Adversity is the mother of invention.

    So, with lockdown and social distancing in place, it was inevitable that 2020 would be the year webinars took over from physical events.

    I suspect (this isn’t a prediction, so don’t hold me to it!) that webinars will continue to be more popular than physical events even after restrictions are lifted.

    They’re more flexible, convenient and easier to organise than traditional conferences. And a damn sight cheaper too.

    However, webinars take careful planning, and we’ve noticed some financial planners making basic mistakes. So, here are our top 10 tips to help you run the perfect webinar.

    1. Agree your target audience and the subject

    All content (and that includes webinars) must be relevant to the audience.

    So, your first job is to agree who you want to attend the webinar (whether that's clients, prospects or professional connections) and what you will talk about.

    The answers to both these questions depend on what you want to achieve. For example:

    • Are you communicating with existing clients?
    • Trying to attract new clients?
    • Building relationships with professional connections?

    If you’ve got more than one aim, you should run multiple webinars.

    2. Build your database

    The firms who run webinars successfully focus as much on building their database as they do the webinar itself.

    The two key ways to build a database are:

    • Recording all new enquiries (very few firms do that)
    • Running lead magnet campaigns on social media

    Neither is quick, but the effort is worth it; the larger your database, the more people you can invite and the bigger your audience will be.

    3. Advertising on social media isn’t a shortcut to success

    We’ve seen firms without a database advertise webinars on social media.

    While they’ve started with high hopes, they have always been disappointed with the results. Often this involves spending significant amounts of money on adverts with very few sign-ups.

    Don’t expect to fill a webinar by advertising on social media. You’ve got to put the hard work in and build a database. There are no shortcuts.

    4. Get your invite right

    To maximise the number of people on your webinar you need to get the invite right.

    The text for your invite and registration page will be identical and should explain:

    • The reason for the webinar; what’s the problem you’re addressing
    • Who should attend?
    • What will they learn?
    • The basic information they need (date, time, cost)

    Break the invite and registration page up with subheadings and bullet points. Keep it punchy too; 300 words is plenty.

    5. Split test your subject line

    Email invites allow you to split test the subject line of your invite.

    Write two subject lines which are significantly different (there’s little point in a split test with similar subject lines) and use your email system to split test them on a proportion of your database.

    6. Take security seriously

    We’ve seen some firms have their webinars disrupted in distasteful ways. You can easily avoid a similar experience by taking security seriously:

    • Use a bespoke webinar package: Some firms run webinars as large meetings to cut costs. That increases the likelihood of disruption because participants can share screens and turn their camera on.
    • Make everyone register: Even if your webinar is aimed at existing clients, make everyone register. That way, you know who is attending and can take appropriate action against anyone who looks suspicious.
    • Don’t share links or passwords: We’ve seen some firms share links to their webinar and the password to get in on social media. We really shouldn’t need to explain why that’s a security risk!
     7. Decide who will present

    We’ve often seen firms try to take a shortcut and bring in a presenter, often from a provider or investment manager.

    This can work for clients, especially if the investment manager delivers the firm’s centralised investment proposition.  However, it doesn’t work when targeting prospects who want to hear from you or members of your team, rather than a hired help.

    That said, we’ve seen financial planners successfully run joint webinars with local professional connections. It’s generally been a joint presentation, and both have promoted the webinar, increasing the likelihood of a large audience. 

    8.Have someone to help you

    Whenever I run a webinar for The Yardstick Agency I always have Dan Campbell, our head of branding, by my side.

    Dan deals with questions from the audience, helps people with technical problems and other ‘housekeeping’. That allows me to concentrate on presenting safe in the knowledge Dan’s got everything else covered.

    My advice? Don’t run a webinar on your own. Have a ‘Dan’ to help you out.

    9. Make time for questions

    Answering questions means your audience will get more from the webinar.

    Consider whether you will take questions during the webinar, or at the end. My preference is to do both.

    Questions during the presentation increases interaction and creates a more interesting webinar. It does mean though you need your ‘Dan’ to be skilled at posing questions at appropriate times.

    Make sure there’s plenty of time at the end of the webinar to answer questions too. You don’t want any delegates to leave the webinar without their question answered.

    Finally, note down all the questions and use them as inspiration for future content including blogs, podcasts, social media messages and follow-up webinars.

    10. Get the follow-up right

    Even if you feel the webinar went well, don’t expect huge numbers of people to flock to your door without effective follow-up.

    So, send a follow-up email to everyone who registered, not just those who attended, which includes:

    • A recording of the webinar, so people can watch it back (or for the first time if they didn’t attend)
    • Links to anything you mentioned on the webinar (websites, articles, guides etc)
    • Multiple calls to action offering an appointment with you or one of your team
    Low cost, flexible and easy to organise

    Necessity means that webinars are here to stay.

    Even if that wasn’t the case, they’re a powerful way of communicating with existing clients and generating new clients.

    They’re not easy to get right. But if you agree your messaging, build your database, get presenting right and with effective follow-up, you’ll be fine.

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