Today more than ever, offering educational programs to your prospects can make all the difference between losing clients and gaining them. You can gain high returns from a modest investment of money, time, and energy. Whether you choose to conduct teleseminars, webinars, or in-person presentations, education is a powerful way to attract new clients and maintain solid relationships with existing ones.

However, before you present your next program, consider making your content available in other formats. Since live presentations are held at a specific place and time, chances are that some prospects may want the information made available to them on their own time. Others may want to share the information with their families or colleagues. In a world where Google never sleeps, you need to keep up.

Formats to consider
Your seminar can take on a new life as a CD, DVD, podcast, or streaming video. Each format has its advantages, and each will appeal to different sectors of your client base.

CDs and DVDs are likely to be familiar to all your clients, and they are likely to own the appropriate players. Since CDs offer sound only, they are good for listening while your client is traveling. DVDs add visuals, which are especially helpful in conveying complex data contained in charts and graphs.

Podcasts and streaming video are the next generation’s answer to CDs and DVDs. The podcast and CD content may be identical, but one is delivered via recorded disk, while the other is downloaded as an electronic file for listening on the computer or via an iPod or other portable MP3 player. Likewise, streaming video can contain the same recording as a DVD, but it is served from your Web site. Make sure your Web hosting plan will cover the extra data transfer rates.

Alternatively, you can have your podcast and streaming video hosted elsewhere, such as iTunes or YouTube. Make sure that you discuss formats and expectations with your audio-video professional. They need to be very familiar with all aspects of creating and uploading the files to the selected Web site.

Planning
Your planning should begin early, as you will need to choose a professional to take care of the logistics — recording your program, mixing the sound, and editing the video. Quality is essential. Since the media has conditioned us to expect a polished performance, a clumsy or amateurish effort will not reflect well on your reputation as an expert.

Select your professional carefully. You want someone who has a consistent track record of quality work with high production values. That means, among other things, that audio levels are consistent on CDs, and images on streaming videos and DVDs are clear and crisp. Shaky camerawork may be popular in some films, but it is unlikely to appeal to your target audience. Ask for references, and, more importantly, ask to see samples of their work. Judge these with a very critical eye. You’re looking for someone to create a product that will represent you, as the expert, to the public. You want to make absolutely sure that you’re presenting yourself in the best possible light. As the old saying goes, “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.”

You have a number of different options for ways to present the information, but beware of falling into the trap of thinking you have to choose just one. It may be simplest to start with one, choosing to add other media later on. Because people learn best in different ways, having your material available in multiple formats will keep all your potential clients happy.

Susan A. Friedmann, author of “Riches in Niches: How to Make it BIG in a Small Market” and “Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies” is an internationally recognized expert working with service professionals to increase their niche marketing potential. She can be reached at 518-523-1320 or susan@thetradeshowcoach.com.

7 Helpful Tips to Recording and Distributing Your Presentations

  1. First, go low-tech. Some of your older clients are unlikely to understand or be comfortable with the newer formats, and they may not have equipment or Internet connections that are fast enough to handle large downloads.
  2. Create a script that keeps your audience interested, and make sure your presentation style is as polished as your material.
  3. Keep it simple. Don’t try to dump too much information at once. Break your presentation into segments, and focus on just one point per segment. This will allow your clients to listen to the CD or a podcast in convenient blocks of time.
  4. Use stories to illustrate your point. Most people learn better with stories, and human characters can bring the concepts alive.
  5. Avoid jargon as much as possible. Give a little background information and define your terms as you go along.
  6. Make judicious use of statistics. A few carefully chosen ones can be helpful, but don’t overwhelm the viewer with too many numbers. And don’t forget to cite the source of your data.
  7. Give away or sell your programs.