How to Launch a Successful Virtual Summit
by Bethany Good | Mar 17, 2022
You’re going to need some help with this
A virtual summit is an online conference where expert speakers present on a specific topic. Typically these take the form of video interviews and presentations. Folks can register for the event for free with their email address, from there they can upgrade to access paid content and other bonus materials.
A well-executed virtual summit offers three essential benefits:
- It’s beneficial for the host, who gets leads out of it.
- It’s a win for partners and speakers, who are able to share their expertise and develop a larger following.
- And it’s a win for the audience, who is able to get access to some high-quality information and education from trusted sources.
Right now, virtual summits are particularly great for entrepreneurs who are starting their business from scratch and need to quickly build an audience and a reputation for expertise within their industry.
It can, of course, also be an effective tool for people who are already established in their fields and who are considered “thought leaders.”
If you sell an all-access (paid) pass, people are often able to break even or make a profit on the event while bringing in a lot of leads. You can also develop powerful relationships with event attendees.
- Start out with a plan, but start small
First, you must start out with a plan. Begin with a timeline, and figure out which milestones you want to hit and when. But don’t expect to stick with this timeline exactly, plan for unforeseen setbacks. Most of the time you will need 4-6 months to fully launch the project. You may want to start with a smaller slate of speakers for your first event, perhaps 10 or 12 really accomplished individuals.
If this is your first summit, try and manage your expectations. You may not get the exact outcome you were hoping for. Expect that you may not make a lot of money directly from the summit, however, it should still bring your new clients.
- Hire a great team
Don’t overlook the benefits of hiring a team of professionals to help you. Look for people who have launched a successful virtual conference or event. You’ll need a developer/ designer that has a handle on creating functional sales and landing pages. Next, bring a capable copywriter into the mix. A great copywriter will have expertise in persuasive content writing, as well as branding and brand voice. You will also need to look for a talented graphic designer that can help bring the look and feel of your summit to life.
- Create a budget for the project
This one is a little tough to nail down. It will largely depend on the rates of your team. It also will depend on your own marketing and technical capabilities. You might be tempted to try and build your own sales funnel or write copy for your landing page in an effort to save money. But this may end up costing you in sales and attendance numbers, not to mention the amount of time and effort on your part. If your website or funnel has that “homemade” look, people will notice.
Copywriting- There is no getting around it, great copywriting is crucial for persuading people to register for your summit. You will need great sales and landing page copy to attract people to your summit. Some entrepreneurs also put together workbooks, notes, or e-books that go along with the summit. Having additional content, such as your workbook or notes to share allows your partners and speakers to email their contacts and leads more than once without repeating the exact same message, which makes for a greater chance of getting people to sign up for the event.
Funnel or Website Design: The design for the pages and the lead magnets is important, both so that it is consistent with your brand and so that it provides a professional and appealing first impression to users who land on those pages.
Graphic Designer: A graphic designer will be able to help you create a great logo and look for your event.
Partnerships: The partnerships you establish for the event are not free. You should not have to pay for speakers unless you are hiring a recruiter to seek them. However, best practices dictate that you should pay speakers on the back end of the event via affiliate commissions—the partners you bring in to make a percentage of the sales they generate. Finding speakers on your own should cost you nothing before affiliate commission.
- 4. Decide on a theme
This will depend on your goals for the project. To help you decide, first answer the following questions:
- Who is your target audience?
- What industry do you want to focus on?
- What value are you providing to your audience?
My last summit brought together subject matter experts from a variety of industries. It was called The Keys for Business, Money, Marketing, and Profitability Summit. Each speaker brought their own experience, wisdom, and knowledge to the event. The main theme of the conference was “business advice that really works.” Our goal was to provide our guests with real actionable advice on how to grow and scale their businesses.
Our summit was able to stand out because we had such a great variety of speakers from different cultural and geographic backgrounds. This meant that our guests could find individuals that had similar life experiences and challenges to their own.
- Start reaching out to the guests that you want to interview.
Begin with reaching out to qualified business owners or experts in your own network. If your summit is focusing on marketing and business development, find folks in those industries.
You might know a really great business lawyer, but if that person tends to ramble about their industry or have trouble coming to their point, your audience might lose interest pretty quickly. It could be beneficial to hire an editor to streamline those interviews and make the videos more professional.
Ask the right questions
Make sure that you think about the theme of your event when you interview your guests. You want to make sure that your guests are providing valuable and actionable information for guests. Your copywriter may be able to help you draft some questions to give your interviews some direction.
- How to approach marketing your summit
You will need all hands on deck for this one. If you don’t do a full marketing push, you might as well not even bother putting on a summit.
Give your copywriter a task list that should include:
- Writing copy for the landing page and sales pages
- Write bios for your interview guests
- Write a blog that highlights why folks should register for this event. The blog should give the reader some valuable information
- You may decide to provide a workbook, e-book, or other content for your registrants. Collaborate with your copywriter on what you want this to look like.
- Create value posts for your social media channels
- writing emails about the summit
- Create a LinkedIn or Facebook group for members or VIP guests
- your guests to help them market by sharing posts on socials and reaching out to people in their network
A virtual summit has the ability to bring your business exposure, expand your network and bring you new leads. As you get ready to launch your event, remember the following:
- Start out with a plan, and start small
- Hire a great team of professionals including a copywriter, a graphic designer, and a website designer.
- Develop a budget
- Decide on a theme
- Create partnerships and affiliate commissions
- Find speakers who know their stuff
- Be smart about marketing your event
Reach out to us with any questions about how a virtual summit can boost your business and your bottom line.
I’m passionate about writing. I believe all businesses have a passion for what they do. My job is to share your passion with the world through my writing.