You’re a sucker for a good webinar

A man watching a laptop computer

The invite appears in your inbox. “Join us for a free webinar on <insert tantalizing business trend / skill / software / here>.”

You open. You read. You ponder (maybe). You click.

Days later your attend, and realize the webinar that sounded so alluring and insightful and tantalizing is actually a product pitch wrapped in a tiny bit of business intelligence you may already know. Think of it like a bacon-wrapped scallop, where the scallop is somebody’s cloud software, and the bacon is a very thin slice of useful information. Very thin. Think “prosciutto would call it fat and make fun of it” thin.

So why is there a content marketing cottage industry for webinars? What drives us to click the damn invites again and again and again?

In a word, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). As Nobel Laureate Dr. Daniel Kahneman pointed out in his award-winning bestseller, “Thinking Fast and Slow,” we are more risk-averse than we are opportunistic. That means FOMO; we don’t want to miss out on anything, if at all possible. And who knows? Maybe that webinar will give us the one essential piece of information we’ve been missing this whole time. Maybe it will give us a bite-size piece of game change that will help boost our career. Maybe there’s a nugget of business intelligence inside, which we simply can’t afford to overlook. After all, it’s only half an hour: you wouldn’t want to throw away the chance at a game-changer for half an hour of your life, would you?

Of course, ten minutes into the webinar you’re bored and looking at fark.com or emails, or doing something else, because most webinars are dull as dirt, and who wants to hear a 30-minute product pitch? So you dawdle. Your attention wanders, because the presenter has woeful speaking skills, they’re taking too damn long to cut to the chase, or the content is putting you to sleep, and you end up missing any useful information (if there was any to begin with).

But you’ll be back for another webinar because you don’t want to miss out. Tell me I’m wrong: we love free things and we fear missing out. Oh yes, you’ll be back….

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