In the Fall of 2012 we needed leads.
Our marketing budget was small, but the appetite of our sales team was not. They needed leads, they wanted leads. And so, our task was simple: get them leads on a small budget.
Well…saying the task was simple, actually doing it, was not simple.
We tried several different cheap/free tactics, but none of them worked particularly well. We kept coming back to the same reality: we needed to spend money to generate leads. For several months we spun our wheels hopelessly. Nothing was working.
But then I had an idea, what if we started doing webinars? I had never done a webinar before. Heck, I’d only attended a few webinars, but it was worth a try.
And so we started. We convinced our CEO to prepare a slide deck he had recently presented a conference about mobile search. We emailed our database (at that point a fairly small 10K) and invited them to the webinar. Around 12 people registered. It was hardly a success. I think there were 4 or 5 people on the webinar that actually heard Jason’s presentation.
But, we kept at it.
Two weeks later, we had around 30 people on a webinar. We were headed in the right direction….but then…another setback.
In the early days of our webinar series we tried to operate on the cheap. We were too cheap, in fact, to use an actual webinar software. We instead tried to use Join.Me. It is a perfectly good tool for conference calls and demos, but it simply doesn’t work for webinars (or at least it didn’t then). Why? Because you couldn’t mute the attendees.
Turns out this is kind of a big deal.
On our third webinar—the first one with a partner, not one of our executives—we realized why this was a big deal. We requested everyone mute their phone, but, of course, they didn’t. And so we could hear everything. We could hear what was happening on every single attendee’s phone. We heard a wife yelling at her husband. We could hear typing. We could hear what sounded like a meeting being held in a conference room. We could even hear a rooster crowing. A. Rooster.
Why was someone on a webinar about marketing best practices with a rooster? No idea.
In any case, we learned our lesson. We invested in GoToWebinar and never looked back.
The key to growing a great webinar series is getting great speakers. We realized that we couldn’t produce and present content on every webinar we conducted. The task was simply too daunting. It was too much work. And so we started to reach out to marketing experts to see if they would be interested in speaking on our webinar. And, mostly to our surprise, some were. Some even offered to email their database and invite them to the webinar too.
That’s when it hit us: THAT was the model! That’s how we’d generate leads. We would get guest speakers who would prepare the content, deliver the presentation, and email their list and invite them to the webinar. This tactic would produce new leads for our database and provide an incredible opportunity to expose our brand to a host of people who would otherwise not know who we were.
In return, we would invite our list, our webinar partners received the webinar registration list, and the webinar recording.
Most importantly, the attendees got an incredible training from a marketing expert.
So, we started building the model. We began with a webinar every other week. But it became so successful that we went to one per week, then two per week. To-date we’ve done over 250 webinars with guest speakers and generated tens of thousands of new leads.
And…they’re free. The only expense is our GoToWebinar subscription.
1) Stay Consistent – Come hell, holidays, or low registrations, we hold webinars every single week. It doesn’t matter what is going on, we have webinars.
2) Commit Your Speakers – Commit your guest speaker to email his or her list. That’s the key. If they don’t email their list you’ll likely only get 1-5 new contacts per webinar, because it’ll just be people from your list. But, if you make sure that your partner is emailing his/her list, you’ll succeed.
3) Keep Going – There will be days/weeks/months when it is very frustrating. It’ll feel like a lot of work for a little return. But keep trying. Eventually it’ll work and eventually you’ll have something to show for it.
4) Tipping Point – There is always a tipping point. It may take months or even years to get more than 100 people on your webinars, but it will happen.
5) Titles – Good titles are second only to promotion (i.e. whether you both email your respective email lists about the webinar), in importance. If you want good webinar registration numbers, make sure you have good titles. Don’t be afraid to tell your speaker that the title they’ve chosen stinks.
6) Finding Speakers – The number one question I’m asked about our webinar series is this: where do you find the speakers. That, my friends, is the real work. It is not easy to find speakers. It takes time. But I generally start with partners, integrators, and clients that do webinars. I ask them to refer me to people they have done webinars with. And it spreads from there. At this point, I have people asking us if they can be a guest speaker.
The bottom line is this: webinars are a great way to get free leads. If you have any questions, or if you want to be a guest speaker on our webinar series just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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