As geographical considerations, budgets and deadlines continue to limit the feasibility of hosting large scale, in-person events, and as organizations look for unique ways to reach customers, more and more are searching for new strategies. These new ideas must allow participants to simultaneously develop relationships through targeted, personal communications, while still providing high-impact, trackable and cost-effective results. In response, marketing professionals are working hard to discover and deploy new web technologies and services that can both reach key audiences and boost brand recognition. Increasingly, their technology of choice is webcasting.
Webcasting allows for intimate "town hall" style meetings to happen online, thereby enabling companies to connect directly with their customers in an exciting, interactive environment. This type of technology can dramatically change the dynamics of customer interactions into a more personal exchange by increasing the depth and frequency of communications to both small and large audiences. At the same time, marketers can gain a much better understanding of current and potential customer needs and desires, and even capture leads through the detailed reporting features that are available in today's webcasting technology.
Norwood, Massachusetts-based Cramer, a provider of integrated marketing solutions with an enduring reputation for tactical creativity, integrity and accountability, considers webcasting crucial to their marketing and communications strategies. "One of the key aspects of leveraging video webcasts over other options is that they provide a real bonus in terms of communicating a speaker's body language and sincerity to an audience," says Rob Everton, creative technology director at Cramer. "We have a deep portfolio of customers that spans across multiple markets -- from life sciences and technology, to financial services and entertainment -- and those customers need to effectively and consistently connect with local, national and global audiences."
Two of Cramer's pharmaceutical clients, Pfizer and Serono, now incorporate regular webcasts connecting doctors directly with their patients. "When a retail client is presenting a product launch or a pharmaceutical client is communicating information to patients, a live webcast is really ideal because we can provide our clients with a unique opportunity for them to communicate directly with their audience and collect feedback in real time," Everton says. "At the same time, viewers are given the format of a live television or radio show where they have the opportunity to 'call in' to have their voices heard. We can then respond to their concerns or redirect our messages in a way that our audience can better understand."
An early adopter of web-based communications is Irving, Texas-based NEC Unified, a subsidiary of Japanese electronics manufacturing giant NEC. The company first began using web conferencing services with integrated voice over IP in the late 1990s. By 2000, NEC began to recognize the value in using online multimedia to capture their marketing communications programming and content and the value of making them available online.
Historically, NEC communicated with its nearly 500 dealer partners, who resell the company's products, via regional training conferences, which required a tremendous upfront investment in both time and travel for NEC and its resellers. Through the use of webcasts, NEC's dealers can now access more than 200 online training sessions from the comfort of their own computers.
"Our dealer partners have found our webcasts to be educational, professional, engaging and very easy-to-view," says Bryan Williams, who manages the development of webcast events for NEC Unified. Gradually, NEC has expanded our use of webcasting into the development of internal webcasts in which many of the company's top executives communicate presentations to the NEC workforce."
Rohm and Haas, a member of the Fortune 500 focused on the manufacturer of specialty materials such as chemicals and acrylics, has utilized webcasting to expand how its executives communicate with customers, partners and prospects. With more than 100 factories, customer service sites in 27 countries and distribution in more than 100 countries worldwide, the company expects to produce 75 webcasts this year -- double its activity in 2005 -- with each drawing in as many as 50 prospective and current customers per webcast
Other companies, including American Eagle Outfitters, are getting even more creative in their use of this technology to connect with target audiences. This past summer, the trendy retailer hosted a live webcast concert on its website for customers and fans of the band, All-American Rejects.
Conclusion: Webcasting is leading marketing strategy into the future
Be it communicating with customers, introducing new products or educating the sales force, more and more of the Global 2000 are discovering that online video is proving to be their most valuable tool that they can use to educate and communicate with their key audiences. By streamlining and personalizing communications like never before, marketing executives can be sure that news announcements, product demos and press materials have the required brand-appropriate, professional look and feel that is so crucial to enhancing their interactions with key audiences.
Through the effective communication of broad-based marketing and sales strategies and initiatives, via webcasting, companies around the world can maximize the value of each and every project, large or small. Beyond extending their brand, webcasting allows companies to take their brands in new, innovative directions, which has far greater impact, both on branding and direct sales, than traditional marketing tools like webconferencing or other legacy marketing communications methods that have been used in the past.
Greg Pulier is co-founder and CEO of IVT. For the last eight years, Pulier has been managing software teams and developing new technologies in the digital video industry, helping IVT to its leadership position in corporate webcasting, and driving its newest efforts to democratize the power of online video by enabling people with little-to-no tech experience to easily and effectively create webcasts and podcasts.