When I speak to franchise owners, I always have at least one person say to me, “I get that everyone is moving online to communicate, and I want to get on the bandwagon, but my customers don’t use the Internet.”
I call baloney.
American adults spend four hours every day online — which means your customers are on the Internet, and it’s your job to figure out how to reach them there.
Webinars are a great way to do just that. You can do paid webinars or free webinars, depending on your budget and what you’re trying to achieve, but it’s an easy way to market to new audiences without leaving the comfort of your home or your office.
But do webinars make sense for you? Maybe you run a kid’s fitness franchise. You’re probably thinking, “I don’t have time to also do webinars.” I always say that making time to do just one more thing is pretty difficult, but when you see the return you get on your investment, it’s pretty easy to make the time.
For instance, one franchisee I know who owns two foreign language schools uses webinars to update parents on what the kids are doing, and also to show prospects what it’s like in her classes. And another franchisee who teaches computer classes in schools uses webinars to attract administrators by easily showing them how a class operates without ever having to leave the office.
There are a lot of opportunities to use webinars in your own sales and marketing efforts. Think about it this way–how do you sell your product or services now? Is it one-on-one in an office setting? Wouldn’t it be easier to sell one-to-many in that same office setting? Or maybe you attract customers through promotions and coupons. Webinars offer another way to extend that message to more than just the people in your surrounding ZIP codes.
Sold yet? Before we discuss how to use webinars to drive new customers, let’s talk about what types of things you could include in the presentation.
- Demonstrate how your product or service works.
- Showcase your culture or what it’s like to work at your franchise location.
- Do you have a passion around something business-focused, such as leadership, finances, or human resources? Create a webinar around your passion.
- Host a webinar that showcases your technical expertise.
Keep in mind, though, that webinars are about the customer, not about you or your franchise. So showcase what you’re about by making it valuable to the customer. Tips, tools, how-tos, and demonstrations work really well.
Now that you’ve decided what your webinar topic is, following are the top 10 things to consider when promoting to your customers and prospects.
1. Define what attendees will get from attending the webinar. What’s in it for them? What kind of value are you giving them that they can’t get on their own?
2. Create a line in your e-mail signature to allow people to click on, and sign up, from there.
3. Promote via your newsletter/e-mail database by letting people know what’s in it for them and making it easy for them to register.
4. Promote via social networks — post it to your LinkedIn profile, add it to your Facebook fan page, tweet about it, or blog about it.
5. Include a line about your webinars on your invoices.
6. If you have a retail location, post flyers at points of sale.
7. Post to the home page of your Web site.
8. Include a one-click Outlook reminder that people can add to their calendars as they register.
9. Ask for questions in advance of the webinar in order to engage people early.
10. Send a reminder e-mail one week, one day, and one hour prior to the webinar.
Once you’ve decided on your topic and you’ve promoted the heck out of it (don’t be shy about repeating yourself over and over again – people need to see/hear a message seven to 12 times before they act), following are some tips for having a great webinar the first time out.
1. Use guest speakers—not only to add a certain amount of credibility, but also so you can use their network in addition to yours
2. Hold rehearsals
3. Promote at least a month in advance
4. Consider having a moderator to engage the audience and field the questions
5. Limit to one hour — we recommend 40 minutes of presentation and 20 minutes of question-and-answer session
6. Ask for feedback after the webinar via a survey (SurveyMonkey is the easiest and most cost-efficient tool)
7. Don’t be afraid to follow-up after the webinar, even with those who registered, but didn’t attend
I’m not going to pretend that hosting a webinar is a walk in the park. They’re hard work and they take some serious project management skills, but if you use the tips included here, you’ll be halfway there and you’ll be able to drive some serious leads from your efforts.
Gini Dietrich is the founder and chief executive officer of Arment Dietrich Inc., a firm that uses non-traditional marketing. The author of Spin Sucks, Gini has delivered numerous keynotes, panel discussions, coaching sessions, and workshops across North America on the subject of digital marketing tools. One of the top-rated communication professionals on the social networks, Gini was recently named the number-one PR person on the channels, according to Klout and TechCrunch, and number one on Twitter, according to TweetLevel.