One of the biggest marketing challenges managed service providers (MSPs) face is identifying and tapping into channels that will reach the largest number of potential leads.

There are several things you can do to set yourself up for success. To begin with, there is in-depth research on your target audience. Next, you can optimize your website with high quality, persona-targeted content. And, you can build marketing funnels that nurture new leads once they have indicated an interest in your services.

One of the most effective lead generation and nurturing tools to use, however, is the webinar. A well-produced webinar on a topic of interest for your audience can be powerful. Webinars aren’t too time-consuming to prepare and produce. They tend to have high engagement rates. Plus, the quality of the leads that attend and participate is often very strong.

Still, every audience is different. You must select a topic with experts to present and a format that best fits your ideal customer’s needs. Let’s take a look at the steps of for creating an effective webinar campaign for managed IT services.

Planning your webinar

A good webinar needs three things: (1) strong presenters; (2) relevant content; and, (3) a clear timeline.

  1. Choosing your best experts

A reliable webinar presenter is someone who has a firm grasp on the subject matter. The person is charismatic and engaging in video and has experience teaching and answering questions. Remember, this isn’t a one-way presentation.

The most effective webinars encourage audience engagement. This requires someone who is easy to understand and well-versed in the subject matter. For many MSPs, this will be one of your senior executives. This isn’t always the case, though, especially in a technical field. One of your sales or marketing staff might be a better fit for a 45-minute presentation.

Another thing to consider is whether you want a co-host. Co-hosted webinars that bring in an outside expert from another company (one with a similar audience but non-competing services or products) can help drive participation and engagement. It allows you to tap into a new audience that you might not have access to while increasing the content’s value.

  1. Choosing the subject

After identifying your speaker(s), it’s time to map the content for your webinar. Why is this second? Well, your speaker selection might influence the direction. It’s good to know who will be presenting before you draft up what they will say.

There are three things you must take into consideration when choosing a webinar topic:

    • It should align with the interests and needs of the audience
    • It should address an actual problem they face and provide a solution(s)
    • It should be based on data drawn from customer conversations, web research, or industry feedback

Your viewers are giving up an hour of their day to participate in your webinar. They need to walk away feeling like they learned something valuable that’s not available anywhere else.

It’s tempting to provide “how-to” presentations as an MSP since these are the most common conversations you have with customers. But, are they the problems and concerns the decision-makers in those companies have? Probably not. Focus on areas of real concern (e.g., implications of cloud migration, security and privacy best practices, recovery tips for major issues, etc.).

  1. Map your timeline

Too many webinars come together at the last minute to meet arbitrary marketing goals and deadlines. For a webinar to be successful, it needs significant lead time, so you can do the following:

    • Set a date when everyone is available
    • Prepare ad materials and build the necessary landing pages
    • Write emails to promote the webinar to existing contacts
    • Create and share social media posts to promote your webinar
    • Coordinate promotion with any fellow presenters
    • Promote the webinar 2-3 weeks before the presentation

In total, this can mean 3-6 weeks from initial planning to the final webinar date. Less than that can mean a lack of time to fill seats and finalize content.

Effectively promoting a webinar

Once the planning phase is complete for a managed IT services webinar, you need to start promoting it. This is where you will make or break your marketing campaign. The above section is a loose timeline for what you should do before the presentation date. It gets more detailed as you dig in, depending on your budget, registration goals, and the resources available to work on the campaign.

Specific items you’ll need in place include:

    • A landing page for registration that clearly presents the goal of the webinar, the value to the attendees, and a call-to-action (CTA) to register
    • Promotional emails, including initial invitations, follow-up emails, and reminders at key intervals (e., 1 week, 1 day, 1 hour) to ensure maximum attendance
    • Social media graphics on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook that you can start sharing two weeks before the webinar
    • Promotional content like blog posts, checklists, or repurposed marketing materials linking to your registration page
    • Marketing materials for your partner to share with their larger audience. This is an excellent way to leverage a particular audience you don’t have access to

Marketing a webinar is an involved process. You can get it done with a well-written playbook from start to finish. Take the time in those first couple of weeks to map out what will be complete and by when, and you’ll have a more successful promotional effort.

The long-term value of a well-produced webinar

People hire you because they don’t have the experience to manage their systems at the level  that is required to be successful. Your expertise in managed IT services as a problem-solver is one of your primary selling points. Leverage that knowledge with a webinar, and you can capture more high-quality leads.

A webinar is a good starting point, but it’s not enough. People need to find you online. A high-performing MSP website and professional marketing strategy is necessary for the long haul. You’re in it to win it, right?

Photo: fizkes / Shutterstock

Tim Kelsey

Posted by Tim Kelsey

Tim Kelsey is the Managing Director at Pronto Marketing. The company builds and manages professional websites and provides marketing services to MSPs and SMBs. Learn more at www.prontomarketing.com

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