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Yesterday’s MRAA Dealer Alert to all members, especially all Genmar dealers, announced a Webinar slated for Wednesday, July 8 at 3 p.m. EDT being presented by Bellavia Gentile & Associates, the law firm representing dealers in the Genmar bankruptcy case. I urge all Genmar dealers to view it. For specific directions on how to do that, go to www.mraa.com

But the Webinar about Genmar’s bankruptcy isn’t the point of today’s blog. It only calls attention to the possible use of Webinars as a dealership marketing tool.

What’s a Webinar? Most often, Webinars are simply sales presentations on the Web aimed at an audience interested in a particular subject, such as learning about a new product, explaining how it works or illustrating new uses. With today’s simple internet video technology, Webinars can also include varying levels of interaction and are cost-effective tools for getting new prospects and building loyalty in existing customers.

It takes some planning to stage an effective Webinar but don’t worry, no one expects you to produce a Steven Spielberg epic. You should determine exactly what you want the Webinar to accomplish. Identify the subject. Decide who’s going to present it and the date and time to hold it. Then, have at least a basic script or outline to guide your speaker. Finally, determine what you want to show your audience on their computer screens. For example, if you’re introducing a new fishing model, perhaps you and a local charter captain would be speaking from aboard the new boat, pointing out its features while also mixing in an array of good fishing tips to hold the viewer’s attention. Two speakers can make a Webinar more fun and effective.

It’s also important to keep it on point and limited to one hour or less, including a 15-minute Q & A time. Yes, Webinars can be interactive. For example, questions can be asked by phone using www.freeconference.com that offers free call-in numbers.

Finally, you need to promote attendance at your Webinar. People can “tune in” only if they know the subject, date and time. Certainly your customer and prospects email list is a great place to start sending out promo emails for your coming Webinar. A news release detailing the free Webinar, its subject, the speaker if he or she has name recognition, and the date is another way of promoting.

Lastly, every Webinar should end with a call to action, even if it’s just offering additional information. Better, however, is offering some special only the Webinar participant can receive by participating or responding back. Always send a follow up email thanking them for participating and, again, offer to answer any questions that have come up.

To study more about Webinars, just Google it and you’ll find all the information you can handle. In addition, Web-based Glance.net, Webex.com, and GotoWebinar.com can all help you get going with Webinars as marketing tools.

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