You already use all sorts of marketing methods to promote your business — social media, blogging and infographics, too, perhaps. Now might be the time to consider taking your marketing efforts to the next level with Web conferencing.
Web conferencing or webinars allow you to go beyond text-based formats like blogs and website content to deliver live, real-time advice and record it for other viewers to watch when they want. These features make Web conferencing a good way to reach customers, including those located across long distances in different time zones.
Here are five creative ideas to get started using webinars to promote your business.
Host a free webinar on a current industry problem
Hosting a webinar on a problem subject is a great way to reach out to potential new clients and show them you know your stuff.
"Webinars are cost-effective, have a wide reach and produce a high-quality lead," said Bob Lee, senior product manager of GoToWebinar at Citrix.
Lee said sales leads found via webinars are more likely to buy from you than are people who respond to emails or test your product. "Webinar attendees already have a high level of interest to be attending your conference in the first place," he said.
Don't try to sell your product on the webinar, however, or viewers may see you as too pushy. Instead, Lee suggested hosting a webinar about a current problem in your industry."Generate useful, thought-provoking content that helps listeners and positions you as an industry expert," he said.
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Q & A sessions
Another popular business webinar strategy is to hold a question and answer session.
"Q & A sessions are popular because the attendee gets on-the-spot, highly relevant and useful information catered to their needs," said Christa Freeland, marketing manager of venture development firm the Powershift Group. Freeland said these sessions could run like Reddit's popular "AMA" (Ask Me Anything) chats, or as "How Do I"-type information sessions. Another option is to demonstrate a tool or service, then answer questions about the demonstration.
Wondering how to communicate with your audience while hosting a Q & A? Freeland has a simple solution. "I'd recommend using a chat feature for a heavily populated webinar," she said.
Online meetings with customers
Web conferencing is a great way to communicate with out-of-town customers.
"Our company uses Web conferencing to deliver the core services of our businesses on a daily basis," said Robert Podfigurny, chief technology officer of The Leren Group, aSales Management as a Services (SMaaS) business. Podfigurny said the business deals with clients throughout the country.
Company employees use daily Web conferencing meetings to provide training and coaching services, which supplement in-person training seminars, said Podfigurny. These services would be difficult or impossible to offer to clients without Web conferencing capabilities, he said. "We couldn't provide as much value."
Screen sharing to review important docs with clients
Without the Internet, reviewing important documents with clients requires meeting in person, which isn't always convenient or possible.
Web conferencing, however, lets people in different locations "share" their computer screens. Through screen sharing, businesses and clients can connect across different states, and even countries.
"We have clients we have yet to meet in person," said Podfigurny.
Get comfortable with screen-sharing tools, and increase the reach of your small business.
Broadcasting in-person events your online audience can't attend
Workshops or seminars presented to live audiences are limited to those people who can attend that location at that particular time. Web conferencing lets you share your event with the people who can't attend.
"I do live events every few weeks," said Julia Kline, business coach and author of "The Entrepreneur's Guide to Sleaze-Free Selling" (Green Island Marketing, 2013). "I broadcast them using YouTube Live to attendees who can't be there in person," said Kline.
What if you don't want your webinar to be public, but instead want to restrict it to qualified potential customers? You can host your webinars "in such a way that they're private, i.e., not broadcast to the whole world over YouTube or Google Hangout," she said.
If you do want to keep your webinar private, hold a YouTube Live Event instead of a Google+ Hangout. Kline said that YouTube makes it easy to change your privacy setting from Public to Private or Unlisted when you set up your event. You can change the setting on that very first screen.
Efficient, easy to use and inexpensive — Web conferencing may soon become your favorite online marketing tool.
Originally published on Business News Daily.