031: Choosing the Right Tech for Your Virtual Summit with Jaime Slutzky

Nov 21, 2019

Overwhelmed from all the tech choices available for hosting your summit? This episode with Jaime Slutzky from Tech of Business is going to clear it all up for you. We'll cover the biggest tech mistake she sees, steps to choosing the right platform for you, and the tech stack she recommends using for a successful online summit.

Transcript

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, in episode 31, we're in between series with an episode I know a lot of you have been waiting for, all about choosing the best tech for your online summit.

I have brought in a guest who knows all things tech and has so much knowledge to share with us. In this episode, her and I cover the biggest mistake she sees when it comes to summit tech, pieces of tech you'll want to avoid for your summit, what you consider the best tech stack and the three steps you can take to make the best tech choices for your virtual summit.

To give you some background on our guest, she is the host of the Tech of Business podcast and works as a Virtual Technology Officer for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

She does not believe in the one size fits all method nor all in one products, but in finding and implementing the best tool for the task at hand that's going to continue to support you or your product into the future. She specializes in making online technology do its job so her clients can spend more time in their zone of genius, and trust that the tech is going to support their business dreams. And, who doesn't want that? I know there are so many questions about the tech side of hosting an online summit, so let's dive in and talk with our guest, Jaime Slutzky.

Krista:
Jaime, I am so excited to have you on today. One of the questions I get all the time in my inbox, in my Facebook group is what kind of tech should I use? Should I use this or this? I'm already on this platform. Will it work for me? And, I do my best to answer, but you are the expert in this, so I'm so excited to have you here.

Krista:
Why don't you start off before we dive in by just telling us a little bit about your business and how you got in to really being the tech expert and especially helping people with summit specifically?

Jamie's Background

Jaime Slutzky:
For sure. Thank you so much for having me, Krista. Basically, the long story, short is that I love technology, I love making computer systems work. I have been doing this my entire life and I kind of ebbed and flowed from freelancer into finding where I could double down and create an impact.

Jaime Slutzky:
And, what I found is that it's really in that after the signup. Whatever someone signs up for, helping the tech work from that sign up all the way through delivering that final product. And, I've done this with courses. I've done this with membership sites, but summits are absolutely one of my favorites. The very first summit I worked on was in 2015, and then I've been working on summits ever since.

Krista:
Man, and I feel like 2015, like they had to be, kind of, newer around that. And, so you like dove in, got your feet wet and now you're here to help so many people who dive in, and they're like, "Dang, I have no idea what I'm doing with this." So, it's great.

Krista:
I want to start out by talking just briefly on mistakes you see related to summit techs. So what do you think are the biggest mistakes people are making when trying to decide which platform to use?

Biggest Mistake When Choosing a Platform

Jaime Slutzky:
Analysis paralysis. I mean it's one of those things that, I say this, I mean all the time. We are nearing the end of 2019, and we have so many really robust tools out there. Pretty much anything that you pick, if they have summits in their lingo is going to work. It's not like you have to duct tape everything together if you're using this system or that system.

Jaime Slutzky:
Most of the time things are going to work. So whatever you're using, unless there's something that's a huge disclaimer that says, "This doesn't work for summits," is probably going to work. So, people just spend way too much time trying to find the right tech instead of focusing on the content and the audience and all the other really important things.

Jaime Slutzky:
The monetizing, all this stuff that you've covered on the podcast, that makes the difference, your tech is going to work if it gets set up properly, but it doesn't need to be the first and foremost thing that you spend your time on. That's really the biggest mistake. I see.

Krista:
I love that answer so frigging much, like there are so many things that work. And, I love that you're telling people, "This is not like an excuse to stop working and consider yourself stuck and put off your summit, like make a decision." So, when someone is making the decision then about their summit tech, what are some of the most important pieces for them to consider?

Most Important Things to Consider When Choosing Tech for Your Summit

Jaime Slutzky:
There's really only three things that you have to be able to consider. One, can your sign-up form integrate with your email marketing system, because you're going to send a crap ton of emails out. You're going to send all these emails. You want to make sure that that's a seamless system.

Jaime Slutzky:
The second thing is that your pages can go live when you want them to go live. If you have to manually make them go live, that's a red flag. You don't want to have to do anything manual other than talk to your guests. Talk to your audience, talk to everyone who's participating in your summit during your summit. So, getting rid of as much of manual as possible.

Jaime Slutzky:
And, the third one is really just making sure that you feel comfortable using it at least at a cursory level. Like, if you have a team or if you have me or if you have a drag and drop system, as long as you feel comfortable knowing that, that system is going to support you, you're going to feel confident using it.

Krista:
I think those are such perfect points, and I think people look at the overall idea of a summit, and they're like, "Oh this is really big, so the tech considerations must be really big and this must be a really big problem that I have to solve."

Krista:
But it's right. I mean, I don't want to say it's as simple because it's not that it's simple, but if you can basically make pages of a website on something, you're good to go. You need to integrate your email marketing software.

Krista:
Like you said, I'm glad you brought up the fact that you want pages to go live when you schedule them to, and not have to do it manually. Because, thinking ahead, you might not feel like you have a whole lot going on the week of the summit because everything's pre-scheduled. But, oh, yes you do.

Krista:
So, you definitely want that taken care of. I think that's such a good point. And, like you said, I think comfort is one of the most important things because then when something does come up, you can handle it. You know you can handle it rather than being like, "Oh my gosh, if this one thing happens, then what do I do?" You don't want to have that anxiety going into your summit at all.

Jaime Slutzky:
Right. Yeah. I mean, and you know I didn't mention how to take payments or I didn't mention affiliates and I didn't mention all those things because those are not required. You don't have to have them to have a successful summit. Sure, they are added benefits. But, if you want to take it down to the granular level, be able to email people who sign up and get your pages out there.

Krista:
So, are there any pieces of tech you see people talking about for summits that you just know from your experience don't work well?

Tech That Doesn't Work Well for Summits

Jaime Slutzky:
Well, I don't love all in one platforms, in general. You and I are both in the WordPress camp. We've been in the WordPress camp for a long time. The flexibility of using WordPress far outpaces anything that you might be able to do in an all in one. And, that's not to say that those all in ones aren't good for some people, but you're going to be working inside someone's box and that's not the box that was designed for a summit. That's the difference.

Jaime Slutzky:
So, there are software. There are two that I know of. I think there's probably a couple more summit software products out there and those are really good if you want an all-in-one for a summit, I would say definitely steer towards one of them that is designed for a summit.

Jaime Slutzky:
But just because Kajabi and ClickFunnels and Simplero have the ability to run a summit, that's not their primary job. So, that's not what you should be using them for. And, I'm name dropping.

Krista:
Yeah. Oh no, I totally agree. It's not that we're like necessarily bashing them. It's just like they're not the best fit for a summit specifically. And, I feel like people going to those platforms and trying to do a summit and feeling stuck is worse for them than us just saying, you know, "These aren't the best fit for this."

Jaime Slutzky:
Yeah. And, the fact is, is ClickFunnels ran an amazing summit earlier this year on their platform. So, it does work. It's just not necessarily the easiest platform to work with if you haven't had any experience with any of the platforms. So, like that's, kind of, I think where my consideration or my thought process is.

Krista:
Yeah. So I would love for you then to talk us through what is in your opinion, in your experience, the best tech stack for hosting a summit. I know you mentioned WordPress, but I'd love to hear if there's something else you prefer as well, maybe for people who don't like WordPress or what other pieces go together if you do use WordPress?

The Best Tech Stack for Hosting a Summit

Jaime Slutzky:
Yeah. I think that ActiveCampaign is by far and away the best email marketing system for your summit email sequences. Like, because when I put together summit email sequences, and this might be going a little bit deeper than most people are expecting, but I actually segment my pre-summit automation based on the signup date.

Jaime Slutzky:
So, if someone signs up on the first day that they can sign up, they're going to get all of your pre-summit emails. But, if they sign up three days before your summit, what emails are you sending to them? You don't want them to get email summit, email number one, and summit email number two, and then go into live because you haven't warmed them properly.

Jaime Slutzky:
So, I actually groom it that way and I find that ActiveCampaign is, like the best for that. And, I also think that, I mean, I'm going to stick with WordPress, and I still definitely think that's the right piece.

Jaime Slutzky:
I use ThriveCart for the affiliate management and payment processing. I recommend for all access passes, I've used both Thinkific and MemberVault. I use both of those. I really like them. I prefer both of those over some of the others that are out there that are membership-based or course-based platforms.

Jaime Slutzky:
If you are going to have it living on a WordPress site with a membership plugin, that's a great option. But, again, there's overhead with running anything on WordPress that you don't have with the all in one. So, I think that, like Thinkific and member vault, those ones are great options for ongoing course delivery. Content delivery is just not necessarily where I would run the live summit.

Krista:
Yeah. Okay. So, I'm glad you pointed out the MemberVault and Thinkific. I keep all of my stuff on WordPress. I use the LearnDash plugin, but important to note that I am a WordPress developer. So, I don't mind having to go on every once in awhile, update plugins. I have developer licenses from my clients so I don't have to pay for anything extra and stuff like that. So I'm glad that you pointed that out for people who maybe don't want to have to worry about WordPress year long, especially if they host a summit like once a year. So, I'm glad that you brought that up.

Jaime Slutzky:
Yeah, and, real quick on that LearnDash thing, I mean, I use LearnDash with some of my clients too, and it just really depends on what else you're going to do after your summit. Because if you're grooming your summit as a feed in into a flagship course, then where's that course going to live? If you're grooming it into a membership program, where is that going to live? Because, most of the time your all access pass can live wherever that piece of software, whatever software you're using for that next step.

Krista:
Do you have, like specific steps someone should take when they're trying to choose which tech platform to use?

Steps to Take When Choosing Which Tech Platform to Use

Jaime Slutzky:
Yeah. The first step is always look at what you already have. Look at what you already have. Can we make that work? Is that going to work? And, then the next step is, if that's not going to work, then what do we choose instead? What are we trying to accomplish that we weren't able to accomplish?

Jaime Slutzky:
And, then the very next step on the heels of that is, "Okay, we're adding in this new piece, that we already have on our tech stack, can we remove while we're doing this?" I mean, yes, it adds a little bit of overhead to the project, but it helps with keeping your tech stack contained and not bloating it.

Jaime Slutzky:
Because, you don't need to say, "Oh, I need to use ActiveCampaign, but, I mean, I still can't pay for a MailChimp and use MailChimp because I already have things there." No. When you decide you're going to use ActiveCampaign for your summit, you're taking on the additional movement of everybody off of MailChimp, moving all of your opt-ins off of MailChimp and getting them into ActiveCampaign so that you still only have one product in your tech stack that fulfills that requirement.

Krista:
I love how you help make this all simple for us. So, like, of course, if you're in the spot where steps two and three were there, where you have to move to new platforms, okay, that might not seem simple. But, I love that your first step to this is, "Look what you already have."

Krista:
Don't assume that what you're already using isn't going to work, just because maybe it's not what you see everyone else using. It could very well work, and if it doesn't, maybe you just need to add a thing or two to it. Or, switch something other than maybe your entire website around. So I'm very grateful that you're positioning this all to just be simple. It's a reminder to us that it doesn't have to be crazy, complicated.

Jaime Slutzky:
It doesn't. It doesn't. Again, I mean there are so many tools out there. There are so many good tools out there. Don't reinvent what doesn't need to be reinvented. Focus on the stuff that is really going to help move your audience forward.

Krista:
Yeah. And, you have a great workbook on helping people look at the tech they're using, The Tech Impact Workbook. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Jamie's Tech Impact Workbook

Jaime Slutzky:
Yeah. So it's a PDF that you can download from my website, and the idea being that, "Let's take a look at what you're actually paying for and what you're actually using."

Jaime Slutzky:
And, when you do that and you look at what's there, all of a sudden you're going to notice where your money and your time is being spent. And, you can make sure that you're using the tools to the best of their abilities and you're not bleeding money that you don't need to be bleeding, or that you don't have tools that are redundant and things like that.

Jaime Slutzky:
So, like, I love starting a lot of client conversations, just, kind of, doing a tech impact. Like, let's look at what tech is actually going on in their business.

Krista:
Yeah. And, I mean, that is such a important thing to look at is, taking the time to reevaluate every once in a while, if what you're using is the best for you. So, I'm just so grateful for everything you've said today. I'm wondering if there's one key takeaway that you would want listeners to walk away with after listening to this.

Your Takeaway

Jaime Slutzky:
Yeah, for sure. Don't let the tech hang you up. And, I mean, like that's why, that's why I am so active in Krista's group. That's why I love being on these podcasts, is because if I can answer a question in two or three seconds and it means that you can free up your time and space to focus on what really matters, that's what you should be doing. I mean, that's why you're listening to this podcast right now, is to be able to get as much as you possibly can out of your summit.

Jaime Slutzky:
It's not to figure out the best tech stack and how to implement it. That's not where your zone of genius is. Focus on that. Your tech is going to work as long as it's set up properly. So, I would definitely make sure that you get your tech for your summit set up way ahead of time, so that you don't have to worry about it.

Jaime Slutzky:
I like to have everything set up, ironed out and all that stuff before we start promotion. That is really my rule of thumb of, "Let's get everything in, tested, and through before we even start promoting the summit."

Krista:
So important. It's not worth having to rearrange things like the week before the summit starts. I actually was a speaker at a summit earlier this year where that happened. It was less than a week before her summit started and she's freaking out to me on Instagram because she realized the platform she chose was not going to work. So, with a couple of days to spare she switched everything to a different platform, transferred all the email addresses of people who had already registered and it worked out for her in the end.

Krista:
But, I can't even imagine how stressful that would be. I was stressed for her and I wasn't doing anything besides kind of trying to talk her through it a little bit.

Jaime Slutzky:
Yes, and I mean, on that note, how many hours did she spend doing that, that she could have been spending talking with her speakers, talking with her audience, engaging, ramping up excitement, getting people to refer and mention the summit and all of those things? That's why you want to get your tech taken care of early, so that you don't have to spend time that you could be spending better worrying about your tech.

Krista:
I so much agree. And on that note, I would love you to tell everyone where they can go to learn more about you and a little bit about the services you offer to help people with their summit tech.

Jaime Slutzky:
Oh, I appreciate that, Krista. Thank you. My website is techofbusiness.com, and I host the Tech of Business podcast. And, I have the Tech Business on Facebook. That's my page. I'm pretty much, you can find me at Tech of Business because my name is Jaime Slutzky, and I'm not sure how many people know how to spell that.

Jaime Slutzky:
So, everything's pretty much tech of business, because it's easier. And, I mean like that, honestly and truly, that's what makes sense. My favorite virtual summit package that I offer is my Virtual Summit Tech Complete, which basically means I take care of all of your tech.

Jaime Slutzky:
I come in, take a look at what you're using, say, "Okay, we can use this, we can use this, we can use this, we need to use something else for this." And, then I put it all together. I build your pages, I build your automations, I connect your MemberVault and your Thinkific and your ThriveCart and your Zapier. And, I get all of the bits and pieces working so that the only thing that you have to do as the summit host is provide me with content and a few access points

Krista:
And, seriously, how much time and effort that would save, and stress and worry and questions, that would save is just unbelievable. So, if you guys, if you're listening and you're just feeling uncertain about your summit tech, it's causing you a little anxiety stress, you should be focusing elsewhere, I really recommend that you go check Jaime out.

Krista:
Thank you so much for being here today, Jaime, and sharing so freely. Thank you so much for tuning in to this episode with Jaime.

In the next episode, we are kicking off a short series about registration for your online summit. So be sure to tune in for that. Now go out and take action to plan, strategize, and launch your profitable online summit. 

Resources

About Jamie

Jaime Slutzky is the host of the Tech of Business podcast and works as a virtual technology officer for entrepreneurs and small businesses. She doesn’t believe in the one size fits all method, nor all-in-one products but in finding and implementing the best tool for the task at hand that will continue to support the client or product into the future. Jaime specializes in making online technology do its job so that her clients can spend more time in their zone of genius and trust that the tech is going to support their business dreams.

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