By Ken Lambert
“Truth be told, we don’t love the term webinar, primarily because it conjures images of boring, “death by PowerPoint” online presentations that sound as appealing as a long walk in a hot desert without water.”
Just today, I was invited to 6 webinars (and the workday is not over yet). Personally, I am planning and presenting at 4 over the next couple of weeks.
Seven plus months into the COVID crisis, we in business development/ marketing/ sales are swimming in a world of webinars. Is there an end in sight? In the meanwhile, how can we somehow make webinars more engaging and attractive? Is there a practical solution for “webinar fatigue”?
To start with, it would be great if there was a synonym for the quasi-word “webinar”. I think some tech-savvy people out there have listed “webinar” as one of their SPAM trigger words, and don’t even see emails coming in that have webinar in their title.
The company I work for, a 36-year-old national operation with a wide audience, puts on two national webinars per week- and has been since early April. In addition, there are probably 4-8 regional webinars that our group conducts each week. Thus, each month over the past seven months we are putting on about 32 webinars! And we are not the only ones living and breathing webinars.
Like many outfits that strive to be thought-leaders/experts in a specific niche, webinars are one of the only “COVID era” activities that we can do to be of some distinct value while also trying to engage with our clients and prospects. That said, there are some realities we need to consider.
- Some (most?) people are getting really tired of webinars. People are on their laptops constantly already, and often on video/Zoom calls and/or virtual conferences. The chances of them getting excited by a webinar announcement are dwindling as the weeks progress.
- The competition for their “webinar time” is insane. Everyone is offering webinars, mostly free at that. Right now even if I was sent an invitation, “Insider Webinar: The Answers to Life’s Top 3 Questions Explained SIMPLY” I don’t think I’d have much interest.
- We need to alter how we present and conduct webinars, to engage better with the attendees. If we assume that the standard webinar is 1 hour long total, with 50-55 minutes of one presenter giving a 75-100 slide Powerpoint, we need to be mixing up the formula. Have a panel discussion, maybe call on attendees during the presentation to ask their opinion on a slide or topic (possibly awkward or painful), mix in some humor or a funny slide (can be dangerous), etc.
- Follow-up is still critical, possibly even more so than pre-COVID. These days people may go to a great webinar, but then they confuse your webinar with the other 3-4 they went on that week and they might forget to reach out to you- even if they fully planned on it.
There is no crystal ball, but there is a solid chance that the current webinar craze will continue for the next 2-3 months anyhow. (This is assuming that some people start taking a relevant vaccine by mid-December.) I believe that our chief directive is to try to engage via webinars in whatever means possible over these next few months; our 2021 and 2022 revenues may largely depend on it.
It may be easier said than done.
Ken is a Director of Industry Development and Technical Services at the International Masonry Institute. Some of his writings have been featured in ARCHITECT magazine, constructiondive.com, and for U.S. Building News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.