How Webinars Have Shifted our Perception of Value

A fee? Pay? You must be joking. Well, there you go, just one small effect of the old normal clashing with the new normal. While the world is in the grips of catastrophe and we hold our breath, we see the best of people, and the worst. Whether it’s home 3-d printing of face masks (the best) or lunatic vandalism of 5G masts as supposed virus-spreaders (the worst), it’s all coming out.

In the marketing world of course, it’s MacMillan’s phrase: events, dear boy, events. No more of them. Help! – how can I inveigle prospects into listening to our elevator pitches? I had to cancel a six-figure event we had planned. Luckily got the deposits refunded or deferred. So what do we get instead? An explosion of webinars.


And now I’ve just received an invitation to a webinar…but I have to pay for it! Shocking!

It’s odd how we perceive value. You can look in all the marketing text books for definitions, but the truth is, it’s odd and it’s not rational. Value = what somebody is prepared to pay for it. That’s 101. The issue is, what somebody is prepared to pay for it is not rational. Bank current accounts in the UK, for example. People will not pay for them (though they may have to one day). It’s called “custom and practice”.

Over 20 years ago there was a similar big fuss about being charged for ATM usage in the UK. You were charged if you used a bank’s ATM that was not your own bank. Not by the other bank – but by your own bank!  Barclays pulled the plug on this nonsense and announced they would no longer charge their own customers for using other banks’ ATMs (of course, as a prelude to, quite reasonably, charging non-customers for using Barclays’ own, paid-for infrastructure). The furore! Outrage, legal threats and all sorts, and eventually they backed down and all charges were removed.

Perception of value.

Well, anyway, I have to say while I am more than happy to understand I might have to pay anything up to $5,000 for a 3-4 day specialist conference (not that I like paying, mind), I baulked at someone suggesting I might pay even a couple of hundred dollars for a webinar.

What will happen? Will we accept webinars now as priced events? Will we accept them but at a different price point (the costs, after all, are much lower)? And when we finally start social nearnessing, will we go back to the same rate for conferences as before, or will the new normal price point kick in? After all, I have always believed that in the marketing event game the main winners were not the participants (buyers), the marketers (sellers), not even the event organisers, but the bulk of the money spent went on caterers, hotels, taxis and airlines. Well, they are all having a torrid time of it now – but what will be the lasting impact?

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