Webinars have always been an invaluable tactic for any content marketing strategy. They’re a low-cost way to generate plenty of leads and are great at cementing ‘Thought Leadership’. Meaning, they can help position you as a real expert within your niche.
Sounds great, right?
The only problem is you’ve never hosted a webinar before! But don’t worry. By the time you’ve read this article, you’ll be well on your way to planning and hosting your webinars like a pro!
Before we get into the details of webinar hosting, it’s important you understand the importance of preparation. Preparation is key to delivering a successful webinar.
Your content should be informative and delivered in a professional and seamless manner. This won’t happen by chance. Plan your content and practice your delivery.
If you want to take up an hour of your audience’s time, you need to reward them with a great customer experience. It’s worth noting that 48% of people state that webinars are least enjoyable with a poor host or presenter. So take the time to craft a compelling story. And practice presenting it with your chosen webinar software.
Seems obvious, right? But you’d be surprised at how often this gets forgotten. Sometimes your host is in a rush to get started, or their nerves get the better of them and they forget.
Always start with the basics. Explain why you are all here. What’s the point of the webinar and what should people hope to get out of it? Believe it or not, people don’t like surprises. They want to know the benefits up-front.
Remember content marketing is about a ‘value exchange’. You want your customer's attention. They will offer it to you in return for information or knowledge, or anything they perceive to be of value. So always be clear about the value you offer to avoid any unhappy customers.
You wouldn’t start a conversation with a stranger and not introduce yourself first. Well, the same is true of webinars. Let’s call it ‘webinar etiquette’.
Now that you’ve introduced your company and the webinar, make sure you introduce yourself. Too many presenters assume their audiences know who they are, when often they don’t.
Your introduction should establish who you are and your credibility in your niche. Use it to reassure your audience that you are an expert in your field. Make them feel their time is being well invested.
Once introductions are out the way, move onto the session’s agenda.
Managing customer expectations is an important part of any potential customer interaction. Setting out a clear agenda will go a long way to set realistic expectations.
Again, to avoid any surprises, signpost exactly what is happening and when. This means covering off the following:
Now that you’ve finished introducing the webinar, it’s time to move your focus towards your content.
Not every webinar offers extra rewards to their audiences. But if yours does, then it’s best to link it to the final bullet point from the previous step. In other words, link your reward with what you want your audience to do when they finish the webinar.
For example, that could be downloading an ebook, signing up to a newsletter or free course.
Of course, it may be that your content is rewarding enough. You may feel that you don’t need to reward your audience with anything else. While this may be true, particularly if you have a high-profile guest speaker, it misses the point.
You’re not offering rewards out of generosity. You’re doing it because it is a great way to generate leads and collect audience data. Your rewards are part of the value exchange. Your audience gets great content. You get detailed first party data.
Your brand story is unique to you. A good brand story uses emotion. It describes your challenge and how you overcame it. It also explains how much better your life is now you’ve overcome your challenge.
So how do you create a compelling brand story?
At the heart of all great content is storytelling. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be the next JK Rowling, but you do need a story to tell. More importantly, it has to be a story that is unique to you. Remember, authenticity is key here.
To start with, all good stories need three things. Characters, conflict and resolution.
The first thing you need is characters. This could be you, a customer or colleague. It could even be a friend or family member. But without characters, there is no story.
Once you have characters, you need the plot to set the story in motion. A plot should focus on two things. Conflict and resolution. In this case, your conflict is the challenge you want to overcome. The resolution to that challenge is your product or service.
Your challenge needs to resonate with your audience. They have the same problem that you had, only they don’t know how to solve it yet.
But you can help them. Or rather your product or service can help them. This is the resolution to your story. A way of overcoming your challenge.
Good salespeople listen more than they talk. They understand their customer’s needs and tailor their solution accordingly.
Now that you’ve told your story it’s time to listen to your audience. Take the time to understand how you can best help them overcome their challenges. A great way to do this is via an interactive poll, delivered in real-time.
These insights will help you tailor the rest of your webinar and increase your chance of success.
To give yourself the best chance of success, think hard about the answers you want to hear from your audience. Once you know what answers you want, craft your questions to fit those answers.
For example, to understand your audience’s views on their webinar software, ask them specific questions about their software. Don’t ask them more generic questions about webinars.
Prepare your questions well in advance.
But remember, data is nothing without interpretation. Now that you have your audience’s data, you need to generate valuable insights to fuel the rest of your webinar.
To start, focus on percentages rather than total volumes. Percentages offer insights into trends because they create context. It’s difficult to understand trends when dealing with a ‘volume’ number.
For instance, if the data told you 60 poll respondents are unhappy, what would you do? The fact that 60 respondents are unhappy offers some value. But what you don’t know is how representative that number is of your audience.
But if you were to say 75% of those surveyed are unhappy then this is a trend worth talking about. Because it affects the majority of your audience.
Finally, look to drill further down into the numbers. It’s great to understand what your total audience thinks. But cross tabulating the data and filtering by different groups will help deliver greater insight. This will make your webinar more interesting and effective.
Again, if 75% of your audience are unhappy, then it's important to understand which groups within your audience are driving this result. It might be that 90% of marketing managers are unhappy with their software, but only 40% of event managers feel the same way.
Understanding this distinction is important. It's an actionable insight and can help you deliver a more informed webinar.
At this point, you now have all the information you need to move confidently into the sales part of your webinar. You’ve delivered your value proposition. You've established your credentials and fully understood your audience’s needs.
It’s now time to be explicit about the value your product or service can offer your audience.
Attributing value can be broken down into the following categories.
To generate leads you'll have to show how your product or service can deliver against the 3 value categories. The more the better.
The moment everyone’s been waiting for! Now’s the time for the big reveal!
You’ve built up interest in your product or service and now it’s time to deliver the goods.
You’ll be tempted to jump straight into explaining what your product or service does. But a good sales message starts with the question ‘why’. The structure for a great sales pitch looks like this.
Why do you start with why? Because why represents your purpose. People are more interested in your reasons for doing something than what it is you do. It also helps define your brand story by creating an authentic value proposition.
So far so good! Your audience is on tenterhooks. They're waiting to hear more about your product or service. They want to know how it can help them overcome their challenges.
But to do this you need to understand why your customers buy your product or service. Sure, it might have the best features but, in most cases, people don’t by features, they buy benefits.
People buy products or services because they want them to benefit them in some way. For example, I recently bought some accountancy software. It has a tonne of features and applications that all look great. And the price was pretty good too. But my main reason for buying was because it saves me a lot of time and hassle, particularly at year-end.
So, the benefit to me was saving time and removing stress. Not the slick features and apps.
Make sure you’re clear on what the benefits are to your customers. And if you’re not sure, ask them!
Now that you’ve introduced your product or service and explained it’s benefits, it’s time to start converting!
Be clear about your offer. Your customers need to know exactly what to expect. Explain the extra value associated with your offer and create a sense of urgency within your audience. For example, this offer is available for a limited period, or it’s only available to your webinar audience.
Fear of missing out is a big motivator. Use this to your advantage and make your audience an offer they can’t refuse!
Making your product or service as easy to purchase as possible will ensure a successful webinar. Offering a money-back guarantee will go a long way to removing any barriers to purchase.
It shows that you’re confident in your product, but more importantly, it builds trust. Once you gain trust, you’re on the way to developing a long-term customer relationship. And who doesn’t want that?
This is also known as ‘social proof’. Testimonials and case studies help you back up your claims. Simply put, they establish your credibility.
In effect, your testimonials tell your audience, ‘hey, don’t just take my word for it, look at all these satisfied customers!’
This is especially important when selling to new customers. Because testimonials help build trust. And trust is the foundation of any relationship.
So, make sure you have selected the right testimonials for the job and secured the relevant permission from your clients.
It’s important to reassure your audience that if they do buy from you, there's a customer service process in place should anything go wrong. Again, this will help establish trust and put your customer’s minds at rest. Removing another barrier to purchase.
Introduce your customer service team. Outline how best to contact them and how quickly they respond to queries. Be clear about how they will deal with your specific product offer should you need to contact them.
Finally, finish your webinar with a question and answer session. If you’ve delivered a great webinar there should be plenty of questions. Treat them as buying signals or leads. The more, the better. Try and answer as many as you can. But if you can’t, use it as an opportunity to collect contact details and follow up with specific customers.
This is it. You have now learned the secret to nailing your webinar presentation. If you attend webinars regularly, you probably remember all the great webinar hosts using this formula. Now, it is time to add the last ingredient that makes webinars so special, you.