Webinars and the Content Confidence Gap: An 8-Step Cure

July 11, 2013 •

As a content marketer you know that quality content is the key to driving traffic and audience engagement. Your blogging efforts are 99th percentile, you’ve mastered distribution, seamlessly integrated your social media marketing efforts  to your overall content marketing strategy, and now you’re looking for new ways to reach potential clients.

Where is the webinar in your content marketing plan? Many companies experience a “content confidence gap” when it comes to hosting a webinar. The reasons for this gap that we hear most from clients are concerns about their organization’s ability to present a fresh, relevant perspective, the fear that no one will attend, and stage fright. If you’ve suffered sleepless nights imagining all the worst possible scenarios that could cause a live event to derail, you are not alone! But consider the rewards.

A webinar is a dynamic and cost-effective way to drive high-quality leads. It requires a lot of your content marketing know-how to recruit the audience and then keep them, but in the end, it’s worth it. In fact, the Content Marketing Institute’s study, “B2B Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America” cited that 59 percent of respondents are currently using webinars in their content marketing strategy and that webinars are a top 10 B2B content marketing tactic. The webinar is content that works.

Careful planning will still the terror inside you so that you, too, can jump on the webinar bandwagon. Use this checklist to create a (nearly) fool-proof plan and give yourself the confidence you need to create a remarkable webinar that will leave people asking when you’ll be scheduling the next one.

1. Consider your audience
The first step in webinar planning is to create a clear picture of who you are targeting. The great thing about webinars is that they can play a role in your marketing efforts in different phases throughout the sales funnel. Targeting folks at the top of the funnel? A webinar that positions your organization as a thought leader is a great way to alert prospects to your company’s service offerings in your area of expertise. Demos and excerpts from case studies are excellent tools for audiences who are midway through your sales cycle, and a webinar focused on how-tos or process can be extremely useful for customer onboarding at the bottom of the funnel. Webinars can also be useful in nurturing relationships with existing customers—just be sure the content of your presentation is properly aligned to the audience you want to reach. Which brings us to the next point…

2. Choose an appropriate topic
Of course, no matter the audience, the topic you choose should be both useful and compelling. The goal is to incorporate a set of key points to help your audience solve a problem or achieve a goal. You should be able to easily answer the question, “What value will the audience gain from attending this webinar?” If you can’t, you need to rethink your subject matter.

One other important thing to consider when choosing a topic is how you will be able to leverage it for future use. Webinars shouldn’t be a one-and-done deal. Choose a topic that will provide just as much value for prospects three, six, or 12 months down the road and you can multiply the value of your event several times over. You’ll definitely want to make a recording of the webinar available for download on your website—require email contact information in exchange for the download to maximize your prospecting potential. The planning stage is the best time to brainstorm ways to repurpose ideas from the webinar into additional content, not after the fact. A properly planned topic will provide endless opportunities for additional content, like blog posts, social media updates, eBooks or whitepapers, SlideShare presentations and more.

3.  Select your presenter and partners
Give serious consideration to who will lead your webinar. Naturally, it makes sense to choose a subject matter expert so that it will be educational and of value for your audience, but also consider that your presenter should be someone who is charismatic and engaging. You could present the world’s most educational webinar, but if your presenter can’t keep the audience interested it won’t matter. This is especially true for B2B businesses that need to keep the attention of attendees on sometimes less-than-riveting topics.

Another option to think about is adding one or more co-presenters. This provides a way to include different perspectives on your chosen topic, and can break up the monotony of a single voice talking for an extended period of time. Another bonus of co-presenters: they can help you reach a wider audience. Look for people who are influencers in your field to increase credibility and audience reach.

4. Get the timing right
You want people to actually attend your webinar, right? Then make sure you schedule it for a time that is convenient for the target attendee group. B2B organizations should avoid weekends and consider slower working hours (around lunchtime, for example) to maximize attendance. Other audiences (like students) may only be able to attend in the evening, after school hours. If your audience is located across the country or internationally, it is important to keep time zone differences in mind. Also related to timing: don’t be late to your own webinar. Attendees are investing valuable time to learn more about your company or subject—respect it, or risk losing their trust from the get go.

5. Promote, promote, promote
Don’t let the work you’ve done creating a compelling webinar go to waste by failing to publicize it. Here are a few suggestions for promoting your webinar:

  • Website: Websites are still the number one tool for a successful marketing campaign, so don’t overlook this important piece of the promotional puzzle. Create a landing page that includes all the relevant details and a call-to-action that drives customers to register.
  • Email Marketing: Send out a series of emails to your subscribers to alert them to the event. Make sure you include all the pertinent data like date, time, length, topic, and presenters. Drive home a message about the value of attending—what is the takeaway for the attendee? And, don’t forget to include a link to your registration page!
    Tip: We’ve seen that attendance numbers can jump dramatically in the day or two leading up to the event, so be sure to send out a reminder one day and one hour in advance to capitalize on last-minute registrations.
  • Social Media: Post your event on all your social media properties (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn at a minimum). Pick an interesting statistic or thought-provoking question that your webinar will cover as a teaser. If you’ve chosen a hash tag for your event, be sure to include it to help build buzz.
  • Blog: Drive registrations by writing one or more blog posts that tease the topic of your presentation. Provide basic information or spin off a related subject. Always include a registration call-to-action so readers can learn more by tuning in to your presentation.
  • PPC and Other Paid Media: Consider setting up Google, Facebook, or other paid media campaigns to drive traffic to your webinar’s registration page. Include terms that are specific to the topic you’re covering to increase your chances for relevant clicks.
  • Influencer Networks: If you decide to include a co-presenter, be sure to take advantage of his or her network, too. Send out promotion and registration information to this additional audience via email and social media, and consider guest post opportunities for your blog.

6. Create a knockout presentation
Once you drive prospects to the webinar, you’ll want to wow them with an impressive presentation. A traditional webinar broadcasts live audio that syncs with a PowerPoint slide presentation that you control, but don’t be afraid to include multimedia elements like video or animated infographics to add visual appeal. We recommend limiting the amount of text on slides—it forces the presenters to discuss the topics without simply reading from the slide deck, and also ensures that your audiences must truly tune in to obtain all the useful information from the presentation.

7. Practice until it’s perfect
Practicing your webinar prior to the date of the event is key to ensuring seamless execution. Technical issues will make your organization look disorganized and unprepared, and worse yet, appearing anything less than 100 percent familiar with your topic will lead your audience to question your credibility from the start. To avoid these issues, schedule a dry run (or two) in the days leading up to your event to give yourself time to get acquainted with all the technical aspects of your webinar platform. Practice issues like phrasing, transitions, and answers to questions you anticipate from your audience.

8. Nail the follow-up
If you want to capitalize on your efforts (and of course you do), be sure to nail the follow-up. Send an email to those who attended with information on how to contact your company if they have any questions about the presentation. You can also reach out to those who registered but did not attend with information on how to download the recorded version of the webinar. Most importantly, you want to be sure to thank everyone who attended. Acknowledge their time investment, and show your appreciation. A little gratitude can go a long way.

The ultimate value of hosting a webinar is really this: The typical prospecting meeting involves just you and a prospective client. One prospective client equals one opportunity. Webinars, on the other hand, offer you the chance to talk to hundreds if not thousands of clients at the same time. Many prospective clients equals many prospective opportunities. And while many of those prospects might balk at taking a one-on-one meeting because they’re not quite ready, the webinar offers a chance to get to know you and your company without feeling the pressure of that meeting. If you can put your fear factor aside and use these tips for a well-planned webinar, you will find an educational, social and inexpensive way to reach new audiences and drive quality sales leads.

Do you have other ideas for hosting a successful webinar? Cautionary tales to share? Let us know in the comments or contact us for help setting up your next webinar. For more tips on adding to your content marketing strategy, download our eBook, “How to Grow Your Business with Content Marketing.”

About the Author

The Marketing Trenches blog provides thought leadership from actual marketing practitioners, not from professional thought leaders. Designed to help business leaders make more educated marketing decisions, our insights come directly from our experience in the trenches. You can find more from Right Source on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

  • Wow Erika! This, is a solid list for what to pay attention to when hosting a webinar!

    When I was reading point #6: Create a Knockout Presentation, it reminded me of some really cool stuff I learned from a marketing sharp shooter by the name of Clayton Makepeace.

    Clayton sold services directly via webinar. He asked for the sale after the webinar was done and then for the people who didn’t buy and registered but didn’t show up, he followed up with them

    In a typical month, Clayton’s web-based and email campaigns compelled between
    60,000 and 90,000 financial investors to register for and attend online video briefings (he referred to his webinars as “briefings” with his list rather than calling them “webinars” because this was a familiar term that also implied valuable news to come) – with gross sales following these briefings of as much as $3.6 million in a weekend … $5 million in a few weeks … and a staggering $16 million in a single month!

    Here’s what you could call the rough version of what you could call the makings of the multi-million dollar webinar script . . .

    1. Establish Spokesperson’s Credentials

    * Why everything you’re about to hear matters

    * Why you can believe what this person says

    2. Dimensionalize the Problem

    * There’s always a problem

    * Even if you’re speaking to a desire, it’s never fulfilled to a completely satisfactory level

    * Speak to what the problem is

    * What it means

    * How it limits this prospect’s life

    * How it limits his happiness

    * How it limits his success

    3. Identify the Enemy

    4. What does this problem exist or why hasn’t it been solved

    Be the prospect’s champion by asserting that . . .

    *This problem is terrible and it’s not your fault

    * That no one’s told you the truth or that you’ve been mislead by a partial truth

    5. Empathize with them about what their current situation really means in limitations to their life

    * How it costs them money

    * How it costs them time

    * How it costs them relationships

    * Let them know suavely that you understand. Just by enunciating problem better than they can, this gives you authority. Shrinks are very good at doing this.

    6. Paint a Word Picture

    * Paint a scene of a place where this problem no longer exists

    * Where the fear and frustration have been eliminated or the desires have been fulfilled

    * Let them see themselves as the them that’s going to exist after getting you into their life at the end of this event

    * Then tell them why that’s gonna be true

    8. Tell them what you’re gonna do with them during this event that’s going to bring this picture to life

    * Not going to be rich but maybe they’ll be confident, maybe they’ll feel like they really are in charge or control, maybe they’ll be energized

    All of these steps account for the first 10-15 minutes of the event, then you roll into 15-20 minutes of valuable content to the clients

    9. Present Actionable Information or Content

    * Key here is PROOF that what you say really works

    * There’s also personal proof where you have them do some kind of exercise on the event and at the end of the exercise they’ve proven to themselves that “yeah, this makes sense and I can do this.”

    * There’s social proof where other people on the event talk about how they had the same problems but now it’s gone

    * Look for ways to use this element

    10. Present the “Ultimate Solution”

    *Call to Action

    This is really a lifted skirt. You’re not selling your product here. You’re saying, “We’re launching a product that can really help you out with this problem but I don’t have time to tell you about it here but…” and then you tell them what they have to do to find out more about it.

    * “Click the link on this page to go to our special report”… which in reality is a sales page

    * Or… “Come to this blog (which is the sales page) and I’ll tell you more about it…”

    * Or…”Send us an email and tell us you’re interested and we’ll give you a call.”

    * You’re not selling here. You’ve just spent 50 minutes becoming his friend, and you don’t wanna blow all that by turning into Ron Popeil. You want to keep that feeling going here and get them off this call while they’re highly motivated to act.

    11. Present “the horrifying alternative”

    * Use the “Crossroads Close”

    “Only one of two things is gonna happen here. Either we’re gonna go on together, or we’re gonna go on separately. You’re gonna continue dealing with the situation you’re dealing with now, or you’re gonna be proactive and take action and resolve this issue.”

    12. Show them what will happen if they don’t take action

    13. FINAL CALL TO ACTON

    END OF OUTLINE

    This outline has worked awesomely well for Clayton, for me, and my clients who run with it. I hope it can of use to someone here as well. 🙂

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