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If you’re like most B2B companies, you already create educational content for your customers and prospects and offer that content online. That’s the best way to attract the attention of potential buyers and speak to their pain points. And when you offer that kind of content, you increase your web traffic and position your company as a trusted expert.

The most common types of content today are blogs, social media and email blasts. But webinars are a great way to accomplish all of the goals above. In fact, marketers rated webinars as the third most effective tactic of all (tied with videos), according to a recent report by the Content Marketing Institute. But are they one of your B2B marketing strategies?

Although webinars represent a greater time commitment for you to develop and for your prospects to attend, the payoff is also much greater. The people who do register and attend are more likely to be highly qualified buyers, and you have much more time to make a positive impression and start building a personal relationship. Clearly, people attending a 30-minute webinar are highly motivated to educate themselves and listen to your “story.”

Highly engaging content

Webinars are the next best thing to live talks and sales calls. Attendees benefit from logging on with industry peers and learning from others’ questions and responses. Unlike other content like blogs and videos that prospects read or watch on their own time, webinars require real-time engagement. B2B webinars are a truly immersive experience, making the content more impactful and memorable.

A well-designed webinar is engaging and informative and speaks directly to their pain points. It uses lots of visuals and sticks to its key points. Don’t underestimate the value of having your agency help to design your webinar. They offer a valuable outsider’s perspective.

A webinar is a conversion marketing tactic because attendees must provide contact information to register. This means they are warmer leads. A successful webinar can convert a visitor to a lead and convert a lead to a sales-ready contact.

Adding credibility by sharing the spotlight

You can enhance your webinar by developing and hosting it in partnership with another industry expert. Most B2B companies cringe at the idea of hosting a webinar with a competitor, but they don’t think twice about participating with competitors in a panel at a conference or trade show. A webinar can be the same dynamic if you use an impartial moderator, such as an industry analyst or respected member of the press. Presenting with others is a show of confidence and adds to the credibility of your message.

But if you can’t warm up to the idea of hosting with a competitor, consider having a customer tell the story of their success with your product or service. Your presentation will be better received coming from the mouth of the customer, with added authenticity.

Outsourcing the hosting can be well worth the cost

Just because you can host your own webinar doesn’t mean it’s the smart way to go. The hosting cost may be virtually free compared with partnering with a publisher, but consider the cost of having low attendance and wasting your executives’ time to develop and present. A poorly attended webinar is like having no one show up at your party or trade show booth.

A good option is to use the publisher of a leading industry trade journal to host your B2B webinar. Because they’re in touch with the needs of the audience, they add credibility and an element of impartiality to your topic. They can help ensure your topic is of interest and that your presentation contains the correct information.

But more importantly, publishers already have a well-developed audience. And they already have successful publicity mediums. That $8,000 hosting fee looks like a much better deal when you consider all the exposure you’ll receive in the industry newsletters, website and emails.

Publishers typically guarantee the number of registrants or attendees. This means they will keep promoting your topic until the “seats” are full. And they take care of the technology end of hosting, so you don’t have to worry about embarrassing glitches while you’re rolling live.

To gauge a webinar’s cost-effectiveness, consider its cost per conversion versus other marketing tactics. And don’t forget that the recorded webinar continues to exist after the event, providing another piece of content that can be offered via SEO tactics.

Listen and learn

During your webinars, questions arise that you would not otherwise hear from customers. You can gain valuable information from these questions and responses. You get insights into their struggles on the job, their options for meeting those struggles and how they view your company as a resource.

With the right attitude, educational material, co-host and marketing, webinars can be key elements of your B2B marketing strategies. They attract immediate conversions from qualified buyers and offer the perfect medium for telling your story in an impactful way.

All marketing tactics should be thought of as part of a larger whole, rather than separate pieces. By strategically integrating all tactics, the programs become more effective and cost efficient. An Integrated marketing communication plan helps you meet real business objectives – generate leads, grow revenues, gain market share, and become the leading brand.

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Chris HenneghanChris is one of Schubert’s longest-standing employees, starting with the agency in 1987. She now serves as Senior Vice President and Brand Strategist. Chris is a Notre Dame grad and enjoys tennis, golf, hiking and reading.

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