Webinars Don't Have to Suck

by ON24
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[I was thrilled to connect recently with MJ DePalma, a senior global channel marketing manager at Microsoft, after she wrote an inspiring post on LinkedIn about the power of webinars to communicate and engage. Indeed, webinars don't have to suck - and everything MJ captured in this piece applies equally for marketers in any professional services enterprise, including law firms, looking to succeed at creating meaningful connections with clients and prospects. Great tips, too:]

Over a year and a half ago I embarked on exploring the power of webinars. I work for Bing Ads as a Global Channel Marketer but about eighteen months ago I noticed that we really didn't pay too much attention to webinars; maybe twice a year coinciding with the biggest retail seasons of the year. How could this be? There are more conversations in marketing to be had than just about retail. There are more audiences to engage with than pure retail shoppers. The inner voice of inspiration was screaming at me, "I gotta do a webinar! I gotta extend the magic we produce in customer events to the virtual event world! Think about how many more people we could reach!" 

 I wholeheartedly believed in this media's ability to be a dynamic vehicle to engage, connect, and authentically inspire...

Seems unbelievable that within such a large company, within a product like Bing Ads, webinars were not taken seriously and every coworker I talked to was afraid of doing one. To be clear, the larger Microsoft was taking them seriously and I paid attention to that. Office was having wild success with them in their Small Business Academy series as well as Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Dynamics. I wholeheartedly believed in this media's ability to be a dynamic vehicle to engage, connect, and authentically inspire our very discerning customers of Bing Ads, Search Engine Marketers. I was right. And who doesn't love being right, that webinars don't have to suck! 

I'm a "connector" type personality - I am driven passionately to authentically connect with every single person whether in my professional or personal live; whether travelling to any continent in the world, or in my small town of residence of Bainbridge Island, Washington; whether in person, or on Skype, or in a webcast… I am energized by the magic of understanding one another. I am fulfilled by giving the gift to others of feeling heard and being understood and in turn I get to see the joy in others' as those magical "ah-ha" moments happen. The thank-you’s do pour in from our customers and that feels satisfying. And my fellow marketing managers in ten of our top countries also have thanked me for empowering them with a channel that works. If you haven’t started a webcast channel yet at your company, run! Don’t walk. Get a strategic content plan together and begin with your first one. 

...webinars are the perfect customizable media to be authentic to your brand and tailor the way your audience wants information

So how can you be successful with webinars?

Let’s share on a few core ingredients that I have found truly are a recipe for success. 

1. Have a content marketing plan that aligns to your customers’ needs. And if you do not intimately know and understand those needs, then you must get to work on that foundational knowledge base first.

2. Be unafraid. Take that microphone by the ears and get talking. If you’re not the host type then get a training that makes you one. You need to own it. I was nervous the first couple times, but you get over it and it gets better.

3. Webcast content recipe that works. Webcasts can fulfill many different needs here are a few:

a.   Demos – Hands-on how-to’s

b.   Unique and never-been-heard-of strategy + how to implement

c.   Live conversation format, or panel

d.   Weekly updates – quick, short, useful informational updates

4. Deploy robust tracking and analytics – it’s not that difficult and pays off in spades.

5. Utilize any survey capability that your webcast technology provider offers you.

6. Take advantage of any add-on robust engagement features like downloadable documents so your audience can have immediate take-away's.

Webinars are the perfect customizable media to be authentic to your brand and tailor the way your audience wants information, how they need to receive it and above all it can be a two-way conversation. After all, useful connection is why our webinars at Bing Ads do not suck. We always strive to think about our customers’ time, and always hold our webcasts to the litmus test of making it very worth their time.

...above all it can be a two-way conversation.

I hope you found this article useful with insights and have become inspired to webcast if you're not already. My next article will be why I choose ON24 as my webcast platform and the features I utilize to provide the Bing Ads audience with the most useful robust experience. If you have any questions, please tweet me on Twitter @mjdepalma

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This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.

[MJ DePalma is a Senior Global Channel Marketing Manager at Microsoft. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter. Samantha McKenna is a Regional Vice President, Sales at ON24Connect with her LinkedIn to learn how webinars can supercharge your firm's content efforts.]

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