So, you’re thinking about delivering a webinar (or a series of webinars) for your accountancy firm.
Good for you! I highly recommend it.
I feel like the whole accountancy world woke up a few weeks ago and thought ‘Hey – we should run webinars. How can we run webinars? Should we run them? Maybe the Profitable Firm can help us run some!’ And other similar thoughts. (We can, by the way. It’s all here.)
As long as a webinar is a fit for your audience (see my previous posts on differentiation and choosing a niche), it is still a very powerful way to showcase your expertise, help people connect with you personally, and do all of this without leaving your desk.
I’m working on a series of checklists and training videos to help those of you who want to run webinars, but while I’m working on those, here are some tips to get you started.
1. Identify your call to action
This is absolutely the first place to begin.
Although it’s tempting to run a webinar because you suddenly thought of a great topic (‘Auto Enrolment! That’s the key!’) or because someone else did it (‘I attended the Profitable Firm’s webinar and it seemed so easy!’), I’d strongly recommend that you start by thinking about what you want your audience to do. This then affects your webinar title, its focus, and what you say throughout.
Naturally you’ll want a topic of some kind – but even that can be flexible depending on what your call to action is. Here are some examples:
- Sign up for a Xero demo
- Request a pension review
- Sign up for our new payroll/auto enrolment service
- Download something (checklist, ebook, template, presentation)
- Sign up for a Xero add-on
- Attend another webinar
- Buy an online product (online training, book, virtual FD services)
- Attend a live event
2. Choose your webinar topic
Excellent! You have chosen your call to action: you know why you’re running this webinar and what you’d like your audience to do. Now it’s time to pick a topic.
Here are a few thoughts on topics:
Don’t be too clever.
This is something you accountants are really good at – and I mean this seriously. (In case you thought that was sarcastic.) You are aware that you’re in professional services, and it’s not about choosing the Webinar Title of All Titles That Will Draw Them In And Make You Loads of Money NOW NOW NOW.
Don’t sweat the title too much.
The beauty of running a webinar is that you can change the title forty times before you run the event itself – simply a matter of clicking a few buttons. I wouldn’t recommend changing it forty times, but if you start with ‘Payroll and Auto Enrolment Webinar’ and later decide you’d be better off with ‘How Auto Enrolment Affects Professional Service Firms’, no problem.
Use the WIIFM rule.
WIIFM is ‘What’s In It For Me?’ Think about your audience – your target market. What are their issues? Problems? Frustrations? Difficulties? How will your webinar help address these? Is it more about them and their needs, or you and yours? (Hint: it should be the former, not the latter.)
3. Choose a date and time.
Pretty self explanatory, but pay attention to your audience’s needs. Ask questions such as:
- Is your webinar crossing time zones? Cover as many of them as possible if you can.
- Any upcoming holidays that would conflict?
- What time of day does your audience tend to be sitting at a desk or computer?
The benefit of a webinar is that you can run it whenever you please, really. I’ve run a few webinars in my day that were smack dab in the middle of the school holidays – and I still had attendees. Not as many as usual, perhaps, but they still attended, and were more engaged because they had more time.
4. Select your webinar format and style.
The standard webinar presentation format is to have one speaker, with some slides, that you talk to. That’s certainly possible, but you’ll also want to consider:
- Having a guest speaker: You speak for a while, then they speak
- Interview style: interview a client or a guest speaker/expert
- Panel discussion
- Interactive event with a small group
Then you outline your presentation. Rather than crafting content around this, please just go buy The Jelly Effect by Andy Bounds. The chapter on preparing presentations will save you a week’s worth of extremely valuable presentation training. No lie.
5. Prepare your presentation
One way to do this is to start with a really excellent existing presentation that the Profitable Firm has crafted for you, and adapt it with your logo & colours & for your audience. Oh, hey! Look! Here it is:
(Note – if you downloaded the seminar presentation last week, this is extremely similar. But feel free to download this one too!)
But this won’t work for everyone – I mean, what if you want to run a webinar on ‘Forty Exciting Things You Never Knew About Capital Gains Tax’? In that (or a similar) case, here’s what you’ll need to know:
- Keep slides simple. This is NOT a lecture. Do not fill up your slides with words and text and font changes. Your slides are a reminder to you of stories to tell, not a book for your audience to read. Slides should have one image, and about 4-5 words. That’s it. Maybe just the image.
- Keynote is better than Powerpoint. This means you’ll need to buy a Mac, which may make your webinars a little more costly in the short run, but trust me, it’s worth it. If you absolutely must use Powerpoint, well, keep your slides as simple as possible.
- Be consistent with branding, colours, and fonts. Those old-school presentations with stolen Google images, bright red text, and flashing things actually hurt my eyes. Really.
- Fight against all your bad Powerpoint habits. Most likely, what you thought you knew about Powerpoint is no longer applicable. Get advice from someone who does it well – Xero is a good example, or Hubspot, or Kissmetrics.
- Lots of slides: Move fast. The old school way of spending 10 minutes on one slide is gone. People’s attention spans are extremely short. In the old days I had maybe 30-40 slides and I would be hard pressed for time to go through those in an hour. Now, I sometimes have 50-100 slides – and I’ll confess that I often should have more slides than I do. I’m still working on it too!
- Show real world examples. Don’t be so restricted to your slides – go to websites, documents, software, other screens – anything to keep them interested.
Now, before you go off all excited and decide to run your first webinar tomorrow …ha, ha! What am I saying?? I’m talking to accountants. Never mind. Carry on with your prep. This series of marketing tips on webinars will continue next Friday. Stay tuned.
Oh, and don’t forget your free webinar presentation on ’10 Ways Xero Makes Your Business and Life Better’.