Gini Dietrich

Using Webinars to Promote Your Business

By: Gini Dietrich | April 12, 2010 | 

When I speak to business owners and leaders, I always have at least one person say to me, “I get that everyone is moving online to communicate, and I want to get on the bandwagon, but my customers don’t use the Internet.”

I call baloney.

American adults spend four hours every day online — which means your customers are on the Internet, and it’s your job to figure out how to reach them there.

Webinars are a great way to do just that. You can do paid webinars or free webinars, depending on your budget and what you’re trying to achieve, but it’s an easy way to market to new audiences without leaving the comfort of your home or your office.

But do webinars make sense for you? Maybe you run a kid’s fitness company. You’re probably thinking, “I don’t have time to also do webinars.” I always say that making time to do just one more thing is pretty difficult, but when you see the return you get on your investment, it’s pretty easy to make the time.

There are a lot of opportunities to use webinars in your own sales and marketing efforts. Think about it this way–how do you sell your product or services now? Is it one-on-one in an office setting? Wouldn’t it be easier to sell one-to-many in that same office setting? Or maybe you attract customers through promotions and coupons. Webinars offer another way to extend that message to more than just the people in your surrounding ZIP codes.

Let’s talk about what types of things you could include in the presentation.

* Demonstrate how your product or service works.
* Showcase your culture or what it’s like to work at your company.
* Do you have a passion around something business-focused, such as leadership, finances, or human resources? Create a webinar around your passion.
* Host a webinar that showcases your technical expertise.

Keep in mind, though, that webinars are about the customer, not about you or your business. So showcase what you’re about by making it valuable to the customer. Tips, tools, how-tos, and demonstrations work really well.

Now that you’ve decided what your webinar topic is, following are the top 10 things to consider when promoting to your customers and prospects.

1. Define what attendees will get from attending the webinar. What’s in it for them? What kind of value are you giving them that they can’t get on their own?

2. Create a line in your e-mail signature to allow people to click on, and sign up, from there.

3. Promote via your newsletter/e-mail database by letting people know what’s in it for them and making it easy for them to register.

4. Promote via social networks — post it to your LinkedIn profile, add it to your Facebook fan page, tweet about it, or blog about it.

5. Include a line about your webinars on your invoices.

6. If you have a retail location, post flyers at points of sale.

7. Post to the home page of your Web site.

8. Include a one-click Outlook reminder that people can add to their calendars as they register.

9. Ask for questions in advance of the webinar in order to engage people early.

10. Send a reminder e-mail one week, one day, and one hour prior to the webinar.

Once you’ve decided on your topic and you’ve promoted the heck out of it (don’t be shy about repeating yourself over and over again – people need to see/hear a message seven to 12 times before they act), following are some tips for having a great webinar the first time out.

1. Use guest speakers—not only to add a certain amount of credibility, but also so you can use their network in addition to yours

2. Hold rehearsals

3. Promote at least a month in advance

4. Consider having a moderator to engage the audience and field the questions

5. Limit to one hour — we recommend 40 minutes of presentation and 20 minutes of question-and-answer session

6. Ask for feedback after the webinar via a survey (SurveyMonkey is the easiest and most cost-efficient tool)

7. Don’t be afraid to follow-up after the webinar, even with those who registered, but didn’t attend

I’m not going to pretend that hosting a webinar is a walk in the park. They’re hard work and they take some serious project management skills, but if you use the tips included here, you’ll be halfway there and you’ll be able to drive some serious leads from your efforts.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Their customers aren’t using microwaves yet either….

  • Nancy is a hoot!

    I think they need to just find away to entice their customers to engage in the first webinar, then…a few fine tuned subjects providing useful information later, their customers will think them legendary. Doing new things is difficult. So do something new everyday and it will start to be a habit!

  • Gini Dietrich

    Nancy IS a riot! I laughed out loud when I read her comment! And, I agree with you, Mimi. It’s always hard to start something new (as evidenced even here by my first video blog last week), but as soon as you do, you learn there is a new audience you haven’t yet tapped.

  • Gini,

    Do you have any suggestions–perhaps elsewhere on your blog–about how to promote classes?

    In promoting an upcoming teleclass for financial advisors, I’m using the following vehicles: my newsletter/blog/tweets/LinkedIn status updates, offering an early bird discount, offering a discount code that previous students can share with their colleagues.

    Is there something I’m missing?

  • Gini Dietrich

    Susan – It sounds like you’re doing everything right. The only thing I’d add is Facebook, if you have a fan page. If not, then you’re doing it absolutely the right way.

  • I love it…they are not on the internet, and Nancy I will jump on the bandwagon and agree that you are a hoot!

    I agree that it is hard to start new things, promote them effectively, and get an audience of people to participate, but it is far from impossible, let along not worth the effort.

    When we started to offer webinars for coalitions in the substance abuse prevention field, we started with small groups of 10-20 participants, we are now up to 200 participants on average. If you offer, provide, deliver, and support your clients/audience will come around and be excited for the technology.

    Just my 2 cents

  • Gini Dietrich

    Jason – you’re so right! It’s like anything else on the Web…if you offer something of value, people will tell their friends who will tell their friends and then you have a great participation rate.

  • Thanks, Gini! I keep mulling over a FB fan page. Part of me doesn’t want another social media presence to maintain.

  • Wow, this post couldn’t have come at a better time – a GREAT place for me to vent.

    I have a client who wants to set up a webinar – i’m totally cool with that, actually excited about setting it up. Then they said they want users to pay to see it, again something that I am 90% sure I can do. So there we have a client who is all about the “web stuff”

    Then I get an email from them
    “I dont think we should use paypal. Our clients are scared of the internet and are probably going to be nervous about putting their credit card into into paypal”

    WHAT?! These are people who are attending a WEBINAR (a pretty high tech experience) and yet you think they are going to be scared of PAYPAL? Paypal, the most well known name on security in payment on the internet.


    None the less, anyone who reads this, if you are available to allow me to pick your brain regarding internet streaming, i would love to do so!

    • Gini Dietrich

      So how do they expect to collect money if they charge for the Webinar?

  • CHECKS. they expect people to send them a check!

  • Reminds me of a CEO who proudly told me how he had banned his sales people from using their company-issued phones to send text messages.

    When I explained some of the ways texting might actually be a good thing to harness, he said “Well… I don’t want my people being productive in ways I don’t understand”.

  • Gini Dietrich

    Les, one of my favorite stories to tell when I speak is a CEO raised his hand from the back of the room about a year ago and said, “So I have to give an employee a bad review and now you’re telling me he’s going to put it on Facebook?” I said, “No, I’m telling you he already is putting it on Facebook. Now you have the opportunity to decide what to do because you’re monitoring what is being said about you or the company online.” He said, “I don’t get it. No one is using Facebook like that. I refuse to believe it.”

    Uh…okay. Send me your check, though snail mail, then!

  • bluefox864

    I’m glad you posted this! I’m going to a conference in June and I’ll be doing a session on the anatomy of a webcast. I’m totally going to include some of this info in my presentation :-). Some of the tips you mention mirror my own experiences with my webcasts. This is a great summary.

  • Gini Dietrich

    Steal away, my friend! Steal away!