Jola Cloud Solutions' Blog

How to put together a great webinar

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 27-Jan-2021 11:53:12

The pandemic has changed the way we work and helped us to focus on the best way to interact with our audiences. In the past we favoured face-to-face meetings and have been forced to move to a virtual environment.

It was a great opportunity to consider our content and how it gets delivered. What makes a great webinar and how do you put one together?


Audience

The first thing to consider is your audience. What are their requirements? What would make them give up an hour of their time and spend it on a webinar with you? Once you have worked out your agenda, drafted the content and arranged your speaker, you can start to think about your software.

To get high engagement and great feedback from participants, you need a piece of software that allows interaction. Chat boxes and poll questions are good interactive features.

With the software installed, you can start to plan your invitations. Catch attention, draw the audience in and have a strong call to action to ensure a good response rate. Using your sales team to invite key prospects and promote webinars is useful to get the audience you require.

Create engaging content

Think through your content and make sure it matches your advertised agenda. Use graphics, where possible, and avoid overloading your slides with text and reading from them. Use case studies your audience can relate to and address real problems. Keep your content concise and relevant. Then practice, practice… practice! Make sure your speaker is comfortable with the content and if required has additional resource on hand to answer detailed questions live.

It is worth researching your participants before each webinar and asking a few qualifying poll questions before you start. This way you can make sure your content is relevant. Set up early to test the sound, chat boxes and poll questions. Test your software demonstrations and make sure you have your passwords handy. Switch off phones, notifications and encourage feedback after every webinar. This way you can improve materials for the next one.

Measure your success

How many participants do you want on each webinar? Set this as a target and measure attendees against it. Set targets for engagement and make sure you follow up every question and request for further information. Give out your contact details and encourage participants to invite colleagues to join you for the next session. Don’t be too keen to email out recordings. If you can view a video, do you really need to attend a live event?

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Topics: marketing

Physical versus Virtual Events

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 04-Nov-2020 13:57:24

As a channel, many of us are missing the personal contact we are used to with colleagues, suppliers and customers. Some of us are really missing our exhibitions and awards evenings, as they are a chance to network and celebrate together.

The reality is that due to current local restrictions, many of our events are now virtual.  

From a marketing prospective there are pros and cons of both virtual and physical events for organisers, sponsors and attendees.

Physical Events

Attendees commit their time and expenses to attend. They have a reason to attend, something to research, people to meet and plan their time accordingly. Exhibitors know this and make themselves as visible as possible to meet as many prospects as they can, to recruit new partners and win new business. Organisers put the work in to bring this all together, providing educational seminars and sponsorships to deliver on requirements for both parties.

The great advantage of physical events is the face-to-face time spent with new resellers. Resellers can provide a quick overview about their requirements, get a feel for products and pricing and even see a quick demo of a portal. Suppliers can quickly establish needs and the size of the opportunity and decisions to proceed or dis-engage are made there and then. These face-to-face meetings can also happen over coffee, lunch or even in the bar, where direct questions are posed and answered, saving time on both sides.

The exhibition environment provides resellers with an education on current opportunities and the ability to compare potential suppliers in one afternoon in quick succession. Exhibitors get a chance to showcase their USPs and to talk more around the current opportunities and successful use cases they have been involved with.

Virtual Events

These events require less commitment and can easily be missed if something else comes up, especially if they know recordings may be available post-event. As attendees have not travelled and left the office for a day, they can easily get distracted with other business.

That said, virtual events are a great way of learning about market opportunities and comparing suppliers without leaving your laptop. You don’t need to worry about travel time or lunches, you are able to arrange quick meetings virtually, without leaving space in-between to find your next meeting.

For suppliers, the obvious difference with a digital event is costs. Physical events tend to cost more, but don't underestimate the cost of hosting a digital event.

You can speak to your audience without leaving home and don’t require an exhibition stand or merchandise. You also have the opportunity to gather further information from your attendees, such as engagement and can track poll question results and questions posed.

From my prospective, both types of events have their place but there is no comparison to being in a room full of your industry peers. The relationship building you can do face-to-face is valuable and much more difficult to achieve in the same timescales virtually. I look forward to getting back to live events but in the meanwhile am grateful for the opportunities to speak and meet with resellers virtually.

With any event, the more you put in, the more you get out.

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Topics: marketing

LinkedIn a blessing or a curse?

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 30-Sep-2020 13:13:36

LinkedIn was designed to help us manage our professional identities online.  It allows us to build and engage our professional network. With over 675 million members, LinkedIn was designed to help us access knowledge, insights and opportunities.

My experience with LinkedIn both professionally and personally has been positive. A quick scroll through the news feed keeps me up to date with events taking place, awards being won, new products being launched, and new business closed. I also get insights from the comms channel, marketing community and entrepreneurs working in technology across the globe.

Jola uses LinkedIn to connect with partners and prospects, keeping our target audience up to date with current opportunities and support available to win them. We identify current problems and propose unique solutions to solve them. Our messaging is unique to us, reflecting our own abilities and strengths. We focus on building up our connections with decision makers within specific targets. As our connections learn more about Jola and the solutions we offer, further influencers connect and engage with us, leading to private messages with individual account managers and entry into our sales process. Reaching the person with the problem with our unique solution is our goal. By carefully researching our audience and crafting messages to attract their attention.

Used correctly LinkedIn is a fantastic database and a great lead generator. The problem comes from users not applying marketing fundamentals to the platform. Are you thinking about who you want to connect with or reactively accepting requests? Are you focussed on getting the content out there but not considering who to? Once you have your connection list streamlined, you can then focus on crafting messages to educate and attract your prospects.

Do you send the same request email to everyone? Your email request is really important. Why should that individual connect with you? How will being connected to you benefit them? This message should be unique and compelling. Do you then have an automated email ready to send to anyone that accepts you? Do you find this approach works? It may be better to send fewer, more bespoke emails. Resist the temptation to assume what people want and go straight to a pitch. Timing is everything. Doing your research and being sure of the problem and the people involved in solving it is always helpful. Having a contact to recommend you and sponsor you in is also incredibly helpful.

In my view LinkedIn is a blessing. When used correctly it can help you build your brand and your pipeline. Like all marketing tools having clear objectives, a well thought-through strategy, a defined target audience, scheduled activity and set targets and measures will result in a better experience and results.

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Topics: marketing

How can marketing help to grow your business?

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 16-Sep-2020 11:01:50

When deciding to grow your business, you may look to recruit a sales team and hope the investment will be rewarded. When the new sales team starts, there are often challenges to overcome.

If the company is not well-known, the sales team may have an uphill struggle generating new leads. Without professional product materials, great pricing and credentials, they may struggle to win opportunities. They may also find themselves being pulled into other areas of the business, resulting in less time to look for and close new business.

How can marketing help?

By working closely with sales teams, marketing can draft a plan outlining the target audience and strategy to attract and close the easiest to win, most profitable prospects. The team can craft a communications strategy to increase brand awareness and to promote unique solutions. By creating a well-optimised website, marketing can generate regular leads and on-line sales. They can connect with key prospects, focusing on unique solutions to current problems.  

Marketing can create and manage events to allow sales to meet with prospects face-to-face or arrange online demonstrations, webinars or video calls. The team can keep an eye on the market and feed actions into the sales team to make contact with key prospects at appropriate times. They can also put together case studies and awards entries to increase credibility and the value of the brand.

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Topics: marketing

Using Marcomms to reduce customer churn

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 29-Jul-2020 12:41:28

If churn is a problem within your organisation, you may want to implement a marketing strategy to address this. Identifying the root cause of churn is the key to understanding how to reduce it.

Surveys

Asking every customer why they are leaving is a good start. You can send quick surveys, three questions maximum or call them to see if they can be saved. Often customers will leave to save money. Can you match their new pricing? If service was the problem, you may need to dig deeper. What has caused the problem, and can it be resolved? If it is a one-off compliant, a simple apology and a goodwill gesture, may retain the customer. If the problem runs deeper, you may need to think about internal training and processes.

Engagement

Customers buying more than one product from you are less likely to churn. The saving may not be attractive enough to overcome the hassle of moving. With this in mind, running regular up-sell / cross-sell campaigns to customers may help.

Loyalty

Give them something they can’t buy from anyone else. This may be exclusive products or loyalty discounts. Why should your customers stay with you? Creating a community of loyal customers involves regular communications, offers and exclusive events. Keeping customers up to date with your news is only the first step. Think about why your customers bought from you? Is it the way you do business? Are your interests aligned? Can you do anything to support your customers locally, that national competitors never could?

Touch points

Like all good marcomms strategies, this will involve multiple touchpoints such as emails, social posts, online content, events and calls. You need to develop a relationship with your customers, understand their changing requirements, and continue to meet them better than the competition.

Feedback

Successful strategies will include a feedback loop, to ensure your messaging and offers are hitting the mark. Give your customers regular opportunities to talk to you and feedback on your products, offers and rewards. By involving them in the process, you ensure your strategy will be more successful.

Reporting

Reporting is essential to understand how successful you are being at reducing churn and how much this is costing you as a business. If you get it right, the ROI will be worth it.

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Topics: marketing

Marketing the great un-lock

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 22-Jul-2020 14:44:37

Encouraging customers back

The first thing to think about is how your customers feel at the moment. What are their concerns? Can you help to allay them? Have spending habits changed? Can you help drive spend back to pre-COVID levels?

Re-connecting with existing customers

Reach out to your customers to find out how they feel about coming out of lockdown. By understanding the needs of your customers, you can reflect back and propose solutions to meet their current needs. Pick up the phone, send emails, arrange conference calls with your key clients and put development plans in place.

Supporting new customers

During lock-down many businesses changed the way they operated. As businesses open, companies will be mindful of what brought in revenues for them during lock-down and may be keen to develop these further. Is this something you can help with?

Customising your messaging

Businesses need to build trust with their customer bases, starting by making them feel safe. Communicating regularly with your customer base, being visible locally and being in tune with evolving needs is essential.

Promoting the benefits of technology

For resellers supporting industries badly hit by lock-down, such as retail and leisure can you help your clients recover? Do you have the technology to help them open and drive growth? Demand for digital signage in retail is increasing as retailers work hard to create safe environments to encourage their customers back into stores. Those badly hit may be looking to suppliers for ways to save money on their communications, can you help?

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Topics: marketing

Is now a good time to add video to your marketing strategy?

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 06-May-2020 14:30:38

Many of us are working from home. A percentage of our target audience has been put on furlough and traditional marketing activities, such as events, have been postponed or moved online.

Is now a good time to think about video?

With our sales teams busy conducting webinars, could video help to influence a wider audience and support growth?

Marketing Videos

Video content can be put together quickly and cheaply using third parties, which can be edited and kept up to date. It can help to convey complex messaging in a simple and visual way. It is popular on websites and social streams as part of an integrated campaign.

Training Videos

Videos can be created to train furloughed staff on new products. One downside is that they can go out of date very quickly, especially as products and portals are updated so regularly. Recording webinars can be a very effective way of keeping content current and can be distributed to a wider audience.

Recordings

Recordings of online panel debates or podcasts your company took part in, can enhance your credibility and get a key message out to a wider audience.

Personal Videos

Be very careful when going ‘live’ on social platforms. Without proper practice and strong key messages that are relevant to your audience, you run the risk of disengaging them.

In conclusion, if video can enhance your product content with case studies, testimonials and independent reviews, it can be a useful part of your online strategy. In the current climate having video content you can email to customers after an online meeting, can help to influence decision makers.

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Topics: marketing

Social Media During a Crisis

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 29-Apr-2020 12:43:23

Many partners have asked about how to develop an effective social media marketing strategy. Others have asked if they should change their strategy for the current climate. I have put together this blog to help answer both these questions.

Building target audience

Firstly, an effective social media campaign delivers the right key messages to the right audience at the right time and it is much harder than it sounds. Firstly, you need to develop the right audience. The mistake many partners make is thinking that because they have a vast amount of connections, they have a great audience to target. How many of these connections are truly target audience? It takes a lot of time and diligence to craft out a regular time each week to find and connect with target audience. Over time messages become more targeted, response rates improve and slowly the audience builds.

With many decision makers working from home, you may find that now is a good time to try and connect with more of your target audience, especially if you have a unique solution to a known problem. A good example is SMEs and homeworkers struggling with slow internet connectivity. With BT Openreach unable to gain access to install and repair many services, projects have stalled, and revenues have been affected. Providing 4G routers and unlimited 4G data SIM cards is a good solution to ensure customers get access to the internet in the short-term and can be used as a back-up in the future if primary circuits fail.

COVID is not an opportunity

Rule number 1. COVID is not an opportunity and should not be perceived as one. It is ok to continue to sell and market your products. Being seen to profit from a global pandemic is irresponsible and will negatively affect your brand.

Many social media posts paused as news of the pandemic spreading to the UK and the lock-down measures were communicated. Posts, like adverts have now been reviewed and messaging has been changed.

How can you help?

 In the channel many of us have been supplying 4G devices to the public sector and charities to help healthcare professionals work remotely. Others have helped homeworkers access files securely and use phone systems from home.

Social posts have been full of empathy and aimed at customers they can help. Others have highlighted how individuals can help such as making scrubs or raising money for the NHS.

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Topics: marketing

Four awards in the last five months

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 15-Nov-2019 11:48:12

Jola, the channel’s leading mobile data specialist, won four prestigious channel awards in the last five months. In June, Cherie Howlett, our Marketing Director won the very first Comms Business, Women in Channel Award.  In October at the Comms National Awards, Jola won Best Wholesale Service Provider and Best Mobile Distributor. Last week at the CRN Women in Channel Awards, Cherie Howlett was named Entrepreneur of the Year.

We established Jola five and a half years ago. Andrew Dickinson, Adrian Sunderland, Lee Broxson, Cherie Howlett and Antony Dearden were the founders. We had previously worked together at Griffin Internet, as had Rob Stevens, who joined us in July 2016. The team has grown to twenty seven, supporting over six hundred channel partners. We run the company using very similar values to those used at Griffin, customer first, accountability, results, integrity and respect.

Jola’s ethos is to work with partners to uncover profitable opportunities, which generate recurring revenues, increase ARPU and build eBITDA, whilst keeping operating costs to a minimum. We do the hard work with the carriers to provide resellers with a wide choice of products, at the best possible pricing, with tools to make ordering, provisioning, management, support and billing easy. We focus on developing innovative new products such as Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams Phone System and eSIMs to give resellers a way to profit from new technologies and win against the retail carriers. We are passionate about helping partners succeed and grow and just as passionate about supporting our own staff to reach their potential.

We are one of the fastest growing companies in the channel and look to recruit bright, can-do professionals, who can grow with us. We are a diverse organisation with an inclusive ethos, great benefits and flexible working. We use the products we sell, champion our employees and the resellers they support.

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Topics: marketing

New Business

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 15-Nov-2019 11:12:16

The success rate of selling to a customer you already have is 60-70%, while the success rate of selling to a new customer is 5-20%. So why, when it is five times more expensive to win new business than it is to retain existing partners we can cross-sell and up-sell to, do we focus all of our efforts and budget on new business?

I think it is because we are looking for bigger and better deals to help grow the business. We want bigger brand names to add to our case studies and to be able to provide, in many cases, much more of a solution to embed customers with us, reduce churn and increase ARPU.

We often underestimate how long it takes to; build a list of key prospects, craft campaigns, build trusted relationships, have the exact proposition they need, in a situation where they can’t get it from their existing supplier. As a marketer or salesperson with a big target, time is not our friend.

In the meanwhile, crafting campaigns to existing customers can help get some quick wins and build confidence in the strategy. Adding new product content to communications, presentations and proposals, especially as an easy up-sell, can be really effective.

The other short cut comes from existing relationships. If you have a trusted relationship within a prospect you can often leverage this to get you in-front of the right people to understand requirements with a view to start proposing a solution. Being sponsored into a new prospect by an existing customer is very powerful and should be encouraged.

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Topics: marketing

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