If you’re planning on integrating webinars into your content marketing strategy, expanding on the number you hosted last year, or launching a new webinar series in 2021, one of the first things you’ll need to do is establish is how much money you’ve got to spend.
While you don’t need a large budget to host effective webinars, it’s likely you’ll still need some budget, or at least be able to justify the expense to your manager.
If you control your own purse strings, it’s still a good idea to set out a brief business case and settle on a budget before you begin so you can establish the real return on your investment.
A budget will also help you better plan for any promotional activities and webinar execution costs, as well as establish expectations and help you to identify the resources you’ll require to make it a success.
What is a business case?
To put it simply, your business case should capture the reasoning for initiating your webinar project. It should outline what resources, such as money and staff time, will need to be invested to support a specific business need.
An example could be that a webinar will improve the quality of internal communications between business teams, but the ‘business case’ is that better internal communications would improve staff connectedness, build team unity and boost productivity.
A compelling business case should capture both the quantifiable and non-quantifiable characteristics of a proposed project.
Information included in a business case could be the background of the project, the expected benefits, the options considered (with reasons for rejecting or carrying forward each option), the expected costs of the project, a gap analysis and the expected risks. You should also address the option of doing nothing, including the costs and risks of inactivity.
Reasons for creating a business case
Business cases are created to help decision-makers make an informed decision, and as a result:
- the proposed strategy is prioritised over other initiatives
- the performance indicators outlined in the business case are used to initiate the proposed project.
What challenge will your webinar solve?
A key question your budget request should answer is what business problem or challenge your webinar will solve, or what opportunities will it create.
On many occasions, these will operate hand-in-hand. For example, a webinar to launch a product will overcome the challenge of not being able to meet face-to-face because of restrictions on travel and large gatherings due to COVID-19, while also providing the opportunity to communicate with a large, globally-dispersed audience without the cost of hosting an international event.
Webinars can solve many challenges while at the same time creating new opportunities, including:
- Communicating with an increasingly remote workforce
- Providing an alternative to face-to-face events
- Meeting limited budget requirements
- Nurturing prospects
- Providing opportunities to boost thought leadership
- Improving collaboration
- Sharing new product information
- Creating opportunities for training and education.
Outline your objectives
Whatever your reason for holding a webinar, the key is to establish your goals, and detail how they correlate with your organisation’s broader strategy.
If you’re looking to increase revenue or generate leads, what figure do you have in mind? What part will it play in your organisation’s overall goal to increase revenue?
If you are holding an educational event, think of the learning outcomes you want to achieve and how they align with your organisation’s goals.
Want to expand your lead-nurturing activities? Determine how your activity aligns with your organisation’s new customer acquisition targets.
Asking yourself questions like this will make it easier to define the purpose of your webinar, and justify the budget you need to do it.
Outline your project scope
Your project scope is important because it not only outlines what you’ll be doing and the targets you will be trying to achieve, it should also specify what is not part of your plan and what you aren’t aiming to achieve.
In that sense, it’s a good way to establish expectations, and dispel any misconceptions about the priorities of your project.
For example, if you’re planning a webinar series to nurture prospects, your project scope is a good opportunity to detail how each webinar is designed to take prospects along your marketing funnel from your perspective.
Your scope should also document how many and what types of stakeholders will be involved, if staff will need training, and what will be involved in the planning, scheduling, implementation, execution and reporting of your event.
Critical factors for success
Your critical factors for success are the things that need to be achieved or addressed to make sure your webinar project is a success.
Critical factors include adequate budget and resources, and buy-in from staff teams such as senior executive, sales, marketing and even IT.
Outline your assumptions
List all the assumptions you made when you started to plan your webinar. This should include things like costs, savings when compared to alternatives, expected attendees, resource requirements, and the return on investment.
Use case scenarios
Your use case scenarios should justify why you have chosen a webinar over another option, such as a face to face event, virtual roadshow, teleconference, holding a test run, or doing nothing at all.
You should also address how you intend to do it. For example, filming it in a studio with a professional video conferencing provider, or hosting it remotely in-house using a video conferencing platform.
Make sure you address your organisation’s technological capabilities, available bandwidth, number of speakers, and the level of interaction and professionalism your event requires.
Criteria for decision making
This section should outline the criteria that you believe should be taken into account by whoever is making the decision to approve your webinar budget.
Your aim should be to make it as easy as possible for them to agree with your proposal, so stay focused on the KPIs of your business unit as well as the overall strategic goals of your organisation.
Your criteria for decision making could include things like:
- Customer interaction and satisfaction
- Staff communication
- Team building
- Cost and savings
- Ease of use
- Global reach
- Time to deploy
Costs and benefits
This section should include an analysis of the costs and benefits of your webinar. Remember that benefits can be qualitative or quantitative.
Qualitative benefits are generally not measurable in monetary units or in some other objective way. On the other hand, quantitative benefits are measured in monetary units or rates of change.
To determine your quantitative benefits, determine how much time and staff will be required, as well as other costs such as marketing and hosting. Then divide it by your most important measure of results, whether it be attendance, leads, conversions, brand awareness or some other objective. That way you’ll get a good idea of what your webinar returned for that investment.
Some of the qualitative cost benefits you should consider, include:
- Improved staff retention
- Improved staff productivity
- Better client relationships
- Increasing the profile of key staff
- More engaging content marketing
- Better customer communication
- Boosting audience reach
- Improved training and education
List the resources that you’ll require to make your webinar a success. Include your required budget, staffing, external providers, presenters, speakers, technology, marketing and other business requirements such as technology and support from marketing, sales and executive.
Detail risks and your plans to deal with them
It’s important to outline any risks and how you will deal with them. A manager signing off on a budget feels more confident knowing that you’re aware of any risks, and that you have plans to deal with them.
For example, if you’re concerned that your target market or speakers don’t have a reliable-enough internet connection, plan to include an audio-only option. If you’re new to webinars, use a managed webinar service provider (yes, such as Redback)!
Stick to the key risks such as a lack of attendance or interaction, technical barriers, your project going over-budget, or your experts not having enough experience presenting online.
Make sure you provide solutions such as a thorough marketing plan, a reliable video conferencing provider who offers an up-front price, training for staff who will be presenting online and using a provider that offers local support.
Finally, include only the level of detail in your business case that’s required. If your manager asks for an email to justify your first webinar, keep it brief.
If you’re launching a monthly webinar program or taking all your face-to-face events online, you may need more detail.