Why to be less promotional when you do a webinar, write a blog post or speak at a conference

Estimated read time: 5 minutes

It’s a real problem out there in the content (and) marketing world. People are speaking at conferences, they’re doing webinars and they’re writing more and more content than ever. Let’s not forget about podcasts either.

There is a lot of good content out there and you can easily learn new things by simply searching for that topic on Apple Podcasts or YouTube. That is how you draw attention at the top of the funnel for your brand: You share content that your audience is searching for and needs. And would want to consume while learning something.

I’m the first to admit that it is hard not to promote yourself or your company when you’re talking to your target audience. That especially hit me over the head when I was doing two talks to Minneapolis in 2019. 

After all your target audience are your prospects and that’s how your company makes money by converting them into customers. What if you convert them into customers quicker if you’re not so pushy and more helpful?

Common current and overly promotional state

Some of the content that is being shared currently is overly promotional. What I mean by that is presenters and bloggers and podcast hosts and guests use an over abundance of phrases like these:

    as our product …
    when we work with clients ….
    with our product …

Some of those mentions at a reasonable volume are OK and tell a story but it’s easy to overdo the underlining how everything ties back to the company’s products or services.

Mentioning your product certainly works when people are ready to buy. The thing is though that most people listening to podcasts, webinars or conference talks are not there to buy anything. They’re there to learn something or at least be entertained.

That doesn’t mean participating in those forums is worthless for brands – it’s not – but it means that you have to produce content for the awareness stage and not the consideration stage. 

How to be less promotional and more educational

Be aware that you’re too promotional right now. When I was speaking in Minneapolis I felt like I was getting too promotional and corrected myself.

Another strategy that I use is the following:

Determine audience problem and interest

Every time I talk at a conference or do a webinar I’m trying to answer a question that the audience has and is a topic they’re interested in. Sometimes that’s harder to do than it sounds because audiences are made up of members not all of the same background and jobs. So I try to narrow my message toward my prospect personas or the majority of the audience.

It’s no different with podcasts. Produce content towards your personas. Especially in the podcast medium it’s harder than ever to know who is actually listening. People don’t have to leave their emails or even sign in to listen to a show. So the more focused your content is towards the awareness stage of your prospect persona the more likely you are to have the right listeners.

When people ask me who’s listening to my shows I always say “marketers because who else would care about that type of content?”

When I gave a keynote at a conference in Berlin that was attended by sports and soccer executives I knew they wanted to learn about how to manage their brands in an increasingly digital world.

After my talk was over I also filed a related blog post on the ScribbleLive website.

I used screenshots of Scribble products but I didn’t constantly talk about the company and what the company does. I shared a strategy with you that you just happen to be able to implement with the company’s products and services.

Be entertaining and educational

Then share your content in an entertaining and educational way. The presenter in front of me actually had the room do the wave. It was quite the icebreaker and very relevant and fun since it was a sports conference. Think about something like that that gets people engaged and open to learn.

Sometimes it helps to not be the only person presenting information. In this Search Engine Journal webinar that had over 1,000 attendees and over 1,100 views on YouTube after the broadcast I batted the informational content back-and-forth with my counterpart Christopher Hart.

Related: Why it’s wise to put your webinars on YouTube

Another way to be entertaining is to pick on problems that most of us marketers face and play them back in a bit of a stand up and joking kind away. That’s one way why Tom Fishburne’s marketing cartoon book and content is so popular. He pokes fun at the truth.

One recurring story that I tell is about approval hell and most marketers can relate to going through that. Even if they wouldn’t use that terminology in front of their boss.

Then be available and have follow up

If your company has a booth at the conference make sure people can answer the questions that you just discussed during the talk even when you’re not there.

Use email and phone calls – as applicable – to follow up with people that have voiced interest. I always like to encourage people to sign up for my email list while at the conference.

People that listen to me on a webinar usually have to give their email and make sure you give them the option to easily get added into your email list when they sign up. with permission.

Then instead of sending them offers that are too early for their case send them informational content that slowly pushes them down the funnel so you are top of mind when they actually need to buy your services. I would recommend this strategy.


It comes down to doing what’s best for your audience and sometimes it’s best to let them know what the right product is to purchase and sometimes it’s best to be highly educational about problems you solve and how you solve them without pushing products.

Sharing educational content that drives business results long-term is such a fantastic strategy for everyone involved when it’s done well. On the other hand being overly promotional also can tune people out from our brand completely because all they remember is how we just wasted their time.