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The right way to do business webinars (it involves wine)

Because people already stare at screens all day long, your number one goal for a successful webinar is to make it interesting in a way that allows you to build a long-term relationship.

The right way to do business webinars (it involves wine)
[Photo credits: deagreez / Adobe Stock Card link:]
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As remote, global work becomes more and more popular, webinars are becoming increasingly permanent. In fact, they’re likely going to grow as one of the main ways people learn and sell. There’s a right and wrong way to pull one off, however, and you’ll want to follow a few tips for your event to be a success.

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Even before COVID-19, people spent a ton of time in front of screens. One survey found that the average American spends a whopping 17 hours and nine minutes a day on a laptop, phone, or gaming device. The pandemic pushed that time to more than 19 hours.

The big mistake most people make when they host a webinar is that they simply don’t account for this. They don’t realize people have already been sitting in front of screens with their employees all day for a bunch of other things and that people aren’t going to want to get back in front of a screen again just to have people try to sell them something. They ignore the fact that, especially through the virus crisis, time often has been the one thing that people feel like they can control, and they aren’t about to easily give it up.

FUN IS THE KEY TO A GREAT EVENT

Because people already stare at screens all day long, your number one goal for making a webinar successful is to make it interesting in a way that allows you to build trust for a long-term relationship. After all, people might not always need the product or information you’re offering at the moment, but they’ll always need other people.

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What counts as “interesting?” Well, that all depends on your audience. At my company, we’ve had good success connecting our webinars with wine tastings. We made that work first by making sure that everybody attending the event really wanted to receive the wine to try, and we set up deliveries regionally to make sure there weren’t any hangups. We arranged for the webinar to be after work hours so that everybody could be responsible but still enjoy the wine tasting in a relaxing way at the end of the day. We also told a story that tied the drinks back to their lives—i.e., investing takes time, just like making a great bottle of wine.

If your audience doesn’t prefer wine, you can always swap it for something else, whether that’s golf putting lessons, cooking classes, or even some self-care treatments. The only rules are that you have to choose something fun that allows you to create a simple backup plan to manage potential snags relatively easily and that you can link the product or service back to something that has real meaning for the people watching. By doing this, you can be confident that you will be able to follow through so they have a good experience without being disappointed. You can communicate that you view your attendees as valuable human beings and that you don’t see them as just another number.

ADDITIONAL TIPS FOR WEBINAR SUCCESS

Whatever interesting thing you choose to do, try not to limit how many people you allow to attend. If you absolutely have to, set people up with a spot at the next webinar instead. Doing this will help them feel like you care about their outcome and still want them to be included.

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You’ll also want to make sure that people keep their cameras on. Lots of people will want to turn their cameras off so they can multitask, but you can use fun games or other incentives like raffles to fight this trend. It’s really important that you can see people’s faces and they can see yours, not just because it promotes better connection, but because you will need some visual feedback to assess on the fly how the event is going and what to do next.

Finally, after your webinar, don’t drop the ball. Follow up with a gift package of some sort that talks about your product or service again. It’s a simple way to keep the connection going and build a little more trust. You can go from there, whether you invite them to another event, send a casual email to check in, or give them something like a coupon they might find useful.

SIMPLE FUN + DEEP VALUE = LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIP

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Webinars are becoming an education and sales staple. But, because people are already forced to be in front of technology for most of their day, if you want to host a successful event, you have to find a way to make it interesting. Find out what your audience really values and connect that to the product or service. Make sure you follow basic best practices, such as nailing down your logistics and following up. If you follow this simple outline, you’ll form a long-term relationship that can be beneficial for everyone.


David Partain is SVP of Northern Trust and CMO of their subsidiary, FlexShares Exchange Traded Funds.