October 08, 2018 Mark Bornstein
By Mark Bornstein
I am sitting on a plane from London to San Francisco, on the way home from the final Webinar World of 2018 — and what a year it’s been. This is the second year of Webinar World and the eighth event globally. There were Webinar World conferences in San Francisco, London, Sydney and Singapore. When our CMO, Joe Hyland, first had the idea for this event, we all thought he was crazy. A conference about webinars? Will anyone even come? Our inaugural event in San Francisco two years ago shocked us all. Hundreds of people showed up from all over the world. There were people from Europe, Asia and even a woman from Africa, for again, a conference about…webinars. Why?
I go to a lot of marketing conferences, some are better than others, but if there is one thing they all have in common is that they are very general in their purpose. There are conferences about inbound marketing, marketing automation, content marketing and just plain marketing-marketing. My biggest frustration about these conferences is that you never go very deep on any subject. Instead, you spend a few days hearing high-level generalities like “tell a story” or “know your customer.” Not exactly the kind of guidance that is going to take your programs to the next level.
I think that’s what made Webinar World different. It’s an event that is focused on a very specific skill set, and a critical part of most companies marketing success. Instead of lofty abstractions, people were learning best practices and practical guidance on how to create awesome webinars — and frankly awesome marketing. But what we didn’t realize was that webinars were not just an important part of these people’s jobs, webinars were also something they were really passionate about.
To capture this passion, we came up with the term “Webinerds.” At first, it was just a funny idea for some t-shirts and a hashtag, but something happened: people went crazy for the term, and soon, marketers around the globe were proudly identifying themselves as “webinerds,” sharing their own best practices and showing off their latest webinars. It took on a life of its own and became a real community.
With each Webinar World conference this year, Webinerd fever grew. It was so inspiring to hear stories from marketers proudly talking about their latest event or some new element they added to their webinars. I heard stories about new presentation formats, creative uses of video and gamification. Many companies were moving from one-off webinars to branded series with hosts and stage sets — really cool stuff. Last year, companies were mostly focused on fundamentals like driving registration and console building. This year, the focus has shifted to creating really immersive, engaging audience experiences. It’s been fun to watch this evolution.
As I think about this, I realize that Webinar World is really serving two purposes. Webinar marketing has become an incredibly valuable skill set. Anyone who is really good at it will always be desirable to their current and future employers. Companies love people who have the skills to build such impactful marketing. But there is something else…
Webinars are something you can really be proud of. Most of us got into marketing to be creative people that build cool shit. But as marketing has gone digital, a lot of the cool factor has gone away. It’s hard to get a lot of personal satisfaction from a good SEO result or an email campaign, but delivering an awesome webinar is such a great feeling. It’s something that you can be really proud of. Webinerds are increasingly becoming the rock stars of their marketing departments.
So you see, it’s a Webinerd World. A hashtag has turned into a community and a movement. And I, for one, can’t wait to see where we go from here.
I guess we will find out at Webinar World 2019.