Whenever I hear this question, I cringe.
And it’s not because I think it’s a stupid question, but because of the chatter that immediately follows?
Why this is not a stupid question
If you look at the market maturity of any given thing (in this case, webinars/webinar software), different people (or organizations) mature at different rates.
“What’s the best webinar platform?” isn’t a bad or stupid question, it’s the wrong question. And someone who’s asking the question doesn’t know any better…which doesn’t make them wrong or stupid, it just means they’re where they’re at in their own journey.
What is the right question?
Let’s use transportation as an analogy. “What’s the best car?”
If all you need to do is to get to the store to buy milk, any one of them will do. And technically you could haul gravel or children in either a pickup or a minivan, but the elegance of one solution versus another emerges at deeper level of differentiation.
The question, then, is “What’s right for me?”
So why do you cringe?
Whenever I see someone post this frequent question (such as on FB), people come out of the woodwork to say “I love X” or “I tried Y and it sucks.”
The problem is that this answer almost never includes the context of their usage.
I want to jump in and say,
- “Oh you use X, but she’s got a Mac, and X’s platform doesn’t handle recordings in the way she wants to do it.”
- “Oh, you use Y and think it’s too expensive, but did you ever stop to think that you’re not their target market, and the APIs that they’ve included actually make this an awesomely reasonable price for their target market?”
- “Oh, you’re recommending Z, but what she’s asking about is more like needing a content authoring solution instead of a web conferencing/webinar solution…maybe a webinar platform isn’t the best thing for her?”
The list could be endless. Just remember, people want to justify what they've purchased (who wants to say, "I use X, and I'm really an idiot in the way that I chose it."). If you ask friends and family what's best, expect a friends-and-family answer.
But what if I don’t know what I need. What do you recommend?
Here are a few strategies, none “right,” and in no particular order:
- Try out a bunch of services using their free trial.
- Create a mini RFP listing out the things you want and send it to vendors and see how they respond.
- Just get started with any of them (so you learn what you want and need). I’d recommend a market leader like Citrix, Adobe, Webex first. Value = speed to market, safe purchase.
- Don’t discount your personal preferences. We do it with cars (“I like the way this one handles Bluetooth”), and it’s perfectly legit to think “I just like the way this one does <this>.”
- Hire someone with deep experience in the space to help you discover the right option for you or write that RFP.
- Find someone with exactly the same use-case as you and try out what they’ve done (be careful...keep reading).
- Read this…maybe hosting your own web conferencing platform isn’t the right thing at all (maybe you should use what the client has)
What things should I be asking about when look for a vendor?
This list, too, could be endless. A few of the zillion little things that could be a big deal to you:
Do you need marketing features? Ability to upload video or share a YouTube video? Use Keynote instead of PowerPoint? Enable robust test-taking? Download the video in a format you can use in an editor? Use transitions/animations in PowerPoint slides? Integrate with a marketing platform? Have ecommerce possibilities so I can charge for this stuff? Be drop-dead easy to use because you’re not a techie? Track how long someone stayed on the webinar?
And on and on and on and on.
The problem is that it is in your exacting details where this stuff emerges. Just showing PowerPoint and recording the webinar is a start, but don't stop there.
So what’s the best platform for webinar?
Glad you asked. That leads to a lot of great questions.