I just got a superb eBook written by Jill Konrath (author of Selling To Big Companies). The offer is sponsored as part of a marketing program by Eloqua and Pragmatech Software. You can download the eBook (which does not require a fancy reader... it's just a PDF document nicely formatted) from the Eloqua website.
The document is 15 pages with plenty of white space and nice big bullet points, as well as a cartoon or two. So it's a fast, easy read. But the concepts are expressed so cogently and compellingly that it's truly a matter of quality rather than quantity.
The title of the piece is "What Sales Really Needs From Marketing." This is not new, groundbreaking material. The bottomless divide between sales and marketing in corporate environments has been fodder for business books and articles for a long time. But Konrath clearly and simply lays out the big ticket items that cause lead generation programs to be ineffective in producing additional sales. She spends some time defining the basics of value-based selling (and marketing) and then moves on to a discussion of triggering events that can spark a need for your goods and services. Additional subjects include call scripts and voicemail strategies, overcoming sales obstacles, and building a campaign plan.
Speaking as a former tech marketer, I might say she lays the blame for all inadequacies in the sales/marketing cycle a little too squarely on the shoulders of the marketing group. But I will also readily admit that she is accurate in her portrayal of many marketing programs as excessively introspective. Marketing groups that start from a perspective of "what's new in the product" and move on to "how many people can we hit with our message" may develop large numbers of contacts, but few of them are likely to be quality sales leads.
I bring it up because the concepts apply quite strongly to marketing driven webinars. If your goals for effectiveness are to get the largest possible number of new leads, the content of your event is unimportant. Just design a really good invitation and description page, capture as much contact information and prequalification questions as you can up front during event registration, and hand the results to your sales force. I once had a boss who counted our marketing effectiveness that way... What are the raw number of leads collected this month, and how does it compare to last month? iPod giveaways are wonderful for boosting these kinds of numbers.
But if you are going to use your marketing webinars as a tool to help your company develop and nurture serious prospects that the sales team is happy to receive, you need a whole different perspective. What are the concerns of your target audience? Why should they care about your company? How can you clearly describe the tangible benefits they will receive from spending money with you? And how does your webinar fit in with the other tools your sales/marketing chain uses to influence and guide your prospects?
Download the book. It's short and it's important. Then apply the concepts to your marketing webinars.