I just got done listening to what should have been a really interesting webinar. It had a great panel of experts and was focused on how regulatory changes can spur innovation and growth in the financial industry. The invitation to the event was compelling; it had good thought leaders on the panel, and looked very interesting. I actually rearranged my schedule so I could attend.
The panel discussion had great potential, but after it got started, it quickly lost my interest. I stayed connected, but I started working on other things (like this blog post). I wonder how many other attendees were actually working on other tasks while the webcast ran in the background.
In analyzing what they did wrong, I think they made three critical mistakes.
They Targeted Too Broadly
Usually, for a webinar to be effective, it should be targeted to a very specific audience. But marketers find that limiting when they’re on the hook to generate lots of leads. If you’re shooting for quantity instead of quality, then you can target broadly to make sure you don’t miss anyone. But that will mean you’ll have to prepare content that will apply to all buyer personas, all asset classes, all portions of the enterprise, and even broadly across multiple financial services sectors. Some companies go after even broader audiences by targeting multiple vertical industries. But in reality, this just ensures that the content will be irrelevant to everyone and that you’ll get little or no audience engagement. So you might attract lots of registrants, and people might even attend the live event. But the audience will tune out and focus on other tasks while the webinar is running, like I did.
They Kept the Content Abstract
The most effective webcasts educate the audience about how to solve their specific business problems. But if you’re targeting too broadly, you have to keep the content completely abstract because concrete examples will only make sense to a small sub-set of the audience. If you don’t focus on specific business problems, you have to stay abstract, ensuring that no one except your competitors really understands what you’re talking about. This also ensures that no one can apply what you’re saying to their real-world problems.
They Didn’t Tell Any Client Stories
Storytelling engages your audience and makes the content interesting and relevant. Use cases and case studies help prospects get a vision for how they can solve their own similar business problems. But if you’re targeting too broadly, those use cases won’t be relevant to most of the audience. Use case examples and stories of how clients solved their real-world business problems help the audience connect emotionally and intellectually with the content. When we tell reference stories, prospects discover their own stories as they listen, and they begin to develop a vision for how you can help them like you helped the reference customer. (By the way, you CAN create a compelling use case story without naming the customer or disclosing confidential information, so don’t let NDAs become an excuse for not telling stories).
Which is Better for Webinar Results? Quantity or Quality?
By their nature stories are never general. They’re always about a specific situation. So your broad, un-targeted audience is not likely to connect with stories that aren’t relevant to them. But wouldn’t it be better to segment your audience and hold 4 separate webinars telling relevant stories to 4 different target audiences? If the stories and examples would help those specific prospects catch a vision for how you could help them, wouldn’t that generate better quality leads? If that was the case, wouldn’t audience quality and qualified leads be a better measure of webinar success than just raw registrant numbers?
To be honest, I’m really tired of boring webinars that promise so much and deliver so little! If you want to try out some ideas for how to add a little story and make your webinars engaging, interesting, relevant, and effective for generating qualified leads, give us a call. You can reach me at +1.970.300.2280.
Learn more from these “7 Lessons From A Bad Webinar.”
Here are some more fun tips from HubSpot on how to totally suck at marketing.
The illustration above is “The Scream” by Edvard Munch.