With many in-person events canceled or postponed due to COVID-19, marketers are putting more resources into exhibiting at virtual tradeshows and hosting webinars.
While virtual tradeshows are a relatively recent phenomenon, webinars have been part of the manufacturing marketing portfolio for years. What’s the difference between the two programs? Think of virtual tradeshows as novels and webinars as short stories.
Virtual tradeshows can go on for days and have multiple tracks, just as a novel might have multiple plotlines. Webinars are still short—rarely more than an hour—and typically focus on one key theme, such as an emerging technology or a novel manufacturing process.
With marketers everywhere suddenly turning their attention to webinars, and engineers seeking out webinars as an educational and informational resource, you need to up your game to stand out, keep your audience engaged, and show your company and brand in a positive light. How do you do it?
If you’ve been hosting any webinars, you likely already have a webinar platform. If not, the market is flooded with new entries, and you’ll need to vet your possibilities. If you’re working with a partner, you’ll want to learn about what their platform of choice offers.
Compare the features, benefits, support, and policies of the various platforms. Whether you have an existing webinar solution or are searching for one, the most important aspects are that you use a webinar platform that enables you to:
- Deliver the type of content and user experience that aligns with your marketing goal
- Includes interactive features to engage your audience
- Gives the host robust command of the event
- Is easy to use and offers tracking and support
Engagement is a must
In many ways, webinars offer advantages over in-person events. There is no travel time or travel expense. There are no crowded rooms with screens or speakers that are difficult to see from the back. With a webinar, the presenter can easily and quickly switch what appears on the screen.
While you can’t replicate an in-person experience, you can take advantage of webinar features that help engage your audience and deliver a more personalized experience.
- Use live polls offering the ability to publish results in real-time. It’s a great way to interact with your audience and gain intelligence by asking them questions.
- Combine traditional slides with video. The video can be the speaker, a product demonstration, a process animation, or other content of interest.
- Try a live roundtable discussion on an important topic in your industry, using video to virtually place the panelists in the same room—on your audience’s screen.
- Implement a chat window for the audience to interact with each other during the webinar or to contact the host.
- Have a button for the audience to submit questions. The moderator or host can screen the questions so that they are focused, relevant, and clear.
- Some webinar platforms offer virtual breakout rooms, which allow people to leave the webinar to then attend smaller group chats. This is useful for a webinar that might attract different audiences with varying interests.
Get Ready for Your Closeup
Everyone and everything looks different on camera than in person. If your webinar includes video of people speaking, pay attention to:
- Lighting and camera angle. Make sure the speaker’s face is clearly lit, but not washed out, and is at a natural distance and angle from the camera—neither a pinhead nor a looming blob. Speakers should look directly at the camera.
- Background. A lot of people have been putting up custom backgrounds when attending a virtual video meeting. Use a background that is clean, tidy, and neutral.
- Visuals. Don’t crowd the screen with too many windows. Don’t crowd slides with too much content. Engagement isn’t a function of the quantity of information, but rather a function of relevance and quality.
- Post-webinar activities. After you master the technology, prepare the event, practice your presentations, and finally deliver the show, you can sometimes forget you’re hosting the webinar to build relationships with your audience. Deploy your marketing expertise to follow-up with attendees and use the webinar metrics to shape your response.
Don’t Forget Partnerships
Not every manufacturer has the time and resources to develop and host a webinar program. And yet, webinars are such an important tactic right now.
Many manufacturers are partnering with GlobalSpec to jointly host a webinar. We provide the qualified attendees and manage the entire program for you, including:
- Promotion of your webinar
- Audience registration and attendee tracking
- Webinar registrant and attendee reporting, both for the live day event and 90 days on-demand
- Live day rehearsal and review of webinar platform functionality
- Electronic files of final presentation for use on corporate website, YouTube, etc.
Working with GlobalSpec on webinars, you can extend your reach to a broader, yet still targeted audience, as well as leave the technology and tracking to us. It’s a great way to showcase new products and emerging technologies, demonstrate manufacturing processes, train and educate your audience, and more.
Check out our live and on-demand webinars here.