Webinars an effective way to engage prospects
Webinars are increasingly important to the online marketplace who doesn’t have time to attend a conference, peel away from the office, or wants to learn on their own time. In fact, webinars, webcasts, and teleconferences can also be a long term asset as it’s viewed multiple times, and will continue to generate qualified leads.
Yet most have the wrong mindset, fail to plan, and miss qualified leads
Yet, most webinar producers do it wrong, or they miss key steps in planning, or fail to follow up and ‘pursue’ attendees. A common mistakes? Not engaging with the distracted multi-tasking audience, and recognizing that webinars are now a two-way medium –even if chat features are not enabled in the platform. Those who seek to produce successful webinars should follow these “Ten P’s” and reduce risk and increase chances of success.
How To Successfully Produce A Webinar: Follow the “Ten P’s”
1) Philosophy: Most approach webinars realizing they are different than all other mediums. Despite being primarily one-way they have a social element as attendees will interact with each other in the provided chat features, or on tools like Twitter. Secondly, many webinar producers don’t offer helpful content to the audience, and instead treat it like a sales pitch. Lastly, speakers that are great on stage in the real world, may fall short and appear lackluster in an online faceless webinar.
2) Purpose: Many webinar producers fail to pick a succinct goal, in fact this is key as it will define how you measure success. Some objectives can include: Thought leadership, association, customer references, lead generation, sales material, accelerating the customer life cycle, or education.
3) Planning: There are many decisions and steps that need to happen in this crucial phase. From deciding if the event should be recorded in advance, or done live, when to schedule the event (taking into account a global audience and conference and travel sesaons) and then selecting the right platforms between Adobe, Microsoft, WebEx, and Go To Meeting. One biggest fail point is not having the right hardware and software (including compatible browsers) and waiting to the last-minute-scramble to get this done. The truly savvy producers will integrate the webinar with existing community and tie with direct marketing systems and then funnel leads to the CRM system.
4) Professionals: There are many talent considerations to make during this performance. Just as you would bring forth the best speakers at your customer conference, you should apply the same thinking here. Your internal team will include the following duties, but keep in mind, often one person will conduct multiple duties such as: Internal Stakeholder, Webinar Producer, Coordinator, Marketer, Community Manager, and Technical Support of both the platform, hardware, and software. The performance team will include any of the following: Speaker, panelists, emcees, and should have a backup speaker.
5) Programming of Content: Once a kickoff meeting has been set in place, the internal and performance team should discuss content. The producer should offer details about the event, goal, audience, and suggest topics. Decisions around this being a one-off event, or an ongoing series needs to occur, as well as the presentation style (keynote vs panel, or some type of hybird). The hosting company needs to clearly think through the risks of ‘pitching’ wares as it will have both negative and positive impacts.
6) Promotion: Most webinar producers don’t fully think this through, however successful webinar producers create a template of marketing content that can be used in multiple mediums, create a registration form that both collects opt-in leads as well as polls the audience for the actual event, applies an integrate marketing approach by alerting prospects via email, web, account teams and even advertising. In the most sophiticated examples the producer and marketer has developed a way to benefit by early engagement and word of mouth by polling the audience to submit questions and using social events features like Facebook and LinkedIn events. Tip: get your speakers to promote, for example, I always tweet out to my followers about my upcoming webinars.
7) Preparation and Practice: Like a real world performance, the speakers should both practice in advance by doing a dry run. While the entire set of content doesn’t need to be rehearsed specifics on the logistics, hardware, software, and connections tests need to be completed. Assume some aspect of the technical side will go wrong at the actual performance, so it’s key you reduce risk by having a rehearsal in advance.
8] Performance: This is it, we’re now at “Showtime!” One key mindset is to remember to engage with the crowd by sourcing questions. Savvy producers will have an emcee who can guide speakers or panelists that go astray, and also be the voice for the attendees who are asking questions in the chat room or even on Twitter. Savvy producers will poll the audience at the start of the event (or use data from the registration form) and also pose a post-performance poll, asking for satisfaction in near real time.
9) Pursuit: This is the most overlooked opportunity by producers. Rather than patting yourself on the back after the webinar, the greatest opportunity lies in “facilitating action after your call-to-action.” Do this by: sending a thank you to the attendees in email, and ask if they want to be contacted directly by your account and sales teams. Also, engage with those who were very engaged in the event, both in their explicit behaviors and duration of paying attention. Furthermore, publish the slides and recording, and make it easy for prospects to contact you to learn more. Then continue to funnel qualified leads to your sales team, showing in order of priority those that have requested to be contacted, and those that were highly engaged.
10) Post Mortem: Have an internal meeting to recap what was done well, and what needs to be improved. Develop a report for your primary stakeholder based upon your decided purpose, and send a thank you to the speakers. Lastly, congratulate yourself for producing a successful webinar!
Most webinar teams are successful at planning and promotion, but often fall short at preparation and pursuit. Make your webinar outstanding by using these 10 phases as a high level checklist.
I’ve a much more detailed worksheet for clients who hire me as a professional speaker for their webinars. It breaks down in detail each of these items into 60 specific items with insights and recommendations, which we can use as a working document in our planning, contact me for more information or learn about my speaking.