During the Lockdown, web meetings, and webinars have definitely come of age, and the number of people selling them as the next big marketing thing has also increased!
Talk to any of these people and they will tell you that they are a must have in your marketing kit bag. But are they?
The simple answer is, as with any marketing tool, “It Depends”. It depends on whether your marketing message would be enhanced by the webinar format and whether your market is likely to engage with the webinars.
Content is King
First lets look at content. The question here is do you have expertise, or access to expertise that people in your market would value. If you do then providing access to this expertise could be a great marketing tool, or in some cases a potential revenue earner via paid webcasts.
Most of the marketing strategies that we use with clients assume that they are experts in their fields, and the marketing is largely about communicating this expertise to the marketplace. So in our world, and in that of many businesses working in niche markets, this means that you can deliver value through your marketing messages. As such webinars may be relevant.
For many niche businesses, this “Expert in your Field” concept should be appropriate, and as such the the webcast as a marketing tool could well have merit. For other businesses, its about asking the question “what value would a webcast add to my marketing?”
What about your audience
So you have material that suits the webcast format. The next question is “What about your market? will they engage with a webcast?” I think that in most cases, if the content is interesting and relevant, then yes they will. The real question is will they believe you when you tell them you have something valuable to say!
I was speaking to a client last week, and this topic came up. He recounted a story about a webinar (yes this was a webinar) which on the face of it seemed valuable, but in fact it turned out simply to be a sales pitch for a paid course. The experience has led him to be wary of the marketing hype surrounding the format. The reality is that this is an issue. The use of webinars as a sales tool in this way has devalued them in many peoples eyes. One reason we talk about “webcasts” rather than “webinars” as this puts the focus on the content. Delivering great content, and getting a reputation for doing so has to be part of your strategy in this area.
Protect your Brand
The final thing I would like to cover is how the use of webcasts sits with your brand image & values.
There are many aspect to delivering a webcast:
- The webcast itself, including technology, branding, and the quality/production values for the feed delivered
- The sign up process, and how you manage access to the webcast
- The interaction with attendees during the Webcast including how you handle things like Q&A and Chat
- The lists goes on
All of these things will impact how the webcast reflects your brand, and all need to be considered. It might be a very easy solution to simply use a tool like Zoom for the whole process, but is that right for your brand?
To give an example; In a recent project for a client, we chose not to use Zoom to deliver the webcast as it was felt that the reported security issues for the system might reflect badly on them, and prevent some people from being able to take part. Whilst security may, in reality, not be much of an issue anymore for Zoom, the perception is there. This coupled with other factors around branding and the signup process led to us not using Zoom. As a result we used a number of technologies & platforms to deliver the webcast rather than a single platform end to end. Whilst more complex, the result was totally in line with their high quality brand. Something that could not necessarily be said of Zoom.
I am not saying that you should never use an out of the box solution. (In some cases it would be highly appropriate). What I am saying is that when selecting how to deliver your webcast, making sure it accurately reflects your brand should be a key factor.
So Are Webcasts a good marketing tool?
Consider all the factors above. If on balance they add value to your marketing, and can be done cost effectively in a way that fits your brand, then yes they are a good tool.
If on the other hand, the conclusion in that they don’t add significant value, or are not a cost effective part of the mix, then maybe they should be avoided. But at least you will have an answer for those trying to sell the concept!