Imagine if you could gather 15+ amazing speakers, hundreds (if not thousands) attendees, deliver amazing value, create an impactful community, grow your profits…. all that from the comfort of your home? Well, that’s only one of the reasons why I completely fell in love with virtual summits!
What’s a virtual summit, you ask? Think of it just like an in-person conference, where experts come together to provide value on a topic, but online. Not only that, unlike most in-person events, virtual summits are generally free to attend.
Yep, you read that’s right. Free, baby!
You can register and gain value from all the amazing experts for absolutely nada, but you usually also have some sort of VIP offering where you can gain access to additional content or a lifetime access to the sessions.
But most importantly, virtual summits are an amazing expression of community and support. It’s a fantastic way of bringing people together, spreading value and creating an impact on a bigger scale.
In episode 19 of the Create Connect Convert podcast, I am so excited to be joined by Krista Miller, founder of Summit in a Box and a true expert when it comes to launching, running and converting summits! Listen or read on, my friend!
In the last year or two, summits have become more and more popular because they’ve become more accessible to people who don’t have a huge audience or influence. In fact, you really don’t have to be a mega influencer to launch a successful virtual summit as long as you provide genuine value for your audience.
Back in 2015, most summits were pretty much huge pitch-fests and attendees were often left feeling used and violated. But today, more and more summits focus on engagement and value, which makes them truly enjoyable and fun to attend.
From a business perspective – there are so many ways that summits can grow your business (without you even pitching on it!). You can grow your email list, get a big influx of income, show up as an expert in your field and, most importantly, build really powerful connections with fellow speakers and attendees.
First things first, if you want to launch a virtual summit just to boost your income then this is probably not for you. Start by asking yourself why you want to launch a virtual summit? Because, it’s a lot of work, my friend!
If you’re serious about it though, then here are some pointers to help you determine if you’re ready to launch your virtual summit.
You need to ensure that you have a money-making offer already before you consider launching a virtual summit. If you have an engaged audience (even if small) that is consistently buying into your offer, whether it’s a product, service or membership, then you’re already on the right path.
Another thing you need is a small budget to invest into the launch. A lot of people worry about how much a virtual summit launch may cost, but you really don’t need to be dropping thousands of $$$ to launch a successful summit. A budget of $300 minimum will get you started, but of course, this may increase depending on the tools and strategies you want to use.
Maybe you didn’t expect to find this here, but the truth is there are a few personality traits that make a summit more successful.
The first one is drive – you need to be able to carry a long-term, large project all the way through to the end, and carry other people – your speakers, affiliate sponsors – through with you. You don’t want to be that person that starts something but doesn’t finish it.
The second is organisation – Krista has an awesome checklist she sells, which is her entire summit planning system with 320 tasks in it. Three hundred and twenty tasks. As I mentioned earlier – launching a virtual summit is hard work! And if you don’t keep up with your to-do list then you’re going to have trouble managing your speakers and creating a good experience for your attendees.
Finally, you’ll need attention to detail. Details really do matter and it’s how your event stands out from the rest of the summits out there.
You may have noticed that there were things I didn’t say you need, like:
As mentioned, you don’t need to be an influencer, tons of connection or a huge email list. When Krista launched her first summit, she only had about 500 people on her email list and she still ended up making $16,000 from it with over 1500 attendees. If you have the traits you need to carry this project through, if you have something that sells, if you have a small budget for marketing purposes, then you’re way ahead of the curve!
“Okay Gigi, I heard you the first two times – it’s a lot of work!”
No, but really. The reason why I’m repeating myself is because (a) I don’t want you to commit to something you’re not gonna see through, and (b) I don’t want you to waste time on other ways you could grow your business. During our interview, Krista keps pointing out how much hard work it requires – especially your very first summit. It’s not a “get rich quick” strategy. It’s not a “make me famous overnight” approach. But it is totally worth it if you’re willing and capable of putting in the work.
Something a lot of people overlook is that managing a large group of speakers will be frustrating no matter how solid your process is and how prepared you are.
Krista uses a tool called ContentSnare, which automates her entire collection process for speaker material, but even then she still sometimes ends up chasing her speakers around. So, keep that in mind, plan for it, have some patience with them and do what you can to support them.
Engagement will be key for the success of your summit. If you ignore making connections during your summit, then the results will suffer. So interact with your attendees, get your speakers involved, have a chat function, answer questions, etc.
It’s easy to go into a summit thinking about our own goals, but you really need to put that focus on how am I going to benefit and engage other people through that.
Krista firmly believes that you need to focus on connecting with your audience and your speakers over focusing on the profits or the list growth when it comes to planning and successfully launching your first summit.
There are successful summits that decided to focus on monetary rewards first, but they’re not going to stick with their attendees and affect them in a positive way in the long run.
Krista loves promoting connection and engagement in her Facebook group that she creates for each summit. It always goes nuts with attendees and speakers interacting throughout the event. Attendees are constantly chiming in to say how much they loved a presentation a speaker put on, or a certain aspect of the summit, which gets everyone else excited and involved in the event. In the same way, speakers are joining in the convo and interacting with the attendees in the group and answering questions – that’s really important!
So if you focus on the engagement first, the profit will follow. The more engaged somebody is with you, the more positive their interaction is, and the more likely they’re going to be to make a purchase from you.
Speakers are the most important feature of your summit, so don’t take it lightly. Once you have the general topic of your summit in mind, brainstorm who is coming to mind right away – this usually puts at least 5 people that you can approach.
Then, start brainstorming the topics you’d like to have in your summit by always keeping your audience in mind. What do they want to hear more about? How can you bring more value? What do they struggle with and how can you help? Once you have those topics in mind, it’s easier to look for experts in that field.
When it comes to actually deciding who you’re going to pitch, you want to keep a couple of things in mind:
For a first time summit, Krista suggests sticking to 15-20 speakers. Any less than that and you may not be able to get as big of results from it. Remember that, no much how supportive you are, not all speakers will promote the summit the way you want them to. And if you have too many speakers (i.e. above 30, for example) then it just becomes too hard to manage and too hard to process for your attendees.
Listen to episode #019 on the Create Connect Convert podcast, where Krista and I are diving deeper into the topic of how to scale your business with virtual summits. Krista shares her biggest lessons from her first launch and the challenges that she faced, so you can learn from her mistakes and launch your first summit with ease and confidence!
Krista is the Founder of Summit in a Box, where she teaches online business owners how to skyrocket their revenue, grow their email lists, become leaders, and make mutually beneficial connections through online summits. Her method is rooted in deep connections over revenue results, because she believes that by focusing on community, value and engagement first, the results will always follow.