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How to host a webinar that engages and converts

As the CEO of a 10-year-old digital brand management studio, Ronelle Louwrens is no stranger to innovation. Along with a kick-ass team, she has led the marketing evolution of innumerable top brands.

Although she admits that it feels great when the big boss of an easily recognisable brand compliments her on her work, it feels even better when an entrepreneur who has been to hell and back calls to simply say: “Thank you. We have lift-off!”

Ronelle Louwrens, the CEO of YehBaby Digital, an award-winning digital agency.
Ronelle Louwrens, the CEO of YehBaby Digital, an award-winning digital agency.

Louwrens, who is also the founder of the Paarl-based YehBaby Digital, says: “Yes, it does feel strange to celebrate our 10th birthday during the Covid-19 pandemic. We would have loved to pop some bubbly and spoil all our clients with pretty cupcakes and hugs, but instead we have been working non-stop to help navigate our clients through a very difficult time.”

She adds that Covid-19 has dealt a crippling blow to particularly small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs). The current economic climate is also worlds apart from when she gave birth to YehBaby during the 2010 World Cup euphoria.

“These are unchartered waters. The world has been caught upstream without a paddle and is struggling to reach land. I do find, however, that my clients who have been more fearless in embracing new technologies have also been experiencing fearless growth,” says Louwrens.

Since the lockdown, YehBaby Digital has played an instrumental role in helping some of the nation’s biggest media and other brands to host and present successful webinars. This includes South Africa’s first farmers’ webinar by the award-winning agricultural and lifestyle news brand Food For Mzansi in partnership with GroBank.

Louwrens believes that the pandemic has been a big learning curve for companies who suddenly had to embrace technologies such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams for effective remote working. “The reality is that these aren’t exactly new technologies. It has been around for quite some time. It is great, though, because suddenly online video content has proven to be astoundingly effective for business.”

She warns, however, that it could be detrimental to brands who do not fully understand the importance of treating webinars like an albeit low-budget little television production. “We can all click a few buttons, but if you’re already under pressure to maximise your business reach in a time where physical traveling is nearly impossible, you cannot risk falling apart with the entire country or even world watching.”

The YehBaby boss also warns that businesses who are considering webinars should bear in mind that after more than 70 days in lockdown, corporate South Africa seems to be rather Zoom and Teams fatigued. She says, “It’s actually a thing. The Harvard Business Review says this stems from how we process information over video. We need visual breaks to help us refocus, otherwise our brains will grow fatigued. Just think about it. In person, we would have used our peripheral vision to glance out the window or look at others in the room. Now we’re having to engage in constant gaze.”

Louwrens has three powerful tips for businesses who are considering webinars:

• Rule number one: DIY marketing isn’t the best approach for business

The webinar novelty is over. Trust me when I say it is no longer cute when your CEO is awkwardly trying to find the unmute button in front of live attendees. Also trust me when I say it is often best to stay in your lane. Just because your marketing boss spent all night doing a webinar crash course, doesn’t mean you will understand the intricacies to building a successful webinar strategy. Rather get the experts to help you.

• Rule number two: Never, ever bait-and-switch

If you are inviting me to attend your webinar in the middle of a pandemic where we are all fighting for survival, you better deliver what you promised. Be honest about what you will be presenting. Creating online content is all about trust. I seriously want to be enlightened, and you will lose my trust forever if it turns into one big advertising billboard. Unless, of course, I knew beforehand that I was signing up for it.

• Rule number three: Build in breaks

Seriously. Most of us are trying to juggle work and our personal lives during this Covid-19 lockdown. That means that we’ve probably got to check in on a nagging kid, or have to call back a boss, client or contact who’s waiting on important information. Often, we just want a few minutes away from the screen to breathe. Get a content expert to help conceptualise a programme that will work for a digital audience.

YehBaby Digital is offering a 20% discount to all SMMEs who are taking the first steps in hosting a high-quality webinar, or are in need of digital services such as a new website and/or social media strategies. To take up this offer before 15 June 2020, email az.oc.ybabhey@olleh and use ‘Bizcom offer’ in the subject line.

5 Jun 2020 07:38