Switching from Webinars to Production
THE BRIDGE SHOW: what engages us and you in terms of creative content
Webinars. How many invites to webinars do you have sitting in your inbox right now? Webinars were on the rise anyway – a logical progression, with the business world starting to echo the content consumption trends of our personal lives. But then of course, 2020 happened, and the inevitability of webinars was cemented.
But why is the whole world and his dog busy putting out webinars? Well, as with so many things, quite a lot of people are doing it simply because everybody else is. And, as is often the case in business (and in life), that’s really not a very good reason for doing things. It means that webinars are quickly reaching a critical mass of saturation, and getting a bad name in the process.
Which – at Bridge – we think is a real shame, because done properly, webinars are an excellent weapon to add to your communications arsenal. But what do we mean by ‘done properly’? We’ve been putting out our webinar for a few months now, and it’s been a steep learning curve, but we think it’s given us a fair insight into what works, what doesn’t, where the challenges lie, and what the benefits are.
For us, having a clear intention for our webinar was really key. Many tend to treat their webinars like glorified adverts. But webinars aren’t just a mere marketing tool. Or at least they shouldn’t be. They’re about a lot more. Because webinars take the time of your viewer, they need to give something in return; be it knowledge, entertainment or enrichment. Adverts only ever take, they declare ‘look at me’, rather than ‘look what I can give to you’.
So we recognised two opportunities. The first was the ability to give people the possibility to understand what we do in more depth, and to gain a technological and business-benefit insight into the world of IP in general, and not just the role that Bridge has to play within that field. In essence, we wanted to continue our role as IP evangelists.
Not all purchasers are always technically-minded – indeed, increasingly, many decision makers come from non-engineering backgrounds. This means that in product demos where the demonstrator launches into complicated technical detail at a million miles an hour – assuming full background knowledge of a whole host of acronyms, clients are often reticent to express their confusion or seek clarification. Sales can be lost due to simple embarrassment.
We wanted to structure our webinars so that it was possible to talk about our products – and the field in general – in a way that is structured, logical and clear (not to mention fun!), and preemptively answers questions before they arise.. Moreover, because webinar content can be consumed at the viewer’s leisure, this means they can rewind, recap, revisit as much as they need to. This also gives everybody the chance to keep up with Simen’s incredible pace of thought!
So we recognised that in many ways, our webinars didn’t need to be about our products at all. Webinars are perfectly placed to augment and reinforce some of our key focuses: thought leadership, relationship building, and communicating our personality as a whole, but they also give more information about our products if that’s what you’re looking for.
Who are we doing it for?
The knee-jerk assumption is that webinars are a marketing tool, so they must be geared towards potential clients, right? Not at all. In the field of technology, a sale is rarely a one-time thing. At Bridge, it’s always been evident to us that continuing to engage and support existing customers is as important as seeking out new ones.
And for us too, one of our most important relationships to manage is that of our business partners; they are the ones who put the hard work in with clients and make us look good, and we love them for it. We use webinars as a way to keep engaged with them, keep them up-to-date and – perhaps most importantly – to express our gratitude (the Bridge Event being a classic example of that).
How do we do it?
We knew when we started that this had to be done right. No half-hearted efforts here. There are two main issues with the ‘how’: technological and creative.
We have spent time over the past couple of months setting up a full blown IP studio in our offices with an impressive four-camera set-up, with picture switcher, intercoms and a whole host of other fun stuff. Plus – you’ll be unsurprised to hear – the highest quality monitoring equipment around.
Not everybody might want or be able to put a production together of this quality, but paying attention to the basics pays dividends. We took time to work on the details (which applies as much to our approach to monitoring as it does to making webinars). Lighting, audio quality, the furnishings of the studio itself – we were looking for the level of polish and professionalism that characterises Bridge. And we can also hand on heart say ´we know live production´, because we experience the thrill and stress of it firsthand every Tuesday!
Then there’s the creative dimension. How many webinars have you watched that’s just one guy, talking in a monotone voice to camera for 40 minutes? That’s not a webinar, that’s torture.
That’s why we decided on two things right off the bat: we wanted our favourite compere Aksel Kolstad to come and inject some energy into proceedings, with his ridiculous brand of humour and his incredible musical talent (yeah, at Rainbow Studios’ we’ve got a Steinway, no big deal, y’know?). And we try to favour an ‘interview’ style in what we do, because it helps to draw the viewer in and make them feel like a party in a conversation, rather than someone being lectured to.
Essentially, we knew we wanted to keep the production dynamic – something that echoes the way that TV broadcast is undertaken, which is based on the idea for the brain to register things it actually needs to see contrast and change on a fairly regular basis. From a survival point of view the brain has been built to view things through what changes rather than what is static or repeated. And whilst we don’t need to look out for ripples in the water to tell us there might be a crocodile around anymore, we still carry this basic brain psychology across to what engages us in terms of creative content.
Blowing our own trumpet?
Do we always get it right? Not at all. Boy did we have some teething troubles at the beginning. Missing audio, dead sections, switching problems – and even just creative things like getting the perfect length of video: in-depth and engaging without being rambling. But we think we’ve really started to iron out most of the kinks, technologically and creatively.
In fact, you might have been able to tell from the tone of the article, we’re really rather proud of our creations.
How do we know it’s worth it?
Not going to lie, done right, webinars are a lot of work. There have been more than a few headaches, fraught meetings, late-night planning sessions, and a lot of undue sweating and hair pulled out (sometimes each other’s’). No tears yet, but give it time.
So why do we persevere? How do we know they’re bringing value?
Being in the field of monitoring, metrics and analytics, you might expect us to drag out a load of graphs and charts showing engagement, reach, sales conversions and everything in between. Certainly, the simple things like traffic are interesting to monitor, and a bit like a teenager with an Instagram account, there is a certain amount of pleasing validation that comes as the watch-counter climbs.
But really, we’re fairly convinced that the value of our webinars is largely intangible. We so hugely value the connection we have with our existing clients, our business partners, our team, our collaborators. There has always been a lighthearted dimension to what we do, because we strongly believe that business can be pleasurable, and that playing it straight just to seem ‘business-like’ is pointless. Having fun doesn’t mean we aren’t fastidious in what we do. Throwing the occasional party doesn’t diminish our professionality. Taking time for family and friends – and treating our business associates as an extension of this – doesn’t mean we aren’t at the top of our technological game.
And we’ve really missed the ability to have that close connection with all these people in person this year, so webinars have been for us a chance to flex our creative muscles, enjoy ourselves, and keep the people that matter to us right at the core of our thoughts and business practices.
The big news
The big news is: actually, we’re not doing webinars anymore. Because we’ve decided ‘webinar’ just doesn’t quite cut it in conveying what we’re doing. And so, with the holidays now over, we resume our online productions, which shall henceforth be called: THE BRIDGE SHOW!
Far more than professional development or a business commitment, we hope they’re something that can be enjoyed with a cold glass of wine or a hot cup of tea. Watched in your pajamas, if that’s your thing. And – even more excitingly – we’ll be announcing big news in the Bridge Show through September, so we hope you’ll come and join us for some Bridge-based fun.