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Webinar – An evolving marketing tool


Balaji Kesavraj, Head - Marketing (India), Cisco WebEx

A marketer''''''''s skills are constantly tested in his bid to cut through the clutter to reach his potential customer. Attention spans barely last a few seconds, so holding your audience captive is a necessity. Imagine if a marketer could demonstrate to and interact with thousands of prospective customers at the same time without anyone having to leave their offices and homes, and with only a fraction of travel and event cost involved.

Webinars for one to many presentations: With technological advancements and rampant Internet penetration this is now possible - with ''''''''webinars''''''''. Simply put, a webinar is a one-to-many presentation using audio and video. It helps reach audience, which is otherwise time consuming and expensive to reach, through face-to-face events.

High impact tool: Marketing webinars are very effective tools for high-impact communication. The presentation opportunity is limitless as webinars support content in all formats - audio, video and multimedia graphics. Most of the time marketing webinars are designed to attract prospective customers (even ''''''''suspects'''''''') to a web seminar for the simple objective of generating positive leads and sale conversions.

Webinars should not be confused with infomercials. Webinars can transcend just selling and be educative in nature with information-rich content. They can address the top-of-the-mind issues of the target audience. Apart from sales orientation, marketing webinars can also be effectively used for positioning in new markets or repositioning, focus group discussions, training, data-base building, testing new product ideas or new marketing strategies and for even recruiting channel partners.

Interactive tool: As webinars also allow audience interaction, a marketer can gain consumer insights on important aspects relating to product/s, category, company or industry. Conducting a poll before, during or after a session can give valuable customer feedback. This is one prime advantage that sets webinars apart from Internet advertising and television infomercials. Post event follow-up is automated and easier compared to a live event. Webinars can also be archived and made available to customers for future reference.

Cost effective: They also help reduce huge marketing costs like traveling expenses, venue rentals, and event costs with the added advantage of no logistical worries. Marketers may have to pay per seat as a webinar uses a collaboration service or a vendor service such as WebEx or MS Live Meeting.

Marketing webinars can be fruitfully used in any instance where a company has to make a public presentation; the audience number may vary from two to a thousand. Consider these examples where:

  • Sales presentation to prospects located in different areas can be made at the same time
  • Product demonstration and consumer feedback
  • Training sessions - maybe for the field force or workshops for consumers
  • Presentations to potential investors
  • Address similar issues for clients located across geographical boundaries

Planning key to successful webinar: No marketing webinar is an end unto itself. Rather, they are the means towards an end - an end, which has to be decided in advance. They should be woven into the overall marketing strategy and plan. From the right scheduling, the right content, the right promotion and proper leveraging of the event itself - a lot of planning is required for a successful webinar.

And its time has truly come - world over companies are reaping its benefits.

(Balaji Kesavraj is Head of Marketing (India) at Cisco WebEx.)

 
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