Planning Your First Webinar 04 2010

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Planning Your First Webinar …

Planning Your First Webinar
~The What, Why, & How to Make it a Success

This seminar is appropriate for those wanting a basic understanding of the mechanics of delivering a webinar. It is valuable for those considering using webinars to deliver educational programming and for those just getting started with webinars as a new marketing channel.

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  • Welcome everyone and Thank you for spending a few minutes with me learning how to plan an effective webinar. We have over 300 people registered for this presentation, which tells you it’s a topic that a lot of folks are interested in. If you’re not currently delivering webinars, this presentation will give you the timeline and planning steps necessary to help make your first webinar a success. Please sit back and relax – there is no need to be furiously taking notes. After we finish I will be sending each of you a webinar e-kit; containing a timeline, checklist for assigning tasks, sample invitation and follow-up email templates.
  • Let’s summarize what we’re going to cover. I am going to guide you through each step in the webinar PLANNING process – in a simple to follow timeline format. For the most part I will be answering the What and When of delivering a webinar. The How and Why’s of webinars I explain in a separate presentation entitled the ABC’s of Webinars that I will be giving in a couple of weeks. If you have an interest in joining me for that presentation let me know at the end of this webinar and I’ll make sure you get sent an invitation. This presentation will run about 30 minutes, and then we will have a Question & Answer session for as long as you have questions. Feel free to pose your questions in the chat box as they occur to you during my presentation - that way they will be in the front of the queue when I start answering questions. I’m not going to cover presentation skills since I am assuming most of you will not be the presenter on your webinar. I’ve got materials on that topic which you can request if you’re interested. However – I will let you in on the best kept secret in the webinar business – something WebEx, Adobe, Go-To-Meeting and all the other web conferencing providers don’t want you to know… so stay tuned for that in just a couple of minutes. All right – having said all that – let’s get started.
  • OK – so you’ve had an epiphany and you want to start delivering webinars ….. for whatever your purpose. Tell you what – let’s do a quick poll right now to see what purposes you folks might want to use webinars for. This will only take a minute and I’ll share the results so we can see what the group is thinking they would use webinars for. BTW one of the preliminary questions sent in yesterday asked about techniques to engage the audience …. Well polling is one of the best. Your answers will also help me focus the rest of this presentation on what’s important to you POLL (purpose) Once you have your purpose clearly defined – you need to select a Presenter and a date…. no big surprise there – and I’m not going to take up your time discussing these. Other than to say that if you’re targetting office workers you will generally want to hold your webinar mid day during the week – though the best practices folks will tell you never to hold a webinar on a Monday. But with respect to choosing a speaker, depending on your purpose, having a household name is not important. This webinar is a classic example – you folks don’t know me – never heard of me – but you came here because of what you’re going to learn. Content is what’s important. Choosing the technical vendor. You need to address this issue right up front – but probably not for the reasons you might think. Before you make a decision on which vendor to choose, you need to make a more fundamental decision.
  • And that decision is - do you want to handle all of the steps of putting on a webinar yourself – or do you want some help. Some people will want help, some people won’t. It depends on a number of factors like (i) how technically savvy you are, (ii) how much time you have to commit to the process, (iii) do you have internal resources you can rely on. It’s a personal decision you need to make based on your individual circumstances – but you need to make it at the beginning of the process. If you’re going it on your own we recommend starting roughly 8 weeks in advance of your proposed date in order to give you sufficient time to manage the various steps in the process.
  • To put this into context, here is a list of the components for delivering a webinar, so you can see at a glance the entire process. (of course the payment processing may not apply if your webinar is free to attend). None of these are rocket science …. but, like anything else, if you haven’t done them before, they take some figuring out. If you’re going it alone, you need to pull together each of these pieces. If you’re going to get help from a fully managed provider, you only have to worry about choosing your speaker and marketing your webinar – your provider looks after the rest. So the obvious question is – “so how much more does it cost to have someone do all this instead of doing it myself?” And here is the answer: Since I don’t know how much you or your staff get paid or how long it would take you to do each of these steps I can’t answer the “how much more” question. But what I can say is that whether you do it yourself, have a staff member do it, or have a vendor do the work – it all has to get done – and get done right. The work and the associated cost is there no matter what. And it stands to reason that an experienced vendor can accomplish the tasks more efficiently than someone in your office that only does it occasionally – or perhaps has never done it before.
  • OK – so let’s get back to Vendor Selection. Now this is where I let you in on the best kept secret in the webinar industry (drum roll please). It has to do with which web conferencing technology you should choose. Should it be WebEx? Go-To-Meeting? how ‘bout Adobe? or Microsoft’s Live Meeting? or how about ConferTel’s i-Present ? Are any of you lying awake at night wondering which one you should go with? Well don’t …. and I’ll tell you why. .. and this is the secret that no one wants you to know: The fact is - they’re all the same. Each of these Companies is trying to tell you that their technology is better than the others … but the fact is, if all you want to do is push Power Points – they have the same functionality, they cost about the same, and they’re all pretty simple to use. It doesn’t matter which one you choose. Now if you’re going to incorporate video, do a software demo or have fancy animation in your presentation, then some will work better than others and you need to do your homework. Bottom line: if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, it doesn’t matter which one you choose……..and there are dozens to choose from. The only concern you might have is selecting a technology that does not require attendees to download a little software applet in order to view the presentation online, because sometimes this download can trigger possible firewall issues for a small number of your attendees. However, if you want someone to handle the entire process and the technology, you need to go to a fully managed provider – and there are only a handful of those.
  • 6 weeks before the event you should be getting on your presenter to make sure they are creating their presentation. If there is one thing that will cause you stress in the whole webinar process, it is the ‘procrastinating presenter’ – so stay on them. As I mentioned at the beginning – I’m not going to cover presentation best practices – but here are a couple of quick tips: Less text – more visuals 1 slide per minute 60 minutes including Q&A Webcam? – think twice Goal: keep it short and keep it interesting Who you market to – and how - is the most important element in the process and you need to figure this out right at the beginning. There are 2 main marketing options you have (i) email marketing, and (ii) social media marketing. I’m going to cover marketing in more detail shortly, ……but before you can start inviting people to your event – you need to have a way for them to register. Online registration where the attendee simply clicks on a “Register Now” button and can register within 30 seconds (just as you did for this event) is far preferable than printing and mailing the registration form, along with a check. …. You don’t even want to think about going in that direction
  • Virtually all web conferencing software has annotation tools as well as the ability to ask the audience polling questions during a presentation. Your presenter probably won’t use the annotation tools unless the slides are technical in nature. Polling helps to keep your audience engaged and can also be used to ensure people are paying attention – especially if the content of the course is for certification. Using chat (you can see the chat window on the right side of your screen) helps facilitate the Q&A session at the end of your presentation. Its also a good idea to pop a survey immediately after the session to gather attendee feedback. You’ll get a chance to experience how the post-event survey works – right after this presentation.
  • OK - Someone needs to facilitate the webinar. This person familiarizes the presenter with the process, makes introductions, explains to attendees how and when they can ask questions, troubleshoots any technical issues and facilitates the Q&A process. If you’re putting the webinar on by yourself – this is likely you. An alternative is to go the ‘fully managed’ route where this person comes with the service. In any event, you want to script the introductions and opening remarks. Obviously this doesn’t take long and can be done up to a day or two before the event – but if you’re looking to get things out of the way early – this is one of those items.
  • You can have the audio portion of the presentation be delivered over the phone or through the computer speakers of your audience (for this presentation I gave you the choice). If you’re going via a conference call, there are lots of phone conferencing companies out there - including whoever provides your long distance for you. However, if you want to record the presentation, you will want the phone and web pieces integrated. Normally, all of the attendees are muted during the presentation (just like now) . This avoids interruptions and background noise which can be very disruptive. With respect to recording - there are 2 reasons to have the presentation recorded: first – you want to be able to send a link to the recording to the people that registered but couldn’t make it at the last minute. You should also be thinking about archiving the recording on your web site and developing an educational library over time.
  • To maximize attendance its important to ‘know’ your audience. You need to deliver something they want, something they will spend their time on. My advice is to keep your topic as narrow as possible and focus your invitation toward your target audience. The results may surprise you: you will get more people to register if you keep your topic narrow. Who you market to – and how - is the most important element in the process. There are 2 main marketing options you have (i) email marketing, and (ii) social media marketing. If you don’t have a list of prospects – with email addresses – then you need to get one before you can market via email. You can build it yourself or there are hundreds of brokers around with a variety of lists. If you’re stuck I can provide you with a handful of suggestions on where to get one. If you’re an association it’s not an issue – you have your membership email list. For non member-based organizations, you should look around and try to find a marketing partner. This could be a trade organization or publication in your industry –or basically anyone who has a connection with your target market. The other main marketing channel (if you’re targeting a defined segment of the public) is social media sites such as Linked-in, Facebook, and others ….. and this can be done without the use of an email list. As a matter of fact, of the 306 people that registered for this webinar, over 175 came through social media. Now this is new stuff and not something most people know how to do currently. ConferTel (the sponsor of this presentation) is actually the only provider that I am aware of that can deliver the audience to your event through social media marketing. If you have an interest in learning more about this we can cover it during the Q&A session.
  • Preparing a Communications Plan sounds daunting doesn’t? But it’s not such a big deal. All we’re talking about is creating your invitation – and using that as the basis for any other marketing pieces you need to send through other channels. If you’re handling these details yourself, you also need to develop the registration page and confirmation emails as well as reminder notices. Depending on the purpose of your webinar, there may also be follow-up emails to attendees and non-attendees. There is no reason why these can’t be crafted at one time about 4 weeks out.
  • I touched on the registration page a little earlier when the issue of the registration process needed to be determined, but it’s now 4 weeks out and its time to create the registration page within whatever registration process you have chosen. It starts by including the logo, time, date and speaker bio as well as a synopsis of the invitation. You decide what information you want to gather from your registrants and have those fields in your form. If you’re charging your participants to attend, then you need to have the payment processing integrated with the registration process – or use a 3 rd party payment processor like PayPal.
  • OK – let’s talk about the invitation. There are various factors that can effect the number of people that register, but THE most important is the invitation – whether its in an email or a landing page from a social media site. It needs to jump out with the benefit to the reader right up front – first line or two. The headline needs be attention grabbing…..even bordering on controversial. Tell them who should be attending and what benefit they’ll get from it. And do it with bullets – not boring looking text. If you’re going to market via social media the same principles apply. I can tell you that marketing ‘’free’ webinars in social media works like a charm – if you know what you’re doing – however marketing ‘Paid’ webinars in social media does not seem to work. For paid webinars you want to start your marketing a little earlier than for free webinars. Attending a free webinars seem to be a more spontaneous act, though neither requires the same amount of time as an in-person event. Generally speaking you should begin email marketing a paid webinar roughly 3 weeks in advance and a free webinar roughly 2 weeks in advance. If marketing through social media you should add a week to each of those. Counter-intuitively – do not start marketing too early.
  • You want to schedule speaker training a week in advance for a few reasons – not the least of which is it forces the presentation to be ready in plenty of time. As I mentioned, speaker procrastination can be a real pain in the butt – especially if they are a third party over which you have no control …. And you can’t just walk down the hall and wrap your fingers around their throat. If you’re doing it yourself, you need to make sure the presenter is trained on the web conferencing software and will be comfortable using it when its showtime. You also want to make sure your presenter has practiced – at least once – and isn’t going to stumble out of the gate. It also provides you with an opportunity to hear the presenter in action. If they don’t sound good to you – they won’t sound good to your audience. If the presenter is inexperienced, ensure they are familiar with basic presentation Best Practices (voice modulation – that sort of thing). If you need a resource for that let me know and I can provide you with a white paper on it.
  • So - Let’s talk about promotion. The popular belief in advertising is that you need at least 7 impressions before an advertiser registers with a consumer. I’m not recommending that you go that far with your webinar promotion – however, if you are marketing via email – even to a list of members, a minimum of 2 - 3 emails is necessary for success. I can say unequivocally – you will not succeed if you don’t send out your email invitation at least twice. You don’t run into the same issue with Social Media marketing because it is viral in nature. And here is the interesting thing (which is very different from an ‘in-person’ meeting) – almost ½ your attendees will register in the last couple of days – especially if your webinar is free. So, as I mentioned a few minutes ago, don’t start our marketing too far in advance. And I can tell you for a fact that this webinar was no different. A full 26% of you registered within the last 48 hours.
  • So - Someone needs to facilitate the webinar. This person familiarizes the presenter with the process, makes introductions, explains to attendees how and when they can ask questions, troubleshoots any technical issues and facilitates the Q&A process. If you’re on your own putting on the webinar – this is likely you. An alternative is to go the ‘fully managed’ route where this person comes with the service. During the pre-conference you should have your presenter push a couple of slides forward and back to ensure everything is working properly. The introduction script you prepared a couple of weeks earlier (if you’re ahead of the game). Each of these issues should have been part of your dry-run with the presenter a week earlier and what you are doing at this point is just confirming everything – such as who will recite the questions from the chat window.
  • OK – its showtime! You should send a quick chat to the audience a minute before you start so that they see the chat window, so that when you refer to it in your introductory remarks (about how to ask questions) they know what you’re talking about. If you are offering the phone option for audio, make sure the attendees are muted – take my word on this one – you do not want unexpected background conversations ….or music on hold…. playing into the webinar over top of your presenter’s voice. The rest of it we’ve talk about already. The thing that gets you through the actual event without a hicup is preparation and practice.
  • Depending on the purpose of your webinar, you’re going to have a desired follow-up procedure. Whatever it is – it needs to be determined long before the day of the event. This is something that you’re thinking about and creating communications around roughly 2 weeks in advance. Remember what your end game is – your purpose – and use the follow-up communication to solidify it.
  • OK – let’s summarize the high points of what we’ve discussed so far. We’ve gone through a timeline that starts roughly 8 weeks out and ends a few days after the event. The fact is, once you’ve done a couple of these – they can be done in half the time, so long as you have the various pieces in place (like your speaker, registration process, invitation template, etc.) I emphasized that the important decision you need to make is not what technical vendor you choose – but whether you’re going it on your own, or whether you want assistance. If you’re going it alone, you need to pull together each of the pieces on your screen. If you’re going to get help from a fully managed provider, you only have to worry about choosing your speaker and marketing your webinar – your provider looks after the rest. So here’s my advice: until you’ve been through the process a time or two, it’s helpful to have someone who is going to hold your hand through each step. There are 2 reasons for this: First - they ensure that nothing falls through the cracks and that the event runs smoothly, and Second - it allows you to focus on more strategic issues – like getting more people to attend – as well as all the other aspects of your ‘day job’. I think now is a good time to get some feedback from the group – let’s do a quick poll to see what concerns you the most about putting on a webinar POLL – Biggest Fear
  • Here are a couple to common mistakes you want to avoid . Trying to do too much with any individual event Many marketers try to do too much with a single webinar. They think by having a little something for lots of different audiences they will draw in a bigger crowd. Nothing could be further from the truth. People are looking for content that addresses their specific needs. Surprisingly, the narrower the topic – the more people will attend.   Failing to make your invitation exciting   “ What’s in it for me?” “Is what I will learn worth an hour of my time?” That is what your potential audience is asking themselves – and if your invitation doesn’t promise something very specific and very compelling – you will not draw a crowd. If your invitation fails to excite people – they’re not going to register and it doesn’t matter how good the actual presentation is – because no one’s there to see it.   Having a weak or non-existent marketing plan While a 20% response rate to a webinar invitation sent by email is possible, it is rare. Yet many webinar producers think that just because they have good content and a free webinar, the audience will turn out in droves.   Especially in markets where there are a lot of competing messages, vendors and webinars, it will generally be a lot harder than you realize to get registrants for your webinar. For email, consider a 5% response rate to be successful.   If appropriate, consider approaching marketing partners. As I mentioned, these could be industry publications, companies in your supply chain, anyone with an existing connection with your target audience.
  • As I mentioned, later today I will send you an e-Kit entitled, Planning a Successful Webinar which includes task lists, sample emails, timelines, worksheets and a sample budget. I don’t want to bury you with information for which you may not have an immediate need. In the quick survey you’ll receive after we sign-off here, you’ll have an opportunity to request additional materials - which I’ll will be happy to send you.
  • OK - I’ve prattled on long enough. Now we’re going to open this up to questions. Heather– please give instructions on how our guests can ask questions – including using the Chat Function. (Heather) Just before we get on to your questions, we did receive a number of questions in advance via email. I dealt with the answers to many of these questions in my presentation – however here are a couple of questions I want to address before we start taking your current questions: See list
  • I want to thank everyone for joining me today . I hope you felt your time was well spent and that you’re leaving with the basic information and timeline for Planning a webinar. As you head off, here are some specific things to remember: Marketing is the most important element of the process The narrower your topic - the more people will register Screen sharing technologies are pretty much the same so don’t drive yourself crazy looking for material differences Decide if you want help or not pulling it together – that’s really your most important decision Marketing via email and/or social media – those are your 2 choices As I mentioned earlier, a survey will pop onto your screen as soon as we sign off here. Please take a moment and give me some feedback on what you have just heard, and anything I didn’t cover that you wish I had. I will be delivering a couple of webinars next month: one is the ABC’s of Webinars which goes into more of the How & Why’s of each step of the webinar process. I’ll also be giving a presentation specifically on Using Webinars To Generate Qualified Sales Leads. If that’s your goal with webinars, then I highly recommend you attend that presentation. Well that’s a wrap - Thanks again for your time.

Transcript

  • 1. Planning Your First Webinar The What & When to Make it a Success
  • 2. What You Will Learn
    • Each step in the webinar planning process
    • Guidelines to evaluating vendor options
    • Simple marketing tasks to drive webinar attendance
  • 3. Plan the Event
    • Set the Date and Time
    • Select Topic
    • Select Speaker(s)
    • Choose Technical Vendor
  • 4. The Big Decision
    • Do-It-Yourself
    • Managed
  • 5. Webinar Components
    • choose speaker
    • market event
    • online registration
    • Payment processing
    • automated reminders
    • phone and web sharing tool
    • presenter prep/coordination
    • call facilitation and Q & A session
    • survey & reporting
    • follow-up
  • 6. Vendor Selection
    • All technology is (mostly) the same:
      • Functionality
      • Cost
      • Ease of use
    • Caveat: video, animation, software demo
    • Firewalls and Plug-Ins
  • 7. Design the Event
    • Create PowerPoint
    • Decide how to market
    • Determine methods to invite participants
    • Determine registration
    • process
  • 8. Audience Interaction
    • Annotation tools
    • Polling
    • Chat
    • Live Q & A
    • Post webinar survey
  • 9. Event Introduction
    • Decide who will facilitate
    • Script opening remarks
    • Place presenter picture & short bio on first slide
  • 10. Audio Requirements
    • Audiocast or teleconference computer speakers or conference call
    • Record the webinar for replay
      • Send to non-attendees
      • Archive in a library
  • 11. Market the Event
    • Define target audience
    • Select marketing
    • channels
        • email
        • Social Media
    • Assemble lists
  • 12. Create Marketing Pieces
    • Write content for email invitation, e-newsletters, blog
    • Create registration confirmation notice
    • Create email reminders
    • Create attendee & non-attendee follow-up material
    Prepare Communication Plan
  • 13. Registration Page
    • Complete title, subtitle and brief description of session
    • Determine which information to collect from attendees
    • Test registration process
    • Assign unique URLs for marketing tracking (optional)
  • 14. Event Invitation
    • Test both HTML and text versions
    • Send email invitations
    • Market via social media
    Create and Send Email Invitations
  • 15. Prepare the Event
    • Schedule speaker training
    • Upload PowerPoint & polling questions
    • Practice dry run with presenters
    • Review presentation best
    • practices
  • 16. Continue Marketing
    • One week before
    • One day before
    • Send reminders 24 hrs and 1 hour before presentation
    Send Additional Email Invites & Reminders
  • 17. Host the Event
    • Presenters dial in to pre-conference 15 minutes before event
    • Test chat
    • Review script & call flow
    • Discuss how Q&A will be conducted
  • 18. Lights, Camera, Action!
    • Start on time!
    • Make sure attendees are muted and speakers are not
    • Conduct event intro
    • Deliver presentation
    • Conduct Q&A
    • Close the call
  • 19. Event Follow-Up
    • Immediately after event
    • send out post event survey
    • Within 24 hours
    • Email follow-up to attendees & non-attendees
    • Post and distribute recording of event
    • 1 week after event
    • If lead generation, sales to follow-up via phone
  • 20. Webinar Components
    • choose speaker
    • market event
    • online registration
    • automated reminders
    • phone and web sharing tool
    • presenter prep/coordination
    • call facilitation and Q & A session
    • survey & reporting
    • follow-up
    If Using a Managed Service
  • 21. Three Common Mistakes to Avoid
    • Trying to appeal to a large audience with a broad topic
    • Failing to make your
    • invitation exciting
    • Having a Weak
    • Marketing Plan
  • 22. Takeaway
    • Webinar e-Kit :
      • Planning a Successful Webinar
    • with timelines, checklists and task worksheets
  • 23. ? Press 7# on your phone to ask a question Questions?
  • 24. 866-930-4500 [email_address] Don Cameron Marketing Strategist Thank you!