Saturday, July 26, 2008

WEBINARS -- Professionally Market Your Company While in Fuzzy Slippers

If your first question is "What is a webinar"? It's OK, you're in good hands. I'll explain.

According to experts, it is a seminar offered by a company via the web that is interactive and typically contains audio and video. It also typically has a moderator helping the presenter by organizing questions from the audience. One can present PowerPoint slides, webcams, and software demonstrations.

The next question is: Is it right for your business? If you answer "yes" to the following question, keep reading along:

Do you have a small business that wants to branch out beyond your city?
Do you have a very small budget?
Do you sell a product or service that is best marketed visually?
Not all webinars are created equal. But with a little preparation and planning ahead of time, your webinars will be a tremendous success.

1. First and foremost, find a webinar provider that's right for your company's needs. A couple of very reputable companies are WebEx (now owned by Cisco Systems) and There are others and they have a variety of services including a variety of features, competitive pricing, and lots of extras. You should plan on at least eight weeks to choose and take a free trial of a potential provider. This will give you plenty of lead time.

A good webinar system should:
Be easy to use
Have the features you require and the ability to share presentations and documents
Charge a flat monthly rate (so you won't get dinged for running a trial test before your actual webinar or follow-up webinars)

2. PLEASE be sure you have really interesting, engaging content so you don't put your viewers to sleep. This is probably the most important element to your webinar success. If your material is boring, you'll lose your guests - and their potential sales.
Consider inviting an industry expert, marquis customer or big name partner. This will stimulate more interest, drive participation and create synergy. A well-known expert or guru can double or even triple your attendance.
Use pictures, diagrams, and live demonstrations from pre-loaded websites to keep the material fresh and entertaining.
Ask potential questions to encourage participation from your guests.

3. Be thoughtful when choosing a date and time.
Plan on hosting your webinar at least twice to accommodate multiple time zones.
Avoid Mondays or Fridays as these are peak conferencing days and attendance is also often lower.

Start at 15 minutes past the hour. Most meetings end on the hour and this gives your participants time to decompress before joining your meeting.

The best times are 10 am and 2 pm to make sure your guests are their desks and available before or after lunch.

Send a reminder of the contents and time of the webinar one week ahead of time. Send a "see you there" reminder the day before.

4. Cap Your Participants at about 25 so it's easier to take question and will keep the seminar quite interactive.

5. Have an Agenda & Stick to It. If you are the moderator, be ready to start your webinar 15 minutes ahead of time.

Start on time, and respect your participant's schedules by ending on time as well. It's also a good idea to give more than one person a copy of the PowerPoint presentation, including a hard copy, in case of technical difficulties.

6. Run a Practice Webinar before the actual presentation. Practice makes perfect. Webinars aren't difficult, but they are different from running a meeting or a conference call. EVERYONE should take a test run of a webinar, especially if you've never run one before.
This gives you the opportunity to fine tune your material and catch any potential problems with the system.

Don't forget to ask two people from sites that will be participating to help you by signing on and asking questions.

7. Have the webinar archived so that those who missed it can log in and watch it later.

8. Be sure to have any accompanying documents ready for download on the webinar home page.

If you incorporate all of these traits, your webinars will be a huge success. And your business will reap the rewards. We live in a time where you can buy webinar technology "in a box"; market your goods or services and be successful. This is a chance to compete with the big dogs -- and WIN!

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