Recently, we did a marketing webcast called “Communication Secrets of Channel Managers” with EMC, SAP, and Brainshark. All the speakers attended the practice session and logged in early to make sure everything was working. By the time the webcast started, there were more than 170 people waiting, mostly well-qualified professionals. The material was relevant and the speakers were all excellent. It should have been a marketing home run. But it wasn’t.
Within the first few minutes, the questions box started filling with comments about the audio quality. Then we noticed the same issue mentioned on our Twitter hash tag. The first speaker was interrupted by the moderator and participants were asked to dial in because the internet audio feed was garbled. A few minutes later, the speaker had a problem with the poll answers not being visible to the audience. And as the moderator scrambled to bring everything under control, some of the participants began to drift off to other activities.
Unfortunately, this kind of defective marketing webcast is all too typical in the channel world. That’s one reason that resellers often shun webinars and channel marketing groups find it so difficult getting people to actually attend. (Many “experts” say that if, after all their marketing and work developing the content, one third of the people who register for a webinar actually attend, then it’s considered a success! ) In other words, webcasts are not effective and marketers know it. They have been so problematic for so long, that webinars are now a channel metaphor for being old and inefficient.
There are lots of other ways to communicate with resellers using social media and partner marketing managers need to find one that actually works. Videos are an option for many types of communications. There are hundreds of social media sites to be explored for their communication capabilities. Channel managers can try making a Brainshark. (At least then they would have a record of any reseller who actually looked at the slides and for how long.) Channel Marketing groups with big budgets might even invest in something cool like Telepresence and blow their channel partners away.
On the other hand, old-fashioned marketers can also continue playing webcast roulette until all their channel partners are so sick and tired of useless webinars that they are officially banned by industry trade associations.