How not to run a webinar
I love webinars.
As a marketing tool for Financial Planners, I believe they are incredibly powerful.
They are a simple and effective way of sharing your knowledge, experience and unique personality with a wide audience.
Better still, once broadcast live you can offer access to a free recorded webinar replay, making your content available in perpetuity.
The webinar software we use here at Bamford Media integrates seamlessly with our email marketing system, so each webinar registration becomes a newsletter subscriber too – unless of course they opt out.
Earlier today I tuned in for a webinar from a financial services provider, after their email tempted me to sign up last week.
It was, I’m sorry to say, a masterclass in how not to run a webinar.
Here’s what went wrong and how Financial Planners can learn from the experience to ensure their webinars don’t fall into the same traps.
1 – It started late
With a 1pm advertised start time, I eagerly tuned in at 12.50pm and waited. And waited. And waited.
At 1.07pm, the webinar started. No explanation or apology for the late start.
Our time is precious. We’ve all got lots to do and a webinar running late, with no explanation from the host, is pretty much inexcusable.
2 – The content was heavily scripted
Things got off to a promising start (once they started) with two hosts, engaging in some natural sounding back and forth conversation.
But quickly the presentation slipped into a straight read from a script.
By all means, have some bullet point notes when you’re presenting your webinar. It’s not going to sound natural, or like you know your subject, if you’re obviously reading from a script throughout.
3 – Bad sound quality
If you’re hosting a webinar, please don’t present down a phone line.
Invest a small amount in a quality, noise-cancelling USB headset and broadcast through that.
Make sure your room is quiet (telephone switched off, please) and you won’t be interrupted.
4 – Thinly veiled sales pitch
Your prospective clients aren’t tuning into your webinar to hear a sales pitch.
As the great Gary Vaynerchuk teaches; jab, jab, jab, right hook.
80-90%+ of your webinar content should be informative, educational and genuinely useful. A tiny bit at the end can be your pitch, once you’ve given away that value.
5 – Abrupt ending
“Does anyone have any questions?” Click. Webinar goes dead.
I’m guessing this was their first time using the software, which would explain the technical issues at the start and end.
What was most disappointing about the early finish (after the late start) was the webinar had only lasted 20 minutes, rather than the advertised 40.
When hosting webinars, there’s often a huge amount of value in the Q&A session at the end.
Allowing 20 minutes for questions after a 20 minute presentation, to make up the promised 40 minutes, is perhaps a little ambitious. Killing the Q&A completely was a real shame.
What can you learn from this experience?
There’s plenty to learn from my painful webinar experience at lunchtime. Don’t make the same mistakes they did.
Start at your advertised start time. In fact, get in the room a couple of minutes ahead of time, check your guests can hear you and get to know them a bit before you get started.
Practice with your content before presenting. This avoids the need to read from a script.
Practicing also allows you to judge the right length, so when you advertise a 40 minute webinar it can run to 30-35 minutes, leaving a little time at the end for any questions.
Don’t host webinars as sale pitches. Give away your best content freely and then offer your webinar guests something at the end. Your webinar is a means to an end, not the end itself.
Test the technology and get comfortable with it before going live. You should host a practice webinar or two, with a small friendly audience, to build confidence in your chosen webinar platform.
If you would like to add webinars to your marketing mix, do get in touch and we would be happy to chat about your ideas.