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Next Level Webinars - Part 2: Promote It

The second in a three-part series on how to conduct webinars.

In the first part of this series on creating next level webinars, we covered “building it.” This critical setup included deciding on the right topic, drafting a promotional overview, building a PowerPoint and setting up the technology. With that behind us, let’s focus on “promoting it.”

While much of this advice is applicable to those creating on-demand (recorded) webinars, this series is really focused on providing webinars for a live audience. With that in mind, how do we get people signed up? More importantly, how can we get the right people signed up?

For the most part, we don’t think you need to narrow your audience or overly worry about the audience size getting too large. We want as many qualified people at the top of the funnel as possible. There are times when a smaller group strategy makes sense, like when you’re focused on a really specific niche (executives at a specific company) or when the topic is more private in nature (succession planning in small businesses). But if this is one of your first outings into the land of webinars, let’s go big.

We talked about building the promotional overview, which included both text and video, in the first part of this series. That’s going to come in handy as you build advertisements and client announcements. You’ll need those assets to entice registrations.

Invite Your Clients

Clients value you as an educational resource and a webinar is a perfect vehicle in this environment. Not to mention, the topic you chose likely came from your clients, so you can be confident they’ll find it valuable. Be sure to invite your bigger clients personally, either by email or by phone, separate from the mass communications you’re likely to send. A simple “I think this would be great for you” type of message greatly increases the likelihood they’ll attend (and perhaps invite a friend).

Ask Your Clients to Spread the Word

With your client list of registrations building, reach out to key clients to inquire about guests they could invite. Be ready to steer them toward certain contacts, rather than asking for guests in general. For instance, you might say, “You’ve mentioned you talk about investments with [friend], do you think they’d have interest in joining? I think they’d enjoy it, plus it’s a great way for people to get to know us in a non-threatening environment.”

Promote Through COIs

Your accountants, attorneys and other professionals may personally benefit from attending and also see value in sharing this webinar with their clients. Once again, a personal invitation is a must and might sound like, “I have been getting so many questions about [topic] that I decided to build a webinar around it. I wanted to extend an invite to you. I think you’d really like it. I was also thinking you could share this with any clients who might value this topic as well.” After the invitation call, you can send your promotional overview and video for them to pass around. Will they land 50 new attendees? Probably not, but even a few would help your cause.

Send Emails

Many financial advisors have robust email lists they’ve curated over the years. This is a great list to target with your upcoming webinar programming. Consider a sequence of messages instead of just one. The series could work as follows:

  1. Promotional Video and Overview
  2. Top 5 Reasons to Attend
  3. Final Chance to Register

Send LinkedIn Messages

As we start to move into colder strategies, consider using personalized LinkedIn Messages to those inside and outside your network. For those in your network, fire off a direct message inviting them to attend. For those you don’t know but fit your ideal client profile, ask them to connect first, then message them with an invitation to attend your webinar. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can fire off messages, even as you seek to personalize them. Not everyone will respond, but the numbers game will work in your favor.

Leverage LinkedIn and Facebook Ads

Lastly, let’s look at paid advertising as a means of building attendance. Advertising with social media is far different than print. You can direct your advertising dollars toward a specific audience, target them with specific messaging and track whether they act. Facebook and LinkedIn both provide similar platforms for reaching your intended audience. Facebook wins for overall targeting as they know sooo much more about their users, but LinkedIn wins for targeting specific professions or companies.

If you notice, the above list of actions is ordered from warmer to colder, which is done on purpose. As with most good marketing strategies, it’s best to start by adding value to current clients before branching out to a warmer audience and ultimately inviting a colder audience into the fold.

You might be wondering when all of this promotion needs to start. It’s quite different with webinars than with in-person events. With webinars, start promoting about two weeks in advance, but don’t be afraid to make some last-minute invites the day before.

Next up in part 3, we’ll cover “execute it” for maximum impact. Stay tuned to learn best practices for delivering the webinar and following up afterward. It’s hard work for sure, but well worth your efforts.

Stephen Boswell and Kevin Nichols are partners with The Oechsli Institute, a firm that specializes in research and training for the financial services industry. @StephenBoswell @KevinANichols

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