July's Marketing Blog

My topic for this month came about from reading an e-newsletter I receive - there was an article on Webinars.  I thought it was timely because we have a Webinar for our CWS Council members tomorrow and one on August 14 for our Corporate Members.  Webinars are great for a number of different reasons.  From a marketing point of view here are some reasons why your company might want to do a series of them:

  1. Webinars can be used to position your company as a thought leader
  2. Webinars can be used to explain value better than a brochure might
  3. Webinars are great from demonstrating your technology or services
  4. Webinars are great content for your website, which might need some new content by now
  5. Webinars can be inexpensive sales tools for your salesforce

 So those are some of the great reasons to do a webinar - there could be a couple of downsides: 

  1. Poor speaker - speeches are tough enough, connecting with an audience using electronic mediums is even tougher
  2. It is difficult to manage expectations of the audience.  People are listening, but they are also answering email or doing something else while the webinar is being presented
  3. Technology fails.  My friends and I had a debate this weekend - WebEx or Go-to-Meeting.  Full disclosure, one of my friends works for WebEx.  The other friend uses Go-to-Meeting.  (Also, full disclosure, Staffing Industry Analysts uses Go-to-Meeting.)  My friend who uses Go-to-Meeting has had some technology failures and plans to switch.  Staffing Industry Analysts chose Go-to-Meeting strictly on price - the services seemed to be pretty equivalent - WebEx was more expensive.  For the most part, Staffing Industry Analysts has not experienced many technology challenges with Go-to-Meeting.  Check with the respective vendors for pricing
  4. Recording webinars can be a challenging proposition and re-using the material may not happen if your recording isn't done well

With all the disclosures, we think Webinars are pretty good things.

  1. People are more likely to attend a webinar because they can do it from there desks - logistically no one has to travel
  2. Webinars are easily planned in advance, and although they take a fair amount of preparation, it is less costly than an in person meeting, and in these days - environmentally friendly
  3. Because you are creating a presentation for the webinar, you immediately have a tool for follow up - the presentation

Steps to creating a great webinar:

  1. A topic that your audience cares about
  2. A good speaker who can speak about the topic.  And it is not just a good speaker, but a credible speaker.  The speaker needs to engage the audience and be perceived as an expert.  You don't want the speaker to talk to the slides.  The slides should be used as background
  3. You need a list.  We have talked about lists in the past.  You need a target list to email or mail and invitation
  4. Some type of webinar service.  We talked about two of the services above, there are many.  There are conference services that provide moderation services, there are the self-service products discussed above.  Figure out your needs and purchase a service.  Make sure the service you purchase works for your needs.  As an example, some of the services are broadcast out only.  So if you want live voice interaction, you might need a different type of service.  Some services limit the number of people you can have on the phones, make sure you understand how many people the service can support
  5. Then there is the question of free versus paid webinars.  That is a business model question you have to answer.  If it is a paid webinar, you of course have to figure out how to price and collect fees.  Average webinar paid pricing is somewhere between $195 - $295.  Make sure you consider the price of your conference services if you are doing a paid webinar
  6. Create a compelling story for why someone should take time to join your webinar and send your message out.  Make it easy for people to sign up for the webinar and definitely send out reminders as the date and time come near
  7. Most webinars are approximately one hour long.  I would say the shorter your webinar the better.  Of course the question of value remains - too short, not enough value - too long - well it is just too long and people will drop off
  8. Create some audience interaction - have some fun.  Take polls, allow attendees to ask questions, put up survey data.  Because webinars are electronic in nature, you need to work a bit harder to keep your audience engaged

If you haven't done one, try a webinar to promote new technology, a new service or a new position for your company.  It gives you the opportunity to be positioned as a thought leader and it is more interactive and interesting than receive yet another email or brochure in the mail.  As always, for those of you who are experts on webinars -- chime in and offer your thoughts and experiences.

For those of you who are Corporate Members, make sure you sign up for Staffing Industry Analysts' Trends and Outlook Webinar, August 14 2008.  You will find the link to sign up on our home page.

 Enjoy the summer!

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