Back in the early 2000s, I wanted to deliver webinars. I was teaching marketing management and web design part-time at a local college. They used Citrix, and I fell in love with the idea of being able to share my desktop with students so they can learn remotely.
Citrix was only available to institutions or enterprise-level companies at the time, so I shopped around. The only service available was Webex.
The cost? $12,000. Yikes! And this was around 2003.
With great reluctance, I decided to get it. The goal was to deliver live critiques on my clients' copywriting and marketing.
But I figured, I no longer had to fly out to see clients or write detailed critiques that took twice as much time to type out as they were to do them. Since my critiques were priced at around $500 to $3,000, I figured it wouldn't take long to make the money back.
The challenge was recording the critiques so that my clients would be able to refer back to the recordings, or hand them over to their staff to implement. To this end, I had to buy and use a very primitive version of a screen-capturing software to record while I was streaming.
The result was two memory-hogging apps layered on top of each other. As you can imagine, my computer was firing on all cylinders, my connection was agonizingly slow, and the computer had a few conniption fits. I even lost hours of recordings sometimes, forcing me to redo them from scratch.
When a little tool called GoToMeeting came around in 2004, it changed everything. Coming from Citrix too, the company teachers used in school, I knew this was solid and going to be a gamechanger. The fact that they had a recording feature made it a no-brainer, too.
So I dumped Webex.
Later, GoToMeeting introduced GoToWebinar, and the webinar industry took off. I eventually decided to create a paid membership site, where members viewed my recorded critiques for inspiration, ideas, and learning. It was as if they were “watching over my shoulder” as I worked.
Today, with Zoom pushed to the forefront because of the pandemic lockdown, and online conferencing becoming the norm, I realized just how far we've gone.
I even saw my stepdaughter taking online classes from her University with meeting rooms as large as 500+ students at a time, with little to no lags or issues — other than clueless students who failed to mute themselves and accidentally blurted out embarrassing nonsense.
Recently, I see marketers delivering webinars to 2,000+ people. Some of my clients are conducting livestreams, recording them on the fly, and posting them literally moments later — no hours upon hours of processing required.
If you are primarily a face-to-face business or professional, you have an opportunity to use the now widely adopted technologies at your disposal.
Consultants like myself have been doing this for a while. But now I see lawyers conducting online legal consultations and even providing remote document notarizations, such as with wills and estate planning. I see doctors providing medical consultations, too, without seeing patients in person.
But you don't have to use these tools to provide your core services. Some industries are still behind the times, sadly. Yours may be one of them.
If you've been affected by the recent turn of events, pivoting is not as difficult when the entire world is forcibly turned on and tuned in to this excitingly popular way to connect.
You can create productized services packaged in the form of online courses. You can find ways to deliver a new service using online video format. You can even record yourself delivering services and sell the recordings through a paid membership site.
Even restaurants are creating live online cooking classes to keep their restaurant names fresh in people's minds, staying in contact with their regulars, and perhaps monetizing as restaurants remained closed.
In short, you can:
- Convert your offline business to an online business format or model.
- Diversify by adding new online products or services to your business.
- Monetize the current but limited delivery channels of products/services.
- Maintain and amplify your business' visibility and brand awareness.
- Deliver live events and use them to sell other products and services.
The Internet is filled right now with fantastic examples of how to use online video conferencing to add or adapt your business.
Often, the idea may not come immediately. You might need inspiration. And if you're new to this, test the waters by doing something small to a limited number of people. This is called creating a “minimum viable product” or MVP.
You might need to test 2, 5, or 10 of them before you find a winner. Sometimes, you simply need to ask your audience to find out what they would like. Perhaps over a live stream? 😉