One conversation that catches my attention with B2B marketers is the “why don’t we just host and promote our own webinars instead of spending all those dollars with media companies?” That’s a great question and the answer is based on a clear understanding of what a webinar “is” and “what media companies sell.”

Anatomy of a webinar
The first thing is to have clarity on the required properties of a successful webinar. There are three things:

  1. Webinar hosting tool. You are fully capable of finding and using a professional webinar hosting tool (media companies choose from the same tools available to you).
  2. Engaging and credible content. Content is the second most important factor of a successful webinar. Great webinar content is educational in nature (e.g., technical, how-to, problem-solution) and/or provides real-world solution examples that participants can learn from. You provide the content, but in some media purchased webinars, they offer additional content speakers from editorial resources.
  3. Audience. This is THE most important factor of a successful webinar, because whether you create/schedule a webinar or buy one – who will show up to participate? You must either (a) already have engaged customer/prospect lists you can invite through internal promotions, or (b) purchase promotions (e.g., media partners, paid search, etc.) to reach the audience you want to invite.

When you buy, what are you buying?
Media companies are not selling you the service of “hosting” a webinar since they certainly know that anyone can “host” a webinar. The price of a webinar quoted by a media company is set based on these deliverables:

  • They have invested in a highly-qualified and engaged audience and they are promoting your webinar to that audience.
  • The price you are paying is for all that promotion – and promotions are usually over-delivered as they want to ensure you you have the expected number of registrations.
  • Co-branding – You are renting their name in essence – they are “co-promoting” the webinars as being from “their brand” and you — more credibility than an email just promoting some vendor webinar.
  • Finally, they bring a set of proven best practices for production and content – they usually provide excellent guidance on improving your webinar (they have a the industry insider view).

B2B Webinars: Build or Buy Scenarios
With an understanding of the anatomy of a webinar and what you actually get when you do buy a webinar from a media partner, here are the scenarios I would propose to consider for buying or building your own webinar:

Buy if . . .

    • You are marketing to a NEW segment (you need to reach a new audience you don’t have in your database).
    • You are marketing to a segment where you have low market segment reach and want to continue to add contacts.
    • You are NOT in the top tier of market share (you need the power of the media brand to aid in credibility and thought leadership).

Build your own if . . .

    • You are marketing new products/services to existing customers (can target those customers) and have a solid list for promotion.
    • You are a market leader (i.e., already well-recognized as a strong source for independent information) and you can promote internally and can supplement with paid media placements.
    • Other internal events (e.g., sales or sales partner training)

B2B Webinars: Build or buy? It’s really just about whether you need the power of the media brand and their audience.