While subscription can serve as your publication's lifeblood, attracting new subscribers serves as the sustenance…
Webinars, an increasingly popular format that associations are using to disperse information and knowledge, are more easily distributed than ever. A portmanteau of "web" and "seminar", a webinar is an important tool when trying to attract and retain association members, and with a little planning, your association can use these tools to recruit new members and bring value to membership as a whole.
Why Webinars Are More Cost-Effective
At its core, a webinar is a chance for associations to reach potential and current members across the globe without said professionals needing to attend in person. In the past, a traditional seminar would require intense planning months or years in advance, scheduling with a venue or venues, accounting staff needed for budgeting, travel coordination for seminar presenters, and so much more. Today, a webinar can be created by a single individual, uploaded to the Internet, and seen by potentially millions of people or more, all within 24 hours.
Why Webinars Work
In the past, association members often planned and scheduled for annual or semi-annual seminars to learn about changes in their selective industries. This often required taking time away from their careers, family, and friends. In addition, traditional seminars often required professionals to spend personal or company funds to fly to various destinations, procure lodging, spend more on food, and ultimately engage in other spending while away from home. A webinar, on the other hand, can be distributed across the web for free, meaning professionals and potential association members can participate in the viewing, learning, and resulting dialogue through social media sites like YouTube without ever stepping foot outside of the home or office.
Planning a Webinar
If you're going to put together a webinar to attract new members, there are some steps to take before getting the cameras rolling. First, figure out what you want to achieve from the webinar. Do you want to simply show off what your association capable of or has done, or do you want to provide real, lasting value? Likewise, do you have tools in place to monitor and interpret analytics from viewers? Second, what do you want to say and why? What is the true purpose of the webinar? Are you really reaching your target audience? Finally, make sure that your distribution reaches the proper channels. If you create a webinar and it only exists on your association's website, you may be missing other promotional opportunities, such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.
Also, consider that any time you create video content and place it online, your association needs to be able to quickly respond to comments, questions, and criticism. Allowing open comments on your webinar without monitoring them can be a disaster. Imagine being someone who just watched a webinar and posted a comment, only for it to be answered a year later. Whenever you post webinars or other content online, be vigilant in order to respond quickly. This will go a long way in showing that your association is invested in its members and potential members.