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By Crisel Ortiz | December 16, 2019

Most have attended a few webinars during their professional careers and most will likely know after a few slides if it’s going to retain their attention and deliver on their expectations or lead to mediocre content. I should know, as a public relations marketing firm, we’re constantly on the lookout for webinars that will help us hone our skills and keep us abreast of all the latest trends, but when the host and content aren’t engaging it’s hard not to lose interest. 

So if you’re thinking about webinars as part of your content marketing strategy there are a few things to keep in mind. 

Your goals will dictate the type of webinar you host 

Whether you’re an established brand, startup or solopreneur you can use webinars to drive thought leadership, build brand awareness and build a community. It just depends on your marketing goals. 

If the intention is to drive thought leadership webinars are a great way for executives to demonstrate expertise in a specific category. Take for example a consulting company that specializes in life sciences. If that’s their specialty then you can bet they have a lot of internal data on how biotech companies can reduce risk and operate more efficiently. In this case, a webinar is a great way to invite people to learn about trends and forecasts, but you have to be consistent and integrate these types of webinars into your marketing plans so that prospects come to see your brand as a category leader and trust your brand over competitors.

But if your intention is to build brand awareness then you may want to focus on tutorials to introduce prospects to your brand. Say you’re an investment management company looking to differentiate itself from competitors. At MSR, a public relations marketing firm, we would recommend webinars designed to attract prospects who are looking to take charge of their personal finances by offering topics such as budgeting, retirement planning, trading, etc. The key here isn’t to be self-serving but to engage prospects and earn their trust by offering educational information they can use rather than a sales pitch. Over time you will have a vault of webinars that prospects can share with others helping you grow your brand awareness.            

However, if you’re looking to grow a community and/or email list then webinars can also help you meet that goal. A nutritionist is a great example of someone who would benefit from webinars with the intention of creating a loyal following. They could use the format to engage with people and showcase their philosophy and passion for the science of food. With so many topics to cover such as diet, nutrition, good eating habits, preventing or managing specific diseases and the latest nutritional science research, its an opportunity for them to create a loyal following based on expertise, personality, and engagement. 

Engaging slides are a must  

Once you have determined your specific goal it’s time to think about the content. Rather than pack too much information onto one slide and force your audience to stare at the same thing for a long period of time, consider adding more slides to give attendees a chance to view something different. You might assume that people don’t want to sit through a long deck, but if those slides are engaging (i.e. aren’t text-heavy, include high-quality images, graphs, video, etc.) then your audience won’t mind. Just remember that one hour is usually an appropriate length for a webinar (45-minutes on the topic and 15-minutes on Q&A) — anything longer and you might start to lose their attention. 

Your host should be able to improvise  

When you’re thinking about who should host the webinar you want someone who is lively, engaging and able to improvise. Why improvise? First of all, you don’t want the person to sound like they are reading each slide, but you want them to try to engage the audience as much as possible. How do you do that on a webinar? Have attendees take a poll at the beginning of the webinar to gauge participants. Are most from a specific region? What is the age variance or level of expertise? Once you’ve asked a couple of questions your host should be able to use that information as reference points to help them tailor the webinar as they go. 

You may need to share the spotlight  

Finally, if you’re concerned that your webinar may not draw that many people consider co-hosting the webinar with a partner, influencer or other non-competing company to tap into their followers. The more that you commit to webinars the more that prospects will come to expect them, so make sure they are integrated into marketing plans rather than one-offs.  

Still not sure where to start? Tap a public relations marketing firm like MSR to help you determine how best to use webinars to meet your marketing goals.