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Michael Kapp has 20 years of high tech product marketing and product management experience and is currently VP of Marketing and Product Mgmt. for Control Solutions, a leading supplier of Enterprise Mobility  Solutions and Automatic Identification and POS equipment.  

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Main | Adapting the New Product Development Process to a Small Company »

Webinars as a Demand Generation Tool

Webinars can be an important element of your marketing mix.  Unlike advertisements or email blasts offering a white paper or inviting people to learn more from visiting your web site, a webinar requires a meaningful commitment of time from a prospect and provides an opportunity to make a personal connection. The webinar viewer will listen to your company's subject matter experts for 30 to 60 minutes, and will hopefully develop a favorable impression of the presenters and your company.   The webinar offers a non-threatening environment to learn and ask questions without having to commit to a dialogue with sales reps.  

Ingredients for a successful Business to Business demand generation webinar are as follows:

1.  Compelling Topic

The webinar must provide an opportunity for the audience to learn something that will be beneficial to them and their business.   Typically, a successful webinar will provide information that will help a company to raise revenues, increase efficiencies, or reduce costs.   Thus, the webinar topic, title and description should be customer oriented (benefits focused) versus vendor oriented (product sales focused).

2.  Subject Matter Expert and Credible Source

The presenter or presenters should be subject matter experts in the topic addressed by the webinar.  The presenters must be capable of providing useful information to the audience that they do not already know. They should be capable of fielding a variety of questions from the audience regarding the topic.  

If the Subject Matter Expert and/or your company is not well known within the industry, it may be beneficial to enlist the help of a third party to participate in the webinar.  While this could involve additional cost, it may also be critical to generate the registration volume objectives for the webinar.  The third party could be a respected trade journal, that can provide a moderator for the webinar and also help in promoting the webinar to its electronic newsletter subscribers.  Another common technique is to have an industry consultant participate in the webinar to provide the latest research results that may be complementary to the topic.  Either way, having a credible source add their name and prestige to the webinar can dramatically boost registrations.

3.  Educational Focus

This initial (demand generation) webinar must be education focused.  A more detailed product presentation or demonstration can come later in the sales cycle.  Typical objectives are to convey beneficial information to the webinar viewer/prospect, create a desire for the prospect to advance their investigation of a product or service, and position your company as a credible source to provide the same.

The webinar topic should be narrow enough so the material can be covered in the allotted time - typically 30 to 45 minutes which will also allow time for questions.  The material must be specific and detailed enough so that the audience learns something that will be truly beneficial (not just 50,000 foot level material that may be obvious, already well known, or easily obtainable through web searches).  Adding real world customer case studies and ROI's will provide valuable material which is unlikely to be found elsewhere - while also highlighting successes that you have had with other companies.   

4.  Administrative Excellence

It is typical that only 40% of the people that sign up for webinars will actually attend the webinar.  To maximize the number of attendees from the registration list, several best practices should be followed:

a.  Send an email providing detailed instructions immediately after registration

b.  Send reminder emails a few days before and again one hour before the webinar

c.  Send a thank you email to all who attended and a link to the recorded webinar for those who were not able to attend.  

5.  Lead Follow-up 

Last but certainly not least - get all the contact information from the webinar registrations (both the attendees and non-attendees) to your sales force.  Include any information from qualifying survey questions that may have been part of the registration form.  Your sales force can now contact these prospects to move them further into the sales funnel. 

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