Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What's up with Webinars?

Webinars are Linchpin to Multi-MediaMulti-channel marketing is the buzz d'jour, and webinars are a linchpin in that panoply of multi-channel media.

Why so?

Webinars are inexpensive to produce. You've got the talent—maybe you are the talent. (This is not the time to hide your gifts under a bushel basket, friend!) You've got an idea that you're bursting to share. (Enthusiasm is contagious.) You're electronically connected (or could be quickly). And you can email invitations to your 5000 closest friends within an hour of coming up with this brainstorm.

Sounds easy.

But so many webinars are like the party that no one attended. And an unattended webinar can be a lonely place to be...particularly if you are behind the microphone talking to an empty room.

So an enterprising webinar trainer asked her attendees what their preferences were. Time of day. Day of the week. Transmission vehicle. Here are her rather surprising results:

Time of DayTime of Day. It was almost an even split between mornings and afternoons. But the winner was—and I couldn't believe this—evenings! That's right. People were more likely to sacrifice precious free time for a webinar than take time from work. Go figure. We are such drudges.

Day of the WeekDay of the Week. 43.2% of the respondents preferred Monday, with Wednesdays following and Tuesdays coming in last. Thursdays and Fridays didn't even make "also ran" status.

Hence you need to plan ahead. Spontaneity is not an asset. You need to promote days ahead of your event, send out reminders (even day-of-the-event reminders), and then execute early the following week.

Media PreferenceMedia Preference. Since the respondents were webinar attendees, it should come as no surprise to learn that 87.4% said they preferred the webinar format over live stream training (a strong second place), or Facebook and Twitter chats (distant third and fourth place finishers).

And where do these folks feel they are the weakest? 89% said they needed help with their social media skills. That insecurity may be reflected in the media preference hierarchy, but it also shows that for tech-savvy presenters there is a business opportunity.

EntertainmentEntertain or die. Your webinar has a lot of heavy competition. If you don't live up to the audience's expectations, the escape button is close at hand, and they can anonymously vote with their fingers.

If you like to drone on and on, choose another vehicle. Maybe a blog.

Remember Your Audience!Remember, your audience is used to seeing fast-cut TV, music videos and films. In more than one sense, these professionally produced media are your direct competitor for people's time and attention.

But if you can entertain as you educate your audience, perhaps a webinar is a good tool for you to put in your marketing tool bag.

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