Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the privilege of hosting one webinar and attending two. Webinars can be a tremendous way to engage an audience of your customers or prospects. It’s not something that should be undertaken without a plan, and here are three things to keep in mind when planning yours.
Choose a platform
There are many providers of webinar services ranging from free to expensive. Some of them you’ve probably heard of like WebEx, GoToMeeting or AdobeConnect. Others you may not have, like Fuze. You need to ask yourself what you need in a platform.
- Is it one presenter, or multiple presenters?
- Will the presentation be shared or controlled by others?
- Will it include videos, either live or pre-recorded?
- Will my target audience be attending from their desks on a computer or on a mobile device or tablet?
- Is it free, or am I charging for it? If the latter, you’ll need to have a system in place to collect payments.
- Is there a cap on the number of attendees?
Create a schedule to promote the event:
Once you’ve chosen a platform and scheduled your webinar, allow two to three weeks to promote depending upon the length, planned audience reach and networking you are planning to bring in attendees. Determine whether or not it will be complimentary or if you will charge for attendance. If you’re charging for attendance, realize that attendees will need to justify it to their managers with some kind of takeaway for them, either in the form of credits from an accrediting body or a slide deck, ebook or materials they can use in their job.
Will you use social media? Your own email lists? Are you networking through other organizations that are co-sponsoring and need to give them material to promote it to their networks? Will your speakers promote it to their networks as well?
Practice, practice, practice.
There are no questions that technical difficulties will arise, but being familiar with how your selected platform works will make it go more smoothly. For audio, will you be dialing in via a telephone, or using your computer and a headset? (Pro tip: Use a quality headset or microphone.) Practice passing the presentation between speakers, or if there is chat functionality, reading and responding. It’s best to schedule a dress rehearsal and recruit a few people from your office to play the role of attendees to practice. This way, when the webinar’s happening for real, it goes as smoothly as possible.
Post-webinar follow up.
I know that I said three; here’s a bonus fourth thing. After the webinar, you’re going to have all kinds of valuable information. Some platforms show how long attendees were connected, others show if they clicked on links or downloaded slides. Even if you didn’t have 100% attendance from the registrants, you’ve got 100% of their contact details and your sales department should follow up for marketing purposes while it is fresh in everyone’s minds.