I’ll be the first to admit that creating my first webinar was pretty nerve-wracking. I still remember it well. The year was 2008, it was in my corporate days, and I had to complete a joint B2B presentation. I practiced and practiced.
I had the technology ready and worked with Go To Webinar (they provided support and training) so that end was covered. But I was still nervous about presenting in front of a ‘live’ audience, despite the fact they couldn’t see me and I would be orchestrating everything from the comfort of my office.
On the day of the webinar, there was actually a small earthquake, but the show went on! I managed to overcome my nerves and it turned out to be a great presentation. There was a good turnout and the Q&A at the end was lively. It was actually quite exhilarating! I loved being able to answer our online attendee’s questions and having the live dialogue with our community.
The webinar went so well that we decided to make it a regular part of our marketing strategy tied into new product updates and releases.
Webinars, Then and Now
I had such success with webinars in my corporate days that I regret not doing webinars when I first became a solopreneur. I learned it is the fastest way to get to know your audience and build a community. But hindsight is 20/20, right?
Besides, in the beginning you are busy figuring out who you want to serve, launching products and services and tweaking your company website. Not to mention, that running a webinar used to be cost prohibitive.
But fast forward to 2014 and I must say: I’ve become obsessed with webinars – and that is putting it mildly. I don’t know if it is the live interaction, instant feedback, meeting my community, or making sales … but I love launching them. This year alone I’ve completed 15 webinars for my audience and others. I simply can’t think of any other marketing tactic that yields the same results as webinars which includes, but is not limited to:
- Increased reach
- Deeper connection with your community
- Lead generation and sales
Webinars present a unique opportunity to build relationships with your community since you present information they are interested in (i.e, they have signed up) and communicate in an authentic and engaging way. In merely three short months, I added several hundred new email subscribers to my list, who I can now foster meaningful relationships with — thanks to webinars.
Choosing a Webinar Topic
Once I convince entrepreneurs on the merits of hosting webinars, the next logical (and common) question is: “What topic should I use?”
To get started, I suggest creating a Google Doc or Evernote and doing a brain dump of topics you cover in business — as well as the questions you receive often. Is there overlap? Do you have an existing product or service you can use to tie-in to the topic?
Ultimately, your webinar should be educational and not an infomercial. It is not a 45-minute sales pitch. Even if no one wants to purchase what you offer at the end, they should be able to walk away and take action on what you presented.
In your webinar the content should cover the “why” and your product or service should intuitively deliver the “how”. For example, in my webinar, How To Create, Promote and Profit With Webinars, I discuss why you should host a webinar and the corresponding business benefits. While I do discuss the technology and format (i.e., the how) that is covered in my course in much more detail if attendees want it. However, at a minimum, attendees walk away with ideas for their first webinar and a better understanding of how they can easily get started.
Leveraging Webinar Technology
There are many different webinar platforms you can use, however, I am a big fan of Google Hangouts On Air – since this is what I teach students in my Ignite Online course. The process of setting up a webinar with Google Hangouts is quite easy. The beauty of Google Hangouts On Air is that it is 100 percent free.
At a minimum, to get started, you need a landing page for event details (and to capture leads), access to Google Hangouts (or your preferred webinar software) and an email marketing service provider. With these tools in hand you can have a webinar setup and ready to go in no time. Like anything, practice is required, but once you’ve completed a few test runs you are on your way!
When it comes to growing my reach and connecting with my community, nothing compares to webinars or a live training. So, when will you be hosting your first webinar?
This article has been edited and condensed.
Sandy Sidhu is a digital strategist and idea igniter who helps entrepreneurs break down technology into simple concepts, learn the need-to-know of marketing and the web, all while helping you create community and connection with your customers. Sandy has a weekly podcast, The Business Ignite Show, where she interviews entrepreneurs who share actionable business insights. Connect with @sandysidhu on Twitter.
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