The Budget Webinar for Startups

We’ve officially re-branded “content marketing” as “customer foreplay”.  One of the best ways to pre-titillate your future customers with customer foreplay is to share your newfound wisdom and experience with them via a webinar.

How you think people watch your webinar
How you think people watch your webinar

Your first mission?
Say something worth saying.  Take a stand. Don’t sell.  Leave that for a separate conversation.  It’s okay to make a 10 second plug, then move on.  Here are five broad topic suggestions to get you started:

  • Best practices in your customer’s industries, not yours
  • Trends and predictions
  • Data – sharing your own or making new observations about others
  • How to make more money, save money, or reduce risk in their industry
  • For current customers, making better use of your product
How people actually feel about your webinar, if it's boring and un-fun
How people actually feel about your webinar, if it’s boring and un-fun

Having a customer join your webinar to share their perspective always makes content marketing customer foreplay much stronger. Include a customer if you can, then thank them profusely before, during, and after the webinar.

Next, find a tool to share your content.
My personal favorite is GoTo Webinar, beating out Webex due to a simpler user experience for both the broadcaster and the listener.  GoTo is pricy for a new startup, coming in a $99/mo.  If you can afford it, do it.  If not, sign up for the free 30 day trial.  For your next webinar, sign up with a different email address.  For your next webinar, a different email.  This is a hack, but hey, I am now a happy paying customer having done this myself.  Bonus tip: GoTo always sends 20-30% discount emails after you’ve cancelled in order to drive more registrations.

Writing the content
With a topic chosen, it’s time to build the content for your webinar.  The conventional wisdom says build your script and slide deck in isolation from each other:  Start with the agenda, write the script, then build the PPT.  While starting with an agenda & script is the right first step, I prefer a blended approach, building the PPT in tandem while fine tuning the script.

If you’re not paying attention, HAVE A SCRIPT.  Don’t wing it.  Ever.  

Once your script is written, start building the slide deck.  Put the appropriate script nuggets below the corresponding slides.  Please, have fun with your script and deck.  Make it enjoyable, not dry and boring.  Easy to say, but hard to actually accomplish.  Incorporate some of your personality, not all of it.

3-4 Weeks Out

  • Schedule the date in your webinar tool.
  • Schedule the date for everyone involved in the webinar.  Book 30 minutes of their time before official start time to prep.
  • Write your agenda.
  • Create and schedule a series of email campaigns, posts, and tweets to publicize the webinar.  If you’ve got a little cash, try $100 test campaigns on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
  • Configure the auto-emails that your webinar tool sends out to share the messaging you want.

2 Weeks Out

  • Begin the script.
  • Meet with your team / customers to gather the deeper data you need.
  • Begin the PPT. Fine tune the script.

1 Week Out

  • Rehearse by yourself.
  • Rehearse with all webinar panelists.

The Day Of…

  • Print out paper copies of the script for attendees.
  • Get in your room 30 minutes beforehand.
  • Start testing the technology to make sure it’s running fine.

During the Webinar

  • If you’re going to start two minutes after the webinar, let attendees know.  Hop on the audio quickly and share that update.
  • Have fun.
  • Talk slow.  You’ll end up saying more by saying less.
  • Smile when you talk.  You can hear the non-smilers, and it hurts.

After the Webinar

  • Share the attendee list with your team.  Remind them to follow up on any hot leads.
  • Upload the leads to your lead tracking spreadsheet or CRM
  • Share the PPT and/or PDF with everyone who signed up and attended

Bonus Tips

  • I use a Snowball microphone to improve the quality of the audio for the listeners. Awesome purchase.
  • Have fun. Don’t be a jackass, but have a good time with your webinar.
  • Use music. In order to “raise” the “production value” of a budget webinar, I kick the event off with a song.  I literally hold my phone’s speakers up to the microphone for the first 10 seconds.  Good times.
  • If customers served as panelists, send them a thank you note and a gift card.

If you ever find yourself needing more tips, drop me a line.  Did I miss something obvious?  Let me know that, too.

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