According to MyOwnConference.com, webinar history began at the end of 1980’s in the form of real-time text messaging apps. In 1995, PictureTel announced the launch of the LiveShare Plus software, the first form of screensharing.
In 1998, Eric R. Korb registered the trademark “webinar”, and in 1999, WebEx Meeting Center software was developed, which offered the possibility to hold webinars for up to 1,000 simultaneous attendees.
From 2000 on, more and more webinar service providers started appearing on the market: GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, ClickWebinar, MyOwnConference, and every year, webinar software seems to get more functional, and more interactive.
In the world of automotive retail, webinars started becoming a popular means of education and interaction about 5-7 years ago.
What is a Webinar?
A webinar is basically an online meeting or presentation held in real time. Attendees join the webinar by connecting remotely via internet connection. Presenters can work through a PowerPoint style slide deck, share their live screen actions, or share live video of themselves.
Attendees can usually interact with the presenter in some way, whether through live voice or video, or through instant chat messenger. Depending on the size of the webinar, most presenters will choose to automatically mute the attendees audio so as not be interrupted by every cough, sneeze or dog bark heard in the background.
Webinars are a great platform for discussing current industry trends as well as offering instructional how-to for hot topics relevant to the given community.
Who Hosts a Webinar?
Webinars are a great way to build community, educate a group of followers and provide useful information to an audience. If you look on websites like autonews.com, digitaldealer.com, and nada.com, you will likely find an archive of past webinars and a schedule for upcoming webinars (one of the nice perks about hosting a webinar, is that the content can be made available for “replay” for as long as the information is relevant).
Traditionally, software vendors, sales trainers and other industry thought leaders are the best candidates for holding webinars, however, any business with a following (this could include dealerships) could present a webinar.
Should Dealers be Tuning in?
Just as with any profession, sales personnel, service advisors and other career positions in the dealership should be constantly looking for ways to stay on top of their game. Webinars are a great way to learn new strategies, improve product knowledge, and stay ahead of changing trends in the industry.
Dealers should help employees identify webinars that will assist their growth and encourage them to tune on a regular basis. This includes allowing time for it. Webinars are much cheaper and easier than holding live trainings at the dealership, and they are oftentimes just as effective.
Should Dealers be Hosting Webinars?
At present time, it would be considered extremely unconventional for a dealer to host a webinar. However, the idea is not that crazy. Think about how much money, time and effort is put into events like new owner clinics. Certainly it would be difficult to replace personal interactions with your dealership, but much of the same information covered in a new owner clinic could be covered through a webinar.
There are many ways to approach a dealership webinar, but it would be very interesting to see webinars geared toward buyers and service customers. Topics could range from basic car care, use of technology, or advanced driving strategies to understanding maintenance schedules and towing basics. Attendees could also be incentivized with free oil changes or other valuable gifts.
The world of webinars is always evolving. There is power in connecting with clients and vendors through this platform. If you already recognize the value of webinars in your dealership, look for ways to get more out of this platform. If not, then now is a great time to start.