Small business owners are expected to wear a variety of hats as they juggle multiple roles to build their bases.
However, there’s one role that may very well be the most important in 2017: the role of teacher.
Today’s businesses aren’t growing their bottom lines through in-your-face marketing and sneak tactics: they’re doing it through education.
Yet there is no one-size-fits-all approach to educating your audience, is there? From blogging and video marketing to case studies and white papers, understanding the ideal platform to engage your audience is enough to make anyone’s head spin.
Enter the recent rise of webinars, which have emerged as a flexible and robust solution for educating mass audiences. While webinars may have been seen as little more than an emerging platform in the past , recent data signals that webinars could be the not-so-secret weapon for modern businesses looking to leverage education.
Why Webinars are on the Rise for SMBs
Whether you’ve overheard the term or are completely unfamiliar with webinars, the concept is rather simple.
In short, webinars represent a modern take on traditional business seminars, presenting live (and sometimes prerecorded) video to teach attendees about a specific topic. Differing from traditional videos via YouTube, webinars encourage audience participation and questioning; likewise, webinars are oftentimes presented as exclusively valuable (such as Moz’s “How to Find Where Your Website is Leaking Money”) to build buzz.
According to a new report by ClickMeeting  which analyzes over 550,000 webinars, the numbers don’t lie in regard to how much webinars are engaging modern audiences:
So, why all the buzz?
For starters, webinars represent an alternative to traditional content marketing. While there’s still plenty of power in blogging, the fact remains that today’s consumers watch more video than ever before . This is even true in the case of users on-the-go as ClickMeeting notes that 25 percent of webinar attendees watch via mobile devices.
Compared to traditional video channels such as YouTube, webinars are just as easy to digest; likewise, those who miss the initial viewing can watch their favorite presentations again and again.
Considering the length and legwork required to create a video lesson, webinars are a prime positioning tool for business owners looking to show off their knowledge. Think about it: if you’re the one taking the time and energy to go out of your way to teach your audience a thing or two versus your competitors, what does that say about your brand?
Beyond making your business stand out as a resource, the shareable nature of webinars also makes the platform a potential SEO goldmine as buzz-worthy presentations can garner lots of love in the form of links from attendees. Since every webinar requires an enticing email opt-in , list-building is an additional positive side effect of having a strong lesson on hand.
Webinar Best Practices
Much of the beauty of webinars comes in the form of customization: businesses can teach just about anything via presentation. That being said, what are the elements which make a winning webinar that scores new business?
Pick a Topic That Resonates With Your Audience
Webinars don’t require you to reinvent the wheel, but rather come up with a topic that’s going to get people talking. In other words, your business needs to present itself as a problem-solver whilst your webinar represents a snappy, one-stop solution.
Start with your audience’s pain points.
What keeps them up at night? What burning questions do they need to understand?
If you have the answers, chances are you have a webinar: from making money online to in-depth tech tutorials, just about anything is fair game if audience interest is there. Much of your success comes with how you present your lessons versus the webinars themselves: the more actionable (“Seven Foolproof Steps to Making Money Online”) or specific (“The Landing Page Tricks that Improve Conversions by 67 percent) you can get, the better.
ClickMeeting’s report notes that the average length of any given webinar sits just under one hour; therefore, make sure whatever you decide to discuss is indeed something you can speak on at length. After all, you never know what an attendee might ask of you.
Timing is Everything
The old adage “timing is everything” rings incredibly true for webinars.
For starters, consider again that most webinars don’t run for more than an hour. You must allocate your time efficiently while running your presentation. On one hand, you don’t want to bore your attendees with fluff and redundant information: on the flip side, a presentation that only runs for ten minutes will ultimately leave your attendees feeling short-changed.
In terms of timing, ClickMeeting notes that the middle of the week (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays) between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM are the ideal times to host your webinars. At a glance, this makes perfect sense. Focus is hard to come by at the bookends of the work week; meanwhile, lunchtime is the perfect setting for attendees to sit back and watch your presentation after the morning hustle.
Talk With Your Audience, Not At Them
Perhaps the biggest divide between webinars and traditional video is the interactive aspect. ClickMeeting notes that webinar features such as group chat, polls and Q&A represent prime options for keeping your attendees on their toes.
Think about your days as a student in the classroom. Which teachers did you enjoy more: the ones who forced you to sit for an hour while staring at the blackboard or the teachers who encouraged you to get up and move?
Remember: webinars shouldn’t be a passive experience for your viewers. The more engaged they are with your information, the more likely they are to stick around. This means frequent breaks for addressing questions and comments, coupled with perhaps a more detailed Q&A session post-presentation.
By treating webinars like an actual face-to-face presentation, you encourage your attendees to respond to your enthusiasm.
The Bottom Line
As video-based education is becoming the go-to solution for engaging audiences, webinars have established themselves as crucial components for modern small businesses. Showing off your knowledge is one of the most important yet overlooked aspects of standing out amongst the competition; likewise, businesses that teach their customers are more likely to build a sense of trust versus those that don’t.
Whether you’ve been curious about webinar platforms in the past or feel that you have a potential presentation in the back of your mind, there’s perhaps no better time than now to give it a shot.