A Worldwide View of Telecommuting

About 20% of workers around the world spend at least part of their work week doing their jobs from home. While telecommuting is relatively common, views and practices are far from standard around the globe. Interested in learning more about how the rest of the world telecommutes? Check out this infographic from www.howdoibecomea.net/ for more a global view. 

 The World of Telecommuting

If you telecommute or manage a remote staff you know you need cost-effective, easy-to-use conferencing that drives productivity and facilitates collaboration between teams. Interested in learning more about how to manage a remote workforce? Check out this article for more tips.

Have any creative ideas or tools you want to share when working remotely? Let us know below.

Webinars 401: Engaging Webinar Attendees

Engage your webinar audienceThis post is the fourth in a series on webinars. While it maybe elementary to many of our expert readers, we hope the series will be valuable to those of you who are considering a webinar program or just starting out. You can read the previous posts in the series: Webinars 101Webinars 201 and Webinars 301. Maybe our experts will provide some additional tips!

Getting people to attend your webinar brings you halfway toward success. If you don't engage your participants, however, they won't get much out of the experience, and you won't convert them to clients or reach other webinar goals. Here's some best practices for engaging your participants in your webinars.

Solicit Questions Ahead of Time

Engagement begins the moment a someone registers for the event. In your confirmation email, mention that participants will have an opportunity to ask questions and begin soliciting them. Encourage participants to ask questions in advance. This gets them interested in the event before they attend. In addition, they will pay close attention during the even so that they can get their questions answered.

Create an Engaging Opening Slide

Don't just put your name and the event title on the opening slide. Instead, make sure you create interest from the moment participants log in to the event by creating a visually engaging slide. Use vivid colors and consider putting a quote or interesting image on the slide to catch their attention.

Go Over Procedures Near the Beginning

You want a dynamic opening for your webinar so that participants will sit up and pay attention. Once you've got their attention, though, you need to take a minute to do some "housekeeping." In the webinar world this means: Explain how and when participants may ask questions. People lose interest if they can't figure out how to interact with you. Tell them whether or not the webinar will be recorded and make sure participants are comfortable with your recording procedures. Explain the format of your presentation so participants know what to expect and can more easily follow what you're doing. 

Present Your Material in an Interactive Manner

Don't just read your PowerPoint slides. Instead, engage all of your participants' senses by doing the following: Share your screen for an interactive demonstration of a website or application Mark up your slides in front of viewers–highlight or circle key points Have co-moderators to bounce ideas off of for a more engaging discussion Encourage questions throughout the presentation, not just at the end. Use music or video to add energy and interactivity to your presentation. Create a dialog wherever possible rather than just giving a speech.

Wrap Up With a Bang

Make sure to hold participants' interest by ending on a high note. Answer any remaining questions in the last few minutes, but make sure to leave time to give your contact information and provide a closing thought.

Looking for additional tips? Check ReadyTalk's Best Practices for During Your Webinar.

How to Overcome Sales Challenges?

overcoming sales challengesAs a marketer in the audio and web conferencing industry, I face many challenges when trying to align my marketing and sales teams.

If you have ever been to a marketing conference, then you know there is a whole lot of talk about how to support sales and how to best align with them. On the flip side, if you go to a sales conference, alignment with marketing is rarely addressed. As a result, alignment is often pushed by marketing and slowly accepted by sales. Here are several of the common challenges marketers face when trying to align marketing and sales:

  1. Trust: One of the biggest issues I see between marketing and sales is trust. Sales does not trust marketing to properly qualify leads, generate the right kind of leads or communicate to their prospects. One of the best ways to overcome trust is to involve the sales team in any process discussions and campaign designs. An SLA will go a long way to overcoming sales challenges in this regard.
  2. Process: Another sales challenge is getting your sales team to adopt a process. By their very nature, most sales people are process avoiders. The quicker sales can adopt a standard process for marking, tracking and giving feedback, the quicker trust can be established. Again, an SLA is appropriate here to define this process between both parties.
  3. Metrics: A common set of agreed upon metrics is also an excellent way to build alignment. The metrics must be displayed in the system your sales team is in and their methodolgy must be agreed upon. Metrics like DLO as I talked about earlier can be effective.

What are some of the other challenges you face when trying to align your sales and marketing teams? I would love to hear of some specific sales challenges you have had and how you are addressing them.

 

 

Webinars 301: Webinar Promotion

plan and promote your webinarThis post is the third in a series on webinars. While it maybe elementary to many of our expert readers, we hope the series will be valuable to those of you who are considering a webinar program or just starting out. You can read the previous posts in the series: Webinars 101 and Webinars 201. Maybe our experts will provide some additional tips!

When you host a webinar, promotion is almost as important as quality. Even if you have the highest quality webinar possible, it won't do anybody any good if people don't know about it and therefore don't sign up. Here's some strategies  to help promote your webinar.

Plan Your Webinar Well in Advance

The key to effective promotions is to plan your webinar completely so that you can determine how to promote. Figure out who your ideal participants are and what you want them to get out of your seminar. By the time you are six to eight weeks away from your presentation, you should have these important pieces clear in your mind.

Utilize Social Media Appropriately

You should utilize social media in order to spread the word about your webinar. Create pages on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for your organization if you haven't already and invite people who may be interested in your event to it. Then, create an event on Facebook and G+ for your webinar and invite people. In order to promote effectively online, consider the following guidelines. Nobody likes over-selling. Don't use your social media pages exclusively for promoting your event. Instead, consider your audience's perspective. Ask yourself what you would want if you were a customer. What information would make you want to sign up for this webinar? Then create social media posts around those ideas. Make sure you market consistently. It's important to keep your event in front of people's eyes so they don't forget about it. Market daily, using a mix of informational posts and sales pitches. Participate in appropriate groups on LinkedIn and Facebook. The more people in your groups get to know you, the more likely they are to be interested in what you're doing. Don't underestimate the value of one-on-one contact. Don't message people with unsolicited sales pitches, but do get to know people individually and mention your webinar when appropriate. Write

Press Releases

Press releases are an underutilized promotional tool. Writing them and sending them directly to interested media outlets can increase your exposure and connect you with interested clients. The keys to using press releases include: Make sure you are writing a news story. Press releases are not advertisements; they are news. Use quotes from yourself or your associates to bolster your story and write it in a way that will be interesting to newspaper and magazine readers. Send press releases to media outlets that are likely to be interested. For example, a webinar about men's health may not be of interest to women's publications. Send press releases in a timely manner. Many publications need lead time, so you want to send them well in advance of your event.

Looking for other ideas? Check out ReadyTalk's tools to help you plan and promote your webinars.

3 Ways to Test Whether Your Demand Gen Campaign Will Fly or Flop

"Research your idea. See if there's a demand. A lot of people have great ideas, but they don't know if there's a need for it. You also have to research your competition," – Magic Johnson. There are times when we can all use some help

A fitting quote for pretty much all demand gen marketers. Magic shares some solid advice when it comes to doing what we're supposed to be good at – creating value, challenge people's thinking and doing it better than our competition.

Let's start from the top and break this down; 3 ways to test whether your demand gen campaign will fly or flop:

Rule #1 – Research Your Idea

Often times we (marketing people) crank out 20 new ideas in a team brainstorm session; and BAM! We've got it – off and running. We add some timelines and tactics in a spreadsheet and call it a campaign. But wait – how do we know if our prospects even care about our awesome idea. I mean it is awesome, right? We like the sound of it, we assume prospects will too.

Not so much.

Why? Well, according to Mr. Johnson, there may not be any demand. This is where data comes in. Think of all your marketing tools and ways that people consume the content you're creating. Break down the metrics–website visits, digital body language, form fills, content downloads, webinar registrations, recording playbacks, video views, social shares and likes – that's a LOT of information. Where do you get the most bang for your buck? Take these stats and make them actionable. Compare your inital (awesome) idea to this data and see if there is alignment OR if you need to toss it out or rework your approach.

Rule #2 – Find the Need…OR Create It

If you did the research and discovered that your (awesome) idea was actually a flop, don't dispare. Find the need – what do people actually want? Well, as noted above, metrics are a great place to start. Where are you seeing the fall-off on your website or form fills – obviously you're missing a need there. Start doing some A/B testing. Has your pricing page taken a hit? Maybe it's confusing – people like simplicity. What has your customer care team heard lately? Is there are particular issue or request that stands out – a frequently asked question that you could capitalize on? There are needs and there are answers, you just have to make sure the two are matching up.

Once you've  come up with a list of pain points that you can solve for your prospect, start creating demand and challenge their thought process. Maybe they haven't verbally expressed this thorn in their side, but if you can point out the aggrivation it is causes, the time it wastes, and the money they lose, you will immediately capture their attention. 

Rule #3 – Research Your Competition

Another way to figure out what your prospects might be looking for is to scope out the competition. Not the ones you crush – the ones you aspire to be like. The ones that are so good you just can't stand them. Obviously, they're onto something. Sign up for their blog and see what kind of messaging you get. Opt into their newsletter – what are their highlighted stories. How are they capturing your target audience?

Let's take the webinar as a specific lead generation tactic. Do you know what your competition is doing for their prospecting webinars? Who is speaking for them? What kind of topics are they choosing? How many attendees are they getting? We've put together a competitive analysis toolkit that can help you track and keep pace with your competition on webinars, but you can use the same concepts for other marketing tactics (content, social, events, etc.). The Competitive Recon bundle includes tools designed give your webinars an edge and make the early stages of planning easier.

With this kit, you can:

  • Track your competitor's webinar programs.
  • Decide where your webinar program fits within your industry's competitive marketplace.
  • Evaluate potential webinar vendors side by side.
  • Make educated decisions on which webinar vendor works best for your specific needs.

You now have a litmus test to use against your campaign ideas. Before you dive in , stack your reasoning up against this logic and then decide if your idea will resonate, if there's a need or if you can create one, and then do a little detective work. A great campaign does't have to reinvente the wheel, but you should be able to create some new tension or urgency to leverage the message in your favor. So, get a head start on your competition with this toolkit. You can also view a full listing of our webinar tools on our website.