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Lights, Camera, Webinar! The Anatomy of a Blockbuster Webinar

Lights, Camera, Webinar! The Anatomy of a Blockbuster Webinar



In many ways great webinars resemble blockbuster movies: They are much anticipated, have a great box office turnout, generate buzz and provide lots of great follow-on marketing opportunities. Not ...

In many ways great webinars resemble blockbuster movies: They are much anticipated, have a great box office turnout, generate buzz and provide lots of great follow-on marketing opportunities. Not surprisingly, they are also produced using a very similar process.

Coming soon to a computer near you - Demand Metric and ReadyTalk are teaming up to talk about how exceptional webinars are formed – the anatomy of a great webinar. Demand Metric chief analyst, Jerry Rackley, will discuss the pre-production, during and post-production phases of bringing your message from the small screen to critical acclaim for both prospects and key stakeholders in your organization.

Don’t miss this special screening and learn how to:

Develop and build the structure of a successful webinar
Deliver a contagious, buzz-worthy presentation
Get people talking about your event, before and after
Execute a highly effective follow-on plan for leads



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  • The Content Marketing Institute’s 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmark study compared what the most effective content marketers were doing with what the least effective ones were doing.It really shouldn’t surprise any of us that tailoring content to the profile of the decision maker was the top tactic for effective content marketers.This data is great validation for what we’re going to talk about today, and we probably didn’t need the data to help us understand that it’s a good idea to provide content – webinars or any other form – that meets the needs of prospects looking for solutions.With webinars, however, we haven’t always done this. There was a time when I was a one-trick webinar pony, using webinars for only one purpose and at only one place in the sales cycle. Today, we’re going to talk about how to view and use webinars more broadly.
  • Many organizations deployed webinars at some point in their past to meet a need – often an online demo or sales call. Webinars work very well for this, but when webinars become part of the marketer’s toolbox in this reactive way, they way their use evolves is usually pretty random. After the sales team latches on to webinars and uses them effectively, when there’s no strategy for using webinars, if they’re used outside this original purpose, it’s often kind of hit-or-miss. Got an idea? Let’s do a webinar. What a great set of slides! Let’s do a webinar. This evolution in the use of webinars isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just fails to fully exploit webinars as a medium. Just opening up the tap and allowing more webinars to flow out of your organization may not be a good measure of how you’re using webinars or how they can help you.
  • What we’re going to do today is suggest a strategy for using webinars that is aligned with your sales cycle. This first implies that you understand a couple of things:What your sales cycle looks like: how long it takes what stages it includes and what the buyer is thinking and trying to accomplish in each stage. The second thing we want to understand is how we can support the buyer in each stage of the sales cycle with information that helps push them through it faster, and with a affinity for our solution, by having a laser-beam like focus on meeting their informational needs as they progress through the sales cycle.Our goal in today’s webinar is to understand how webinars can meet the informational needs of buyers throughout the entire sales cycle, not just in one or two stages.To do this, we first have to spend some time studying who we’re trying to influence.
  • Anytime you’re developing content – webinars or any other form – the first thing you must do is fully understand the audience for that content.What do we know about the audience? Our biases get in the way here. We often feel that we know our audiences or target market really well. After all, we’ve been doing business with them for so long. But just like any relationship, familiarity leads to assumptions and a form of laziness. It’s incumbent upon marketers to constantly recalibrate their understanding of the audience for their content, because preferences and interests do shift.We also have to objectively consider why the audience for any webinar we produce should care. Of course we always feel our content is interesting, but we have to have an “out of body” experience, and look at our webinars (and other content) from their perspective. Does this meet an information need? Are we delivering something of value? Is our webinar the kind, after which it has been viewed, would lead an audience member to recommend viewing or share it with their peers? Would they attend a future webinar based on their experience with the last one?
  • It’s really helpful to understand how our audience is “wired” – if we’re fortunate to have an audience that is segmented into a fairly homogeneous group, we can profile them and understand their decision making process, their priorities and lots of characteristics that we should consider as we’re developing and producing webinars for them.For example, when you consider the three characters pictured on this screen, which of them would likely relish a detailed, in-depth technical discussion of a topic?Likewise, which of these types prefers a succinct explanation of just the most relevant details?The more we understand about our audience, the better we’re able to create content that meets their needs, and influences them.
  • Something that’s really important as we’re producing webinars is to know where our audience is experiencing “pain” – not necessarily physically of course, but what are their problems? Pain creates urgency. When we know what the pains of our audience are and then we produce webinars that discuss resolution strategies, viewing them becomes a priority for the audience.
  • Let’s take a look at the sales cycle now. While every organization has a sales cycle that is unique, for the most part, buyers progress through the same set of stages. The difference are the length of time spent in each stage, and what the buyer does in each stage.Consider where during this cycle you most frequently encounter a buyer. Generally speaking, the earlier in this cycle that we encounter a buyer, the better. The reason is simple: we have more opportunity to create a relationship and influence the purchase decision. I’ve experienced transactions where the buyer materialized with a purchase order for our product – in the Decision stage. We called sales like these “bluebirds” and we loved getting them, but it’s a risky business strategy to count on buyers emerging from the weeds to hand you an order.
  • What we’d like, as in the pre-internet “good old days” is for buyers to reveal themselves to us right after they realize they have a need. While this was once common, it’s now atypical.
  • More commonly, buyers are now revealing themselves to vendors in the Discovery stage. They have already realized a need for some sort of solution, and as they search for options, sometimes they let vendors know they’re looking. But not always.
  • It’s becoming more common that buyers remain concealed until the Consideration stage of this process. In other words, they’re self-educating deeper into the sales cycle, thanks to the vast resources of the internet. As vendors, we may not know they exist until they’ve already completed their Discovery research, have made a short list of vendors that hopefully, we’re on. In this stage, they reveal themselves with a set of informational needs that is very different from what they had in the Need and Discovery stages of this process. And, much of the time, we’ve not had the opportunity to influence their thinking prior to the Consideration stage. I think most vendors will agree – this isn’t the ideal situation.
  • When we don’t support the entire sales cycle with webinars and other content, it is going to have a certain duration, determined by the buyer. In this example, N days in length.
  • Likewise, when we don’t support the sales cycle across all its stages with webinars and other content, our influence on buyers is limited. Typically, that influence begins late in the Need stage, but even then it’s barely perceptible. It grows through the Discovery, Consideration and Decision stages, but still is not as impactful as we’d like it to be. It’s simply hard to have influence unless we’re present with content right after the birth of the need.
  • When we offer webinars that support the sales cycle – content we’ve specifically designed to meet the information needs of buyers as they move through it – one of the things that happens is we accelerate the decision. Our webinars enable buyers to make faster decisions in which they have more confidence, so the sales cycle shrinks some.
  • The other thing that happens when we do this – have the right kind of webinar content deployed and ready to meet buyers right after the birth of their need – we imprint our message on them earlier in the sales cycle, creating influence that expands and extends through more of the cycle.
  • While webinars can have great effect anywhere in the sales cycle, what under-utilizes webinars is the traditional model of having a lead generating webinar that tries to catch buyers in the Need stage, and/or a qualifying webinar in the Discovery stage. Please hear me on this – these are not bad things to do. In fact, many organizations have had a lot of success doing this. However, it’s like buying a 4-bedroom home and only using 1 or 2 two rooms.
  • What’s better is having a strategy that uses targeted webinars across the entire sales cycle. This strategy recognizes that the webinar you produce and deliver in one stage of this cycle will likely look very different from what you’ll do in another stage. To better understand this, let’s take a closer look at these stages and what typically needs to occur in them from both the buyer and seller’s perspective.
  • As I mentioned, in the Need stage, the seller often isn’t aware that a buyer lurks out there with a need. The operative word for this stage is “identification”. The seller hopes to pop-up on the buyer’s radar screen, and to do that, the seller needs awareness. Brand equity really helps here. Ideally the seller has managed its brand well and the buyer has experienced enough impressions of that brand to factor into the buyer’s thinking. In this stage, brand equity is like a rainy day fund –it has to be in place before you need it. In the case of webinars, this can mean having one or more recorded or archived webinars that are indexed well for search that provide the information a buyer in this stage needs – more on this in a moment.
  • When you look at what the buyer is going through, they’ve just identified a need. Initially, they will validate it – do I really have a problem? If so, are there solutions for it?If it is a recurring pain or need, the first thing the buyer tends to ask is “what did we do last time?” They don’t want to reinvent the wheel if a prior solution worked. If it didn’t, or didn’t work well, they’ll be off on a journey through the rest of the sales cycle, where you’ll want to be waiting for them with clean, comfortable webinar “rest-stops” along the way.
  • So what makes sense in terms of a webinar strategy for this stage? As a seller, you want to make it very clear that you understand the pain or need. You can assure the buyer that their need is indeed legitimate, that strategies exist to address the need, what the buyer should consider as they pursue solutions, and as you do this, you position your company as a helpful and a source of expertise. If you make specific product references, it should be with a very light sales touch. Keep in mind that what you’re doing with a webinar in this stage is not selling, but helping. Selling will come later.Simone has some examples of real webinars that illustrate this that she’ll share with us now…
  • As the buyer enters the Discovery stage, it’s very likely the buyer remains hidden from the seller – by choice. The operative word to describe what is happening in this stage is “search”. The buyer, having validated their need, is actively looking for potential solutions. Visibility remains important for the seller during this stage. Having done a good job of search engine optimization is very helpful for the seller. Likewise, having a high social media profile is also very good for the seller here.
  • For the buyer, the Discovery stage is a party where every vendor is welcome. Google is a key tool for the buyer, who is busy developing a comfortable list of solution options. What is a “comfortable” list? It differs for each buyer, but most of the time it includes more than one option. The exception is when there is a dominant player with a well recognized brand. But most often, it is a longer list, although less than all possible options, because the buyer won’t have the ability to patience to find them all. Buyers will use their intuition to tell them when their list is big enough.
  • The webinar strategy for this stage is to be noticed and get on the buyer’s list. Being easy to find is the biggest part of this. So have webinars that are informationally relevant for this stage – continue to be helpful but begin to blend some promotion in. “How-to” content and case studies work very well during the Discovery stage. You can deliver live webinars, but its just as likely that recorded ones stand a better chance of being found. So make sure you’re following best practices when it comes to hosting these recordings on your website, on your own Youtube channel, promoting them on your blog, through social media and other ways that index them well for search and give them maximum visibility.Simone has some examples of webinars that work well in this stage…
  • In the Consideration stage, the buyer is now in assessment mode. What’s important for the seller is to know about the buyer, and vice versa. Seller credibility is very important here, because the buyer is examining performance and claims, seeking to understand if users who look like they do are receiving the benefits the seller promised the solution would deliver.
  • There’s a new dynamic for the seller in this stage as well: Up till now, the buyer has been expanding consideration of solutions, accumulating options. Each new vendor or solution was thrown on the pile for consideration. But during this stage, the tide will begin to flow the other direction. The buyer will exit this stage by eliminating many solution options from consideration. A selection criteria will begin to emerge that the buyer uses to narrow the list of options.
  • With that understanding, create webinars specifically to address the informational needs of your buyers in each stage of the sales cycle. Don’t deploy a “one-size fits all” webinar.
  • Before get to the Q&A, Simone and I wanted to share information about some tools that can help you put together an effective webinar program. Demand Metric has collaborated with ReadyTalk to create this webinar survival kit to help you plan, assess, manage and track your webinar programs.Simone to share more…

Lights, Camera, Webinar! The Anatomy of a Blockbuster Webinar Lights, Camera, Webinar! The Anatomy of a Blockbuster Webinar Presentation Transcript