So, You Wanna Host a Partner Webinar
Working with partners to ideate, execute and promote joint content can be a huge revenue-generating activity. In fact, Kim Allen just outlined the core steps to doing so here. And one of the most common co-marketing tactics, especially in B2B, is the good ole partner webinar.
But it isn’t without it’s challenges. Coordinating with marketing counterparts in other organizations can be … painful. And when something has a lot of moving parts like a partner webinar, it can not only be frustrating, but, if things go badly, it can actually hurt your reputation with those partners and your customers.
I’ve been involved in a lot of partnership conversations, previously as LeadMD’s delivery leader, and now as our CMO. In my first week as CMO, I was thrust into a speaking slot for a webinar with Uberflip and Bizible (recently acquired by Marketo). I can report that my counterparts at these organizations made my job easy. Because I’ve found this process so seamless, I wanted to share it with the larger universe of marketers so you can … basically steal it.
At the end of this post, I link to a spreadsheet template. So, if you want to pull that up as you read through each section, it might be an easier visual of these areas and steps to take.
Although often overhyped, I’ll break down the elements of how we implemented this webinar into People, Process and Technology
People: Roles and Responsibilities
The roles and responsibilities for creating a partner webinar go far beyond just who from the partner orgs will speak. Put on your project management hat and explicitly assign roles, responsibilities and due dates for the following items:
Partner Webinar Strategy Session
Who will participate in the strategy session where the following types of decisions will be made?
- What are the shared goals of the webinar?
- Who is the target audience (demographics)?
- What stage in the buying process is the target audience at when attending (moment in time, behavior)?
- How will this benefit each partner?
- What customer problem are you trying to solve with the webinar content?
- What are service level agreements definitions, escalation paths and conflict resolution steps?
Partner Webinar Ideation Session
Once the strategic objectives are finalized, people (either the same or different) need to begin ideating around the content. Answering questions like:
- Who will speak?
- What is the main solution to the customer problem?
- For this one, I’m going to reiterate what Kim talked about in her content blog
Try simply Googling the topics you specialize in. Read a few of the articles on the first couple of pages and see what questions they don’t answer … This fills a content gap in the market…
- An abstract of each partner’s role is solving the problem
- Promotion ideas
- What call to action will the END of the webinar have? Are you creating a slide deck that can be shared? Do you have related content you can distribute? Are you looking for demos?
Creating Things for the Webinar
Once there is a plan, it’s time to execute.
- Who is the project owner? This person must be the hub of all activities related to the webinar. This cannot be a shared responsibility. Only ONE person can be the hub, the rest of you are spokes.
- Who will project manage to hold everyone accountable to timelines?
- What specifically must each speaker do? Obviously, they should be creating what they plan to say, but how will the slides be created? Will one of the partner’s have a design resource finalize the deck to ensure a consistent look and feel?
- Who will own the registration process (landing page, registration form, webinar hosting platform, etc)?
- Is there an integration that will automatically share the registrants with all partners for exclusion lists?
- Who will write the promotional copy?
- Who will create the promotional imagery (every email invite needs a nice header graphic!)?
Promoting Your Partner Webinar
What’s all this work and planning for if no one knows the webinar is a thing? Ensure the following pieces of promotion have an owner:
- Internal. Education your own employees on the initiative and encourage them to share the registration link. Why restrict your promotional power to just a small team of marketers?
- Email. You’re going to send that demand gen email, right? Who will own this for each partner?
- Other channels. I’m not going to list all of them here, because hell, if you decide to spend money on a billboard to advertise this thing, go ahead.
- Will reminders be consolidated through one partner (I recommend this) or is each partner responsible for this?
- During event. You can create a lot of buzz by having people ON the webinar Tweet takeaways realtime. Another great reason to have partner employees on the webinar.
- Post event follow-up.
- Email Thank-yous and We-missed-yous. These are standard, so again, you’ll just want to decide who owns them.
- Meetings. If you have a call to action to set meetings, who will own that follow-up? Are you planning to have joint sales calls? If so, how will that flow work?
- Nurture cadence. Of course we want to use the topical interests of our target audience to drive future communication. Take the time to ensure your marketing teams will not bombard the audience with similar nurture streams. I mean, that’s a good way to stop people from attending our larger B2B community’s webinars!
- Who will add text to the video in post-production?
- Who will add the slides to Slideshare? Will each partner add to their account or just one?
- Who will write follow-up blogs digging into questions asked during the session or expand on areas only quickly touched on?
- Who will push traffic to these follow-up articles and the recording?
- Will every partner commit to backlinks?
Evaluating the Success of Partner Webinars
Once everything is “done” (which BTW, the repurposing point is to try to reiterate that if you’re going to invest so much in the whole process, then try to never “shelf” a content piece, instead iterate on it and optimize it), identify timeframes for reporting on movement toward the goals that were established allllllll the way back in the first step.
The Hard and Fast Numbers
In terms of success, you’ll want to compare the results against those goals, but even if you didn’t necessarily aim to SELL during the webinar or even generate leads, we’re doing everything for money in business, right? So, I’d encourage the entire team to share stats around the following areas:
- New names added to your database
- Meetings set: Keep in mind with this one that if you co-sell with your partners there should be coordination
- Pipeline sourced: Opportunities that generate FROM a person who was acquired by the webinar
- Pipeline influenced: Opportunities where one of your webinar attendees is currently engaged or engages AFTER the webinar
- Revenue sourced: Same as #3, except with closed won opportunities
- Revenue influenced: Same as #4, except with closed won ops
- Post content stats: You’re creating additional content after the webinar, share how it’s doing in the same major categories outlined above
In the strategy session, be sure to set timeframes for reconvening. If the partners have wildly different sales cycles (1 day closes versus two year consideration cycles), there likely needs to be a middle ground decided. If days in a sales cycle are relatively equal, this provides a really great opportunity for the partners to continue learning from each other. Say one partner recognized over $1MM in pipeline from the webinar, while another sees a big goose egg, it’s a chance to ask about how that $1MM org followed up. What are they doing in their process that you can steal?
Also, frankly, if one of the partner orgs can’t pull these stats, it’s again a learning opportunity. Encourage each other to be great, data-driven marketers!
The last pieces you’ll look to capture can most commonly be aligned to a project management technique for retrospects. Essentially, in a none-structured way, get together with everyone involved in the process and simply ask, “What did we do well and what can we improve next time?”
Process: When and How?
Once you have everyone assigned it’s time to align on the systems by which the team will communicate, share updates and execute. Some of the elements for this process are decided during the beginning phases, especially the strategic session. For example, the reason you’re specifying SLAs in the strategic portion is to understand the process by which things will happen and to be able to hold everyone accountable to their part.
The process takes all the grand plans and sets very explicit next steps for each item. In the resource at the end of this post, you’ll find some sections include the term “Next Step”. I’ve mocked up some simple statuses to give everyone what amounts to a quick and dirty project management view of the status. That column or idea is absolutely critical to ensuring things keep moving forward, but also moving succinctly toward the end goal.
Technology: Shortcuts, Hacks and Tools
The speed of technology means there is almost always a shortcut for collaboration. However, the downside is that there are a plethora of options. When you’re working internally, these tools are often shared across the organization and are easy to work with. But when you’re working with a separate organization, or many other orgs, it can be challenging to get everyone on the same tools. For example, we love Slack for communication. The partners we have that also use Slack give and provide easy access for quick questions or encouragement. But if you’re working with partners who use Microsoft or HipChat, then you’ll need to coordinate a way to collaborate more real-time or gain an understanding that something like email and booking meetings will be the tools for communication.
Example Tools Used for Our Re-Engage the Dead Webinar
Honestly, I would’ve loved to be using Slack for this, but alas, the rest of the technology we’ve used was super simple.
- Google Docs
Because this is a post to share what worked well for this webinar, I wanted to expand a bit on specifically what the Uberflip team primarily supplied in the Google Doc. It contained:
- Page 1: The Gist
- The registration goal (notice top of the doc, front and center!)
- A running update of registration numbers (including each partner’s sourced number)
- A simple chart with: Topic, Date, Object, Target Registrants, Target Audience, and Hosting
- Page 2: Webinar Details
- Main Title
- Sub Text
- Main Copy
- Page 3: Supporting Promotion
- Social Copy
- Asset links
And that’s it! In many ways, this Google Doc serves as our hub for project management and maintaining our direction.
Conclusion: Partner Webinars
In conclusion, hosting a partner webinar is a great way to expand your customer universe. It’s also, personally, a great way to interact with people at other companies for future job opportunities, introductions and mentorship. Relationships will build your career. Take these opportunities to have your company pay you to create them.
Finally, as promised, I have a very un-designed Google spreadsheet to share with each item in here outlined. Get it here! WARNING: I am in the process of gating this spreadsheet, so grab it now before I do!
If you end up using it and adding anything or have thoughts, please leave a comment and I’ll sort through all the SPAM comments to find it and respond! Happy webinaring!
Meet Andrea Lechner-Becker
Andrea Lechner-Becker’s bio reads like someone who filled out a what-should-I-be-when-I-grow-up quiz and decided to try every option. Fueled by endless curiosity, Andrea has never met a problem she didn’t want to solve. This led her to managing sales and marketing at an art gallery, then loyalty and email marketing strategy for an NBA team and arena, then the delivery team at LeadMD, followed by a stint as a novelist and culminating with her current role as CMO of LeadMD. With a decade of experience in dynamic marketing roles, Andrea has had the opportunity to work with the most brilliant marketing minds at the best companies in the world. #hugemarketingdork