By Marcus Schaller published September 20, 2011

How to Create an On-demand Webinar that Converts Readers into Leads

In today’s hyper-competitive world, typical white papers and webinars are no longer enough to attract qualified leads. We’re all overwhelmed with data and facts. Adding more to the pile simply doesn’t work.

So what makes some content offers stand out above the rest? It all comes down to perceived value vs. perceived risk.

Value is created when you can solve important and challenging problems; in other words, you need to determine how badly your customers want the content you are looking to provide, and how difficult it has been for them to find this information.

Risk is anything that your audience even suspects may waste their time and energy such as boring, bullet point-riddled slides, meaningless stock images, blatant sales pitches with little useful information, dry facts, and pure data with no context.

High perceived value combined with low perceived risk is the formula for increasing your conversion rate. That means solving important problems and delivering those solutions in a convenient, engaging way.

Luckily, delivering on this formula isn’t that difficult once you know how. Here’s a step-by-step plan for creating an on-demand webinar that will engage your audience and open the door for real-life conversations and new sales.

Meaning must come first

It’s the why, which is the existing emotional motivation of your audience, that makes it possible to create truly engaging and relevant content.

Discovering that why begins first with understanding the problem you solve, who you’re solving it for, and how that problem affects them as people, not just personas. In order to attract the leads that are most likely to become customers, you have to be very clear about the problems your products or services solve then create content directly related to those problems.

Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Why do we do what we do? What’s our mission; what’s our purpose? How do we make our customers’ lives, jobs, and companies better?
  • How does this problem impact our customers? Are they overwhelmed? Anxious? Confused? What are the consequences of not solving this problem?
  • What emotional payoff does our audience want most? To feel more in control? Effective? Informed?

Speak to these real desires and you’ll tap into the meaning that moves people to action.

Capturing ideas

In order to identify the solution topics that will have the most impact, it helps to start with a wide range of options. Starting with the answers to the questions above, brainstorm both the high-level and low-level problems that relate to it. For example, a CRM software package may solve high-level problems like losing sales due to incomplete or inaccurate real-time intelligence or the lack of a structured, automated follow-up process.

A webinar can address these high-level problems, as well as related lower-level problems like not knowing how to manage and analyze sales data, lack of awareness of follow-up best practices, and poor communication between the sales and marketing departments.

Which topics will be in most demand? The only way to find out is to test them with your audience. Start with a simple blog post or poll to get a sense of the topic’s value to your readers then build on those topics that generate the strongest interest.

Storyboarding

A critical step to creating more impact with your webinar content is to organize the presentation so that it tells a compelling story.

As an example, think about some of your favorite Pixar movies, like Wall-E or Toy Story. They all have very strong themes — the underlying point of the movie that gives the story meaning. But meaning isn’t enough if the movie is boring. In order to make that theme compelling, Pixar’s directors plan and storyboard a movie for over two years before a single frame is shot.

Storyboarding allows you to plan the heartbeat of your webinar and see it from both the big picture and close-up views. Nancy Duarte’s latest book Resonate shares a very effective way to incorporate a story structure within a presentation.

  • The beginning focuses on “what is,” framing the problem in a way that’s relevant to the audience.
  • Turning point 1 shows the gap between what is and what could be, again within the context of the audience’s motivations. Show them “the after” — what their jobs and lives would be like if that problem were solved.
  • The middle section is the body of your content. To keep the presentation interesting and relevant, constantly reinforce how each step takes the audience from where they are now to where they want to be.
  • Turning point 2 is your call to action — the finish line you want your audience to cross. The goal here is to inspire immediate action.
  • The ending leaves the audience focused on a higher plane — the possible rewards of the future.

Writing the script

Start by using your storyboard as the structure for your presentation, fill in the details, and then identify the 5 percent of your content that delivers 95 percent of the value.

Even with a motivated audience, there’s a limit to how much information anyone can absorb in one sitting. That short attention span means that every unnecessary word you use is going to diminish the overall impact. So find what the true point of your webinar is and trim what isn’t necessary throughout the script.

Imagine you have a word budget — the perfect length that allows you to express your ideas as clearly and concisely as possible. You reach it by ruthlessly cutting out every unneeded word and every sentence that doesn’t add clarity and impact to your ideas. When in doubt, cut.

Save your title for last. The best titles communicate meaning almost instantly, telling your audience exactly what they’ll learn and why it will matter to them. But don’t confuse meaning with hype. Words like “powerful” and “secrets” may sound persuasive, but are so overused that they often have the opposite effect.

Images

The photos, drawings, and diagrams you choose will be critical to helping your audience quickly understand new concepts and relate to the information in a personally meaningful way. Here are a few tips for using them successfully in a webinar:

  • Keep each slide focused on one concept. The more ideas and images you share in each slide the harder it will be for your audience to grasp. Complex ideas should be developed over multiple slides, not piled up into one.
  • If your ideas are important enough to share with your audience, invest in original images, diagrams, charts, and models. Cliche stock corporate photography (do we really need to see The Handshake again?) makes your webinar and your ideas look generic.
  • Original doesn’t have to mean elaborate. White board style illustrations and diagrams are very effective and are within most of our artistic capabilities. It’s not slick design that matters. It’s how well each image helps the audience understand and interpret the ideas you’re sharing. A great example of this is Corporate Vision’s How to Get Customers to Do Something Different.
  • Sometimes using words, lists, or phrases on your slides can be a useful way of focusing your audience’s attention, building up the importance of an idea, and demonstrating a linear relationship between concepts. That said, please spare your audience a trip through PowerPoint Purgatory by reading off slide after slide of bullet points.

Recording your script

Dynamic presentations are all about pacing. The tempo of your presentation should be slow enough to allow your audience time to process your ideas yet lively enough to keep everyone interested and engaged.

Authenticity is key. Speak as if you were giving your presentation at a live, face-to-face event or chatting with a friend. Don’t try to use a forced, “professional” sounding voice. The value of your ideas is what gives you credibility. Your tone and passion is what gives you authenticity. Together they earn trust.

Hosting

Online presentation sites like Brainshark, Slideshare, and Sliderocket make it easy to share your on-demand webinar. While each of these options has their own particular strengths. My personal favorite is Brainshark. Here’s why:

  • To help generate leads, you have the option of adding guest registration forms that can require as much or as little contact info as you wish.
  • It’s easy to import slides from a PowerPoint file or a Keynote presentation exported to a PPT format. You can then record your audio directly to each slide, as well as edit, add, and remove slides from your presentations.
  • Other cool features include the ability to attach files, website URLs, and embedded video clips directly into your slides, as well as add questionnaires and polls to your presentation to generate feedback and make your webinar more interactive.

The basic version is free, while professional features like guestbook registration and detailed tracking and reporting tools are available for a small monthly subscription fee.

Engage

With meaning, story and imagery as its foundation, your webinar will connect with your audience and inspire them to take action in a way that no other medium can.

Looking for more ways to maximize the impact of your webinar/virtual conference? Get practical insights, advice, and answers in our 2018 Guide to Essential Content Marketing Tactics.

Author: Marcus Schaller

Marcus Schaller produces on-demand webinars that make it easier to engage your audience and convert readers into leads. Marcus can be reached at B2BforHumans.com or on Twitter @b2bforhumans.

Other posts by Marcus Schaller

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