How an Afterlife and Relevance Translate to Webinar Success

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When I used to hear the initials OPM, I always thought Office of Personnel Management—this is Washington, D.C. But then I listened to a recent talk by Adam Goldstein, publisher of Business Management Daily (BMD), and he offered this advice for webinar marketing:

Cross-promote anywhere you can—it's good for the speaker and good for you. "If you must pay a speaker, don't use your own money," Goldstein said, calling it the OPM model—other people's money. "Give them in-kind promotions, post their articles on your site and use them in social media. Promote the webinar to the speaker's audience on a royalty basis. Trade ad space. We'll put their products in our store. Monetize their participation."

SIPA has three webinars coming up: One on new product development, Wednesday, Nov. 2, with Elizabeth Petersen, executive vice president, BLR, and Victoria Mellor, CEO and co-founder, Novatum Group; one on sales tax for publishers, Wednesday, Nov. 9, with Carolynn Kranz, COO, Industry Sales Tax Solutions; and one on the latest tips and tricks of SEO, Wednesday, Dec. 7, with Kim Mateus, EVP & planning group leader, Mequoda Systems. Unlimited access to webinars is included with your SIPA membership, so register now at no charge.

I'm not sure we have any more fun acronyms, but we do have more advice on getting the most from your webinars:

1. Put the focus on the value over the medium. Author of the excellent The Webinar Blog, Ken Molay grimaces when he sees "big text trumpeting 'FREE WEBINAR!'" It's not the value of free so much that he objects to but that "it puts the focus on the mechanical transmission medium rather than on the content. "You are likely to have better promotional success by putting the focus back on the value for attendees," he writes. "Instead of 'UPCOMING WEBCAST,' try something like 'ONLINE EDUCATION' or 'LIVE TRAINING' or 'EXCLUSIVE INFORMATION.' In A/B comparison tests, MailChimp found that web page click-throughs and webinar attendance both increased when they replaced the word WEBINAR in their online navigation menus."

2. Always be relevant. "Of course, your customers only want to hear what will affect them today," said Lexie Gross, VP of sales for BVR. "'How are you going to help me?' Try to be as relevant to your audience as possible. [Create] urgency. If something just broke in the news, they want to hear it. You be the first one there to provide the event... Events are natural relationship starters. In sales you're trying to create relationships; as a writer you're trying to create relationships."

3. Give the webinar an afterlife. One of the biggest trends in webinars is the steady increase in on-demand viewing. The number of people who register and then watch on-demand rather than live has doubled. In fact, 20% of registrants sign up after the live event, according to one study. The average on-demand viewing time is 29 minutes. "We still do a healthy business with CDs," said Goldstein (pictured). He believes that in the HR space you can get certification credits for just buying a CD, so it may be like that in other areas as well. BMD also transcribes every webinar for around $200 and then puts it into a $49 executive summary that includes the Powerpoint. "We'll take out the 'urs' and 'ums, but still try to leave it a little raw... Content is a fixed cost so any time you can reuse, it benefits you and the speaker."

4. Put time into finding the right topic. Cynopsis Media, a division of Access Intelligence, created a webinar on Snapchat after "discovering that the television and media industry could use a deep dive into this elusive new app." They were right. They had 83 paid participants and surpassed budget by $17,000. Added Goldstein: "We conduct a keyword search in our CMS frequency. If a topic comes up a lot, it's probably something our customers are very interested in."

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…