Jen submitted the following question as a comment to an earlier post:
Hi, we are looking to find a new vendor for webcasting services but we are looking for more than just the basic functionality of an 0N24. We've used Globix, Unisfair, LiveMeeting, & Webex in the past but I wanted to know your other opinions about vendors such as Bulldog Solutions. Is it worth the extra money? Do they have any competitors?
I think the issue is interesting enough to get its own post.
When you select a webinar technology vendor, you should expect some level of technical support as a given, as you would with any software application. But after that basic requirement, what can you expect in the way of extra services? Many vendors aren't set up to assist their clients with marketing, event production, promotion, recording, and so on. Others offer extra-fee consulting services to cover some portion of these needs (the most common vendor services are for event production, such as creating registration pages and customizing your interface look and feel). Then there are resellers and service companies that provide added value services packaged around a particular technology.
I have written about two of the better known webinar service providers in this blog back in days gone by. It is a bit dangerous for me to speak for them, as I have no formal relationship with either, but here's my take:
Bulldog Solutions concentrates on the lead generation aspect of a webinar campaign. They offer a great deal of assistance with event promotion, boosting attendance rates, follow-up, and so forth. I just took a look at their home page and I see that they have repositioned themselves as "a lead optimization and lead management company dedicated to helping our clients generate more, better leads and turn them into revenue." They have moved their mention of webinars into a more general paragraph stating that they will work with campaigns involving webinars, podcasts, white papers, physical events, and rich media.
I know that in the past, Bulldog has acted as a reseller of specific web conferencing technologies bundled as part of a total campaign management contract. Looking at their website, I see that they currently list technical requirements for using WebEx, Placeware (the old name for Microsoft Live Meeting), and Democast -- which Bulldog apparently acquired and which I am unfamiliar with.
KRM Information Services assists a different part of the industry. They concentrate on helping clients deliver fee-based events such as lectures, educational sessions, and other "high value content" presentations. KRM works exclusively with WebEx as their conferencing technology and they put great emphasis on the telephone audio quality associated with an event. They maintain a sophisticated on-site telephone mixing and recording studio in their midwest offices and they provide on-air support and operators for events. They use a variety of technologies to create turnkey packages for handling payment processing and registration for an event, recording and editing at high quality, with DVD or CD file distribution, and so on.
Both KRM and Bulldog can certainly offer great value if your needs mesh with what they are set up to do best. They will run your webinar-based program from start to end and relieve you of a lot of pressure and time. Obviously you're going to pay for the wide range of services offered and only you can determine whether the final numbers are cost effective for your particular situation. If you don't need the end-to-end management they provide, you may feel overcharged.
I recently talked with Bob Hanson at Quantum Leap Marketing. You asked about alternatives to Bulldog Solutions, and this might be one company to check with. Quantum Leap covers many of the same areas of webinar marketing, promotion, and lead generation. I don't have a pricing comparison.
After the full service campaign management companies, you get the dedicated webinar service providers. I'm really only familiar with three companies in this niche. One is my company, Webinar Success. Another is Corvent. The third is 1080 Group. 1080 Group seems to use a structured formal program for coaching "do it yourself" webinar producers. Webinar Success and Corvent use a model that allows a client to pick and choose the areas where they need specific help. For some companies, this means figuring out which technology vendor to go with and setting up some basic guidelines and best practices. For others, it means assistance with content production or refinement, speaker training, or on-air moderator services. I don't know how Corvent sells their services. Webinar Success takes the approach of offering a la carte choices for any specific service desired. We can zip in, help you cover an area that needs help and remove some of your task burden, and then get out again quickly. My goal is to ensure that there is never a question about value for your services dollar.
You may also want to check out value-add resellers of specific technologies. These companies often provide some set of services in conjunction with the use of the underlying conferencing software. One example is Clarix, which sells Adobe Connect and offers services such as customization and software training. Another is CatwalkConference, which serves IBM Lotus web conferencing customers.
I don't think it's even theoretically possible to give a blanket answer to "Is it worth the extra money?" It must be worth it to some companies, or these providers wouldn't be able to stay in business! What you should be able to glean from this long response is that for any need you may be feeling, you can find a provider to help you with it. Prices definitely vary by a wide range, so it's worth doing comparisons. And most importantly, make sure you are getting the type and amount of help you need. Everyone takes a slightly different approach to their services and you want to find the one that is going to fit comfortably with your requirements.
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