We run a service where we help companies in Finland affected by the current COVID-19 pandemic (Kriisirahoitus.fi), and needless to say, we have gotten quite a lot of attention. We were scrambling to handle the amount of interest we were generating, and after being approached by a large mall here in Finland to offer our service to all of their businesses, we agreed to make a webinar for the companies in that mall.
Before that, we strictly had customers signing up through our homepage; however, we were asked to meet with all of these companies, so we hurriedly started looking into options to handle all of them at once.
Our first thought was to write a detailed PDF adapted to their needs, but we quickly scrapped that idea as it would have just been our website in PDF form. Calling each and every one of them would have overloaded our already full pipeline.
Eventually, we decided to get with the times and went with the plan to make a webinar. After that, we called the representative at the mall asking if they believed a webinar could work for their companies, and the representative thought it would work and said they would promote our webinar through their internal channels to reach the companies.
Improvising a Webinar in 3 Days
Internally, we had never done a webinar before, but we realized webinars were the only way we would be able to effectively reach all of these companies without making it feel too impersonal or overloading ourselves with work.
We quickly set out looking for webinar options and were literally overloaded with them; we found option after option, but we had heard from friends that some webinars fail due to the load — a lot of webinar tools work “just fine.”
But, considering we were having potentially hundreds of companies coming in, we decided we wanted a tool with a proven track record that wouldn’t run into technical issues under the pressure. Someone from our network recommended Demio, and after testing it out using a trial, we went ahead to set up a subscription for our upcoming webinar.
After researching webinar best practices, we determined we wanted to focus on the following points for our webinar:
- We wanted to keep it simple, just some basic slides with minimal information and let our presentation come out naturally (we made these presentations using canva as it)
- We’d leave the chat open for people to ask questions during the talk
- We’d keep it short (15 minutes) as we figured it would fit our audience the best
The Terrifying Beauty of Having Direct Communication with Your Potential Customers
So, prior to having webinars, we were purely exposed to customers who were sold on our service: our customers came to us, signed up, and we took it from there, and presumably customers who were on the fence would most likely end up not signing up.
However, the beautiful and terrifying difference with a webinar is that you’re opening up dialogue with people who are interested, but not necessarily “sold” on your service.
When you’re talking with the uninitiated, you run the risk of counter criticism; in our second webinar, we had the first encounter with a viewer who had some skeptical question, and while we didn’t exactly expect that to happen, we’re quite glad it came up, as it allowed us to address their concerns directly.
Most skepticism is actually misunderstanding, and being able to address it head on helps us to acquire customers we otherwise wouldn’t.
Approach criticism with an open mind
Have a positive attitude towards criticism, because criticism is probably the most valuable form of feedback you’re able to get; it shows your company’s weakness in a very blunt way.
For us entrepreneurs, getting feedback can be a real struggle as most people are more than happy to give you positive comments (they are nice people who generally don’t want to put you down), but positive comments rarely give you actionable insights on what you should improve upon.
In our encounter, we learned our value proposition was misleading: the perception of what we actually did as a service seemed to be quite low, and it appeared to some customers that we put in very little effort and charged them for it, which was a clear error in our communication.
We were then able to acknowledge their concern and bring up examples of what we had actually done, and we found out that some of our audience had similar thoughts that we could address upfront.
Our approach to criticism is as follows:
1️⃣ Try to identify why you’re being critiqued
Most people are actually quite nice. Your viewers, even those who might be skeptical, are also just nice people trying to figure out what the truth is, so if they bring up a criticism, that usually means there’s a deeper reason as to why they are critiquing you. Do not shrug it off or ignore it. Critiques show there’s a problem somewhere that you need to solve, and most likely it has to do with your communication.
2️⃣ React to the criticism live in a positive way
The worst thing that can happen when someone criticises you is to ignore it and continue with your presentation. This makes you look guilty, like you’re hiding something. In the worst case, it might further agitate the person who critiqued you.
React to it in a calm and friendly way, smile as you explain that there might be a misunderstanding, and deconstruct the core of their message. Do not directly tell them they are wrong, but rather that you believe there’s been some confusion and it’s most likely your own fault. While it might not be fun to admit fault, you’ll come across as sincere and humble.
3️⃣ If necessary, adapt your presentation going forward
After your webinar, try to digest further why you were critiqued: was this a one-time event displaying the skepticism of a particular individual? Or could this be a common point of criticism others may have against you?
If you believe their skepticism is both valid and might be common enough, then you should adapt your message to avoid the skepticism. In our case, we included a new slide that further expands upon what we do with a real life example to avoid skepticism on that front.
What We Learned
During our webinars, we learned many things, however, the following points are the ones we feel will be most relevant to you.
💡 Demio “Featured Actions” are a great way to trigger watchers to sign up, so we try to use it at the right moment
While we do redirect our viewers at the end of our page to our signup page, our approach is to trigger the featured action at the moment when we feel that our core message has been delivered (as in, what we do, why the viewer should sign up, etc.). So far, the majority of our viewers have signed up during our presentations where a few have trickled in afterwards (sometimes even a day later).
💡 Free flow and open communication fits us the best, embrace the random
We have had webinars where the attendants were completely silent, where we ask questions and ended up sitting there feeling like fools with not a single message coming in, and others where viewers brought up skeptical comments in the opening two minutes.
Try to avoid both scenarios by not structuring your webinar too much. We have no scripts and rely on our slides to lead the conversation. Also, be open for questions during your presentation, it makes for a more natural viewing experience for your audience.
💡 Most people sign up in the last moment
Since we use webinars on closed groups such as shopping malls who then spread the webinar link through their own channels as opposed to marketing our webinar publicly, our situation is a bit different from other Demio users; so far, our viewers are informed through direct communication and are less keen on signing up early, so don’t fret if you are sitting there days ahead of your presentation with no or very few signups.
At least in our experience, people tend to join at the last moment.
Our Current Approach to Webinars
Continuing our previous success from our webinars, we’re now investing in making these a whole separate channel for onboarding our customers, as we learned that having a lower barrier of entry for our customers allows for potentially greater reach.
To get the most out of this, we’re targeting industries and creating industry-focused webinars where we target, for example, tourist resorts, and we bring up relevant information for those industries to avoid the “selling to everyone” problem.
Why and how we target specific industries
As mentioned above, we are focusing on specific industries to allow us to provide the most relevant information. The first thing we do is create a customer persona of who our target viewer is (read more about how to make a persona here). This tells us what to focus on, as we’re providing a service that is relevant to companies across the spectrum of different industries, so it’s hard to fit every industry into one presentation.
We find out information about these industries by reading up on recent industry-specific articles to determine what the current common problems in the industry are, how companies are adapting, and what would be valuable information for them. We make sure to learn the industry-specific jargon as well as align our message with what their key drivers would be.
How we pick our marketing channels
Our current main marketing channel is Google adwords. It allows us to advertise to companies who are looking for services like ours. While that’s working out quite well, we realize there is a huge audience on other channels such as Facebook, Linkedin, and similar social media platforms.
However, the main flaw they have is the cost per conversion is quite high (in our experience, 2-4 times higher), while the cost per impression and click is actually lower than our google ads.
The main reason google ads works so well is that people searching for our service are looking to get our service, while the people who receive our ads on Facebook or Linkedin are just casually browsing through their feed and out of the blue get offered our service. Although this sometimes works, the success rate is lower.
Our approach to this audience who’s not looking for our service is to try to get them wanting to learn more about us through our ads.
Webinars were a great way for us to lower the barrier of entry for certain customers. They allow us to convert customers we might not have otherwise gotten by providing us a channel of communication with our leads, as well gathering critical information from our viewers.
Key takeaways from this article
📌 Opening up a direct line of communication using webinars allows you to get critical insights from viewer comments that help you improve your message.
📌 Webinars for lead generation serve as their own channel, which attracts customers who are looking to “learn more” before they sign up. Use that to your advantage and target your message for those individuals.
📌 Try to be strategic with your webinars: when is the right time to run a call to action? Should it really be at the end of your show, or does it make sense to put it somewhere in the middle where you might have more attention from viewers? Experiment and see what works.