to your call:

  • The answer to a pressing question…
  • The secret to a particular technique…
  • The solution to [more time, more money, more peace, etc]…

If you know your audience and what they’re looking for, this shouldn’t be difficult. Concentrate on the language that they use and the questions they ask. Think about the “what’s in it for me” for your audience because you can bet they know what’s in it for you.

Then add the date & time of your event.

Teleclass Landing Page

Unlike a sales page where longer often converts better, keep your teleclass copy to a minimum. Set the context, state what the call is about, and tell visitors what they’ll learn. And then add your call to action:

To learn more about how to host teleclasses that boost your bottom-line, enter your email address below.

Ideally, your landing page will be separate from the rest of your site. I create a quick header image for each of my calls to give them a little brand pizazz (see this recent call landing page I created). I also use a landing page template for the page to create a thinner, sidebar-free page.

Set up your email list.

Create a separate list or campaign in your email marketing system (we use GetResponse) for your teleclass. You’ll want to create an event-specific sign-up, confirmation email, and autoresponder series.

As you set up the list, be sure to add your color scheme or unique branding bits to create a consistent experience from your website and other mailings. All emails that come from this list should use a variant on [ teleclass topic ] in the subject line. That way people can separate those emails from other mailings from me and others.

In the confirmation email, add the details from your conference line provider: the number to call, the pin number to access the event, and any other ways to listen (via webcast or Skype). Then, when people register for your call, they’ll automatically receive the information they need to listen to the call on the appointed day.

I also include a prompt to share the teleclass on social media. I create a “Click to Tweet” that includes the hook for the call, my twitter handle (and my guest’s if applicable), and a link to the landing page for the call.

Below all that information, I include a mini bio for myself (and my guest if applicable) with a link to my blog and a lead generation product (like my book, The Art of Earning). That way, if participants are new to my brand because of the awesomeness of the teleclass, they can dive in deeper right then & there.

Once I’ve included the conference call information, “Click to Tweet,” and bios in my confirmation email, I copy the same information into a “Thank You” page on my site that is set to mirror the style of the original landing page. Then I set my email list to redirect to that Thank You page after the participant clicks the final confirmation link.

Once you’re all set up, embed your the HTML for the optin form into your landing page.

Send out the invitations!

Promote your teleclass in any & all of the ways you might promote a blog post or product. Utilize social media and your blog. And don’t forget to alert your existing email list.

Why email people to give you their email address again? One of the major benefits of hosting a teleclass is that it gives you a list of very targeted prospects. Instead of just a big list of random email addresses, you have a list of people who you know are interested in more information on a particular topic. This is especially handy if you plan on creating a product or service going every deeper into the topic.

Ask your participants what they need.

Despite the fact that you’ve narrowed your teleclass topic to exactly what you can cover in an hour, there’s probably still some wiggle room! You’ve got a thousand ideas of what to cover and the idea of further narrowing the content is harrowing.

Don’t fear: involve your participants.

A day or two before your teleclass is scheduled, send out an email to those who’ve registered. In that email, ask for the most pressing questions about the topic at hand. You’ll quickly see exactly what you need to focus on.

I’ve found the best way to facilitate this is simply through a Google Form. Create a form with 2 questions. The first question should be from your own understanding of the participants’ needs: What are you most interested in learning? Give 4-5 subtopics or lessons that could be learned from the call and have participants choose one. The second question is open: What questions would you like to have answered on this call?

Here’s an example of this kind of feedback form in action:

I embed this form in a page on my site (hey, a little extra traffic never hurts, right?) and then link to it an email with the subject line [ teleclass topic ] Your input need!. Watch your open rate soar!

Once the feedback comes rolling in, you’ll start to notice trends and your content will practically write itself. You might interject some actual participant questions at different points in the call or leave a few for the end in case people get shy & don’t want to ask live questions.

What you can’t use for the call… SAVE! This is invaluable information that tells you about the questions & frustrations your audience is currently experiencing. You can create follow-up blog content, additional fodder for calls, or a whole product or service out of this information. Take special note of language that is repeated from entry to entry and trends that speak to a larger problem.

Send a reminder.

Somewhere between 3 and 8 hours before your call happens, send out a reminder. This reminder should include your conference call information, any other ways to listen in, and a Twitter hashtag for the call to that participants can connect.

Do the darn call already!

The day has finally arrived, the appointed hour is approaching! Do the call.

Frankly, this is the most straight forward part of whole event. Show up 10-15 minutes ahead of time if you’re meeting a guest. Build some rapport back & forth – get warmed up. If this is a solo show, still show up early (keeping everyone on hold) but blast some feel good music to up your energy.

Then, let ‘er rip!

Spend at least 40-45 minutes in good, quality content. You can do another 10-15 minutes on live questions. If you’re doing any kind of giveaway, make sure to do it at the end of the call so that people have a reason to stick around til the end.

If you’re doing the call as part of the promotion or launch of an offer, do it at the end of the call & keep it brief. You’ll have an opportunity to say more later (see below).

Follow up the next day with the call recording.

Use the list that you created for the event to send out the call recording within 12 hours. Don’t try to promote anything else. Don’t try to link to anything else. Just send the recording.

That’s what people are interested in. So leave them to it.

Create a second follow up email that goes out about 48 hours later.

About 48 hours after the call recording has gone out, send another follow-up. This email can be used to promote the product or service you’re launching, link to a guest’s product or service, or just bring your new fans into the fold by introducing them to your brand through a popular blog post or free resource.

It’s tempting to include this pitch with the recording but your participants will ignore it. And that’s not good for anyone.

Keep this email short & directly related to the call you did. Include a clear call to action and then leave it at that.

You can certainly create a longer autoresponder series if the goal of your teleseminar is to introduce your guest to your brand, invite them to another freebie, or direct them to the paid offers you have.

Got questions?

Why do a teleclass instead of a webinar?

The first answer is personal. I’m a very techy person… but webinars make me anxious. There are too many moving parts. The software remains clunky for the most part. I’m a Virgo and I want things to be perfect. I want to be able to do my work without technology getting in the way (afterall, isn’t that the point of technology?).

The second answer is that the recordings are oh-so-much-more useful. Your participants will download your call recording, load it onto their Mp3 player or phone, and listen on the go. Especially if your audience is women, audio-only recordings are a hit.

Can I make money on a teleclass directly?

Of course! My tool of choice for this would be Wufoo. Wufoo allows you to create truly lovely forms that also link to PayPal and MailChimp (among other things). So you can have a form that automatically takes participants to pay at PayPal and assigns them to a list at MailChimp all in one fell swoop.

And since you’re creating a form, you can ask for questions or other information you probably wouldn’t otherwise through a simple optin form.

However, I believe teleclasses are best as list building tools. They set you up for a bigger payday down the line and give you the space to play with ideas before they’re ready for an audience who’s paid.

How far in advance should you announce the teleclass?

I announce a teleclass about 72 hours in advance. That’s just enough time to swing through the marketing process I outlined above. But it’s not so much time that people forget that they signed up.

You don’t need 2 weeks or a month to gather sign ups. Go with what you can muster in that 3-5 day period. Instead of counting on time to push your registration number higher, seek to demonstrate the value of the class as clearly as possible.

How many people can you expect to show up?

I average 10-15% of total registrations showing up live for the call. That means that if 200 people register, you can expect about 20-25 people to call in. Many, many more people will listen to the call recording.

What are the best days & times for a call?

Of course, any day or time is fair game. But I have the most success in prime time during the middle of the workweek: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays between 8pm-10pm Eastern. If your audience is mostly people who work 9-5 jobs, that’s an especially good time. If most of your audience is self-employed, you might have better results in the middle of the day.

How do you know what to offer for free and what to keep part of a paid program you’re pitching?

Rest assured, you can’t give away too much in a free teleclass. If your secret sauce can be distilled into 45 minutes, it’s not so secret. Generally, free teleclasses don’t include supplemental material (like worksheets) and interaction with you is a gamble.

Give your participants something incredibly juicy and they’ll be ready to buy additional information or access to you. Give them something wishy-washy trying to protect your trade secrets and they’ll ignore your offer.

What if I don’t have people to invite?

If you’re just starting to build your audience or email list, hosting a teleclass can be a great way to build your audience! The key is to partner with people in your industry or with a similar audience. You can do this by inviting them to be a guest (or interviewee). Or you can do this by simply asking them to help spread the word.

You can also offer topics that reflect your particular expertise to colleagues with larger audiences & broader focus. In one of the examples that I showed above, my friend Brigitte Lyons did a teleclass with me & my audience on getting your business ready for publicity. My audience is interested in growing their businesses and I can’t provide specialized PR information the way Brigitte can. So it’s a natural & mutually beneficial fit to bring her in for a teleclass.

Make your topic as compelling & specific as possible and you’ll attract some sign ups. The important thing is to start somewhere. Just because you do a teleclass for one audience doesn’t mean you can’t repeat that teleclass again & again to new audiences.

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