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Doing the webinar gruntwork

Hashtags, spamming, woots – the internet has given us many new terms. In fact, even ‘internet’ is a relatively new word. One that I particularly like is ‘Webinar’, because it’s exactly what it says: A seminar, using the world wide web to deliver it. What’s more, I like the concept of the webinar, because it’s a new and refreshing way of communicating, and it really works.

For a start, all the traditional problems of traveling to a seminar are overcome, and that’s not just good for the meeting attendees, but for the world’s resources. Doing webinars is definitely an eco-friendly alternative to traditional international meetings. The second huge advantage is that through a webinar you can reach your ideal, niche audience.

Think niche, be niche

There’s never any point or benefit from trying to talk to ‘everyone’, and the more niche you get, the better. That means you can then meet at the highest level with small groups of well-informed people – an audience that really wants to hear what you have to say. The webinar format fits this perfectly because geography no longer plays a part in defining who comprises your audience. You can simultaneously talk to one contact in Tanzania, another in Australia, another in China, and so on. Your audience catchment area is now the size of the earth, but your niche is very precise. You have found your audience, and they have found you. Once that mutual connection is made, it’s time to start doing webinars. Or is it?

Getting the process right

Let’s just take a few steps back. First, what do you want to communicate, and who to? Defining your audience is always the number one consideration, followed by then getting to know them. Simply shouting “I’m going to give a webinar!” from the rooftops will not guarantee a path to webinar heaven. Far from it.
So you have to do all the step-by-step gruntwork that any marketing campaign goes through. I’ve developed my 6 Steps approach over the last fifteen years, a logical process which identifies the audience you wish to attract, then works through precise steps to nurture them, and secure them. It works for attracting investors to startups, and for customers to a business. That’s like the unglamorous but essential job of laying the foundations of a building. The foundations won’t ever be seen, but they must be there.
The business of running a webinar also means that the foundations must be in place, and the same process-driven logical steps have to be undertaken. This takes time! Don’t expect that five minutes after announcing your webinar, people will be forming a line to sign up. Before that you’ll need a whole system of ‘virtuous circles’ supporting your initiative: A website, a presence on social media, and lead magnets which demonstrate to people that you have something serious for them. You have to build the offer.

Never wing it

At the same time, you must also be building the content of your webinar, working to get the message super-clear. Don’t expect simply to ‘wing it’ on the day. You need to practice, then practice some more. Work through your webinar with friends or colleagues taking part to de-bug the technology, and more importantly, your own mistakes. Are you speaking clearly and slowly enough? Do you look into the camera, and – a small but vital point – do you remember to smile? You must express warmth, giving the feeling of approachability and encouragement.

Then how excited will your audience be if it’s just you onscreen, talking for an hour? Answer: not very. So you’ll need to enrich your presentation with images, text, perhaps video footage – in fact anything that helps make your message more vivid. Naturally this takes time to create and polish to a shiny state, but anything less than shiny isn’t going to cut it.

Managing time

You’ve nurtured your audience, you’ve got a webinar format ready to roll. So now it’s showtime? Well there is one other consideration, and that’s the time part of ‘showtime’. Your attendee in Australia is in a different time zone to your attendee in Ireland, so you’re going to be asking someone to stay up late, or get out of bed early, or whatever. Working with entrepreneurs, as I do, a lot of them are so motivated that they don’t seem to sleep anyway! However this is where you need to consider whether to create your webinar as a fully live event, or ‘canned’ – that is, pre-recorded. There’s also a third way of a hybridized live/canned mix.

Live, canned, or hybrid?

Live is edgy, and allows true and full interactivity with your audience. Big plus. The downside is that someone, somewhere is always going to be in the wrong timezone, or your webinar broadcast times simply aren’t convenient for them. At which point the canned option becomes attractive. I offer a webinar that is live, but which then has a passcode to allow signed-up attendees access to the material indefinitely. This adds a lot of value, because people can return again and again to review it.

My experience to date of webinars is that they work, they’re super-effective, and are the most niche way to meet your most niche audience. As a learning tool webinars are second to none, and when there’s interactivity, especially of an international nature, the benefits are priceless.


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