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Overcoming Online Fatigue to Leave a Lasting Marketing Impression

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John Muscarella of Cox CommunicationsWebinars are a common and often effective marketing strategy to get your message out to a group of people at once. But I’m going to say what we are all thinking. As the shift to virtual meetings, conferences, happy hours, and more webinars has increased, I have a degree of online fatigue, especially when it comes to webinars. I’m sure you and your customers have it as well.

So, what do you do to effectively get your message heard when your webinar invitations are being ignored or if the people who do show up tune out what you are saying?

In this blog, I will outline a variation on “the expected” that has proven to engage participants and leave a lasting impression. Also, I want to remind us how getting back to basics is always a winning strategy.

The webinar gets a bad rap these days because there is little to no engagement. Regardless of how interesting the topic, you sign up to watch the hosts chat and show a slide deck. Generally, you are a passive participant absorbing the information. Or you find yourself reading emails and doing work instead of actively listening.

I would like you to consider the roundtable format. A roundtable has a smaller group of participants than a webinar might have – we recommend up to 15 or 20 – where you invite everyone to an interactive discussion of a topic. Everyone is invited to be on video and have their microphones active.

The key to a successful roundtable has three prongs:

  1. Start by creating an inviting atmosphere. This can be done by asking everyone to take a moment to introduce themselves. You want to keep this brief but fun. Maybe make a quick comment to one or two participants after their introduction. (Know them? Say it’s great to see them again. Heard something great about their organization? Mention it.) Also, set the expectation of what the roundtable will be like. Make sure you tell everyone in the invitations, and when they get on the call, that this is an interactive conversation in which you hope they will participate.
  2. Structure the conversation. Having a slide deck is still a good idea to get your information across, but set up the flow so that after going through one or two slides, you “flip” the camera back to the participants. Create opportunities for discussion around best practices and ask the attendees questions that help them think differently about how they are doing business today. Getting participants to start looking at the big picture is made easier by having them hear how their peers are solving similar problems. In addition, we have found it is always better to have two hosts running the roundtable, so that while someone is talking the other can watch “the room” for someone you might want to call on or dig deeper with.
  3. Listen more than you talk. The beauty of the roundtable is how much you learn during those 45 to 60 minutes — this meeting does not just benefit your participants. This is a great way to gain new insight into your customers and partners while getting them highly engaged in whatever topic you are presenting.

Worried no one is going to talk? The reality is that there are different communication and personality styles, but everyone likes to be heard. If no one volunteers to get the ball rolling after you ask your first question, ask someone what they think. Once someone in the group starts talking, others will join in.

The effectiveness of the roundtable is that it enables you to do what you do best, just virtually. Building relationships with your partners and customers is what creates business, and this is as close as you can get to that authentic in-person conversation.

And speaking of which, at the beginning of this article I suggested we get back to basics. In addition to roundtables, people are becoming more open to having conversations in person. In a safe, socially distanced way (and ensuring the person you are speaking with is comfortable with the arrangement), take an opportunity to make an in-person connection again to help build your relationships.

The business owners you are targeting are looking for help and for consultations from people they trust. You want to be that trusted advisor, and your connection can be successful via roundtable or in person.

As part of this blog series, I will share insights that deliver specific tactical solutions that you can implement in your organization, all while highlighting successful partners that are leading the way. In future installments, I will interview a master agent who has taken his marketing to the next level, discuss audience targeting strategies that work in telecom, and cover how to build a LinkedIn profile that sells you and your company.

We value our Cox partners and I welcome the opportunity to discuss how we can help you grow. Reach out anytime at CoxBusinessChannelProgram@cox.com.

As a senior director at Cox Business, John Muscarella is responsible for the overall readiness strategy for the indirect business sales channels. His team has the primary responsibility to develop, implement ­and sell solutions utilizing the Cox Communications network throughout the country. John has more than 25 years of experience in business management, which includes sales and leadership positions with companies such as Polycom, Sprint and EDS.


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