By Dave Pelland
Thanks to tools that are easier and less expensive to use, a growing number of small business owners are incorporating webinars into their marketing toolboxes.
With a relatively low investment of time, money and effort, webinars can provide a cost-effective way to attract leads, expand your network, and increase engagement with existing customers.
In short, webinars combine a lot of the advantages of live events – an efficient way to meet customers and prospects while promoting your expertise and business – with the ease of running a PowerPoint presentation from your laptop.
Benefits of Webinars
A well-planned and executed webinar, or series of webinars, can provide a number of benefits to small business owners. Probably the most important is that they increase your ability to attract customers and prospects to an event that shines a spotlight on your company and its products or services.
By sharing content that helps attendees solve a problem or learn about a skill, you can increase your engagement with customers and potential clients, add names to your email list, showcase your expertise, demonstrate your commitment to customer service, and enhance your company’s online visibility.
If you invite guest speakers to participate in your company’s webinars, you also create a connection with their networks and further broaden your potential reach.
Developing Your Topic
One of the first, and most important, decisions in the webinar planning process is deciding on the focus of your presentation. Common approaches include providing advice or answering customer questions about a specific topic.
For example, you can discuss ways customers can save time or build their business, or provide other forms of advice your customers will find interesting or benefit from. Interviewing an industry expert or someone notable about an important topic can be another compelling approach.
Once you’ve decided on a topic, outline your presentation. You’ll want to have a main idea, along with two or three supporting points. Success stories and examples will help illustrate your idea and help your audience stay engaged. Try to include relevant statistics, and avoid having too much distracting text on your slides. And be sure to include practical how-to information your audience can apply right away.
It’s a good idea to aim for about a half-hour’s worth of content, with about 15 minutes or so of questions. Save the last two or three minutes of the webinar for a short call-to-action statement in which you invite attendees to sign up for your company’s email list.
Promoting Your Webinar
A successful webinar depends on reaching your target audience, and that effort should start as soon as you’ve settled on a webinar focus and date. Along with your email list and current customers, you’ll want to invite registrations through your other social channels. It can also be helpful to record a short YouTube video previewing your topic and providing registration information.
Because most people tend to register for webinars just before they take place, it’s a good idea to send a series of emails inviting people to attend. A common schedule might call for announcement emails going out four, two, and one week ahead of the event, with a last-minute reminder being sent 24 hours before you start. Don’t get discouraged if the first two emails provide seemingly little response, because most people wait for the last minute.
With some planning and a targeted marketing campaign, webinars can provide value to your customers while helping you promote your small business.
Dave Pelland has extensive experience covering the business use of technology, networking and communications tools by companies of all sizes. Dave's editorial and corporate experience includes more than 10 years editing an electronic technology and communications industry newsletter for a global professional services firm.
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of ZB, N.A.