Webinars are no longer a buzzword for the select social media connoisseurs, but rather a must have for every respectable business or brand. With affordable webinar platforms on the rise, anyone can become a presenter from the comfort of their home or office. But does that mean you should forever discard offline live events as a relic of the past?
There is no definitive answer, as no business or brand is the same. Let’s explore the pros and cons of both to figure out which event type works best for you.
Advantages of Webinars
Let’s start with the positive. Here are three main factors that contribute to the increased popularity of online events:
• A wider audience reach
• Extreme cost effectiveness
• Automated lead generation
More Audience Equals More Leads
With over 4 billion people on the internet, it makes no sense to limit yourself to offline events. No more worries about the venue capacity: most webinar platforms nowadays allow you to have literally thousands of attendees at a fraction of the cost.
Webinars are especially beneficial if your product has potential to get traction abroad. If you are just starting your business, however, even the plain tickets can be a financial burden, let alone renting a venue or paying for accommodations.
The often-overlooked benefit of hosting webinars is the ability to get the best presenters. Of course, you are the star of the show, but having expert guests support your point will definitely win you credibility. What is more, you can get your guests’ audience to become your clients. As you might suspect, those guests are more likely to join an online event, rather than travel many miles to a live conference.
Lesser Cost Means Safer Investment
Hosting a webinar is really cheap. A computer, a webcam, a mic and a reliable webinar platform will set you up for success. And even if your webinar falls through, such as you get no attendees or make no sales, you won’t lose too much money. On the contrary, if your life performance fails, the financial consequences can be disastrous.
That is why webinars are especially attractive to young professionals and business owners, hoping to raise awareness and expand their clientele without too much risk. So if your audience is not big enough to fill up the live event, it’s best to be on the safe side and choose a webinar instead.
Webinar Recordings Make Life Easier
Even though live conferences too can be recorded and used further for lead generation, it is much harder to make a quality video this way. A certain distance from the presenter as well as the background noise may simply render the information unintelligible.
Webinars, on the other hand, can be recorded using HD and full HD formats automatically by the webinar platform. You can share screen to show your presentation, so your attendees and those watching the recording will hear and see everything clearly.
Many companies upload webinar recordings or its excerpts online for those, who happened to stumble upon their website or social media profile. This tactic allows you to showcase your proposition to a wider public without having to make the same webinar over and over again.
The Disadvantages of Webinars
As you can see, webinars offer a multitude of advantages for those striving to reach the biggest audience at a minimal cost. However, like any communication medium, they are not without their flaws. Here are some to consider:
• Technical issues hit harder
• Audience gets easily distracted
• Value depends on purpose
Technical Issues Are More Critical
The logic is simple here: if you lose connection during a webinar, it is over; if you are disconnected during a live performance, the quality of your presentation may suffer, but you can still continue with your agenda.
If your chat lags or doesn’t load at all, you won’t be able to communicate with your participants. This is not the issue with live performances. While some may be too shy to raise their hands and ask questions for everyone to hear, most participants will be able to get their questions and ideas across.
And even if everything works perfectly on your side, you cannot account for your visitors. Even if they all have stable connection, they may still have trouble understanding how the webinar room works.
If, just as an example, you are trying to teach Photoshop or any other web design program, your clients may encounter difficulties you won’t be able to fix easily. For instance, their computers may have different color schemes, or they may simply not know where to click to complete your assignment.
Distractions Are Harder to Curtail
During a live performance, everyone can see each other, thus, people are less tempted to look at their phones for the fear of looking indifferent or impolite. This is not a thing during a webinar.
In addition to that, your participants may see some ads for similar propositions when looking up your webinar. This can cause you to lose participants and, as a result, potential clients and sales.
Value Is Tied to the Purpose
All products are different. A successful webinar promotion of a book doesn’t guarantee the same for a house. Some purchases require an in-person meeting and connection.
Basically, the more expensive and life-changing your product is, the longer the journey from brand awareness to the final purchase will be. You should just brace yourself for that and be ready to change your tactic if it doesn’t work. Sometimes the cheaper option is not the most effective one.
The Advantages of Live Conferences
Live performances, albeit considered outdated by many, still rock in many aspects, including:
• A more personal connection
• More in-depth networking
• More practical skills
Your Performance Is More Personal
You probably had that moment when your teacher would look at you, and you’d feel like she just pierced through the depth of your soul. This kind of magic is, unfortunately, often possible only during live meetings.
Poetics aside, you as a presenter are more likely to spot the lack of interest among your attendees during an in-person event, as you can actually see them. You can then quickly adjust your rhetoric and steer the conversation towards a more favorable course.
What is more, many people prefer tactile stimuli over audiovisual elements, thus, a simple handshake can seal you many deals. A couple of team-building exercises will only reinforce the effect.
You Network in a More Meaningful Way
Just think about it: how many people do you talk to on the internet and how many of them do you actually meet? Because online communication is often no indicator of any profound relationship, people tend to value in-person meetings more, considering the people they meet to be friends.
You Get to Teach More Practical Skills
It is much easier to teach how to take professional photos in person that to try and explain it over the internet. Your participants get to have a truly hands-on experience with a professional instructor who can physically come up to them if they have an issue and fix it in real time.
The Disadvantages of Live Conferences
Live conferences offer its presenters an opportunity to come into direct contact with participants, build rapport and exercise wider control over the situation. However, they are not devoid of their flaws, such as:
• Skyrocketing costs
• Limited outreach
• Time-consuming organization
We’ve already covered how expensive live events can be in comparison to webinars, as they force you to pay for venue, materials, coffee breaks, etc. We’ve also discussed how limited they are when it comes to audience, as even the biggest venue won’t be able to house thousands of participants.
However, we are yet to cover one more factor that is just as important for the success of your business or brand: the factor of time. Even driving to and from the venue can take many hours, not mentioning more major things such as the venue rental, room decoration or food delivery. With a webinar, you can just focus on your content and marketing, as there is no venue to rent, no room to decorate and no bellies to feed. This saves a lot of time and effort on your part.
There is no single formula for success. Your choice should be grounded on your personal circumstances and business objectives, not on what’s trending, or what others are doing. This article only means to make the choice between webinars and live events easier.
MyOwnConference blog. Lifehacks, reviews, useful tips for preparing, holding and promoting webinars and web conferences.