A couple of weeks ago, we did a post about content marketing. Simply defined, content marketing is providing content that helps your customers and prospects. No sales pitch. No promotions. Just information that allows your customers and prospects to benefit from your company’s unique expertise. With content marketing, you’re providing a free service to customers and prospects that helps them do their jobs, and as a result, also helps them build a trusting relationship with your brand.
This week we’ll talk about a specific type of content marketing: the webinar. You’ve probably attended some webinars yourself, or at least received email invitations to attend them.
Benefits of Webinars
For the customer, a webinar can be a great way to get very useful information in under an hour. Think of it as a virtual version of a breakout session at a trade show or convention. From the comfort of their desks, customers and prospects can gain critical knowledge that will help them do their jobs.
For you, the webinar is a great way to attract attention to your website and your brand by giving something of real value to your customers and prospects essentially for free. All they need give you is their basic contact information and a slice of their time in exchange for this truly valuable content.
Webinars will help you:
- Increase customer engagement with your company
- Establish your company as a subject matter expert and a trusted advisor
- Build a relationship with thankful customers and prospects who benefit from your webinar
- Qualify good candidates (leads) for your product or service offering
Basic steps for putting on a good webinar
- Have a good invitation list – mine your contact database for customers and prospects that would truly benefit from your webinar and invite them to attend with emails and personal phone calls. If you don’t have a sizeable list (a few hundred is a good minimum size), consider partnering with an industry association that serves the same customers and prospects. If you are offering content of real value, an association will probably be happy to feature your webinar as a service to its members. This is a great way to grow your potential audience very quickly.
- Offer topics that address customer needs – what are your customers’ and prospects’ pain points? What keeps them awake at nights? What will really help them do their jobs? And what unique expertise do you possess that will help you help them? Use this to pick your topics, then research and assemble your webinar content.
- Pick your speaker – make sure your speaker is indeed an expert in the field you are presenting about and can deliver solid information. Ideally, your speaker will be a subject matter expert with a credible title and background. If you don’t have an employee who fits this description, consider partnering with an outside expert who is also interested in reaching your audience. And be sure to select a speaker who is a dynamic presenter. Nobody wants to sit through a 45 minute “drone zone” of a presentation. And unless you’re audience is salespeople and your webinar is about how to sell more effectively, think twice about making your VP of Sales the presenter, as your webinar is likely to be interpreted as more of a sales presentation for your company, instead of content intended purely to help the attendee.
- Make a pleasing PowerPoint – keep it relatively short, with a clean graphic layout, concise bullet points and no more than a few bullets per page. Don’t overload your slides with tons of text and complex charts and graphics. This will put people to sleep almost as fast as a droning presenter. At the same time, make the PowerPoint complete enough that it can effectively stand alone as a download after the presentation for those who attended.
- Do NOT make it a sales pitch! – under no circumstances should you at any point in the webinar make any kind of pitch, obvious or subtle, for your company’s product or service. This will likely lead your webinar attendees to feel that you’ve brought them there under false pretenses and cheated them out of their precious time. You’ll lose credibility, and your brand will suffer. Don’t make this mistake that so many presenters make when they conduct webinars. Resist the temptation, and you’ll gain much more respect from your customers and prospects.
- Take an hour, but keep the presentation to 40 minutes – this is just long enough to give good information without losing your audience. If this feels like it’s not enough time for you to make your point then your presentation is too long. Cut it down. Practice it in front of your peers to refine it in length and polish. Then, use the remaining 20 minutes of the hour for Q&A, which your attendees will really appreciate.
- AFTER the webinar – follow up with a thank you and a relevant giveaway, like a free white paper with content related to the webinar. Ask them for their feedback so you can improve future webinars. Nurture a relationship with them. Don’t lose this precious opportunity to keep engaging with these customers and prospects whose engagement and trust you’ve gained with your webinar. That is after all why you’re putting on the webinar in the first place – to build a relationship with your customers and prospects.