Library of emails
May 16, 2020
Old school opinions?
Produce more and better webinars
Last week’s issue of Driven provoked more response than most.
The article about the future of remote selling for enterprise accounts prompted almost opposite reactions.
One came from a senior sales leader. He was eager to say that face-to-face selling will return as soon as we have a vaccine for Covid-19.
He cited the opinions of 50 CFOs he said he’s spoken with since the shutdowns began in mid-March. Apparently they also believe travel will soon return to the way it was for enterprise sellers.
Another response came from the CEO of a small SaaS startup. They sell consulting services and SaaS to enterprise accounts worldwide.
He thinks face-to-face selling may never return to what it was before Covid-19. Reading between the lines of what he said, he’d be happy if it didn’t.
He’s enthusiastic about using remote selling to close big enterprise deals.
His company recently used remote selling to close a deal in a distant country. They won the business during the shutdown, without a single face-to-face meeting.
He said the contract was with a small or mid-sized business (SMB), not an enterprise account. But it was for a relatively high contract value, and the deal required a high level of trust.
Let me be clear about my own position. I wasn’t predicting or advocating that face-to-face selling will go away. I was just sharing ideas you may not have considered.
4 old-school things I believe
I may be old school, but I think…
- Best practices are mostly bogus.
- Third-party research is often unreliable, useless, or self-serving. Sometimes it’s all 3.
- Branding is often a waste of money—especially for small companies.
- Social media is often a huge waste of time and money for companies that sell to enterprise accounts. The higher your annual contract value (ACV), the more wasteful social media is likely to be.
Recently I’ve developed higher opinions of branding and social media. But I may die thinking best practices are mostly bullsh*t.
I want to hear what you think. How interested are you in engaging on any of these topics?
Click here to tell me which interest you. I’ll talk more about any that get votes.
New audio version of Driven?
Would you like to be able to listen to Driven instead of reading it? Maybe you’d rather consume it when you’re driving or exercising.
I plan to produce an audio version that closely follows the written one.
If you’re interested, let me know.
In this week’s issue…
We focus on a common and timely challenge you’re likely to face:
How do you get more value from sponsoring webinars, when everyone in the world is offering them?
Your reading time this week is about 12 minutes if you read 200 words a minute.
SALES | MARKETING | EXECUTION | WEBINARS
How to succeed with webinars, even when everyone else is doing them
It seems that nearly every B2B SaaS marketing team is offering many more webinars than ever before.
That means competition for audience time and attention has never been more intense.
So in order to stand out in the crowd, you must offer something different.
This article shares unconventional ideas. The ideas are especially likely to appeal to smaller, scrappier companies and to individual sales reps.
Why it matters now
Even before the Covid-related shutdown, webinars were among the most effective marketing channels for lead generation.
In recent surveys, B2B marketers rank webinars just below their favorite channel—in-person events.
So far, audiences of B2B buyers appear to be surprisingly receptive to the new glut of webinars. That’s one finding of a recent survey from the Revenue Collective.
Indeed, other surveys say that B2B buyers prefer webinars over many other formats for getting information from vendors.
They like webinars at all stages of their decision process, and especially toward the beginning and middle.
Change your goals
Most webinars aim to generate sales leads. To that end, they try to attract as many visitors as possible.
They finish with a call to action to contact someone for more information about a product or service.
Or they offer additional information for visitors to view online or to download.
If you’ve done demand gen webinars in the past, consider changing your goal to education, branding, and audience building.
Either goal is fine, but don’t mix your goals for a single webinar.
If your goal is branding, stay with branding. Don’t try to do both branding and lead generation at the same time.
This means you don’t offer an educational webinar and then have a salesperson or SDR ask participants to engage in sales conversations.
If your goal is lead generation, don’t try to do branding through the same webinar.
Increase your frequency
I’ve worked with companies that offer webinars once a quarter or less. They limit their output because each webinar requires so much time and effort.
I’m suggesting here that you do webinars at least weekly. You need to offer them so often that they make a lasting impression collectively.
People are much more likely to forget about you when a long time passes between episodes.
Regular posting builds familiarity, habit, expectation, and trust.
Produce plenty of content faster and at lower cost
To offer webinars weekly, you need to produce them faster and with less effort.
Earn the attention of your audiences
Your toughest challenge with content is always to earn the attention of your audience. It’s especially hard to do so these days, with so many other webinars competing for it.
That means you try to help your audience solve their common problems and answer their common questions.
The information you provide should be useful to them whether or not they buy your product.
More people are likely to attend webinars that educate and inform them without pitching products.
Fewer are likely to waste time attending webinars for products people know they can’t buy as long as budgets remain frozen.
Marketing people often lack the subject-matter expertise that it takes to capture the interest of their target audiences.
You need to tap the people in your company who know something about the audience and the topic.
Educational webinars are more likely to generate revenue down the road.
Try a different webinar format
The tired old webinar format involves a host and one or more guests.
The host introduces the guests, and the guests deliver a PowerPoint presentation.
The presentation is highly scripted. Interaction is minimal. Time for questions and answers is short.
Presenters often begin or end the webinar by talking about their company or their product or service.
What useful content they contain is buried in the middle.
Visitors have learned that these formats often yield rather low value for the amount of time they require.
Try making your webinars shorter. Maybe 45 minutes or even 30 minutes instead of 60.
Make your webinars more like talk radio
Instead, consider making the webinar more conversational and participatory. Throw away the script.
Here’s one potential agenda for a 45-minute session:
- Introductory comments. Introduce the main topic of the day’s discussion. Name the problem or challenge the discussion aims to solve. (10 min. Or 20% of total time)
- Prime the pump with common questions. Invite the guest to discuss the questions with the host. (5 min., or 10% of total time)
- Invite the audience to ask their questions or share their thoughts. (About 25 min., or 65% of total time)
- Wrap up. Summary recap. Invite to the next session. Suggest other media channels that visitors might care about. (2.5 min., or 5% of total time)
In case your audience is small or doesn’t ask many questions, prepare many more questions and discussion topics than you can address during your show.
Start with the ones that are most likely to be important to your audiences so you’re sure to cover them.
Don’t worry about starting with small audiences
At first you needn’t worry about how many people show up for each webinar.
You just need enough attendees to keep the interaction going with your hosts.
You’re going to post the webinar and make it available to social media. So you can get plenty of follow-on value even if your initial audience is small.
Pay close attention to audio quality
People who listen to the webinar will be more concerned about the quality of audio than the video.
For good audio quality, invest in good microphones. Mics are of 2 kinds, condenser and dynamic.
Condenser mics are best suited for studio use where you can control echo and background noise.
Dynamic mics, in contrast, work well in situations with background noise. That’s because they pick up less sound farther from the mic.
You can get a perfectly adequate dynamic mic for about $70. And you can get a good condenser mic for between about $100 and $160.
To use dynamic mics correctly, you’ll need to practice your technique. To maintain consistent sound levels, you must keep your mouth a constant distance from the mic.
Also invest in good studio headphones so you can control audio without echoes and feedback.
Try different video conferencing technologies
The standard video conferencing applications are Webex, GoToMeeting, ON24, and a handful of others. These names are often the preferred choices for big, established companies.
The technology you use for your webinar or video conference will determine, in part, how you can interact with attendees.
For more flexibility than you can get with the older technologies, consider using Zoom, Crowdcast, and other newer platforms.
An application called Squadcast is great for ensuring high audio quality, even if you don’t have great internet connections. It records a separate track locally for each participant. It then recombines them. You can edit each track separately.
Repurpose content and increase distribution
Your goal should be to get as much mileage as you can from the webinar content you create.
You also want to produce a lot of useful content you can repurpose and share in a variety of formats.
To that end, you can share your video content on YouTube. If you do that, it won’t have much competition from other B2B video content.
You can also share short-form audio and video content on LinkedIn or Facebook. So cut your long webinar into short segments, each specific to a single topic.
You can also repurpose audio questions and answers into text for blog posts, guest posts, and social media postings.
To do this efficiently, get transcripts made. One reliable, reasonably priced source of fast transcripts is Rev. I’ve used them for years.
Don’t let the mechanics of producing webinars become an excuse not to produce plenty of content.
Even with a small budget and staff, you can generate plenty of engaging video and audio content.
But it takes commitment and focus. You have to commit to doing it regularly.
“Create Content for Your Audience, Not Your Funnel.” Chris Walker. Gaetano DiNardi. State of Demand Gen podcast. Demand Gen Live episode x03. May 1, 2020. [Chris Walker is founder and CEO of Refine Labs. Gaetano DiNardi is director of demand generation at Nextiva. Episode length: 1:21. Apple, Spotify, Google, and other podcast distributors.]
“Execution Drives Better Strategy.” Chris Walker. Gaetano DiNardi. State of Demand Gen podcast. Demand Gen Live episode x04.May 6, 2020. [Episode length: 57 min.]
“B2B LinkedIn Ads & Detailed Content Distribution.” Chris Walker. Gaetano DiNardi. State of Demand Gen podcast. Demand Gen Live episode x05. May 7, 2020. [Episode length: 1:11]
“Audio Content Marketing Strategy.” Rex New. Marty McPadden. May 14, 2020. Managing Editor. Webinar. [This webinar offers good information about audio production quality and recommended software and equipment.]
That’s it for this week.
Stay healthy and safe.
See you next week.
Driven is a free weekly email for time-strapped revenue leaders in business-to-business SaaS companies.
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When I provide links to articles from vendors, it does not imply an endorsement of their products or services. I link to them because they offer good content.
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