We’ve all been exposed to a lot of video conferencing over recent months.
From Zoom meetings to Teams sessions, the scope of digital meet-ups has expanded rapidly since March.
But there is an additional digital meeting format which is worth giving a go if you haven't already.
If you've yet to try your hand at client webinars, then now is the perfect time to do so.
Here's a checklist for choosing the right tool based on our experience, and ultimately for getting the most out of your webinars.
There are two sides to this coin.
The first is providing maximum value for clients, and considering factors such as whether the system allows video recordings that can be shared with attendees or those unable to make the event.
Equally important is finding a tool that allows your clients to ask questions anonymously, being mindful of the requirements around data protection.
On the flip side, you want your webinar provider to offer good service to you – and to do so in the same time zone.
Many companies are based in far-flung regions and might not have the most responsive customer support if you need them to cure an urgent technical glitch.
This is a big consideration. As well as achieving best value for money, you also want to maximise the effect for clients and allow as many as possible to benefit from the sessions you're hosting.
Cost is generally subscription-based, and dictated by how many can attend a webinar at any one time.
We started with around 50 people for our own sessions pre-crisis, but as lockdown took hold we increased this to 100, in order to meet the growing demand.
Pricing is much more affordable than you might imagine, with up to 100 attendees per session averaging out at roughly £33 a month.
Using the system regularly makes it even more cost-effective; it quickly becomes worthwhile if you’re keen to make use of the system frequently in informing and reporting to clients.
It’s always worth considering how much control you want over elements like branding, registration and agendas – as well as the level of analysis you need around the sessions themselves and who attended.
Capturing data is key if you’re using the tool for lead generation.
It's also important to be able to manage who's running the meeting.
Some systems purport to be webinar products when they’re actually no more than digital meeting software.
Typically, you want your hosts to have full control over guests and to be able to feed into the question system.
Having the ability to switch to a more ‘regular’ meeting can also be helpful when it comes to running sessions with internal teams only.
Unless you’re planning something large scale, you should aim to make sure the service requires minimal technical add-ons.
As a rule you want a system that requires no more than a laptop and good internet signal.
As you'll probably have discovered by now, just bear in mind the latter isn’t always guaranteed when the host’s family is playing games and streaming movies at the same time!
Why webinars matter
In the past eight months, we’ve run around 40 webinars with clients.
Sessions providing insight into the current market situation have proved particularly popular, and so we plan to make these a regular fixture.
Both the quality of the webinars and the ability to have the recording afterwards are clearly valued by clients. Many attendees, having listened in the first time, still like to return to presentations to listen back to what was said.
As for the subject areas to choose, it’s a matter of preference and the scope is broad – from ethical investing and financial planning, to untangling inheritance tax and managing pensions.
The sessions can also work well as tools for networking or new business.
Inviting prospective clients to virtual events gives you an opportunity to showcase the expertise you have within the business.
You may also want to consider inviting guest speakers as well, to add that extra layer of knowledge and to widen the webinar's appeal.
For many, webinars now serve an essential function, and are regularly used to help educate clients on financial planning, give investing reassurance and provide updates.
As a substitute for separate meetings on topics that advisers can discuss more broadly, they can allow you to reach an even larger audience at a lower cost.
So, if you aren’t already running webinars with these ideas in mind, we'd encourage you to give it a go.