October 16, 2015 ianblyth

The Biggest Secret for a Webinar That Wins

Webinar key on the computer keyboard, three-dimensional rendering

So you’ve decided to do a webinar. First of all, congratulations. Nice choice. It’s a great way to get a message across to your audience.

When it comes to webinars, you can pick virtually any topic and pull off a great show with a powerful slide deck, a great presenter, and a decent platform.

Webinars are a very attractive alternative to live events. There’s no room to book or food to order. Your participants can catch the presentation online so there’s no travel involved.

Your audience can watch your presentation live from wherever they are without leaving their desk. You’re bringing the show to them.

If you plan well enough and record the experience, you’ll have a piece of collateral you can use over and over for lead generation. If your audience can’t make the live version, they can watch it on-demand from your website.

That’s why it’s important to remember the most important aspect of a webinar:

Make Sure Your Webinar Is Valuable and Relevant to Your Audience

The secret to having a well-attended webinar is made of two parts — a valuable, worthwhile presentation directed at the right audience. One without the other will produce lackluster results and an utter lack of both is a recipe for disaster.

To be clear, if the webinar is valuable and directed to the right people, they’ll probably attend.

Content marketing is all about delivering valuable content that is relevant to your audience on a consistent basis. Delivering a webinar is a form of content marketing, so providing a presentation that is valuable and relevant is critical.

Simple Strategies for Winning Webinars

Teach Your Audience Something New

One of the best examples of this comes from Mark LaCour, owner of modalpoint, a company that specializes in helping organizations sell their products to the oil and gas industry. LaCour is a heavy hitter in terms of thought leadership and an expert in his field.

But it’s the first thing he says at the beginning of each and every video that makes a ton of sense.

“Hey everybody, let’s learn something new about the oil and gas industry.”

This guy has it figured out. There’s a lot digital marketers can learn about holding a webinar from LaCour.

Regardless of the subject, LaCour makes sure to get the video off on the right foot.

First, he positions himself as the teacher so immediately you’re in the position of the student. Class is in session — you’ve got my attention. Second, we’re learning something so I’m not in a position to buy something — this guy is going to help me by teaching me something new. Coming from a position of helping and not selling makes for a pretty comfortable experience. And then I’m watching seven or eight videos before I know what happened.

The point is, a really good webinar teaches the audience something they didn’t know.

If your subject is blogging, considering doing a how-to webinar on all the ways to pull off a blog for free. If automobile repair is your thing, do a step-by-step webinar about changing the oil. Do a webinar on balancing a checkbook. You’d be surprised what people don’t know.

Share Valuable Experience with Your Colleagues

Apart from the networking aspect of LinkedIn, one of the most sought-after aspects of the social media platform is subject matter expertise. In other words, people in your industry want to learn how to do things (and do things better).

Even for the most specialized professions, no job is without its repetition. People amass dozen of tips and tricks in their work that would benefit people just like them in other positions. Share your knowledge!

Leverage Your Customer’s Story

One of the most powerful webinars can be a thorough case study presented by your customer. A company’s story sounds so much better when told by someone outside of the organization.

A customer who is willing to grab the microphone and talk about the great work you did is a powerful ally. Adding a customer as a presenter and placing their company’s logo on the invite is a great way of getting people to register for the webinar.

For some, just saying that the success of a content marketing venture is dependent on its relevance or value is strange. Telling a digital marketer they need to provide value in a webinar might leave them scratching their head.

Who would send a no-value webinar invite to a group of people that couldn’t care less? Where in the world does this happen?

It happens all the time — with alarming regularity — and for good and bad reasons.

There’s a Good Reason Bad Webinars Happen

To be clear, it’s easy to hold a bad webinar. It’s simple to put together a bland pitch for what will eventually be an equally boring webinar. Digital marketers do it every day in all industries. Junk mail folders are filled with invites to poorly planned webinars.

It’s tough to place blame for these webinars occurring because, more often than not, the culprit is complex content.

Conveying even the simplest ideas is sometimes a frustrating, perhaps maddening, in extreme cases throw-a-chair-across-the-room angry affair. Now imagine you’re cooking up an invite for something you have no background in.

Sometimes, and especially in small businesses, it’s just a lack of resources or expertise on the side of the marketer that leads to webinars with no teeth.

In industries where the most mundane aspects of the business can be incredibly complex, it’s not difficult see how compelling, razor-sharp ideas get filed down by someone’s lack of understanding until they become bland presentations.

Even if the people marketing the webinar have a strong grasp on the source material it’s easy to see how webinars come off as boring or simple. After all, it’s tough to be witty, dangerous, or cool with your marketing lingo when you’re trying write around a tough subjects like health care, residential construction, or banking.

There’s an easy fix for this situation and it comes from teamwork.

In 90% of these cases, there’s a two-person team tackling the webinar — the subject matter expert serving as the presenter and the marketing person working to get folks in the door.

To avoid a bad webinar, the marketing side of the team doesn’t need to be on the same level of intelligence as the presenter or even understand the content.

The role of the marketer in a webinar team is to be a strong advocate for what is best for the webinar. The markets needs to make sure the webinar presents real value to the attendees and the selected audience needs to be appropriate for the subject matter.

A good strategy for putting together a great invite on a complex subject is to have an expert explain it in such a way that a child would understand it. The clearer the message the better — and the more your audience will appreciate the simple message.

There’s a Bad Reason Bad Webinars Happen

The scourge of all webinars — perhaps all content marketing — is the straight-up sales pitch. The reasoning all comes back to the idea that, by definition, content marketing needs to be valuable and relevant to the audience.

A sales pitch is hardly ever valuable to anyone, unless there’s a compelling reason to buy. A sales pitch as a webinar title and content is a recipe for disaster.

Now, it’s worth backing up a bit and making one thing abundantly clear, which is that we’re all here in the pursuit of the sale. The lead generation, advertising, public relations, marketing — all of it is in an effort to sell something.

Selling a product or services — that’s the end game. It’s the bottom line.

And that’s fine, even digital marketing purists will agree to that.

Still, the Internet has changed the world in such a large way. It’s certainly shifted the scales in the favor of the consumer and changed how they form opinions on “brand.”

While the term gets tossed around an awful lot, brand, as it pertains marketing, deals mostly with the emotional and psychological relationship between a company and its consumers. If you feel strongly toward one product over another, it’s your brand. You have a tight emotional relationship with it. You trust the company.

However, someone’s trust in your organization in the digital age is no longer just about the post-sale things like a warranty or the promise of “will you be there for me tomorrow.” A customer’s trust is being formed so much sooner, or at least, far before the sale is finalized.

Ideas about your organization are being formed well before people become customers. In the past, a brand impression was built mainly from the experiences of owning the product or experience a service, whereas a person’s impressions about a brand now are being formed far before they even become customers — in downloads, white papers, YouTube videos, and of course, webinars.

It’s no longer just about the sketchy tire job you got from the dealership that left the bad taste in your mouth and caused you to never visit that auto shop again. It’s not only about the great service you received from the awesome server at the bar and grill down the street.

Today’s consumer is judging their relationship with companies on the time they spend with the prospect before they ever begin to think about buying. The real experts in this field create such a trust in their marketing that the prospect ends up coming on their own and asking to be sold to, which is a good situation to be in.

All that said, it makes no sense to waste a webinar on a sales pitch when the organization could do far more good building trust with the audience by providing value.

Instead of investing time selling your product, give your audience helpful tips on how the industry is moving toward the use of your product and how it can solve problems. Plant seeds in their mind as to how the product can be used to solve problems and watch them approach you with questions.

Ian Blyth writes at ianblyth.com, which is appropriate.

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