The How & Why of Webinars

By Bob West

Marketers’ increased use of digital media in the agriculture and specialty horticulture markets has primarily taken two forms: enewsletter and website advertising. Quite frankly, I have been surprised that one digital platform hasn’t been more readily embraced in these markets: webinars. So, the purpose of this post is to share the details on everything involved in a webinar while also exploring the value of producing one.

Let’s look at this in pieces ….

Picking the topic & Speaker

This is the first step in the process, and one of the most critical. This can also be a fairly simple decision for you. Just ask yourself one key question: What issues (related to your business) challenge your customers / prospective customers and their businesses the most? What do they want to know more about? Start with the audience and their interest or need.

Of course, a sales or marketing goal is likely driving your interest in the webinar. For many companies, that means supporting a key product or a new product, so developing the best topic requires addressing a challenge solved by your product or products.

The majority of webinars we’ve seen or produced for clients are presented by a technical services individual for the company, although a number of companies have been able to get some good customers to present for them. Regardless, the key to picking a good speaker is picking a knowledgeable person who can talk about the solution without selling too much.

Developing the presentation

I think many companies want to produce webinars but don’t because they are intimidated by the idea of developing the presentation itself. Two things on that: First, the presentation itself doesn’t need to be anything more than a standard Powerpoint file. That’s all. Second, I would bet most of you have at least a dozen ready-made presentations all set to share with an audience – they’re probably living on the laptops of your tech services personnel, and many of them have likely already been used for an in-person education presentation.

Promoting the webinar

Aside from selecting the topic, promoting the webinar may be the most important factor in determining the webinar’s success. All of the work involved will be wasted if you don’t get an audience, so give this challenge considerable thought.

Many companies engage a media company partner for this very reason because the media firm will have promotional tools and lists far beyond anything a supplier could expect to have.

Some of Meister Media’s brands have more than 20,000 email subscribers to which we can promote a webinar. (We focus our webinar promotional elements almost entirely on email efforts in order to focus on those prospective attendees who are already at least somewhat digitally engaged.) And given that our average webinar attracts roughly 300 registrations and 150 live event attendees, you can see the need for a strong, effective promotional plan.

During the webinar

Producing the actual webinar itself may be the simplest part of the whole process. Various technology platforms exist for the back end, but they all essentially work the same way: the presenter will sit at their desk and talk into a phone while walking attendees through the Powerpoint. It’s just that simple.

And, just like with any in-person presentation, be sure to allot time at the end of the webinar to answer any questions the attendees may have. The technology platform should again facilitate this process through which the attendees will type in their questions and the presenter or moderator can view them and decide which questions to answer and in what order.

After the webinar

A webinar should give you two additional sales and marketing opportunities. First, think about whether or not you want to record the webinar presentation itself, which would give you a video file to post on your website and engage other prospective customers.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, is the database of webinar registrants that you get from your technology platform. (Don’t even think of using any platform that doesn’t get you such a database!) At the very least, this database needs to be incorporated into your customer / prospect database. But the real value lies in divvying up the names among your sales reps and getting them to follow up in a timely manner.

Everyone who attended the webinar clearly represents a high-value, pre-qualified sales prospect for you, and the registration database will include whatever contact information you collect through the registration form.

Bob West is Meister Media’s Director of Interactive Sales. He can be reached at 440/602-9129 to answer any questions you may have about webinars.