Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wells Fargo's Winning Webcast

I've done some belly aching in this space about the horrendous use many companies are making of webinars and webcasts. I'm getting multiple invitations per day to these online events, which usually turn out to be unsolicited sales presentations masquerading as must-see content for improving my business. Waste of time.

I have to admit that when I was invited to Wells Fargo's webcast and promised that I would learn about leveraging technology for my business, I figured it would be more of the same. My own bank had recently lured me in on the promise of a free check scanner to make depositing my handful of monthly retainer checks that much easier. It was only later that I learned that it would cost me a hefty monthly fee. Did I say my bank? I meant my ex-bank. I expected to spend an hour hearing about Wells Fargo's check scanner. But I didn't.

Instead, I was entertained and enlightened through the use of what appeared to be a professionally produced television program, streamed to me across either Real Player or Windows Media Player. In addition, I was given a second screen for slides and a text box to enter my questions. The presentation was very slick, which gave me the impression it was pre-produced. I did not pose a question so I cannot say whether the Q&a session was live or staged.

What I can say is that while the company did take the opportunity to explain and promote a number of its products, both through an expert on the panel and video vignettes of satisfied customers, the panel also provided actionable information that I can use in my business as promised in the original invitation. And I actually did learn something, making this the best use of my time on any Web-based presentation thus far.

Nothing's perfect, so:

Recommendations: Make it shorter. I appreciate the fact that your experts are covering a lot of ground and you have a well-rounded panel, but 60 minutes is a large investment, even if I can make it without leaving my desk. Secondly, it's good to have the slide show available, but there's no reason to make it industry-standard boring. There are plenty of resources out there to teach companies how to make better use of that white box. If you really feel that we need to see the bullet points, make them available to us afterward in a text document.