Unsurprisingly, there’s been a huge growth in webinars. These online events are a great way to reach people outside your local area, sharing your expertise across a wider range of prospective customers and helping to build your reputation. Today’s attendees expect a slick, useful presentation that is value for money and a good use of their time, so it matters that you take the time to set up and deliver. To help you out, we’ve put together a guide based on our online event planner expertise.
Why host a webinar?
As we’ve said, webinars help you to share your expertise with a targeted audience. They give you a chance to demonstrate your knowledge, understanding and capabilities, and to share things that your audience can take away and use immediately. When done properly, they act as great lead generators. So, if you have good quality content and the ability to attract an audience, it’s worth giving webinars a go. Here’s how to get started:
Choose a platform – there are lots of different webinar platforms. The one you choose may depend on your budget, how tech-smart you want your webinar to be, how many people you want to attend, and more. Platforms that allow breakout rooms for discussion might be just what you need, or you might need something simple and straightforward so you don’t feel stressed by the technology. Leading webinar platforms include:
- Google Hangouts
Choose a relevant topic – you might want to highlight something that is happening or changing in your industry, or something that might affect your clients. This is often the case with professional services, who run webinars on legal or HMRC changes that accountants should be aware of. For other companies, you might want to run a webinar on care and maintenance issues, or environmental concerns, or on a specific area of your business that you often get asked about.
Decide what you want to achieve – do you want inbound lead generation? Do you want to give a discount offer to attendees? Do you want to raise your profile? Are you working with a partner firm or association so that you can access their clients? Knowing what you want to achieve helps you to plan the journey of your webinar, and to attract the right people to attend.
Plan it properly – a well-prepared webinar does wonders for your reputation. So have a clear journey in your plan. Make sure you give enough time for your main presentation, that you cover all the angles in a logical fashion and that you have time at the end for questions or discussions. If more than one person is presenting, have a clear plan for who is talking when, and make sure the slides that attendees can see are consistent between you.
Practice, practice, practice – it takes a seasoned professional to ad lib a webinar. If this is your first time, make sure you practice ahead of time – preferably online with an audience. This will help you make changes to your performance – such as slowing down your speech, not reading from notes, looking straight into the camera and talking around your slides, rather than just reading them out.
Promote your webinar well – just like any other event, people will only come if you tell them about it. So use your social media, online email marketing lists and other personal contacts to make sure you get as wide a reach as possible. Whether your webinar is paid-for or free, you can limit the numbers attending to create a sense of demand, and offer to run a second event if you’re oversubscribed. Make it easy to sign up, and create a special landing page on your website so you can drive your webinar traffic to a relevant place.
Check the tech – there’s nothing worse than hanging around online while a presenter tries to get the technology to work. Make sure you have the latest updates, that your laptop batteries are fully charged and that headphones and microphones are working properly. Get your presentation set up so that you can share it easily and have someone on hand if possible – like your online event organiser – to help sort out any problems that occur during the webinar.
Connect with your audience – ideally, you want to turn this audience into customers. So connect with them straight away, before you start the presentation, and make sure you’re clear about when to ask questions or get into a discussion. Wrap up with a friendly conclusion and be engaging all the way through. This builds a great connection with the people on your call and increases the likelihood of them wanting to work with you.
Always follow up – like any event, the gold is often in the follow up. So make sure you have added this to your webinar plan, and that you have something ready to go straight away. It might be a thank you email with a discount code. It might be a tool, questionnaire, more detailed information or useful article or video to cement your webinar content. Ask for feedback too – this will help to refine your next webinar for even greater success.
Whether you’re organising the webinar yourself or using an events virtual assistant, lead generation tools like webinars can deliver a fantastic return on investment. When they are carefully planned, well rehearsed and have clear stated outcomes, even the most seasoned online event planner will tell you that they are more likely to succeed.
If you’re short on time and need help with webinar event planning, feel free to call us on 0800 994 9016 or use our contact form in the menu above.