10 FAQs About Webinars for Manufacturing

goldmine

Let’s say, for the purpose of this post, that you are an executive at a manufacturing company.  You’re CAGR (combined annual growth rate) is about 3% over the last 5 years because of global competition and overall low GDP growth rates in the macro economy where you operate.  You’ve been tearing your hair out trying to figure out how to get back to those heady days of double digit growth.  You’ve tried pushing your sales team to do more, but realized they are doing as much as they can.  You’ve pushed your business development managers to innovate and be more creative in their product road maps, but they just can’t come up with anything really unique that resonates with your target audience.  You’ve tried acquisitions, but they just never really work out as expected in spite of those glorious hockey stick graphs.

There’s one place you probably haven’t looked.  It’s a hidden gold mine and it’s buried within your own company walls.  This hidden mine of growth inducing gold is easy to find and easy to access as long as you have an open mind and are willing to think outside your proverbial manufacturing company box.  The gold mine is your marketing department!

It’s not an easy thing to get your mind around, the fact that your marketing function could be a huge source of revenue producing activity.  Typically, in a manufacturing environment, the marketing team is merely an expense item or, even worse, a black hole where you dump money and never know what you get back.  Manufacturing is just the folks down the hall who come up with those clever ads, set up the trade shows for the sales team and maintain the web site.  Right?

I can tell you, with certainty, that the manufacturing companies that can embrace and support marketing as a revenue generating function will kill it in their competitive space!  And webinars are a great place to start mining the gold and making the conversion.

How does this tie in to a post titled 10 Frequently Asked Questions About Webinars for Manufacturing?  You’re going to get push back on the idea of marketing as a revenue generator.  You will likely need to prove your talk with some type of a pilot test program.  Educational webinars are a great way to uncover the gold mine and prove your hypothesis that marketing will be the next big growth engine for your company.

Here are the 10 FAQs about webinars as a gold mining marketing tactic:

Q.  Why should I care about webinars?
A.  As mentioned above, webinars are one of the best marketing tactics that can get you broader and deeper engagement with your target audience.  Engagement = more customers.  There is no other marketing or sales tactic that can get you in front of hundreds or even thousands of prospective customers with as little cost.  The ROI can be enormous.

Q.  How many leads will I get from a webinar?
A.  I’ve created a single webinar that generated as many as 2500 leads.  The actual number depends somewhat on your current activity and the viability of your current database as well as the makeup of your target audience.  As an example, if yours is a medium size manufacturing company with annual revenue of around $100 million USD, an educational webinar could easily draw 500 registrants.

Q.  How do I use video in my webinars?
A.  You don’t use a live video stream with a webinar.  The assumption that a webinar includes live video feed is a common misconception about webinars.  When we talk about webinars, we’re not talking about a TV broadcast.  In a webinar, you don’t use a live video feed of someone talking.  You use a couple of people who talk over the presentation.  Video adds a great deal of complexity to the webinar if you are broadcasting to hundreds of people.  Complexity increases risk of presenting a poor quality webinar.

Q.  How do I create a webinar?
A.  There are a number of ways to create an effective webinar.  Check out this Webinar Toolkit I put together for the do-it-yourselfers.  The key thing to remember is to make the webinar about something that matters to your target audience.  Don’t create a webinar about your product or your company.  There are a number of good platforms available for webinar creation, production and broadcasting on the market which are easy to find.  Like any event, there are myriad details to cover.  You’ll need someone with a little experience to help you with your first few webinars.

Q.  What is the best topic for my webinar?
A.  As I alluded to above, the best topic is one that helps the people in your audience to be better at something they care about.  Product webinars usually fail as broad engagement activities.  You need to switch your marketing thinking from, “look at us, look at our product, we are great” mentality to a “we can help you, we share our expertise, you are great” mentality.  Find a topic that is at the intersection of a pain point or pleasure point common in your target audience with your unique expertise.

Q.  Who is the best person to speak?
A.  As a manufacturing company, you have a lot of expertise lurking about the halls of your company.  Some are good speakers, some are terrified of speaking and some think they are good speakers.  Find an expert who is passionate and has some experience with speaking.  Members of a Toastmasters group are excellent choices.  Avoid choosing sales people or upper level executives because they will always fall back on pitching the product or the company which defeats the purpose and intent of your educational webinar.  Make sure you coach your speakers and practice, practice, practice!

Q.  How much resources will it take to produce a webinar?
A.  It does take considerable resources in time and personnel to earn growth with webinars.  As far as money, a webinar will give you the lowest cost per person engagement of most any marketing activity.  In other words, webinars are cheaper and provide more return than print ads, trade shows and digital ads.  Plan on 25 hours for the initial setup and about 10 hours per webinar for production.  You can purchase a webinar platform for around $400 per month as a subscription service.  The other resource you should be sensitive to is the time of your subject matter experts.  Make it easy and rewarding for them to participate.

Q.  What is the ROI for a webinar?
A.  As with all questions about ROI, it’s tricky to come up with a black & white answer.  I can say that for about the price of a full page color ad in a trade journal or about 1/3 the cost of a trade show, you can produce the webinar.  The ROI could easily be in the 10’s of thousands of percent.  For example if you invest $8500 in a webinar, a well produced and well done webinar could easily get a 100x return.  Naturally, it depends on the nature of the thing you are selling, but the point is, webinars can give you a lot of bang for your buck.

Q.  What are the specific benefits of webinars?
A.  In addition to the ROI benefit mentioned above, a well done, educational webinar produced with an audience focused topic will provide top of mind awareness, strong feelings of reciprocity, position your firm as highly credible (more credible than the competition), and all of that results in growth, growth and more growth for your business.

Q.  What are the first steps to get started?
A.  Just do it.  You, as the senior manufacturing executive, will have to devote personnel time, budget and probably help recruit the subject matter expert.  Choose a person from the marketing department to own the process.  If you tack it on as an ancillary responsibility to someone’s regular duties, you will get a half-assed result and you will discard webinars altogether missing the gold mine.

Another option to get started is to hire a webinar expert to produce a turn-key program.  At KMI, we offer that service.  Heck, we’re so confident that this will work for your company, you can pay for performance.  Pay for performance means the payment for the webinars is based on the number of registrants or attendees.  Request a price quote today!

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