You’ve probably attended a webinar or two along the way in your career. If you’ve had good experiences, you may have thought: “I can do that!” You’re right, you can! Webinars are great for business of all kinds, but there are some important things to consider before you jump in.
Over the past 10 years or so, webinars have grown increasingly popular and increasingly effective for marketing and training because they work. You can find thousands of articles and webinars about how great webinars are for lead generation. Many of the webinar software vendors offer webinars about various related marketing topics to generate leads for their companies, and include pitches for their software. But, they might not give you the nitty-gritty behind the scenes reality show version of the story. That’s where I come in.
In as much as I am an evangelist for webinars, I’m also a realist. I have presented and produced webinars for the past 10 years. I attend at least one and sometimes up to three webinars per week. However, as a producer and as a consumer, I have to be realistic: There’s good, bad, and ugly news about webinars that you should know before you build them into your marketing plan.
Webinars generate leads, begin a cycle of engagement, and can help you nurture relationships. Presenting on the Internet is a great way to introduce people to your organization, your products, and to your expertise. Webinars are also great for:
- demonstrating products
- technology orientations
- professional development
- building your brand by demonstrating your thought leadership
Online presentations are like a virtual handshake in the beginning of what will hopefully become a deepening authentic relationship with those who attend. Depending on the content you present, they can help you nurture leads into sales, advocates into donors, and constituents into conducting. And, obviously, the convenience and cost effectiveness of attending or presenting a presentation in your jammies or at your desk is hard to beat.
Great. We’ve established that conducing webinars are a strategy worth exploring. So, what’s not-so-great about webinars?
The (Potentially) BAD
Well, there’s nothing inherently bad with webinars, but there are some potential problems that might not make them the ideal tactic to use without some planning, practice and preparation.
- You absolutely MUST HAVE great content that is relevant, meaningful, exciting, and delivered exceedingly well. Developing content that will attract the right kind of audience can be time-consuming.
- Typically, it takes time to build up a critical mass of people who want to consume your webinar content and are willing to invest their time in your webinars. Having just one will not have as much impact as having a series or multiple series. Be prepared to generate a lot of content.
- You must research the webinar software vendors and pick the one that strikes a balance between the technology you need and your budget.
- While you are getting started, researching best practice in webinar production, and practicing your presentation (A LOT) are paramount.
- You will have to make sure the graphics are compelling and exciting and are not cluttered with a lot of text.
- The key to success is filling the seats! You will need to spend time marketing and promoting the webinars.
- You will have to be prepared to follow up with webinar attendees with meaningful practices.
- Initially, you will need someone to help you practice, prepare and monitor the session while it is live. (When you become more experienced, you may not need the help, but you will initially.
Well, so far, the bad isn’t bad. It’s all just a matter of preparation, right? You’d think so…
Even with the best software, great content, lots of practice, preparation, and promotion, things go wrong. There are many variables to being successful with webinars, only a few of which are addressed here. Even though I have a lot of experience producing and presenting webinars, I’ve had a bad experience or two. It happens. Once you’ve made a poor impression on attendees, it’s hard to recover. You might not get a second chance.
I’ve only scratched the surface of the pros and cons of delivering webinars. For more detailed information about webinar software vendors, best practice in webinar production, and presentation tips, you might want to:
Join me for a presentation on
11/9/2012 from 8:00 AM – 9:30 AM
NAEYC Annual Conference & Expo, 2012
in Atlanta, Georgia
Georgia World Congress Center, Room B308
Despite the drawbacks, I strongly encourage the use of webinars for many businesses. As a matter of fact, I offer webinar production services that are designed to help the uninitiated get started, and for the business that don’t want to be troubled with the technical details. If you would like to chat about webinars, give me a call or drop me a line. I’m here to help.