Lead Generating Webinars for Manufacturing (part 1)

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Find Your Webinar Sweet Spot at the intersection of manufacturing expertise and audience pain or passion.

Many manufacturing marketers have tried webinars as a way to increase sales and gain brand awareness.  According to a recent survey by Content Marketing Institute and Adobe, 53% of B2B marketers (which includes manufacturing companies) use webinars as a tactic.  Even more interesting is the fact reported that of those marketers who had tried webinars and then stopped for one reason or another were using them for product oriented topics like training or product launches.

It’s been my front line experience that product focused webinars typically fail as lead generating tactics.  However, knowledge focused webinars can generate hundreds and even thousands of leads for top of the funnel engagement.

This is the first of a 4 part blog series which will teach manufacturing marketers how to create, produce, deliver and measure effective lead generating webinars by educating the people in your target audience about something that matters to them.  MATTERS TO THEM!   The first premise to understand is that your product doesn’t matter to them.  Your company doesn’t matter to them.  The topic you choose must matter to them.  Help them be better, relieve pain or fan a passion.

Getting Started with Lead Generating Webinars

Step 1.  Make a plan and work the plan.  As with any effective marketing activity or project, the first step is to make a plan.  I’m always surprised how many professionals jump into a project like creating a webinar series without thinking through the entire plan.  I love checklists, perhaps from my old Navy days where we used a checklist for nearly every activity.  I strongly suggest using a checklist for creation of the webinar series, execution of each webinar and even a checklist for the day of the webinar.  You can download a webinar checklist template here or it’s easy enough to make your own.  Remember the 5 Ps; Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance!

The checklist covers 6 critical phases of the webinar production process:

  1. Start up – determine objectives, align stakeholders, specify budget
  2. Branding – decide how you will position your webinar, build all the templates – email, ppt slides, special logo, titles, etc.
  3. Team – speakers, moderator, experts, promotion manager, etc.
  4. Tools – what will you use as the webinar platform, promotion tools, follow up marketing tools, etc.
  5. Promotion – decide how you will promote the webinars – outbound and inbound – will you advertise? Email? Other?
  6. Execution – The details of the actual live broadcast and how you’ll leverage the recorded webinar.

Step 2.  Finding the best topic.  The topic is the one thing that can make or break the success of your webinar.  As mentioned above, typically product based webinars are bad for engaging with the broader target audience.  Product based webinars have a place with the product team or the customer support team as an aid for existing customers, but they have no place in lead generation or audience engagement.

Focus on a topic that is meaningful, helpful or useful to those folks in the target audience.  But first, you have to define that target audience.  After you define your target audience,  use the diagram below to determine the ‘sweet spot’ as your webinar topic.

sweet spot

First, collaborate with your webinar team and other stakeholders to determine what pain or passion your manufacturing company can address with the in-house experts and expertise.  It should be a common pain or passion among your chosen target audience.  Do not choose a problem where you have no authority or expertise.

Second, specifically identify the in house expertise and experts.

Third, identify the sweet spot at the intersection of the pain/passion and the expertise.  This is your topic.  Incidentally, this may not just be your topic for a webinar series, it may also be the topic that drives your overall marketing strategy.  Above all else, remember WIIFM from the audience perspective.  As the people in your audience receive the invitation, review the webinar description and decide if they want to sign up and begin to engage with your company, they will ask themselves, “what’s in it for me”.   Your topic must have a powerful and compelling answer for them.

Finally, create a mission statement for your webinar series.  A mission statement will keep you true to the sweet spot topic and prevent the typical problem where the webinar topics gradually creep back to a product focus.  The mission statement should be something like:

“We help the people in our target audience to be better _____________.”
“By sharing our expertise about _________, the people in our target audience are more efficient ____________.”

These two steps will get you started.  Here are some resources for more detail about this topic of creating lead generating webinars for your manufacturing company:

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