We are all out here fighting for the ear of the stakeholder. It’s difficult to be heard with the noise from social media, non-stop emails, and all of the cold calls. Historically, benefits advisors have been unkind to prospects — making unrealistic promises, blasting cheesy emails, hijacking networking events.

I began hosting webinars for prospects and clients as a way to provide value to those who wanted to listen. I did it as a way to stop feeling guilty about wasting people’s time, and in turn, wasting my own time. Yes, cold calls, direct mail, and cold emails still work…if you get lucky. In truth though, value needs to be experienced to be understood. Webinars are a way to create value for your prospects while giving you the persona of being an expert and luminary in benefits.

Are you interested in taking the plunge of hosting your first webinar but you don’t know where to start? After hosting multiple, I have put together four steps to creating a successful webinar.

1. Planning Process:

  • Choose your platform. GoToMeetingZoomYouTube? I utilize Zoom because it’s inexpensive and has a modern look.
  • Pinpoint your audience. Consider job title, age, experience, location, type of buyer. Be realistic — you will likely not get an audience of CEO’s.
  • What is your set-up? Is it a Q&A session? A panel discussion? Are you taking it on solo? I recommend relieving some of the pressure by bringing in a cohost for the first one.
  • Determine the topic. What are the areas of concern for your clients? Go ahead, ask them. Search #hashtags within LinkedIn and Twitter. Find out what your desired audience is interested in. Look at recent legislation. HRA ruling, healthcare transparency, paid family leave, the options are endless.
  • Decide the time and day. Tuesday — Thursday, from 9–11 AM are your best bet for high attendance.

2. Content Creation:

  • Follow the slide deck bylaws. Keep the intro short. No one cares about your experience. Be engaging. Include questions and polls throughout the presentation. Tell stories. It’s about the connection and ability to understand and solve the real problems your prospects and customers consume every day.
  • Promote across channels. Utilize your social media, email, cold-calling, centers of influence, current clients, agency team members, your mom…..whoever. Get the word out! If you have built a good reputation then your connections will be happy to share.
  • Creating the content. Hootsuite can be your friend for scheduling posts. Canva can be your friend for creating graphics. MailChimp can be your friend for bulk emails.

3. Doing the Webinar:

  • Practice. Practice. Practice. This is the secret to everything, right?
  • No sales pitch. The quickest way to lose an audience is to sell. Focus on giving value the entire time and you will come out on top.
  • Find a friend. Something will go wrong. Sorry, it’s true. Have a friend available to help out with any technical issues that may arise so that you can focus on the audience.

4. The Follow-up:

  • Same-day email. This needs to happen within an hour of the webinar. Save yourself the headache and have the email template ready to go before the webinar even starts. Have one email for those who attend, and one for those who missed the webinar.
  • Include a call to action. An e-book or white paper to download. A link to schedule a consultation. A download of the webinar or presentation.
  • Get feedback. Zoom and GoToMeeting allow you to create a survey that will appear after the webinar. Keep it short and sweet. Would you recommend this webinar to a colleague? Do you want to learn more? What topics are you interested in for future webinars? Done.

You hosted your first webinar! Now what? Well, are you ready to put on another event, or do you prefer your standard marketing approach? Write down the lessons learned, the data gathered, and the ways you can streamline the process.

Webinars take time to create, market, and execute. Put the quality time and effort in on a consistent basis, and you will see your relationships deepen and your close-ratios increase.