Not Another Webinar! Five Critical Things to Consider for Your Virtual Event

December 9, 2010

So how many invitations do you receive a day to attend yet ANOTHER free webinar? Recently I conducted an “audit” of my inbox and during the week of November 15-19 I was invited to 12 different webinars.  My “greater than 2 a day” average is at best … average …and my guess is that many of you are bombarded with far more invitations.

Ironically, despite all the choices out there, webinars continue to be one of the most effective marketing tactics for our clients.   There are many ways to skin a cat and certainly the same holds true for planning, producing and executing a webinar.  At a very high level …here are 5 Critical Things to Consider as you jump into the webinar fray.

1. content is king …. .. pick a hot topic and people will come.

2. feature the primary market
“Who do you want to attend your webinar?” Invite one or more thought leaders who fit the same profile of your desired attendees to participate as speakers or panelists.

3. panels work!
I often identify 3-4 questions around a hot topic and then recruit a panel of thought leaders from the primary market (see #2) to sit on the panel. This enables me to

a) promote a multi-perspective event
b) more easily recruit panelists as there is now no real prep work for them (i.e. no slides)
c) help our brand by sitting “up on stage” with clients or prospective clients
d) showcase our expertise without forcing our audience to sit through a capabilities presentation.

4.  convenience.
Typically, half our attendance results from our “day of event” promotion.” In other words, we generate lots of registrations 3-4 weeks out, but the folks that show up are largely driven by the ”day of” promotion. Why? Webinars are a “convenience” event for most. People are busy and there are a ton of webinars out there so even if your topic is terrific, your attendees will only attend if their calendar remains open on the day/time of the event.

5.  five minutes after.
What is your plan for the first 5 minutes AFTER the webinar ends? This is often the most critical question to answer in you planning as it ties in all the objectives you attached to the event. Three must haves:

i) have a plan on how to identify the attendees you want to follow-up with
ii) have content already prepared to follow-up
iii) have a plan on how to leverage the energy /success resulting from your webinar in the weeks that follow

There are many tactics that can be discussed to embellish or expand upon the above. In addition, as I mentioned at the onset, there is more than one approach to make this all work.   I would be happy to answer any additional questions.  Good luck!


Four Ideas to Produce Valuable Content

November 8, 2010

relationship marketing

engaging in productive conversations

Marketing is as much about engaging in productive conversations with your customer base as it is about targeting and messaging.  How do you begin these conversations?  Whether it is through social media or more traditional distribution channels like email or brochures, relationship marketing (and selling) starts with listening and then providing valuable content to your customers.

Good content is often seen by marketers as hard to come by.  Here are four relatively easy tactics to create valuable content for your marketplace.

1. Facilitate a Peer-to-Peer Discussion.  Identify a hot topic and then promote a discussion among individuals at different companies that represent your potential customers.  The platform can vary.  Your options include using a professional online community, partnering with an online discussion forum, producing a teleconference, or organizing a small face-to-face meeting.  Facilitating peer-to-peer conversations among your potential customers can be tremendously valuable for those participating, and also enables you to build credibility and trust within your marketplace.

2. Survey and Summarize Feedback.  Your prospects probably share similar business challenges but their perspectives on these challenges may vary.  These differences can be interesting and enlightening.  Create a basic 10-20 question survey around industry trends, asking your prospects and clients their perceptions on the most pressing external forces, internal factors and overall market tendencies.  Summarize these findings in a one-page executive summary to distribute to your marketplace.

3.  Interview a Customer. Use a webinar tool like MS Live Meeting or WebEx to conduct a five-minute telephone interview with a customer, discussing current challenges or perceptions on the overall market landscape.  Write a brief one or two paragraph summary of the interview and then link to a recording of the interview either on your web site or on a third-party site such as YouTube, WordPress or Box.net.

4.  Summarize Your High-Level Insights.  Undoubtedly your team has a breadth of knowledge as a result of working with (and listening to) customers.  Listing some of these insights in a short blog post or executive brief can be potentially valuable to your marketplace.  See our recent post, Five Points to Consider before Introducing a New Technology, as an example.

As marketers, we must find creative ways to easily and inexpensively leverage the smart ideas within the “heads” of the individuals in our organization.  These ideas ultimately define who we are as organizations and they are critical to our success in becoming trusted advisers in our marketplace.  In closing, listed below are a few of the many blog posts that offer different and useful perspectives on creating or providing valuable content to your prospects and customers.

5 Steps for Curating B2B Content

7 Step B2B Social Media Content Sharing Strategy

What’s Your B2B Content Strategy?

7 Keys to Leading Highly Effective Sales Conversation


Keep it Simple

April 5, 2010

Confucius said “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” This rings so true in marketing. The companies who “dumb it down” are the ones who rise to the top and stay there … see Google, see Apple, see USA Today.

We often get fixated on certain terms and phrases, and our personal bias prevents us from clearly communicating to our market. As a B2B marketer you can never assume you are your market.

My firm’s business is predicated on bringing pharmaceutical companies together to work cooperatively to evaluate new R&D technologies. For years we avoided the word “consortium” to describe ourselves. We thought of “consortium” negatively and did not want to be associated with the term. Thus we started our own game of Taboo describing the business with words like “short term, multi-company projects,” “collaborative projects” and “collaborative innovation.” Our personal bias generated complex and inaccurate messaging resulting in confused (and/or unimpressed) prospects. We made our job much more difficult than it had to be.

Today, when describing our service to a big pharma executive I simply say “we manage an industry consortium to collaboratively evaluate new technologies.” It was Winston Churchill who proclaimed, “all the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word.” In our case, this single word is consortium.

Here is a fun and entertaining presentation by David Pogue of the New York Times during TED 2006 ….his focus is on technology …but the message is similar .. simplicity sells!


Follow-up to Utilizing Facebook for Small Business Lead Generation” held Thursday, April 23, 2009

April 27, 2009

The Marketing Studio hosted a webinar and expert panel entitled  “Utilizing Facebook for Small Business Lead Generation”  on Thursday, April 23, 2009 at 12 PM ET.   A sincere thank you to our panelists! View the slides here and  links to their Fan Pages below.  Visit the Marketing Studio’s new FB page here!

Rachel Levy, Rachel Levy Consulting on facebook


Susan Liddy, AspireLifeCoachng.org on facebook


Hasan Luongo, Hoodiepeople.com on facebook

Mike Volpe, HubSpot on facebook


Small Business Case Studies – Leveraging Twitter!

March 8, 2009

Over the past year, more and more businesses of all shapes and sizes, are investing time to explore what all the hype is behind “Twitter.”  What many have discovered is that this microblogging phenomenon presents a great opportunity for their companies.  I list below links to four great posts/case studies on how different types of business are successfully using Twitter as a tool to ultimately …make ….money!

Leveraging Twitter as a lead generation, customer service, or overall branding tool takes time; a precious and scarce resource when you are running your own small business.  Time and lack of expertise are barriers preventing most small businesses from successfully utilizing Twitter for lead generation and networking.  According to a recent Marketing Studio poll,  79% of small business owners avoid Twitter because of: lack of expertise, not enough time or insufficent understanding of how it can make an impact on their business (i.e. no proven ROI model). 

Well here is a quick public service message to small business owners: “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance” (Derek Bok, former Harvard University president).  Bottom line is this: if you are not making an effort to learn more about Twitter, you may be costing your small business an incredible opportunity.  

eventbrite   I have the privilege of hosting a live webinar Wednesday, March 11 at 12 PM EST where four experts in social media will not only answer the question “what the heck is Twitter?” but also outline three real life examples on how companies are actually leveraging Twitter to grow their business.  Join us (it’s free).  Meanwhile as a prelude to our discussion on March 11, I list below four interesting case studies/stories.

case-studies4 Four Case Studies

Zoomdweebie’s Tea Bar How Twitter saved a small business in Wichita, KS.  Now they may relocate because they need bigger space!

CoffeeGroundz Cafe Blog post by @ericaogrady discussing how Twitter has changed the way they CoffeeGroundz Cafe in Houston, Texas conducts business.

The Big Guys A Business Week article outlining how some of the biggest companies in the world are using Twitter to communicate with their customers.

BBGeeks A great, must read on the trials, tribulations and “results” of a self proclaimed “Non-Big Brand.” 

 

usa_dream_team  During Marketing Studio’s March 11 webinar we will feature three additional real life examples of how people are leveraging Twitter to Grow Their Small Business.  Below is our “dream team” of panelists with links to their latest blog posts:

Aaron Strout, VP, Marketing, Powered

Becky McCray, Small Town Entrepreneur

Kyle Flaherty, Director of Marketing, BreakingPoint

Monica Valentinelli, Social Media Expert, Musicnotes.com

 

*** Register for the March 11 webinar here (registration is free) ***


Update on Webinar: Lead Generation for Small Business

January 7, 2009

Thank you for all your input!   The Webinar and Panel is entitled:

Lead Generation for Small Business: Tactics to Drive an Inbound Marketing Strategy
February 11, 2009 at 8 PM EST (sixty minutes in duration)

Register (free) at: http://marketingstudio.eventbrite.com

 

 

I summarize below the insights I have received into three buckets.  Any additional thoughts are welcome …feel free to forward along to other smart folks as well.  Thank you all again!   

 

bucket  I. Strategy

* Do you have a lead generation strategy?

* What lead generation tactics work best for your business?

* How can small companies be seen among the ever-widening pool of larger companies who are flooding into social media?

* What are the biggest barriers to executing a lead generation strategy?

 

bucket II. Resource Allocation and Prioritization

* Sharpening your market focus

* How do you overcome resource limitations that often challenge small companies?

* How do you find  time to execute marketing programs when you are busy “delivering”?

* Tying your marketing strategy to what you are best at doing

* Focusing on tactics/projects that are vital to your survival and/or prosperity

* Allocating resources to try something different

* Ensuring new tactics are aligned with your existing strategy
* What are the best lead generation tools (i.e. website, CRM, networking, SEO, etc)?

 

bucket III. Client Retention

* Gaining a clear perspective on your core customer segments: their pain points and how you provide value to them

* Retaining existing clients – ongoing communication and feedback gathering (i.e. customer surveys), understanding their ongoing needs

* How are companies nourishing relationships with existing clients?

* What tactics are you using to increase sales/billable hours from existing clients?

 

Remember, mark the calendar for Feb 11 at 8 PM EST ….we’ll try to address a subset of these issues through an expert panel (session will be free).

 

Register at: http://marketingstudio.eventbrite.com/


Producing a Free Webinar – Looking to Speak with Owners of Small Businesses

January 5, 2009

i-want-you-for-feedback  I am looking for input from small business owners and marketers.

I am producing a webinar and panel tentatively titled “Lead Generation for Small Business: Tactics to Drive an Inbound Marketing Strategy” to be held February 11, 2009 at 8 PM EST (sixty minutes in duration).    Details below:

Cost?  The webinar is free to attend.  Register here.

Focus?  The session will feature a panel of business owners who will address questions around:

* Do you have a lead generation strategy? 

* What lead generation tactics work best for their business?

* What are the biggest barriers to executing such a strategy?

* How do you overcome resource limitations that often challenge small companies?

* What are tactics you use to overcome these barriers?

* What “proof of concept” or “ROI” is need to convince you that a lead generation strategy is necessary?

* What are examples of a very small business creating an “inbound marketing vortex” in a bad economy?

We will also field questions from attendees.

Who should attend?  Owners and/or practitioners that run and market their small business (loosely defined for purposes of this webinar as businesses that generate less than $15M annually).  These may be lawyers, consultants, software vendors, accountants, insurance brokers, store owners, publishers, etc.

ur-doing-it-wrong   I need your feedback!  Over the next two weeks I am looking to speak with as many small business owners and/or marketers as possible to gain feedback and insights on specific questions and topics we should address.   Please provide your feedback within this blog or simply email me to arrange a brief teleconference so we can connect one-on-one.  Your insights are truly appreciated! 

See you (virtually) on February 11 (I will post confirmed panelists and their bios on this site soon).


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