Business prospects are now accustomed to taking themselves through 60% of the sales journey (see related article titled “Prospects Take Themselves Through 60% of the Sales Journey“) but at some point they commonly need a legitimate interaction with the company. Videos are more personal and engaging than white papers and case studies and they are certainly are an important asset for customer acquisition. But what else can you do for those prospects that want more interaction than a video but less than a phone call. Invite them to a webinar (aka webcast).
Webinars are very easy to host using one of many online web services and invitations can be sent via email blast (you do have a database of prospect emails, right?) and promoted via social media (you do have a social media community, right?. The problem that is most commonly encountered is low attendance. Hosting the webinar involves mostly fixed costs, which means you will spend roughly the same whether you have 5 attendees or 105. Said a different way, your resulting cost per lead for each event is directly affected by the number of attendees you can gain.
The most common mistake I see when promoting a webinar is excessive product pitching. Of course, you are conducting the event to eventually sell your product but prospects don’t want to see it that way. But the solution isn’t as simple as changing your webinar title so that it doesn’t scream “product pitch”. Instead, try these ideas to see which are most effective at boosting your webinar attendance:
- Thought Leadership – Make the primary purpose of your webinar to educate the attendees on something relevant to your market or the problem you solve. Make it clear via the title of the webinar that the session is educational in nature.
- Spend Minimal Time on Your Company – You are entitled to spend 10-15% of the time introducing your company and solution but do it at the end after the attendees have learned something valuable. And don’t push your company/solution too hard. Try to maintain an “oh, by the way” demeanor.
- Strategic Alliance Partner – Do you have a partner that is much bigger than you and with strong brand recognition? If so, conduct the webinar jointly with them. Don’t give up on the thought leadership focus but when getting to the 10-15% of time you can spend on your solution, introduce the joint solution you created with your partner. Perhaps there’s technical integration that causes a 1+1=3 benefit to customers that have both products together. The other thing you want to do is leverage the size and scale of your strategic partner. Their customer and prospect database is much larger than yours. In addition to their brand name, leverage their marketing and promotion capabilities to drive attendance. Then share the leads for mutual benefit. See my related blog article on co-marketing here.
- Industry Analyst – Is there a well-known analyst firm or industry pundit that you can convince to do a joint webinar? They get exposure from the event and you get to borrow their brand and following. What’s best about an analyst/pundit is they are perceived to be an uninterested third-party. You’ll obviously want to join with one that generally subscribes to your view of the market. And if they are willing to say anything positive about your company or solution during their part of the webinar, great. But don’t ask them to get into genuine pitching for you because it will diminish their credibility.
- Webinar Series – Sometimes a particular thought leadership topic can be broken up into sub-topics. Having three, short (30 min) webinars run in series a couple of weeks apart might be easier to gain attendance than a longer webinar that covers everything. The prospects don’t need to attend all three webinars in order for you to earn the right to have a conversation with them. So the other benefit to creating a multi-part webinar series is that you can cast a wider net (three tries) for gaining participation.
The above ideas focus on the content of the webinar and the way you might describe it in the invitation. The other thing you want to do to maximize attendance is use all communication channels available to you. I already mentioned email and social media. In additional, highlight the event on your website, include a mention in your newsletter, article about it on your blog and make sure your inside sales team is pushing top-of-funnel prospects to it. And if you think ahead of time to record the webinar, you have another piece of video content you can put on the website for the prospects that want to take themselves through 80% of the sales journey rather than just 60%.
Check out my other blog articles related to customer acquisition here.
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