Putting on seminars or other in-person presentations to potential clients is an effective and well-proven method of marketing for new clients. But some of us are better than others at converting attendees to clients. And organizing the programs is not without cost and effort. You may have to rent a room and provide refreshments. Promotion of the programs may include ads in the local newspaper or radio station or direct mail. And there’s staff time involved with registration, setting up the programs, arranging for the marketing, and follow-up with the attendees.
Despite these costs, many law firms swear by client seminars as their main way to get business. However, I have heard reports that they are not as effective as they once were. Too many lawyers are doing them and people don’t seem to be going out to events as much as they used to, although this is very much dependent on locale. But whether or not client seminars are effective for you, you may want to consider presenting client webinars as an alternative or as an addition to in-person programs.
Webinars have the advantage of much lower cost and effort to prepare. You can use GoToWebinar or one of a number of other services to put them on and to take registrations. You can then post the completed webinar to your website so that people who cannot attend at the scheduled time can do so whenever they have the time, even in the middle of the night. Webinars on your website can continue to bring you clients for years after you have recorded them.
The main challenge with webinars, however, is to make them interesting. Their most significant drawback is that you lose the human contact of in-person presentations. Here are a few tips on how to make webinars more effective:
- Keep them short. You are better off having several webinars on very specific topics than one long one covering the waterfront. None should be longer than half an hour.
- Use PowerPoint (or another presentation program) so that your viewers have something to look at. You might be more detailed with your slides than in a normal presentation since this is all your audience will be seeing.
- Don’t go solo. Include one or more other speakers in the program, either to present or simply to ask or respond to questions. It’s hard to maintain viewers’ attention with just one voice droning on for half an hour.
- Permit the audience to ask questions. The software allows participation over the phone or in writing, with you or your co-presenter reading the questions.
- Promote the programs through your website, e-letter, print newsletter and e-blasts. Your promotions accomplish at least three goals: First, they will bring some people in to participate in the live webinar or view its recording online. Second, doing the webinar is an excuse to get your firm name in front of your clients and referral sources. And third, since you are providing valuable information in your webinars, spreading the word about them adds to your credibility as an expert in your field.
- Post the webinars on YouTube or Vimeo. This will make it easier for you to put them on your website and provide an additional venue for individuals to find you and the valuable information you have to offer.
- Do a series. If you simply present a single webinar, it will have little impact. But if you do one a month or one a quarter, you will build recognition for your offerings. Your website will become a valuable resource for people who learn best by hearing and visually, rather than through reading. Your website can present the series as Estate Planning 101, Long-Term Care Planning 101, or Bankruptcy 101, depending on your specialty.
In short, webinars can offer many avenues for reaching and continuing to reach out to potential clients and referral sources. But as with any marketing initiative, take them on only if you have the time and energy to do them consistently.