This blog is full of tips and tricks about how Microsoft Partners can design a successful webinar for their existing customers as well as for gaining new ones. Several Microsoft Partners have expressed interest in doing more with digital marketing in areas such as webinars, so I thought it would be a great idea to write a blog about the topic as well as record an overview of the content in the video below. I also have written and recorded several example webinar topics to demonstrate what your webinar can look like after just a small investment in equipment, software, and time. The rewards will come over many years to come…
Where to Start and Why?
Webinars are a growing trend, but it is difficult to figure out where to start:
- Why are you doing this? Just educational purposes or something more?
- What is the call to action for your viewers?
- What topics should be discussed?
- How long should a webinar be?
- How many presenters should I include? Just one or two, or more?
- What are the components/section of a webinar to develop?
- Why should I write a blog about it as well?
- What equipment is needed?
- Where should I publish it and how should I monitor traffic for readership and views?
- What recording/editing software is available? Something not complicated to learn, but yet is effective to produce a quality product.
So let’s walk through these different components in the sections below.
In addition to this “how to” webinar, I have also created several example webinars on hot topics being asked about. Be sure to check back here often as more examples are published. So far, I have the following webinars recorded or ready to be recorded:
- Windows 7 to Windows 10 Migrations
- Shadow IT at Cloud Speed – Webinar Example 2 (coming in February 2020)
- Microsoft Teams Voice – Everything a Business Needs – Webinar Example 3 (coming in February 2020)
- Microsoft Multi-Factor Authentication – Webinar Example 4 (coming February 2020)
- Compliance in Microsoft 365 – Webinar Example 5 (coming February 2020)
- More to come…
Why Create a Webinar
Webinars are a great way to market your company and its expertise. Viewers get to hear directly from you personally, as a representative of your company, and get a taste of your professionalism. You get to introduce a popular business problem, explain the solution (to a point), and how your team approaches the implementation.
While you want to draw people to your site for new sales, you ultimately want to position your sellers to be in a conversation with a potential customer and when that customer asks a question, the seller can reply how his/her team specializes in that area. The seller can also say, “In fact, we just posted a webinar the other day about it a and I’ll send you the link to it.” The seller can also talk to the customer about your offer and call to action that I’ll review next. Who among your competitors can reply with information like this?
But perhaps most importantly of all, you are spending time to develop webinars to grab the interest of your viewers. To inspire them about the art of the possible and of course to get them to contact you for more information. To do this, you need an offer – a call to action.
Call to Action
There is no secret to developing a call to action. The call to action for every webinar you create can simply be to contact you for more information AND to sign up for a half day, no cost whiteboarding session about the topic. In that session, you’ll get to meet the new customer, understand their business, their challenges, their goals, and then go deep into the technology, provide possible solutions, and talk about similar projects you have done in the past with overwhelming success. Be sure to remind them that they are busy with their day jobs and even with the best intentions, chances are they won’t have the time or skillsets to implement this solution. You have already done this many times and know what works and what doesn’t.
Most importantly, show them the solution. Use a demonstration environment and demonstration equipment or props. Don’t just tell them you can help them achieve their goals…..that’s what everyone else does. Be different and show them – tell them the story. By you showing them the end user experience they can imagine how it will look in their organization using your solution. Here, you are not showing them how you did it. That is your secret cookie recipe.
As a Microsoft Partner you can be trained on how to deliver a Customer Immersion Experience (CIE) and have access to a variety of top notch demonstration equipment and a demonstration cloud tenant. Providing a realistic experience has a much greater chance for a sales pull through and should always be done. For more information about his program please see the embedded link. So to me, this is the ultimate Call to Action you can use in all of your webinars.
So topics – how do you develop one? Think about what your customers are asking you about. Every question is a webinar topic, especially those common questions. To help you get started I have written talk tracks about several popular topics that you can use as a start. You can use them as they are, but I encourage and highly recommend that you reword these into your own. Make them unique and add your differentiators. When recording, always include your logo with animation along with a unique tune playing with it. AND include your contact information. For a copy of the example talk tracks, send an email request to: firstname.lastname@example.org
How long should a webinar be? I recommend no more that 5-10 minutes. Look everyone is busy, but most people can give you 5-10 monies to hear your message and complete the webinar. If you make an hour long webinar, I guarantee I will find something else to do and so will the majority of your viewers. So keep these webinars short. Get your message delivered and get the viewer to contact you to learn more.
Consider having more than one presenter in the webinars. Make the webinar into a discussion. Perhaps have a company director interview an architect. Have one person asking questions and the other person answering them. While answering, be sure to provide demonstrations of a console or end user experience as something interesting to watch.
A properly formatted letter needs a salutation, body, and a closing. So does a webinar and the brand you are trying to build. Below are the components to develop and include:
Introduction: Be sure to develop your introduction format first as this will be the brand you will need to stay with. Sure, you can enhance it over time, but make it a standard for your webinar series. Start with a quick introduction, followed by your logo in an animated format. Then go into your content.
- Quick Introduction: Each webinar needs quick introduction about the topic. No more than 20 seconds as a hook to draw in your viewers to watch more.
- After the quick introduction, develop and play your animated company logo along with a specific tune (be sure you have rights to the tune). Suggestions about how to create a logo (if needed) or how to animate it are below for very low costs.
- Company Logo: You should already have a professionally developed company logo along with several versions of it in different file formats. If you are just starting out or want to modify your company logo, take a look at www.freelogoservices.com. You can build a logo very quickly using this site with thousands of ideas that are sorted in a very clear way to help you narrow down to exactly what you need. Be aware that while you can create the logo at no charge, downloading it will cost about $40. This is an inexpensive way to get started and what I have used several times to create logos.
- Animated Company Logo: This is a webinar with audio and video. So you will need to make this as graphically appealing as possible. This includes your logo. Animating your company logo and using a tune along with it makes it so much more appealing in this format than just placing it onto a PowerPoint slide and presenting it. For about $15 you can submit your company logo files to www.fiverr.com and within a day receive some incredible animation on your logo. The site is easy to walk through and in just a few steps a graphical artist will start working on your project. I have also used this site several times to animate logos with very impressive results. I am technical, can write, and am business savvy along with many other things. A graphical artist I am not. By the way, I am not being paid and have no other connection to these sites. This is just a recommendation. Do yourself a favor and invest a small amount in these services to get started the right way.
Content: This is often the more difficult part. What do you show while talking on the webinar? What is the message you are trying to deliver and how can the video help enforce that?
- Bulleted Talking Points: Your video content (after a proper introduction and animated logo) can be as simple as a few PowerPoint slides of bullets. The bullets should never have more than just a few words. The webinar is about you talking and/or having a discussion with a co-presenter or guest speaker.
- Demonstration: What is even better than just showing slides is showing what you are talking about in the form of a demonstration. Show your viewers what you are talking about. Show them the solutions you implement in action. Talk about your success stories with other implementations. Include a quote. For example, perhaps your webinar is about Device Management using Microsoft Intune. You can mirror an IOS or Android phone’s screen onto yours and record your demonstration of the user experience. Seeing is believing, so make it as real as possible.
- Video: Do not feel compelled to video yourself speaking at your desk in front of a microphone. Many of us are un-natural in front of a camera and that is fine. You don’t need to be. As highlighted above, focus on the demonstrations.
Closing: Be sure to thank the viewers, ask them to subscribe to your YouTube Channel, leave a comment/question, and to check back often for new content.
- Close out your webinar with a quick summary of what you just presented. Remind the viewers of the content.
- Consider developing a YouTube Channel where all of your videos will be uploaded. After watching a great webinar on YouTube, I’m always looking through that presenter’s channel for more content just like what I saw. So make it easy for viewers to find and watch more.
- Ask viewers to subscribe to your YouTube Channel. The more subscribers, the more activity and the more search results within YouTube.
- Finally, ask your viewer to check back for more information. Perhaps even give them a teaser for topics you are working on in the coming weeks.
Blog About the Topic
When creating a webinar and posting it to YouTube or some other format, remember that what is said in the recordings is not indexed by search engines. So it is important to do a few things for maximum search visibility.
- First, develop a great title for your webinar. Something that is very descriptive as this is the first thing someone searching on your topic will see.
- Then, include a brief description on the content of the webinar. Keep in mind only the first few words of the description will be shown in the search result, so these are the most important to draw your viewer in to begin watching.
- Third, write an article or blog about the content. You already have the webinar content, so writing about it is the easy part. And, this is what is indexed and picked up by the Internet search engines. The point is to get your content seen!
- When done you can take the webinar and embed it into the blog for a great polished and professional look.
The great thing about recording webinars is there isn’t a large amount of investment to get started and to produce great quality sounding audio as well as great looking video.
Audio: To start, you’ll need a really good sounding microphone that is much beyond a speakerphone or mic on your phone or laptop. Based on a lot of research and testing, I recommend getting started with a dynamic microphone vs a condenser microphone. Dynamic microphones give you that radio announcer sound and do not need any type of amplifier or complex sound mixing equipment. They connect directly to your computer and are also inexpensive. As an example, the Blue Yeti and the Rode Podcaster have thousands of great reviews on Amazon and talked about a lot on podcast forums.
Video: You can decide to use video of the presenters in your webinars or use PowerPoint or similar presentations. If you do record the presenters, there are simple cameras from Logitech that provide fantastic video capabilities. The Logitech Brio is a model capable of recording 4k video. As a pro tip, consider your background used during the recording. There is a great new feature in Microsoft Teams called Background Blur. Just like it sounds, you can now blue the background of the presenter without any type of greenscreen needed. Or, you can include a background picture of your choice.
Lights: If using video, consider upgrading lighting used by the presenters. Again, for just a small investment the presenters can look like rockstasr with proper lighting in the recording area. Start by taking a look at these studio quality lights by Elgato called Key Lights. Again, a minor investment with amazing, professional results.
Where to Publish
The blog you write to accompany each webinar needs to be published on your website. The webinar itself can be posted to YouTube and then embedded into your website blog. This way, you’ll get the popularity of YouTube helping to bring users to your webinar recording as well as the search engines picking up on your published blog that is written about the content. There are other fantastic services available to help increase viewership of you recordings across multiple platforms. Make sure you choose one with detailed analytics about your site as well as your YouTube channel. I have been using Google Analytics for many years and will recommend it as a great place to start. Be sure to find a service that provides analytics about your website traffic and the YouTube videos. If doing a podcast, check out PodBean.com as another example.
Audio/Video Editing Software
Recording a webinar is not difficult. The webinar examples listed above were recorded with remote participants using Microsoft Teams. The voice recording was then placed on top of the video using Camtasia. If someone made a mistake while speaking, he/she just stopped and restarted in the same voice, but the recording kept going. Mistakes, “ums” or awkward pauses can very easily be snipped out of any recording. For an application with a price tag of $250 (regular price) it is amazing what you can do in a short amount of time and how good the final product can look. That said, there are many great no cost alternatives such as GarageBand (audio only) that comes with Mac or CamStudio which is open-source. While a quick Internet search will suggest many others, Camtasia has been a solid application for many years in the market.
Be sure to watch the embedded video in this blog for an overview of the written about here. It was produced using the same concepts, equipment, and software discussed. Also, watch the webinar examples and while watching, imagine how you can adopt these tips to create fantastic webinars for your company. Imagine the leads and the sales it could help you land for many years to come.
If you have any questions, please leave them in the comment fields below.