One Small Thing Can Ruin The Whole Show

Imagine you have a successful brand followed by hundreds of thousands of people. You’re not just doing well: you’re a runaway success. And you decide, for your next product launch, it’s all going to hinge around a live stream event.

Your email marketing is very effective. Nobody writes better copy. A week out, you announce the live stream. Every day between then and showtime, you’re building to it. You’re stirring up your followers.

You’ve created a great landing page. It’s fully cross-browser, cross-device compatible. From a presentation standpoint, you’ve nailed it.

The day arrives. Thousands show up; your marketing worked. The chat room is live and people are talking. The minutes tick by to curtains up, and people are still flooding in.

You flip the switch: you’re live. And the broadcast is flawless out of the gate.

You’ve done it. There were a lot of moving parts to this production, but you did it. Home run.

Then you make your first cut from webcam to PowerPoint—

And your audio devolves into a feedback loop. Grating, painful noise.

You get a modicum of forgiveness in this business.

Back to the webcam—all is well again. Maybe it was just a glitch. A snafu. Back to the PowerPoint—


And that’s when your audience starts dropping out en masse. You get a modicum of forgiveness in this business before people take their attention spans elsewhere.

You blew it. You snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

This is a true story of a live stream that I attended earlier this year. I’m not sure what happened, but I can speculate: his PowerPoint source probably included the system audio, which was playing his own voice, feeding right back into the system. He could have avoided this by either setting his PowerPoint source to video-only or, better still, muting his software’s audio preview.

He probably didn’t notice the problem, not because he didn’t fully test his setup (this is a smart, thorough guy) but because he probably wasn’t speaking when he was testing his PowerPoint. Isn’t it tragic? If he had just coughed, or cleared his throat, he would have noticed the configuration problem.

He made so many right decisions—did so much good work—had so much attention to detail—but one small thing ruined it all. It’s the one thing you overlook that ends up stabbing you in the back.

I contacted him after the broadcast to offer my services. He didn’t reply. He also hasn’t live streamed since.

From despair.com

Here’s another story from a few months ago.

We had a new faculty member at my day job, teaching for the first time this year. We planned to introduce him to our audience with a live event using BlueJeans onSocial (Side note: Seriously, check out this very cool product. I look forward to using it again.) This was a new type of promotion for our company, whereas this guy and his crew had done many of them. They were self-described pros.

We let them run the show. Our interviewer would “call in”, and our social media person would support the chat room, but otherwise it was all theirs. They created the whole marketing funnel, landing page, everything. This guy has a decent following, so a lot of people signed up.

When the big day came, we pulled off a successful broadcast. There was only one problem.

No one was there.

His crew—these so-called professionals—forgot one thing: their registration email didn’t include a link to the event page. All of those registrants had nowhere to go. Of course, it still ended up on Facebook, but it wasn’t promoted there.

We shared it after the fact. It was seen. But the damage was already done. The people who were most excited about this live stream event registered for it, and we failed to deliver to them. We poisoned that well. How could we sell them on an expensive in-person class when we couldn’t even deliver a short, free online teaching?

His class was cancelled a month ago. Low enrollment.

You have to know what can go wrong.

Live stream video can help your brand… if you do it right. If you blow it, it’s often damaging. You lose the trust of your audience.

In these two cases, it’s not that they didn’t have the means, the skill, or the experience. They had all of these things. It’s that they didn’t keep in mind everything that could have possibly gone wrong. I wrote it in my welcome post and I’m going to write it again here:

It’s not enough to know what to do: you have to know what can go wrong.

In the first story, he didn’t consider possible audio problems. In the second story, he took for granted that the most basic detail—including an event link in your registration email—was actually done.

This is a business for obsessively detail-oriented people. Those who are in the least bit careless need not try.

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