Should You Be Doing Webinars? Should I?

Filed in LinkedIn , Sharisax Is Out There 16 comments

Webinars have become a part of my New Life as a social media evangelist because there is so much great information Out There and so many experts offering 60-minute web presentations on a host of topics that I want to learn about.

But do I want to be on the other side of the phone/VOIP line? Do you?

A few of my friends and prospective business partners have suggested giving webinars, so I’ve begun research by asking questions on LinkedIn and Twitter AND attending a webinar on webinars.

LinkedIn question

Friends/partners want me to do Webinars. Do you think they work? Why or why not?

I just listened to a webinar on webinars and they sound remarkable for lead generation and building reputation. What has been your experience. Other friends think that Teleclasses are better. What do you think?

LinkedIn answers

Definitely Webinars are the way to go. For the participant, if done right, having the live graphics and especially using the Q&A/Conversation feature really gets things engaged!

Tele-seminars miss some interaction. With webinars, the presenter can make an impression with the knowledge/skills that can affect perception of a product. Plus, the participant can even move around, stand up, etc., but still see and be enthralled. Go that way! Ned O’Doherty

I have seen MANY webinars! and I think they are great! Gives all the information needed, establishes you as an expert and you start a relationship with audience. I agree with your friends/partners. Go for it. Have fun! — Vanessa Cabrera

I believe that FREE Webinars are excellent ways to promote products and services.
They should never be more than an hour long and be 90% about the “subject” and 10% on the company selling services to the subject . — Trevor Lobel

Like any medium, they will attract some people, put off others. The real question is, is it a learning curve you want to master and spend time using, or is there something else that suits you and your business better?

For me, blogging suits not only my personality, but also my business. Webinars might be good, but time-value ratio is flat enough that it’s not beating me on the head to do it. Same with podcasts.

There’s no one golden ticket to business success, so pick the media you’re most comfortable with and go for it! — Erica Friedman

I think webinars are smart ways to communicate and educate prospects about products and services. I have found that producing a really informative and successful webinar, however, consumes a lot of resources when you consider:

– the time it takes to promote the event
– the resources used to produce presentation decks
– purchasing/understanding the webinar platform technology
– high attendance attrition rates of about 50%

My advice is examine the above factors to estimate the hard/soft costs of the webinar and then determine how many people need to take next steps to meet your goal cost-per-lead. Once you have a clear picture of what you need to accomplish in terms of attendance and lead gen in order to make the webinar successful from a monetary perspective, you can decide if it truly makes sense. — Elizabeth Sklaroff

There may be many reasons why you or your organization may benefit from doing webinars.

  • Case studies: a great way to help your customers or potential customers understand your specific value proposition.
  • Announce a new feature and demonstrate it’s new benefit.
  • Highlight your areas of expertise: either directly or indirectly.

HPCareer.net began doing webinars each week in early 2009, in the midst of our massive economic downturn, budget cuts and the resulting job losses.  Our webinar series solved a number of issues faced by our organization, our customers and professionals.  Because there were fewer jobs available, we were less busy and thereby  able to redirect a portion of our human resources to focus on this new venture.

Our customers are able to save money on continuing professional education for their health promotion staff by encouraging them to participate in live and/or archived webinar content.  Individual professionals benefit regardless of their employment status by expanding their knowledge directly from the nationally and internationally recognized experts we select to present each week. —Michaela Conley

5 Reasons Every Marketer Must Do Webinars & How to Get Started

This was the title of a webinar sponsored by Focus and featuring Craig Rosenberg — a webinar on webinars! Here are some of my “take-aways” regarding the WHY’s and the HOW’s.

Eight Attributes of Remarkable Webinars

  1. Helpful: Always be Helping is the new Always be Closing.
  2. Timely: Make certain your target audience can relate to your topic.
  3. Interruptive: Your presentation must stand out above the noise, i.e., the diversity of online information clamoring for attention.
  4. Entertaining: Participants want to enjoy the experience and feel they are not wasting their time.
  5. Shareable: Would an influencer want to forward this? Any chance of going viral?
  6. Versatile: Content can be used for white papers, newsletters, etc.
  7. Crowd-sourced: Customers and partners share in the spirit of cooperation.
  8. Efficient: Information should be concise; list formats are effective.

A webinar can position you as a trusted adviser.

Four Key Steps to Planning the Presentation

  1. Choose a broad topic to start with, so that you can attract a wide audience.
  2. Keep things simple: Experts make great speakers.
  3. Create a lean registration page.
  4. Leverage phone and email lists, and focus on a few potential customers/prospects.

Content lives forever. You may not hit a big number on your event, but you will get people over time.

Promotional Communication Tips

Promotional email: Subject line is critical; must be arresting and eye-catching. Solve business problems, don’t sell. Be clear about your content. Include Calls-to-Action.

Landing Page inclusions: Explicit details of date and time; broadcast what benefits participants will receive. Sell the experts because people want to know their instructors. Keep registration form as simple as possible.

Reminder emails: Send confirmation immediately after registration; reminders 4 days and then one day  before event.

End of Chapter One in my research: Have you been convinced one way or another?
Please add your experiences and advice AND/OR read on for Chapter Two.



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Posted by Shari Weiss   @   13 May 2010
Tags : , , , , ,
Comments
May 13, 2010
3:09 pm

Nice job Shari, Although, I don’t know why you chose to use my picture in your post. Really, I’ve taken better. The problem you see is that I wasn’t ready, I forgot to smile. 🙂

Author May 13, 2010
3:38 pm

Michaela, that’s simple: You’re an expert!
🙂

May 14, 2010
9:30 am

Nice article. I appreciate the range of views. My question is simple – as the owner of a small business – iSpeakEASY – I am concerned (as all of you are) with generating cash. Yes, leads are good, contacts, good will – all excellent.

Are there enough examples of small business owners making a dollar from a webinar, or, at least generating enough of the right type of interest from the webinar to generate income.

I understand about all the other “gains and benefits”. No arguement there. Is there a reasonable chance of creating income from the webinar or from the next stage? Do you have any examples?

Thanks for the thought provoking article.

Author May 14, 2010
10:32 am

Great question, Ethan. While I do not have a “specific answer,” i.e. case studies of webinar/$$$ success, I can share three points:

a) Patrick Schwerdfeger, who gives social media presentations all over the globe, tells his audiences [me included] that he finds case studies simply from searching with appropriate keywords on the Net.
b) I’m certain that some webinar platform providers like GoToWebinar and DimDim have some success stories to share.
and, finally
c) We are still so new — and on the learning curve — that ingenuity & imagination can team up to put together the kind of program that “can’t help” but generate financial rewards.

So, let us all know when your ingenuity & imagination pay off for you and your company.

Thanks for the comment . . . and you webinar proiders Out There, please chime in with case studies for Ethan.

May 14, 2010
2:55 pm

Shari,
As those who have answered before me, I agree that a Webinar — with good content — is an excellent learning tool. However, if you are conducting them to attract business, you may want to hear about my experience.

I scheduled and helped market a number of Webinars for a client of mine. The company owner had previously generated a significant amount of business from speaking at industry conferences and events. Over three years we scheduled and ran an average of 6 to 10 Webinars a year. The attendance averaged 300 to 600 per event. The content was great with many take-aways for the audience.

But when my client analyzed the connection between attendees and active prospects or new clients, there were none.

Webinars are great for attendees. But for this client, it was not an effective business generating tool. If you do them, I hope you have a better experience.
Susan

Author May 14, 2010
2:59 pm

Susan, thanks so much for your experiences here. I suspect that many people — who are not webinar platform suppliers — may report similar findings. SO, I suspect the question becomes how will you use the “Value” of webinars for business profits.
Anyone else out there with ideas? or contrary experiences?

May 16, 2010
12:49 pm

Thanks Susan. I appreciate your comment. I am both optimistic and skeptical.

I am concerned that social media (webinars included) have value, but not the type of value I hear attributed to it. “Get involved in social media and your business will grow”. Yes – SM can help but it is not the answer alone, nor do I see it really generating income for those around me. It clearly has a value but a cost as well. It is free – sort of. How many hours do we put into this stuff every week?

May 17, 2010
1:09 am

this post is very usefull thx!

Author May 18, 2010
12:11 am

Do you do webinars? Have they been successful? If so, what kind of success can you report?

May 17, 2010
11:18 pm
#10 Karen Clark :

I have led many webinars either conducting them myself or as a guest speaker and find them a bit frustrating with little payoff. If you are able to charge a fee for the webinar (which I have) then at least you are compensated for the time, however they are not perfect when it comes to recordings in my experience. I had a dream once of creating videos from my webinars that I could then resell as products but have yet to find a platform where the audio and video are synced up correctly in the recording. So alas, I do not currently recommend them. However when asking people which they prefer, teleclasses or webinars, many prefer webinars. As someone suggestd, I think they are a great value for the attendees, not so great for the presenter when consider prep time and expense – for now!
Karen

Author May 18, 2010
12:04 am
#11 Shari Weiss :

Karen, sadly, I suspect I must agree with everything you have said. So it would be wonderful to get some solid evidence to the contrary. I hope people are listening — and willing to share more positive experiences.

May 20, 2010
11:13 pm

The issue with audio syncing is usually due to poor connectivity, or inferior audio quality being used in the system. This is the telltale sign of a VOIP or inferior teleconferencing bridge being used.

Great audio makes a great web event! <– (Becoming my signature line lately.)

At Infinity Conference Call, we only use Compunetix bridges for our audio. The audio is crystal clear and perfectly timed with the webinar visuals. This is the missing component in so many mediocre or sub-par webinars that people experience.

As far as making money from the webinar, that falls back to your content. the most asked question I get from prospective webinar creators is "Can I charge for my webinar and how much?"

The answer really is dependent on your content. Is it a commercial? Nobody wants to pay for a commercial of your product/service. Is it a training or teaching something? That is something you can charge for. the difficulty comes in the blurry line between them. How do you tell the difference?

Why or How?

If your Webinar is answering the question of 'Why' then it is a commercial, and should not have a fee. If it is answering the question of 'How' then it is a training and if it is good and relevant, can be successful with a fee.

I think I rambled on enough. Hope some helpful tips for great future webinars.

Anthony Russo
Global Conferencing Specialist
Infinity Conference Call
arusso@infinityconferencecall.com
Skype: anth.russo
Twitter: @AnthonyRusso

Author May 20, 2010
11:21 pm
#13 Shari Weiss :

Anthony, THANKS SO MUCH for your helpful suggestions. I’m going to chat this up on my Facebook Fan page so that people can read both the article and your comment.
🙂

Author May 21, 2010
10:20 am
#14 Shari Weiss :

This comment was written by Goran Krstulovic in a conversation we are having on LinkedIn in reference to my question. Goran has given me permission to republish so you can all learn from his opinion:

“It may sound outdated and against the trendy social-networking ‘religion,’ but I am absolutely convinced that there is nothing more powerful and more productive for generating leads than cold-calling.

Spending 2-5 minutes on the phone will put you far further than any email campaign, blog, social-networking, webinar or what not…

Don’t get me wrong, I do take care of my profile on LinkedIn (39 recommendations, expertise on Q&A, etc…), but it merely serves the purpose of credibility (kind of “wow, this guy really knows his stuff) when they check me out after I made an initial cold-call.

Here’s an old-fashioned technique I used many times with success being in the range of 80% closing ratio.

Running a public seminar with a world-wide known speaker Peter Cheverton and best-selling author of a book called KEY ACCOUNT MANAGEMENT.

I used to mail a book dedicated by the speaker to senior management of the companies I believed would be prospects for the seminar. It was accompamied by a short letter also signed by the speaker, saying “… if you would like to see me and hear me in person, I will be delivering a 2-day seminar based on this book …..’

Buying & mailing 50 books cost me about €2,000

Revenue from the event was about €75,000. All I had to do was to make those 50 follow-up calls.

Something similar can probably be done with webinars, but then you can also record a video and put it up on your website, no need for live real-time broadcasting…

Cheers

May 21, 2010
4:20 pm

That is a great system and obviously working very well for you. I agree that 2-5 minutes on the phone with a person goes a very long way and is incredibly powerful. The problem with real “cold-calling” in my opinion is getting that 2-5 minutes.

In your example you are making ‘warm’ calls as these people have already received a book and a letter signed by the speaker. A true ‘cold’ call with no previous contact to the recipient is where I feel the inefficiency comes in. Too much of the time is spent talking to voice-mails or trying to qualify or warm-up that call.

I don’t feel cold calling will ever go away totally, but in this day and age of voice-mails, caller ID, (and people not picking up if it is unrecognized), I just don’t think cold-calling is the primary way to generate leads anymore.

Great example you gave and a good practice in my opinion.

Anthony Russo
Conferencing Specialist
Infinity Conference Call
arusso@infinityconferencecall.com
Skype: anth.russo
Twitter: @AnthonyRusso

Author May 23, 2010
10:09 am
#16 Shari Weiss :

Meta Brown posted this response to my LinkedIn question about webinars:
Shari,

I have presented loads of webinars over the past 8 years. They can be very useful for lead generation, yes.

What people often miss when planning webinars is that serious effort is required to make sure the appropriate audience attends!

Start with a goal, and work backwards to lay out the steps necessary to meet that goal.

If you want 10 new clients for your social media training, that might mean you need 50 qualified prospects.

What are the requirements for a qualified prospect? A person with a particular role in a particular type of company, who has a budget for training, perhaps? Invite people in that role at that type of company to attend. Can you get a list of those people?

Are you prepared to send invitations and reminders, and make follow-up calls to get them to attend?

How will you reach out to attendees and no-shows after the webinar to engage them and sell to them?

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