Michael Reynolds in General on Monday, September 26, 2011
A great content marketing strategy consists of multiple channels of content that fit together in a logical progression. Each component offers something of value to your constituents and motivates them to remain attached to your brand. Ideally, it also encourages them to seek out more content and then eventually become a customer (or member, donor, etc.).
A content marketing strategy can include blogs, podcasts, ebooks, white papers, videos, and infographics. Additionally, one of the most powerful component of a strategy can be webinars.
Webinar is short for "web-based seminar" and is a presentation delivered over the web. A webinar allows you to give a presentation to tens, hundreds, even thousands of people at once at an extremely low cost. It allows you to educate, teach, and provide value to your audience which in turn can motivate them to take action and seek more information about what you do.
I've attended great webinars and bad ones. I've also presented quite a few (hopefully great) webinars. So how do you create a great webinar?
1. Use a good platform. I am a longtime customer of GoToWebinar. It's reliable, inexpensive, and user-friendly. I've attended all sorts of webinars that use frustrating applications and offer a poor experience. Sometimes the user interface is hard to use. Other times, it won't run on my Mac. GoToWebinar has consistently proven to be the best webinar platform I have ever used.
2. Create an interesting slide deck. Avoid death by PowerPoint. No one wants to see another hour-long presentation full of bullet points and text. Instead, use beautiful, high-quality photos and stick to one concept per slide. Use creative screen shots to illustrate your point and keep text to a minimum.
3. Present with passion. I'm sure we've all attended webinars in which the presenter drones on and on with no inflection and basically sounds like a robot. Just because you're talking to a screen and cannot see your audience does not give you license to be boring. Speak as if you're explaining the concepts to your best friend over dinner. Be natural and authentic. Have fun.
4. Take questions throughout. I know that some presenters like to save all questions until the end but I find that it's much more interesting to take them throughout and presentation. Answering questions as they come in helps the audience feel engaged and give you feedback on what they are finding most important. It also adds a sense of realism to the presentation since other people listening can see the interest level of other attendees, which may motivate them to jump in with their own questions.
5. Keep it short. Unless you're Chris Brogan, you should probably not try to get away with exceeding an hour. Our attention span simply cannot handle it while staring at a screen. I like to end at about 45 minutes and then take wrap-up questions. This ensures that you don't exceed your audience's attention span.
6. Don't sell. Repeat: don't sell. Your audience did not agree to give you an hour of their lives to hear a sales pitch. They expect to be educated, to learn something, and to receive value. If you provide value, they will seek you out.
7. Listen to the market. Choose topics that your customers ask you about over and over. Find ways to dig deep into issues that your constituents are struggling with. Find topics that resonate with people.
I love webinars that follow the rules above. I find them interesting, useful, and entertaining. I also frequently end up buying things from companies that present great webinars because they have provided value to me.
If you are interested in adding more strength and value to your content marketing strategy, consider a webinar series. It can be a scalable, effective, and satisfying way to meet new customers.