Marketing Yourself with WebinarsBy Wells H. Anderson, Published on June 21, 2009
You can attract new clients and professionals who refer business to you by presenting periodic Webinars. But wait a second, maybe the very idea of being a Webinar presenter makes you think, "Me? No way!" Before you dismiss the idea of being a presenter, let's take a look at what assumptions could be holding you back from doing Webinars.
Concerns About Presenting a Webinar
- If you announce a Webinar, no one will sign up.
- Producing a Webinar is too complicated and expensive.
- You're not a movie star. You can't do this.
These are natural concerns, but they can all be addressed. If you understand how to market your Webinars, you will get people to attend. If you use a good service, your Webinars will be easy to run and affordable. You don't have to be a movie star. If you can be relaxed talking to a small group, you can present a good Webinar.
This article focuses on the marketing reasons to do Webinars, how you can market them, and tips for managing the entire process. But first, a brief word on what Webinars are.
What Goes Into a Webinar?
A Webinar is a teleconference combined with a PowerPoint or screen presentation that your audience sees on their computers. It is a way to inform others about the topic that interests them in a format that is visual and easy to understand. Your on-screen quotes, photos, summaries and demonstrations grab the attention of your audience and keep them involved.
Webinars can focus on narrow topics of current interest to your prospective and existing clients. Or they can introduce other professionals to what you offer so you can demonstrate to them the benefits for their clients and for them if they refer business to you. For example, you might inform financial planners about legal services you can provide to their clients. You could show the planners how those services can generate additional business for them, so that they benefit along with their clients.
Why Should You Present Webinars?
Today people turn to the Internet to find resources. Webinars let you reach people who are spread out across wide areas without requiring them to go out of their way to participate. Webinars put you right there at their desks without spending your time or theirs traveling anywhere.
Webinars make it easy for prospective clients to get to know you and experience what you can do for them. It is also a way to retain current clients and continue to add value for them. The Webinar format builds relationships interest in your services.
Presenting Webinars gives you opportunities to contact people periodically in a way that doesn't offend them. People are more likely to pay attention to one of your Webinar announcements because the event is live scheduled. They know that if they don't attend, they can't go back later to get the free, valuable information you are offering.
Simply announcing Webinars enhances your reputation in the eyes of others. You are perceived as an expert on your topic. Even if they can't or don't attend your Webinars, your name catches their attention. Based on the author's experience, you can expect as many calls from people who receive an announcement and don't attend as you do from people who do attend.
How Do You Get Started?
You need a Webinar service. GoToMeeting from Citrix Online leads the field for small firms and solo professionals. It is affordable: $39.95 per month covers an annual subscription for an unlimited number of Webinars and virtual meetings. Years of refinement based on user feedback make the service straight forward and intuitive to use.
A 30-day free trial of GoToMeeting allows you to experiment with Webinars. The setup process takes as little as two minutes. You can learn to run a Webinar by reading the online Help or watching training videos.
Start by practicing a Webinar on your own. Next, invite a couple of trusted friends to join you for a 10-minute practice session where you present some of your material informally. This practice will show you that you really can host a Webinar.
Before marketing your first Webinar, write up an outline. You don't have to write out what you are going to say word-for-word. You will be talking about something you know really well. Just be clear ahead of time about what you will cover. Compose a title and a three-line summary.
How Do You Publicize Your Webinars?
First, go directly to your list of contacts. Start with existing and former clients. Flag those who may be interested in your topic. Review other categories of contacts one group at a time and continue flagging them for your mailing list.
Depending on the nature of your clientele, prepare either an e-mail or a letter announcing your first Webinar. Send out a mailing two to three weeks ahead of time. Do a follow-up mailing timed to arrive two to three days before the Webinar. In the author's experience, half the people sign up within 24 hours of the first mailing and half sign up within 24 hours of the second mailing.
It is a good idea to ask the recipients to request a reservation for the Webinar by replying to you with an E-mail or phone call. Respond to these replies by sending them the link for the online portion of the Webinar, the teleconference phone number and the teleconference code. GoToMeeting automatically generates this text for you so that you can paste it into e-mails and Web pages.
Other ways to get the word out
- Make phone calls to your most important prospects and clients.
- Post the Topic, Date, Time and Description on your Website with an E-mail address and phone number for making reservations.
- Announce the Webinar in your blog.
- Mention the Webinar in your signature block on discussion forums.
- Post about your Webinar on your social network pages.
- Call on people who refer clients to you and others in your field to see if they will help get out the word.
Managing Webinar Success
Are you concerned about handling larger and larger numbers of Webinar participants? It is normal for attendance at your Webinars to grow over time. You may find that a particularly hot topic causes a sharp jump in attendance.
GoToMeeting lets you scale up as your Webinars become more popular. You can expand the maximum number of attendees from 15 to 25 by upgrading to GoToMeeting Corporate and up to 1,000 attendees with GoToWebinar.
The GoToWebinar service automates the processes of creating announcement E-mails, registering participants and sending out reminder e-mails. It also supports recurring Webinars, allowing you to focus more on content and following up with interested prospects and less on the administrative details. The Attendance reports give you a wealth of information about who attended, how long they stayed, and what questions were asked via the Web interface.
Webinars get you noticed among prospective and existing clients. They help to establish you as an authority in your areas of specialization. By using a service designed for individuals and small firms, you command attention in your marketplace. Your efforts in presenting Webinars open the door to new business relationships and continuing interest from your existing and former clients.