We often think of the Internet as a one-to-one direct marketing vehicle. However, many companies, especially business-to-business companies, overlook the power of using the Internet as a one-to-many sales vehicle.
If your product or target audience remotely deals with the Internet, you need to be there. It's the way to show that you walk the walk. Webcasting to an audience about an Internet product gives the message that you know the Internet, you know how to use it creatively, and you are an expert in using this medium.
Let's say you are launching a new product to technology professionals. Or let's say you have a limited sales staff to handle the volume of sales calls you are forecasting. Traditionally, marketing your product will include sending out direct mail pieces to invite people to half-day seminars in 50 different cities, then following up with telemarketing.
Webcasting allows you to present your product to 50 to 200 people in less time, with less effort and less money. Keep in mind the marketing costs are about the same. People still have to be invited to a Webcast just as they do a seminar. However, you may think about adding online advertising to your marketing efforts.
A Webcast is a 60- to 90-minute interactive forum for reaching many people at one time. Usually, the Webcast has an audio and/or video component while pushing a PowerPoint presentation to the audience. If your Webcast is live, you can allow your audience to write or call in questions.
Another advantage of a Webcast is that it can be archived for future use. Field sales people can refer their prospects to the URL, so they can view it on their own time.
Think of your Webcast as a door-opener. You will be able to capture a lot of information about the people who register for your Webcast. You will be able to measure their interest before and after your presentation. It's a great way to follow up with personal sales calls to your hottest prospects.
The event normally takes from 30 to 45 days to coordinate. You must decide the various components of the Webcast like audio, conference call, video, panel discussion, PowerPoint, demos, live or prerecorded, etc. Once that is done, you will need a script, a registration page, and visuals and graphics for the PowerPoint presentation.
Choose your Webcast elements wisely. If you are reaching the high-tech crowd that typically has high-end computers and a high-speed Internet connection, it's all right to use video. On the other hand, if you are reaching a crowd that is not made up of regular computer users (and, yes, there are still some out there), they probably won't have a good experience with the video portion of your Webcast. Make sure you go through a dry run to work out any kinks in the presentation. When you are live, there's no turning back.
There are several companies that will help you with the actual technical setup and coordination of the Webcast, including Broadcast.com, Talk City, and MShow.com. Prices and experience vary widely, so I recommend you talk to several companies before making a decision. Have your ad agency or marketing department handle as much of the "creative" elements as possible. You want your corporate look-and-feel integrated into the actual registration and Webcast screens.
One word of advice: Don't wear a vertical striped shirt if you are participating in the video portion of the Webcast. It will make your audience dizzy to look at you on a computer screen.
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Michelle Ellis is Director of Account Planning at M2K, a top-100 interactive agency. She started her career over a decade ago focusing on the retail and business-to-business industries. M2K specializes in interactive marketing solutions for clients, including strategic positioning, media planning and buying, offline and online creative, web site design, intranets, and extranets.
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