The Webinar: A Lesson Learned

Last week I did something professionals do all the time. I attended a webinar. It was advertised by an HR company I follow and the ad was effective and engaging. It highlighted three HR professionals who would be hosting the webinar and the core topics they were covering.  

It seemed like it was set up to be an extremely informative webinar where I could learn from HR leaders about core challenges and concepts relevant to HR professionals around the world today. So it’s not surprising that I was expecting to walk away from the webinar with new ideas and direction for how to approach the challenges facing HR.   

Sadly, I was both mistaken and disappointed. What could have been a great opportunity to learn, turned into what I can only describe as listening in on a loose and freeflowing conversation between all three hosts that was not only hard to track, but that lacked clear direction. Although the conversation was lively, it covered very basic topics that I come across every day in my reading but without the structure you’d get in an article.  

R.E.S.P.E.C.T 

You can have as many brilliant and successful people on your webinar (or presentation) as you’d like, but if you skip over what’s needed to prepare, you’re going to disappoint your audience.  

If you plan to host a webinar, presentation, panel, or anything that has people taking time out of their day to sit down and listen to you, you’ve got to take steps to prepare. Respect the time your audience has dedicated to listening to you, hoping to learning something.  

Define your goal 

You may have a great topic for your presentation, but if you don’t define your goalyou’re going to have a hard time untangling your topic into a clear story that your listeners can follow. This is especially true if you’re presenting with multiple people.  

You may all be experienced leaders with informed opinions, but without sitting down and defining your goal as a group, everyone is going to come to the presentation with a different goal in mind. This lack of structure is guaranteed to come across in your conversation.  

So sit down, and hash it out. Figure out what you want your listeners to walk away with. Is it a list of actionables they can use in their practice? Or a new way of thinking about an old topic? Or a better understanding of the drivers behind an issue? Whatever it is, figure it out beforehand and structure your presentation to support your goals.  

Visuals, visuals, visuals 

It may seem like a lot of work, but a webinar without visuals is like a foreign movie without subtitles. You may be able to follow along with the plot, but you’re going to lose a lot of the subtext at the very least.  

It takes work to capture and maintain people’s attention. You aren’t going to get it just by putting a few slides together with bright pictures and the questions you’ll be talking about on them.  

Break down your talking points. Go back to your goals and trace them into what you want people to take away from your presentation. Then write it down and put it on their screen. This will help your listeners process what you’re talking about and it will help you to stay on track as you talk. Listeners truly appreciate useful and informative slides. I have yet to attend a webinar and not had someone ask if the slides will be available after the presentation.   

Practice! 

Ok, you may be rolling your eyes at this one, but it can’t be stressed enough. I felt as though I was listening in on a phone conversation between three people who wanted to chat about their jobs. They interrupted one another, went on tangents, and it was hard to follow them 

Practice the presentation all the way through multiple times. Ask yourself at the end of each run-through what you think your audience walked away with. Ask yourself if it was clear and concise or if you went on unnecessary tangents that should be cut out of the actual presentation.  

This is a great opportunity for you to parse away any extra material that might clog the flow of the presentation and muddy your talking points and common goal. Figure out who is going to talk and when so you’re not interrupting each other and can step in for support if someone strays off topic.  

Even if it’s just you presenting, practice will help you clarify in your mind how you want to talk about the subject and what parts of it matter the most. When it is clear for the presenters, it’s clear for the listeners.   

If you’re going to ask people to take time out of their day to listen to you, you owe it to them (and you) to come prepared. You know you’ve got something worth talking about, otherwise you wouldn’t be there.  So show it! Treat your presentation like the valuable offer it is. Your audience will thank you, I promise.  

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by Teeramet Thanomkiat

Social Media for Your Business: Behind the Scenes

Social media is rampant and here to stay. You already get this. You understand that marketing on social media is a big part of building your brand and finding new customers. There are thousands of articles titled things like “Social Media is Here to Stay” and “Why Your Company Needs an Online Presence.”  You’ve probably read some of them. 

You know its importance for establishing your company’s social credibility and promoting your products. But social media channels offer so much more useful stuff than just a space to promote your products. It can become a tool to keep your company ahead of the curve and build the kind of following that pushes you to where you want to go.  

So what are we talking about here? Special secret doors of coding that can lead your company to the pot at the end of the capitalist rainbow? Maybe not. But we can tell you about a couple great uses of social media that can help give you the insight and support your business needs to succeed—beyond just promoting your products.  

Social listening 

Social media provides an opportunity to learn more about your audience and your surrounding community. It opens you up to potential customers near and far and allows for you and your audience to observe each other.  

One key to building a successful customer experience is understanding your company’s ideal customer, creating a buyer persona, and using this partially real/partially constructed personality to guide the way you develop your customer experience, your marketing initiatives, and your products. 

Building a buyer persona is tricky. You want to use a mix of real data and well informed decisions about personality traits, along with buyer pain points, so you can tailor your customer experience to best meet the needs and expectations of your customer. And where better to look for useful data and information about your customers and audience than social media?  

Using social media channels, you can get an indepth look at how your customers interact with and talk about your brand. You can learn about other brands and companies they interact with, and the kinds of common pain points that drive them to look for solutions. You can: 

  • Read review sites that cover your market to identify what people find frustrating about your industry and find opportunities for you to fill gaps in what is available. 
  • Keep tabs on what your competition is doing, how they are approaching their customer base, and where they are excelling and lacking. 
  • Learn about shared interests of your audience, discovering what people in your community have in common (pain points, interests, and methods of communicating). 

Once you begin down this path, you’ll see just how far it goes. There is an endless amount of information and data you can collect to inform your customer experience, your buyer personas, and your company as a whole. 

Market your company to job seekers 

This one may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how often businesses simply post a job on Indeed and call it good. But the statistics say it’s no longer acceptable for companies just to stop at posting a Craigslist ad. This study found that 94% of working Americans would visit a company’s social media before applying to work for them.  

People want to work for (and buy from) a company that aligns with their values and makes them feel good. Especially now that employment is at an alltime high, companies have no excuse not to do everything in their power to attract top talent.   

Using your social media platform to promote your company values, your brand vision, and your culture isn’t just a great way to drive people to have positive emotional responses to your brand, but it will do wonders in driving the talent you need to your door.   

Here’s how you can optimize your social media to help attract talent. 

  • Get your employees involved in company social media. Have them share articles, post reviews, and stay active on the company page.  
  • Promote information about your company culture. Highlight your values, any charitable events you sponsor or participate in, and perks you provide for your employees. 
  • Share educational information for people involved in your industry. This helps build your brand authority and sets you up as a reliable source of helpful and useful information to both customers and workers in your industry.  

More, more, more! 

Do your company a favor and do your research. Find out what you don’t know about the tools social media can provide you. The more you delve into all the ways social media can get your company ahead, the more difficult it is to ignore.   

Social media is a massive resource, and it’s free. The opportunities for what you can mine from social channels and how you can expand your brand’s voice and power are unlimited. And the really exciting thing is that it’s always expanding. So, jump in and take advantage of the opportunity social media can provide, both to your customers and to your company.  

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by ronstik

 

Produce, Post, Reuse: The Content Lifecycle

I’m sure you’ve heard the advice promoting the use of blogging to boost your company’s online presence and increase SEO and brand authority. And yes, blogging is great for all of these purposes. There’s one problem, though. Businesses invariably offer this excuse when they consider blogging: “We don’t have the time.”

It’s true, producing consistent, high quality content is time intensive. You’ve got to come up with a topic, do your research, generate a catchy title, optimize it for SEO, and actually write the thing. It can take up to three hours to get to a finished blog. So why is it worth your time?

Because creating and sharing content shows your audience how you think, what you think about, and gives them a glimpse into what type of business you are. They get an idea of the type of ideas and advice you’d bring to them as a client. Buyers don’t want to talk with a new company until they get the chance to know them a little bit. And there’s no better way for someone to get to know your company than by letting them inside your head!

To find success in blogging, it’s important to step into it with a realistic idea of how it works. Blogging isn’t just about publishing one piece of content, hoping it brings in some leads, and then forgetting about it. At the center of a blog’s value is the content and the capacity for the content to be reworked into a variety of different formats.

The power of repurposing content

Every time you write a blog, you’re compiling a number of things including researched information, useful tips or guidance, and good copy. Putting all of them together in a blog is just one form that those components can take. If your excuse for marketing falls into the “no time” category, then the importance of maximizing energy, work, and resources should be at the top of your mind. Recycling content is the best way to maximize the time and effort you take when creating a blog.

The lifecycle of a blog doesn’t have to stop at the publish date. In fact, it shouldn’t. After your blog has been published, read, shared, and liked, you can begin to use it for other pieces of content.

Say you wrote a successful blog that generated a good amount of traffic. You can then turn that same information in to an infographic, highlighting the main points you made, or even elaborating on one section. You might then share that infographic on social media. And because it’s visual content, it will likely garner more and different attention than your blog post. By using the same information in a variety of formats, you’re expanding the audience who sees it and the way it’s consumed.

Here’s what a full life cycle might look like:

  1. Blog post
  2. Infographic
  3. Downloadable checklist
  4. Short video
  5. Webinar
  6. eBook

You may stumble upon a whole category of blogs that you find really interests your audience. You can then use all those related blogs you’ve created and combine them to create a piece of educational content like an eBook or even a webinar. There is no shortage to what you can do with the research and time you put into creating a post! 

Recycling content

Using your blog post to create new content is a great way to maximize your time and effort, but you don’t have to stop at posting a blog just once. Don’t be afraid to repost your articles on social media platforms–just because you’ve read it doesn’t mean your audience has. You should be reposting an old piece of content every week, as long as it’s relevant.

Another great way companies keep up with high demand for new content is to go back and update old blogs to be republished.

In terms of time spent, recycling old blogs doesn’t take that much time. However, when you’re recycling an old blog post, you can’t just give it a new title and be done.

In order for your blog to be recycled successfully, you need to do a few important things:

  • Come up with a new, catchy title (Keep your keywords)
  • Update old links and statistics
  • Make sure all the information you provide is still relevant and up-to-date
  • Update your headlines 
  • Update any bulleted or numbered lists
  • Update your conclusion
  • Replace the photo

Quit finding excuses

So, if you’re still wondering if it’s worth making the time to write blogs, think about the amount of content you can get from just one blog post. Think about your audience members who will begin to rely on you for useful information, and trust you to be their advisor.

Remember, blogging isn’t a one-and-done deal. You can transform your content over and over again to help you build relationships with your audience and reach more people in different ways. It’s worth the time and effort, you’ll see.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners
Photo by
Dean Drobot

HR’s Secret Weapon: Marketing Communications

If you were asked what HR’s job is, I’m sure you’d come up with a list of answers. Keeping the company in compliance, managing workplace risk, providing resources and support to employees, payroll, hiring top talent, maintaining a positive company culture… the list goes on and on. But what ties this all together? 

Communication. 

HR has the responsibility to communicate all this and more to company employees, but all too often the tactics fail to actually get enough attention to be noticed. This is where HR can take some pointers from marketing. Because when it comes down to it, marketing is communication. And HR needs high quality communication to do their job well 

Think about it. How difficult is it to get an employee to read (and understand) their benefits package, or the employee handbook, or any other important information HR needs them to have? Difficult enough to be causing HR professionals some frustrating headaches for sure 

So how do you approach this problem? Following are some marketing tips HR can apply to their communication tactics to getand hold, the attention they need. 

Send out a weekly or monthly email/ newsletter  

HighlightsUse this to highlight work events that are coming up, give a shout-out to a team or employee who has gone above and beyond or completed a big project, and talk about things you want the entire company to know about. This could be an upcoming employee survey, a deadline for enrollment for benefits, or a reminder about checking tax withholdings to help employees prepare for tax season.  

PerksOverview the perks you offer to employees such as opportunities for personal development and career coaching, company retreats, and PTO. Keep the resources you make available to employees top of mind 

GoalsReview company goals and how specific teams and departments can help reach them. This is a great opportunity to highlight what different teams are doing to reach the same overarching goal. This can help align departments and keep everyone focused and feeling the team spirit. Plus, if you give a shout-out to a team or an individual, you’re creating a culture of appreciation and recognition! Talk about a good employee retention strategy!  

TeamworkThis also encourages different departments to see how they support each other, further bringing the community together. The more clarity there is about how teams work together and support each other, the higher functioning the company. And the less time HR spends on mitigating interdepartmental disputes.  

Attract the talent your company is looking for  

Marketing works to help guide people from being prospects to customers by meeting them at all the various points of contact they might have with your company. It’s marketing’s job to draw customers in with useful information, content offers, and guidance specifically targeted to where they are in their journey to becoming a customer.  

HR can take the same approach with attracting the type of employees they want working for the company, sometimes even hitting two birds with one stone.  

For instance, you can create a video highlighting your company values, perhaps interviewing aemployee about their experience or covering a recent charitable event your company hosted or participated in. This type of content is not only one of the more successful types of content marketing, but it could also help promote you to prospective employees. People tend to want to buy from (and work for) a company that shares their values and makes them feel good.  

HR can also take a page from marketing’s book by streamlining the process to apply. Just like you want to make it as easy as possible for customers to interact with your company (i.e., providing social icons for sharing and having easy options for answering questions and contacting support) you want to make it as easy as possible for job seekers to apply to work for you. You can: 

  • Keep the process down to five minutes or less  
  • Offer useful information at different points of the application process to help applicants discover more about you and what to expect throughout the application process 
  • Convey your company values and culture through the job description 
  • Highlight the perks and benefits your company offers 
  • Showcase the employee development and training services you offer 

Great communication = trust 

When it comes down to it, HR has a lot on its plate. So make it easier by learning to communicate often, clearly, and with the employee (or prospective employee) in mind. The better you communicate, the more people feel they can trust you, and the easier it is to do your job. It also means you get your message across in a way that sticks. 

As an HR professional, you work so hard to make other people’s jobs easier and to help provide useful information that will support and inform employees. We know how challenging it can be to find successful channels for communicating. So next time you’re looking for an effective way to provide that helpful information, think about how marketing would approach it and try using some of these tactics to help you. It’ll maximize the work you’ve done to provide support, and it’ll help them receive it.  

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners
 
Photo by

alesmunt

If Your Company isn’t Using Video, it’s Time to Hit Record

There’s no doubt, communication and marketing have been constantly changing and evolving since the creation of the internet, and it can be hard to keep up. But one thing is for certain, the popularity of video content is on the rise and it isn’t going to slow down.

To be clear: video content is more than just a trend. It’s becoming foundational to the way brands and people communicate online. Every minute, over 500 hours of video content is being uploaded to YouTube. Every minute! That’s a staggering 720,000 hours every day, just on YouTube.

There isn’t any getting around it: video content is here to stay. If your company hasn’t already embraced video as a key communication tool, it’s time to get onboard.

It’s what people want

Any good marketing strategy is based around giving people what they want. It’s just common sense. Video is a lot more popular than any other form of online content. You are much more likely to grab attention and engage visitors with video content than you are with text. 80% of people visiting a site are going to watch a video over reading the text on your page.

It’s the same with social media. Your posts are much more likely to get liked and shared if they have video content. People just find it more engaging to watch video. Period.

Get remembered

Viewers are also more likely to remember visual content. People are able to remember 65% of visual content they are exposed to days after seeing it. Talk about a good brand recognition strategy! The more people remember and recognize you, the more likely they are to trust your brand, which helps build authority and attract the type of employees you want within your community.

This is what good marketing is all about. Creating a brand that people recognize, trust, and want to engage with.

But using video marketing isn’t just about making content people will like and remember, it’s about growing your business and producing results. Any successful marketing strategy should have the goal of educating, engaging, and selling. And what form of content do you think is successful at driving sales? You guessed it.

Drive engagement with your product

You’ve probably heard that people want to watch a video before buying a product or filling out a form. It’s true! Using video to encourage people to engage with your content offer or product greatly increases their final decision.

Here’s what the statistics say:

It’s Not Just About Your Customers

While customers are the obvious target for using video marketing content, there’s a whole community of job seekers out there looking for the company that’s right for them. Using video content—the type of content that grabs the most attention and sticks in people’s brains—to promote your company culture and values to prospective employees is just plain smart.

Imagine you create a video that showcases your employee community and company values. Maybe you even include a recent charitable event you participated in or sponsored. Then think of everyone who comes across the video. You’re not only giving prospective customers a chance to build a personal and emotional connection to your company, but you’re giving job seekers a chance to get a feel for what it might be like to work for you.

Use video content to create a reason for people to want to work for you (and to buy from you!) by showcasing your strengths, your values, and your vision.

Aaand, action!

So there you have it. Your company can raise brand recognition, increase website visits, engage new customers, drive sales, and attract top talent. All by using video content. Don’t think you have the funds to do it? You may be surprised! There are many ways to create fun, engaging video content on a budget. Plus, if you invest in video marketing, you’re almost guaranteed to be happy with your ROI.

If you’re looking for the next best way to improve your company’s marketing strategy, look no further. It’s just a video away.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by Maxim Lupascu