Sigh. This attitude still exists. I suppose it shouldn't surprise or depress me, but it still does.
Mark Choudhari posted a nice little tip on a LinkedIn group pointing out the type of phrase that gives implicit "permission" for webinar registrants to skip attending the event: "Don't worry if you can't make it, as we'll send you a link to the recording."
Mark received a reply comment from a Chief Marketing Officer:
"I don't care if nobody shows up to my webinar. A registration is a signal that they have a problem and they have self-identified that my topic may be part of their solution when they registered. That makes them a sales lead and I will pursue them whether they attend or not. It's the registrations that matter and not the attendees."
And there you have it. The reason the general public HATES both marketers and sales people. I would wager it's also the reason the sales department gets into an argument with the marketing department at this company every quarter. Marketing points to higher and higher numbers of "leads" being delivered and says that it's sales' fault for not converting them. Sales says they are being asked to waste more and more time on garbage contacts who are not ready to receive a sales call.
The fundamental problem with this approach is that it views the marketing department's job as just a numbers game of collecting contacts. Once a name and an email address is in the Sales Management System, their work is done. It's the sales team's job to introduce the company and their product, to illustrate pain points, define competitive advantages, and stimulate first interest. And they have to do this in ever-growing numbers of cold calls with people who thought they were going to receive something of value, but instead found that they were simply being harvested to be "pursued."
If you don't care whether people show up or not, you tell me you have nothing persuasive to say. You don't care about your own content or how it is presented. There is no reason for the poor schmo tasked with developing and delivering the webinar to put any time or effort into it. Why bother? Management has made it clear that the webinar is a meaningless placeholder used as contact harvesting bait.
I pity the attendees who do choose to attend the webinar. They aren't likely to have a very good experience. In which case, their first impression of the company and its offerings isn't positive. In which case, I feel sorry for the sales person assigned to follow up with them.
You absolutely should care whether people attend your marketing webinar. Your content should help influence their perceptions, build their enthusiasm for your offerings, and prepare them to enter the sales process. The prospect should feel that they have received something of benefit and value to them, which creates willingness to continue considering your offerings and to accept further communications. A well-crafted marketing webinar doesn't just capture marketing contacts… It helps turn people who are casually curious into people who are ready to talk about making a purchase. A webinar registration page doesn't do that.