Must everything be about money?

Yesterday was a busy day for webinars. These online events can be an excellent way for firms to offer information to current and prospective clients or customers. Yet, the scope of these “training” sessions has changed drastically in recent years.

In the past, companies put on webinars to train people, build relationships, convey information, demonstrate products and answer questions. A 30-minute webinar would typically include 28 minutes of valuable information with a one or two minute plug for additional resources offered by the firm.

Today, webinars often exceed one hour and include 15 minutes of a 30,000-foot overview of some program, product or feature, and the rest of the time is spent promoting more products and services.

Nozbe was the first webinar I joined. The company provides a time management application that is highly recommended by Michael Hyatt. The training was pitched as a way to make 2018 the best year ever by showing how Nozbe could improve efficiency.

CEO Michael Sliwinski was slated to do the training. I’ve joined several of his online training sessions and I am convinced he doesn’t step in front of a camera until he’s had 10 cups of coffee, four shots of espresso and six 20-ounce Mountain Dews.

Sliwinski speaks 1,000 words a minute as he describes a tool he designed and is intimately familiar with. So, he often assumes his audience is following him as he clicks here and there to demonstrate Nozbe’s powerful features.

I tried to follow along as best I could and take notes of what I saw on the screen as he navigated the app. But, when I tried to implement the process on my own, I was confused – and I grew up on technology. So, I sent an email to the company asking if the session would be replayed.

I got a reply this morning that replays are only available to people who accepted the promotion offered during the webinar. The offer? You must upgrade your Nozbe account and pay for a full year in advance.  But, I’m only a sole proprietor with no need to have a plan for eight or more people. I’d still need to “renew” my plan for a year beyond what I already paid.

In other words, in order to learn how to use Nozbe, you need to keep extending your plan. If the company offers one webinar a month, at the end of the year, you might know how to use the system — which is a stetch — and that’s good because you will have had to extend the plan for 12 years.

Bait and switch

Next up was a webinar offering to teach me how to develop a $100,000 coaching business offered by a firm at which I have spent nearly $8,000 in the past two years.  I’m developing a coaching business and it would be neat to hear how someone else did it.  Yes, an hour wasn’t a big investment in time, but it might entice me to tap into the consultant’s additional resources IF the training proved valuable.

The free content of the webinar explored why people need to become coaches, the market for coaches, and why I should become a coach. I already knew that, and it took about 20 minutes. The rest of the hour was spent pitching the firm’s three coaching programs.

So, in order to learn how to build a $100,000 coaching business during the webinar of the same name, I would have had to spend between $400 and $1,200 for the details. I still don’t know what the content of the paid courses would teach me or if it would be of value..

The practice is rampant

In the past, media companies used to publish an article written by an industry expert in order to have access to exclusive content. Today, they want to charge the experts a fee to publish that content.

I guess readers will no longer enjoy exclusive content. I wonder how long they’ll continue to subscribe if the publication is all about advertisements, advertorials and paid endorsements.

A guru who prepares a popular daily motivational video offered to provide additional training. I respected him and his teaching method. But, if I wanted to support his company and enjoy a higher-level experience, I would need to pay upwards of $5,000 to join his group. There is no middle ground.

In fact, $5,000 appears to be the magic number for online consultants. One very successful podcaster now offers a business mastermind group he offers to a “select group” at a cost of only $5,000 per person – per month!

What happened to value?

In 2009, I started an online publication on a shoestring. Two industry executives shared their client lists with me — at no cost and with no expectation — to help me populate a subscriber base. I ran press releases free of charge for everyone. Anytime an expert wanted to publish a story, blog or opinion piece, I let them do so at no cost. New businesses were given free extra exposure on the website and newsletter. I knew that if they became successful, then someday they would pay me back by advertising their services.

I wasn’t obsessed with making money hand over fist. I wanted to offer value to my readers in terms of exclusive content they couldn’t get anywhere else. I offered value to advertisers by working to increase the number of eyeballs viewing their offers and by giving them free ads when I had unsold space. I rationalized that it would be better to reward those who made me successful rather than make a few extra dollars letting Google pay me pennies to place ads on my site.

Before the digital marketing era, business used to be all about building relationships and seeking long-term success. Today, it’s a churn-and-burn gerbil wheel of activity with absolutely no loyalty.

The Facebook Syndrome

Before Facebook became a $500 billion company, it was content to be a $500 million company. It encouraged businesses to develop groups on its platform and create posts of interest to their customers – content that would appear on the newsfeeds of the firm’s fans when they logged into the site.

Facebook must have forgotten about who helped create unique content that helped them grow their user base to 3 billion people. Today, businesses are still encouraged to create groups on the social media platform. But, if they post something to their pages, Facebook expects the firms to pay to “promote” the post to the audience it developed FOR Facebook.

A business might have 10,000 fans, but Facebook will only allow 100 people to see the post. To let everyone else see it would cost hundreds of dollars.

Perhaps that’s why the Bible says that the love of money is root of all evil. People act in despicable ways to get more…more…more. Companies do too.  It is no longer enough to generate decent revenue by delivering valuable products or services with employees who make enough to support their families and still have time off to enjoy life.

No, business today is all about “showing me the money,” even if the staff has to work at breakneck speeds every day until they are called into the office and terminated because the firm’s “investment partners” expected the company to produce a 12 percent return and it only dropped 10 percent to the bottom line.

A good friend of mine ends every conversation he has with me with a question: “What can I do to help Greg Gerber today?” He doesn’t expect anything in return. He doesn’t expect me to pay him first. He simply wants to serve others knowing that more he gives, the more he receives – not just financially, but in love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness and the assurance that servant leaders tend to be the most successful people in the long term.



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