By Vlad Vidaeff
 
I have been a huge supporter of webinars for quite some time.  After graduating with my MBA, I had an advanced understanding of marketing from a theoretical perspective.  However, most of the day-to-day skills that are necessary to be a successful marketer are not taught in business school.  Instead, I gained these skills in large part through on-the-job training.  To accelerate my development, I used webinars to gain exposure in areas where I was lacking.  Case in point, SEO.  I used webinars as a source to gain exposure to SEO.  As the field of marketing continues to change, webinars are a great way to continue learning and sharpening your toolset.   Personal stories out of the way, this blog will serve as your insider’s guide to webinars.  We will give you some practical tips on starting a webinar as well as the many benefits of this medium.
 
urlStep one of course is choosing a topic.  Once you have chosen a topic that is both interesting and one where you specialized knowledge, pick a provider to host your webinar.  Some of the most popular service providers include GoToWebinar, Adobe Connect, brightTALK, and WebEx.  From here, create a landing page on your website where attendees can register.  Now that the grunt work is out of the way, you will need to determine the format of your webinar i.e. one speaker, multiple speakers, interview style, moderated panel discussion, or interactive.  While there are many logistical aspects to take care of, some of the most important are scheduling a practice run and reserving your equipment and space (if necessary).
 
From here on out, PUBLICIZE, PUBLICIZE, PUBLICIZE!  A webinar won’t provide you with any value if nobody attends.  Luckily, as marketers, this is our forte.  Some of the most efficient and cost effective methods of promoting your webinar include: (1) scheduling posts on social media; (2) writing a blog post; and (3) creating Google or Facebook ads.  All of these methods will help get the word out and create buzz surrounding your upcoming webinar.  However, your efforts should not end the day of the webinar.  Some scheduled attendees will be unable to attend for various reasons.  To make sure they still benefit, offer a recording of the webinar they can listen to at a later time.  Establish an expiration date at which point your recorded webinar will no longer be available.
 
Your next logical question is what are the benefits of a webinar?  One major benefit is adding value to your brand.  A webinar gives you the opportunity to showcase your in-house expertise on a particular topic and to increase your brand awareness.  Your webinar shows a large audience the solutions you can provide to their marketing needs.  Another benefit is creating business relationships.  The attendees of your webinar should certainly be viewed as quality leads for your sales team.  Since attendees have learned firsthand what you can offer, a webinar is oftentimes a much more effective sales tool than a 30 second commercial for example.  Sign-up forms when attendees register will allow you to collect valuable information including names, addresses, positions, areas of interest, area of focus, company size, annual revenue, etc.  Deciding which leads to target is easier with this information at your disposal.  Lastly, webinars are affordable.  In-person meetings, conferences, and seminars can be expensive to arrange as you will need to rent a venue, provide food or refreshments, etc.  With a webinar, all you really need is the Internet, a microphone, and a webcam to get the ball rolling.  You also have access to a large group of people geographically from all parts of the country rather than just the location where your business is located.
 
Webinars are an affordable marketing tool that serves countless benefits on both the marketing and sales side.  We hope we inspired you to get started on creating your very own webinar!