Let's say, for the purpose of this post, that you are an executive at a manufacturing company. Your CAGR (combined annual growth rate) is about 3% over the last 5 years because of global competition and overall low GDP growth rates in the macro economy where you operate. You've been tearing your hair out trying to figure out how to get back to those heady days of double digit growth. You've tried pushing your sales team to do more, but realized they are doing as much as they can. You've pushed your business development managers to innovate and be more creative in their product road maps, but they just can't come up with anything really unique that resonates with your target audience. You've tried acquisitions, but they just never really work out as expected in spite of those glorious hockey stick graphs.
Your marketing department has tried social media, content marketing, a blog, more trade shows, print ads, digital ads and just about every other tactic under the sun. It seems like you just can't break through the noise and get any awareness of your great brand and great products.
Maybe it's time to consider webinars as a way to increase awareness?
Sure, you've probably attended a webinar or two. They're usually awfully boring and often a waste of time. Why would you ever consider webinars as a way to increase awareness? These 10 questions and answers just might change your mind:
Q1. Why should I care about webinars?
A. Webinars are one of the best, no strike that, they are the best marketing tactic for gaining broader and deeper engagement with your target audience. Engagement = more customers. There is no other marketing or sales tactic that can get you in front of hundreds or even thousands of prospective customers with as little cost. The ROI can be enormous.
Q2. How many leads will I get from a webinar?
A. I've created a single webinar that generated as many as 2500 leads. The actual number depends somewhat on your current activity and the viability of your current database as well as the makeup of your target audience. As an example, if yours is a medium size manufacturing company with annual revenue of around $100 million, an educational webinar could easily draw 500 registrants.
Q3. How do I use video in my webinars?
A. You don't use a live video stream with a webinar. The assumption that a webinar includes live video feed is a common misconception. When we talk about webinars, we're not talking about a TV broadcast. In a webinar, you don't use a live video feed of someone talking. You use a couple of people who talk over the presentation. Video adds a great deal of complexity to the webinar if you are broadcasting to hundreds of people. Complexity increases risk of presenting a poor quality webinar.
Q4. How do I create a webinar?
A. There are a number of ways to create an effective webinar. The key thing to remember is to make the webinar about something that matters to your target audience. Don't create a webinar about your product or your company. There are a number of good platforms available for webinar creation, production and broadcasting on the market which are easy to find. Like any event, there are myriad details to cover. You may need someone with a little experience to help you with your first few webinars until you get your process down.
Q5. What is the best topic for my webinar?
A. As I alluded to above, the best topic is one that helps the people in your audience to solve a problem, relieve some pain or to just be better at something they care about. Product webinars usually fail as broad awareness generating activities. You need to switch your marketing thinking from, "look at us, look at our product, we are great" mentality to a "we can help you, we share our expertise, you are great" mentality. Find a topic that is at the intersection of a pain point common in your target audience with your unique expertise.
Q6. Who is the best person to speak?
A. As a manufacturing company, you have a lot of expertise within your company. Some are good speakers, some are terrified of speaking and some think they are good speakers. Find an expert who is passionate and has some experience with speaking. Members of a Toastmasters group are excellent choices. Avoid choosing sales people or upper level executives because they will always fall back on pitching the product or the company which defeats the purpose and intent of your educational webinar. Make sure you coach your speakers and practice, practice, practice!
Q7. What level of resources will it take to produce a webinar?
A. It does take considerable resources in time and personnel to gain awareness with webinars. As far as money, a webinar will give you the lowest cost per person engagement of any marketing activity. In other words, webinars are cheaper and provide more return than print ads, trade shows and digital ads. Plan on 25 hours for the initial setup and about 10 hours per webinar for production. You can purchase a webinar platform for around $200 per month as a subscription service. The other resource you should be sensitive to is the time of your subject matter experts. Make it easy and rewarding for them to participate.
Q8. What is the ROI for a webinar?
A. As with all questions about ROI, it's tricky to come up with a black & white answer. I can say that for about the price of a full page color ad in a trade journal or about 1/3 the cost of a trade show, you can produce the webinar. The ROI could easily be in the 10's of thousands of percent. For example if you invest $5000 in a webinar, a well produced and well done webinar could easily get a 100x return. Naturally, it depends on the nature of the thing you are selling, but the point is, webinars can give you a lot of bang for your buck.
Q9. What are the specific benefits of webinars?
A. In addition to the ROI benefit mentioned above, a well done, educational webinar produced with an audience focused topic will provide top of mind awareness, strong feelings of reciprocity, and position your firm as highly credible (more credible than the competition). All of that results in more awareness, more leads and more sales for your business.
Q10. What are the first steps to get started?
A. You, as the senior manufacturing executive, will have to devote personnel time, budget and probably help recruit the subject matter expert. Choose a person from the marketing department to own the process. If you tack it on as an ancillary responsibility to someone's regular duties, you will get a half-assed result and you will be sorely disappointed. Not only that, but you will miss out on this fantastic awareness generating tactic.
Webinars can be extremely effective in generating awareness and even quality leads, but the reality is that most are done very poorly. This is your opportunity! Choose a relevant and meaningful topic, use good speakers, prepare, practice and make it interesting to win in your market.