037: 3 Pieces Of Promoting An Online Summit

summit promotion Dec 12, 2019

You've done the work of preparing your online summit and now it's time to promote. Where do you even start?

I've got you covered in this episode where we'll cover the basics of the 3 main pieces of promoting an online summit.


Hey, Hey, welcome to the Summit Host Hangout podcast where you’ll learn how to plan, strategize, and launch your profitable online summit, no influencer status necessary. I’m your host, Krista from Summit In A Box, and today we’re starting a brand new series about promoting your online summit.

I’m so excited to dive into this topic because there are all kinds of things you can do to make a huge impact and get those numbers to soar. To kick off our new series today, in episode 37, we’ll get started with an overview of the basics of promoting an online summit. We’re going to cover things like promoting to your audience, leveraging your speakers and affiliates, and a little bit about cold audiences.

Before we dive in, I have a freebie for you. Without a solid registration page for your summit all of this promotion that we’re about to talk about won’t do you a whole lot of good. Your summit’s registration page is responsible for convincing this traffic you get to it that your event is worth their time and money. If it misses the mark, they’re not willing to sign up and they’re certainly not going to buy what you’re selling.

Rather than focusing on the fact that it’s a summit on your registration page, focus on the items in this cheatsheet. Inside, you’ll find a checklist of each important piece to include on your registration page for easy access. There are 19 of them plus details on each head to summithosthangout.com/registration to get the free cheatsheet.

Promoting Your Summit to Your Audience

Let’s start by talking about promoting your summit to your own audience. There are two pieces that go into this. One is your email list and two is your social media channels. But let’s start by focusing on your email list.

Email List

I want to tell you right here, right now to leverage your list. I’ve heard some people say that your existing email list doesn’t really matter when it comes to a summit because you already have them on your list so you don’t need to bother sending more than an email or two because if they don’t sign up, you don’t care. But that is so not the case in my opinion or my experience. It is really important actually to leverage your list for a few reasons.

First, just keeping yourself in mind. It’s more way more opportunity for All-Access Psss sales. Your existing audience is going to convert higher than totally cold audiences coming in. Why wouldn’t you want to put this offer of your All-Access Pass in front of them? Ignoring them in your promotion process is basically saying you don’t need those sales or don’t want those sales. That’s the first reason you really want to leverage your list.

Second is that it’s going to warm them up for anything you’re pitching afterwards. A great thing about hosting a summit is that you get all of these really warm leads for pitching your products and services afterwards. If you don’t involve your current email list in that they’re not going to be warmed up like they could have been for whatever you’re selling because your summit should be related to what you’re selling, right? So you’re missing out on that. It’s also more opportunity to impact your speakers when you are getting your own audience in the mix. Why should you expect them to spread the word to your audience so you can get those subscribers if you’re not going to involve your audience for their benefit? It’s really important that your speakers can benefit from your summit as well. Involving your existing audience is a great way to do that.

But maybe the most importantly is that if you’re running your summit to impact the lives of your audience, which I hear so many people saying, that’s why they’re doing it, why would you skip the audience you already have? You want to help them too, right? You want to make a difference in their lives too, right? If that’s the case, it doesn’t make any sense to leave them out of this hugely impactful event you’re running. Please don’t skip your email list when it comes to your promotion. We did talk with Ellie Runkles about getting signups through your email list in episode 34 so check that out if you haven’t yet. She had a more simplified strategy, but it will get you started.

My Strategy for Promoting to My List

But I wanted to give you a little behind the scenes of my strategy to help give you some inspiration here. Usually for my email list I send them for the email list for the business I run summits for, I send them emails, just continuing my blog content.

As of right now I post one blog post a month and send that to them in an email, and since I have four or five years of blog content, I also send them an old blog post between those emails so they’re getting emails from me with high value content every other week. To keep that process going and to make it easy, the two months leading up to my summit, I am really strategic with the blog posts and therefore emails that I publish. All of them are centered around my summit goal of simplifying a design business and making it more profitable. And this serves to prime my audience and makes them start thinking about what’s possible. About a month out from the summit on top of this, I started adding a PS to all my emails or working into the copy naturally letting them know that something big is coming and to watch out for the announcement on a certain date.

I let them know also to watch out for behind the scenes look as it looks on Instagram and tie it in really well with the content I sent them that week o learn more about this, keep an eye out for what’s coming on April 1st for example. That’s usually the day my promotion starts. That starts about a month out. Then on day one, a registration, I send them a pure announcement email. The purpose of that email is just to announce the summit, the subject or something like introducing the blank name of summit. I like to include both a link to the sales page in there and the link they can click to just have a ticket automatically added to their account. When they click that link, it brings them to the regular thank you page with the fast action offer for the All-Access Pass. It keeps it nice and simple.

The first email I send them is basically a pure pitch, but introducing the summit to them, getting them excited about it and inviting them to register. After that I send a sequence of emails that will go until the summit starts. Some of them are pure pitch emails, some of them are value with links to learn more about the summit mixed in. But having a mix of these catches all kinds of people. It catchers that people who respond really well to pitches or who are really in a place where they want, whatever it is your summit is promising. And it will catch the people who just delete emails when they can tell it’s a pitch, but really like reading value emails, um, and it gets them to read through and then be like, Oh, here’s this thing that you know, I was just deleting emails about before and it actually looks pretty cool.

An example of the value add email is that I like to do is something like five ways to simplify your design business. And each of those five ways I relate to one of my presentations, which makes it really natural for me to then say, Hey, if you want to learn more about these five things, we’ve got, you know, 45 minute long presentations at the summit that’s coming up, here’s your link to learn more about it. And it’s a really natural transition. do about two emails per week leading up to the summit, either a pitch or a value add. I also do a starting next week email. My summits usually start on Monday. I’ll send us starting next week email on the Thursday. And again, that’s just a kind of a pure pitch to catch anyone who hasn’t signed up yet. And I also do a, you know, starting today, here’s day one.

Make sure you get yourself registered so you don’t miss out email or do you want to add that no matter how many emails you’re sending, make sure you’re always segmenting your list and only emailing people who have not already signed up. I have signed up for a lot of summits where I’m registered, I’m already a part of their summit waiting for it to start and I am getting the regular newsletter with basically pitches, too. I’ll sign up again even though I already have and that doesn’t make any sense. No one wants to see that. Once someone has registered for your summit, you should be sending them your registration email sequence, not your regular newsletters, keep them focused on the summit. That is kind of an overview of what I do for my emails and what I suggest for you as well. Let them know that it’s coming ahead of time so they’re looking forward to it and waiting for it ready to register.

And then you know, have a two and a half to three week promotion period where you’re sending at least two emails a week. A little bit of pitch, a little bit of value add and really taking different directions to get them to want to sign up for your summit.

Social Media

Let’s move on to social media next. I want to encourage you to put most of your focus on social media on your main platform. I know it’s really tempting to try to do it all over the place, promote everywhere but the more focus you put on your main platform and where you already get the most engagement, the more return you’re going to see. After that, if you feel like, okay, I really do have time and space and you know, the mental room and energy to, you know, be on different platforms, you can always expand.

But for me, I put the majority of my focus on Instagram and then my Facebook group. Those two are the ones where I get the most interaction and the best results when I am promoting something. This doesn’t necessarily mean though that I do ignore my other platforms, but I’m focusing on Instagram and Facebook for the other platforms, like Twitter for example, since I do have a decent following for that business on Twitter, I’ll have my VA schedule a couple posts go out, but I’m not gonna spend much time on it other than having her do that. I want you to really focus on those main platforms. Like I said, if you have the space after that, then you can kind of expand to your others if you want to. I also want to encourage you to make this social media portion really easy on yourself, and I’m gonna help you do that right now.

The good thing about it is if you start with your emails and that strategy we just talked about, you can use your emails or paired down versions of them as your social media posts. It’s as easy as that. For Instagram, for example, your Instagram feed, take each email, shorten it a little bit to fit in an Instagram caption. Boom, you’ve got it written. For Facebook you can just repurpose your Instagram post with a little change in a call to action to not direct them to the link in your bio. But you could also, and what I like to do is do a Facebook live in my group with that email content. If I sent a value add email that day, I’ll pull that email up, use it as my script or outline for our Facebook live and deliver them that same content with the call to action to join the summit.

Once your emails are in, everything else becomes a whole lot easier. You can even have an assistant take your emails, turn them into captions for you and go ahead and do all the scheduling and you don’t have to worry about it. Using this approach and reusing those emails gives you that mix of value and pitching, which is great again for catching all kinds of people just like it is in your emails. This probably works better for platforms like Instagram and Facebook, but I know most of you listening, those are kind of your main platforms. If you’re using something else, you’ll have to tweak this. You might have to get a little creative, but you know, I still encourage you to reuse those emails and make this process easy. So in addition to the email sequence and reusing that, I do encourage you to also give behind the scenes looks of what you’re working on.

And I say that because this can be done really naturally on social media and really increase your results, but it’s a little bit harder to do an email and this is something you’ve already been doing. Like maybe you have a section in your weekly newsletter where it’s like, here’s what’s going on behind the scenes type thing. I like to do all kinds of behind the scenes stuff on my Instagram stories. As I’m working on my summit leading up to even announcing the promotion, I’m letting them know what I’m working on. Um, like for example, when I’m finalizing the registration page, I’ll like scroll through it and be like, Oh my gosh, like almost done. This is so exciting. Or when I’m pitching speakers out. Take a picture of an email where they can’t quite read the words and let them know that something fun is coming.

People love that kind of stuff and you’ll get so much engagement from it and yes, this means they’ll know you’re probably hosting assignment before you announce it, but that is totally okay and actually a good thing because they’re getting excited, which is going to make them want to register on day one. Right? When you open that registration page, you should, however, capitalize on that with a really simple waitlist page that they can get to something as simple as, you know the name of your summit is coming on this day. Sign up here to get on the wait list and be the first to grab your ticket or something like that. It doesn’t have to be difficult, but then you can capitalize on those behind the scenes looks that you’re giving.

Promotion Ideas from Others

I want to cover a couple other things that either I like to do or that I’ve seen other people do.

The first one is something I’ve seen others do and that is Instagram takeovers with their speakers. And I think they can get the most out of this. You would want to get all of the speakers you can to take over your account for one day and on that same day you take over theirs and that way you’ll be able to share about your summit really effectively on their platform, maybe more effectively than they’ll be able to, you you’ll be able to connect with their audience and then they’ll be able to talk about their topic on your platform, getting your audience excited about what they’re talking about, wanting to learn more and wanting to register for your event if they haven’t yet. So this is a really great opportunity to cross promote and help each other get better results through that audience or through both of your audiences really. That is something great you can try. I haven’t done it yet. I’m not sure if I will. It’s definitely something you can go with if you’re into that kind of thing.

Something I do really like to do that I think is really important is showing off your speakers and tagging them on social media. I like to have graphics featuring each of my speakers individually and one graphic that features them all as a group. And then throughout your promotion period, post a couple per day and tag your speakers each one. For some of them this will be the only time they share about your summit reposting that picture you tag them in. It’s so important to do that, but it’s also going to remind some people who might have forgotten that they were supposed to share that, Oh it’s promo time, I’m going to go schedule my stuff. This is great for both of those things and just giving your speakers a shout out which they very much deserve. Those are a couple of other things to consider when you are planning out your social media promotion. Of course there are more strategies you can use, but I wanted to just give you the basics here. Overall, it’s a mix of adding value, pitching and giving behind the scenes looks regardless of what platforms you use. That’s what you’re going for. Giving that nice mix of things that will catch the attention of all different kinds of people. So that was part one, promoting to your own audience.

Your Speakers and Affiliates

So let’s move on to part two, which is your speakers and affiliates. As important as it is to promote your summit to your own audience, your speakers and affiliates are even more important because this is where all of your growth really comes from. Because if you think about it, if you have 20 speakers, you’re going to get exposure to 20 audiences outside of your own without having to pay for ads. That is crazy powerful. But you can’t just find your speakers and affiliates and get them to sign on for your summit and consider it done.

You need to provide them with everything they need to share and then encouragement to do so. As for everything they need, that’s things like swipe copy for their emails, swipe copy for social media posts on different platforms, graphics in different colors and sizes, and a sharing schedule. I like to provide all of that stuff. It sounds like a lot, but the good news is that once you have your own strategy decided and your own copy graphics created, you can totally just repurpose it for your speakers. Again, this is another piece where it sounds difficult, but once you have those emails down, it becomes really, really easy.

Then from you know, taking your emails to use for them, all you’ll need to do is to make some tweaks so they can add their own spin on things and make a space for them to tell their audience what they’ll be speaking on and when and you have your swipe copy for them it’s that easy. As for the graphics, the graphics you plan to use to promote on your own social media accounts can also be shared with your speakers. I like to include multiple color options since some people are really picky about what they post in their feeds. But you can make that look like however you want. We have all kinds of graphic templates for you inside of the summit hosted vault as well, so you can, you know, grab those customized those we have them in for Photoshop and Canva so it can be super easy within a few minutes.

All of your graphics are done. I just want to mention make sure you tag them whenever you mentioned them on social media because that’s going to encourage them to repost your post and then share on their own. And then something I haven’t seen a lot of people do and something I haven’t done strongly enough myself up to this point is offered to do some promotion to their audience for them. You are promoting for them using their affiliate link to their audience. And this can be things like, like we talked about before, taking over their Instagram, but you could also do something like a guest newsletter. Write a value pack newsletter for their email list where at the end, you are pitching your summit with their affiliate link. You could also do something like going live in their Facebook group, do a training in their group, have one signature training you offer for your speakers, do it in their Facebook groups and drive people to your summit.

There’s all kinds of things you can do and that can be really powerful one because sometimes a fresh face or a fresh voice will really make some of their audience members kind of pay more attention, but also because that’s one piece of promotion you can guarantee is being done to that audience, which is really important. So that’s something you might want to consider doing, but there is the basics of advertising using your speakers and affiliates. The most important thing you can do is give them that, those swipe, copy, the graphics, and then just encourage them to share. Don’t assume once you’ve delivered that they’re going to remember to share. They’re going to need your encouragement, reminders, all that good stuff. So keep that in mind.

Paid Advertising

The third piece I want to talk about for promoting your summit is paid advertising. This is absolutely optional. If it’s not in your budget or you don’t have experience doing it, don’t feel like you have to just because I’m talking about it here. Maybe I should’ve said like two and a half pieces of promoting an online summit for this episode. But I have a guest coming in next week to chat all about Facebook ads and in a couple of weeks we’ll have a Pinterest expert and we’ll touch on Pinterest ads.

But I want to share the little bit I do know from my own experience and experiments running ads for my summit. First, I’ll tell you it’s totally worth it if you have an idea of what you’re doing here. I don’t necessarily recommend it for someone who has never run Facebook ads or anything before. There’s such a learning curve, but if you kind of know your way around ads manager, it is so worth doing it.

Ads to Increase Registration

There are two types of ads I have run for my summit. First, our ads to increase registration. What I’ve done is retargeting ads to my email list and to my website traffic separately who have not signed up yet. I’m getting that retargeting audience and excluding people who have hit the thank you page. I’m only promoted only running these ads to people who have not signed up yet. I also will do some ads to look alike audiences to my email list and website traffic. That’s cold audiences. There are audiences that, you know, according to Facebook are very similar to my email list and my website traffic and the results I’ve seen for myself, and a customer I helped set up ads were signups for about a dollar each and with a 19% conversion rate, which is what I got a 10% conversion rate is what she got for All-Access Pass sales. That’s a decent profit. That means I was making over a thousand dollars for each $100 I spent an ads, I didn’t spend very much. I definitely will next time. But you know, that just goes to show with running ads to cold audiences can be a great way to increase your profits.

All-Access Pass Sales

The second kind of ad I ran were ads to increase All-Access Pass sales. Once registration started, I started running ads to people who signed up without purchasing the access pass. I ran that to an audience that landed on the thank you page for registration but did not land on the thank you page for purchasing. Honestly, I can’t tell you how those ads went exactly because I know now that I was actually tracking my conversions wrong, but I know that sales did come in through them and that I was profiting. I just don’t know by how much.

I will hopefully have more concrete numbers to share with you next time. But like I said, if you know your way around Facebook ads, this is so worth doing or even hiring someone else for. A customer I had actually told me that she was testing her Facebook ad spend and she was working with an ads manager. I’m looking at the numbers I just shared with you I was 10x-ing mine as well.

So a great way to increase the results of your summit and this is like I said, a really quick overview, but definitely tune in for the next episode for someone who is insanely knowledgeable about Facebook ads. I can’t wait for you to hear from him, but as a recap for this episode, the three big pieces of promoting a summit are your existing audience, your speakers and affiliates, and that optionally that paid advertising.

Action Step

Most importantly, I want you to go in with a plan, so therefore your action step for this episode is to outline what your email strategy will look like. Start there because that’s going to get you off to a really strong start with your email promotion and then that can be repurposed for your social media strategy.

Thank you so much for tuning in to this episode. In the next episode, we’ll be chatting with an incredible guest about leveraging Facebook ads your summit. So be sure to tune in for that.

If you haven’t yet, remember to grab that freebie I mentioned at the beginning to make sure you don’t miss any of the 19 most important pieces of your high converting registration page, because that is going to make all the effort you put into promotion a whole lot more worthwhile so head to summithosthangout.com/registration to get that cheat sheet.

Now I want you to go out and take action to plan, strategize, and launch your profitable online summit.




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