I’ve made it clear that I don’t support free telesummits. I even dropped to my knees begging people not to do it when I spoke at Kendall Summerhawk’s closed door event about a year ago.
Well, I went against my own advice and hosted my very first free telesummit. My reason for hosting a free telesummit are many:
- I’m launching a faith-driven brand and wanted to expose my message to more people
- I also wanted to expose the message of the luminaries who contributed content to the series
- I also wanted to test out a new pricing model and I needed the free telesummit model to do it
- Plus, one of my clients hosted a free telesummit (against my advice) and he had really great numbers. To be exact, he pulled in $25,000 in revenue from upgrades, plus an additional six figures after the event was over. So, I thought I’d just copy what we did for him so I could replicate his success for myself.
In essence, I wanted to test the model using my own event.
And I believe I have permission to do testing, even if it means going against what I normally suggest. It’s my own event, it’s on my own dime, so I get a free pass to test this model out.
After analyzing the numbers, it has re-affirmed my stance that free telesummits are simply a bad idea. I’ll never host a free telesummit again.
The Classic Overgive Model
First, let me say that giving away something for free is a wonderful business tactic. You give a sample as a way to inform and educate with no strings attached.
But giving away something for free 2-4 times per day over a week or two is just too much for the prospect to bear. The free telesummit model then puts the host in one of the most frightful positions – the position of overgiving.
When you overgive, you diminish your value and the value of the content you’re giving away. If you have lined up 2-4 speakers over a 1, 2 or 3 week period with a 48-hour replay, most prospects will end up not taking action due to the feeling of overwhelm. This is one of the things I saw on my free telesummit. I was sending out 3 reminders per day about the upcoming lineup. Open rates went from 75% on Day 1 to 9% on the last day of the interview series. Eek!
When the prospect is overwhelmed with so many free gifts in such a short period of time, they do one of two things:
- They feel guilty that you’ve given so much to them that they then make a quick decision to buy the recordings. This quick decision may lead to buyer’s remorse (which isn’t what the host wants)
- Or, the prospect repays you by not taking any action and instead, either leaves your list or ignores the host’s continuing emails
Transaction vs Engagement – Which Do You Choose
The free telesummit model works nicely if you’re looking to build a transactional relationship with your network – one based on money and numbers.
I’ve seen some of my friends attract 10,000 or more opt-ins (not attendees, so let’s get clear about the language) with just a single free telesummit. I’m happy for them as the large numbers prove that free telesummits are wonderful if you’re focused on numbers.
But if you’re looking for engagement, the free telesummit model just won’t work.
In his book, Influence: Science & Practice, Robert Cialdini states:
“There is a strong cultural pressure to reciprocate a gift, even an unwanted one,” (p 33).
You give access to the free sessions as a gift, however, what ends up taking place is that you overgive (which dimishes the value of your offering). On the receiving end, the prospect gets overwhelmed which prompts them to either make a quick buying decision (leading to buyer’s remorse) or indifference which leads them to ignore the free telesummit.
We don’t want guilty or overwhelmed prospects in our funnel, right? So, if the free telesummit model isn’t the way to go, what is? This blog post is becoming excessively long, so I’ll share my telesummit recovery plan in a follow-up blog post.
What has been your experience with the free telesummit model? Do share in the comments area below…
And here’s the deal – if your free telesummit model disproves my theory above, show it, don’t tell it. I know someone is going to write a comment regaling the free telesummit model. Well, show me your numbers. Email me screenshots. Let me into your system so I can see for myself your opt-ins, open rates and funnel that you say is so successful. Let’s dig deep into the numbers.