Whether it’s live, pre-recorded, or presented on-demand, choosing the right topic for your next webinar can be deceptively challenging. Executed well, a webinar can clarify misconceptions, raise awareness and affinity for your brand, and drive conversions for your marketing and sales goals. Executed poorly, you run the risk of wasting time, resources, and eroding your brand’s reputation.
Choosing the right topic for your next webinar is as important to your content strategy as any other piece of copy or creative that drives your business towards its goals. Accordingly, you should keep a few, important items in mind when you’re brainstorming your next webinar subject: your audience and their readiness in your buyer’s journey, the nature of the content you can provide, and your own business goals.
First, spend some time thinking about your audience. Who are you hoping to attract? What amount of education do they need on a given topic, and for what purpose? Most importantly, what are they interested in learning?
When considering your ideal audience, think about your sales cycle. How much time passes between your prospect’s awareness and decision? Is it minutes or hours, or does it take months or even years to close a complex, enterprise contract? Is there a single decision-maker to influence, or are there multiple stakeholders in the process who you should consider?
What are your target audience’s motivations? What challenges do they face? What information can your business provide that might help?
Perhaps more important than understanding what your audience wants to know is understanding what they’re ready to hear. Imagine sitting down to a blind date and being asked to move in together. That’s a bit too fast. On the other hand, if you’re sitting down to your third anniversary dinner, it may be more reasonable to expect that type of proposal. Consider your audience’s familiarity with your brand and its offerings to understand both what amount of brand-related information to provide and what their reasonable next step after the webinar would be.
Your target audience will be driven to share their time with you if they believe that the time will be well spent. Therefore, consider how the content that you provide will improve their situation. Will it give them information or insight to do their work better? Will it help them to feel more confident in their daily lives, achieve a goal, or complete tasks in a better way? What are you providing in exchange for the attention you have requested from your audience?
Make note of these considerations as you plan your next webinar. All of these variables will play a part in your content decisions, but first there is more context to consider: your own business goals.
After first considering your audience, their expectations and their needs, you must now consider your own needs. There are many reasons why a content marketer may decide to host a webinar, all of which influence its subject. However, it’s important to be confident in the reason you’re hosting the webinar, so you can clearly set expectations for all those involved. Here are the highest-level categories of webinar types and how they influence topic choices.
At the very top of the marketing funnel sits demand generation. If your goal is to raise brand awareness and capture potential pipeline, you’ll need to spread a very wide net. As such, it’s best to keep the subject of your webinar industry-specific but not heavily focused on your brand. To reach brand new prospects, the subject of the webinar must clearly speak to their needs: not yours. Think, ‘When someone leaves my webinar, they will be able to take immediate action whether or not they use my product/service/brand to do it.’ At this stage, you are building trust and rapport with your audience. Providing them with immediate and effective results will go a long way in building that relationship.
If you are hosting a webinar with the goal of pinpointing new leads from among your existing prospect audience, you can begin to get a bit more targeted with your content. This type of content can illustrate specific challenges that your target audience faces, and you can spend some time discussing how your product addresses those challenges. However, you should still focus on what your prospects will gain from such a presentation. Think, ‘After leaving this webinar, my audience should understand whether they want to learn more about the product or service I’m sharing.’ At this point, you have effectively built awareness and trust with your target audience and they should feel comfortable raising their hand to learn more.
Perhaps the most immediately impactful type of webinar to your business, those focused on accelerating deals allow you to hone in very closely to a specific audience and how features of your product or service meets their needs. This type of webinar may target existing customers learning about a new feature or product release, secondary stakeholders in a complex sales opportunity, or reengaging champions at a specific time of year. The content you can share at this type of webinar can be fully brand-centric. Focus on the narrow audience you are addressing and tailor the content directly to their challenges and needs. Bring specific use-cases and align the subject of your content with their persona. You want attendees leaving your webinar thinking, ‘What do I need to do to get this contract signed?’ or ‘I’m definitely getting this product/service as soon as possible.’
Now that you have considered your audience and their needs as well as your own goals, you can use that information to shape an ideal topic for your webinar. Here are a few examples of content ideas, based on different combinations of the two.
Goal: Demand Generation
Industry: Human Resources
Role in deal: economic buyer, brand champion
Sales cycle: long
In this example, we’re targeting the HR industry with the intent of creating demand for a SaaS product that will improve the business expense process. In this scenario, it might make sense to capture the attention and trust of both the economic buyer (perhaps a Finance or HR leader), and the potential champions for the product (perhaps the HR director whose team will be using the tool, or a sales leader whose team will benefit from an improved expense reimbursement program).
Because of the diversity of our audience, we should consider what they all might benefit from learning: how will this webinar help them improve the expense reimbursement process (or their understanding of it) without the use of our product?
A few good topics for this scenario may be:
Goal: Lead Generation
Industry: Cloud-based Data Storage Services
Role in deal: Brand Champion
Sales cycle: Medium
In this example, we’re hoping to reach specific contacts after the marketing team’s latest account-based marketing campaign. Many businesses have shown intent based on the campaign, and now we’re seeking to pinpoint the right leads to begin a nurture campaign. In this scenario, we’ve decided to hone in on Operations and IT leaders at the VP level and above.
Because we have data that shows us that leaders at specific companies are seeking information about cloud-based data storage, we can attract an audience from that segment with more brand-specific content that speaks to challenges driving that industry.
A few good topics could be:
Goal: Deal Acceleration
Role in deal: Peripheral Stakeholder
Sales cycle: Long
In this scenario, the marketing team for a logistics optimization company, XYZ Software, is working closely with sales to accelerate deals with third-party logistics (3PL) operations leaders. Data from our sales history tells us that deals with 3PLs close faster when we can gain buy-in from their sales and HR teams. We know that third-party logistics companies focus heavily on attracting and retaining both customers and employees. If we can prove to their talent and sales teams that our product will enable them to do their work better, our data tells us we can close deals faster.
A few good topics could be:
Choosing the right topic for your next webinar must be aligned with both your business’s and your audience’s needs. Consider what goal you are trying to achieve: demand generation, lead generation, or deal acceleration. Then, think about who the right contacts are to achieve those goals, their interest in content you can provide, their own personal or business needs, and how you can influence them to meet your marketing goals.
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