We’re finally getting to a long overdue series where I'm taking you behind the scenes of the client summit we produced and ran back in January. I'm actually recording this less than a month after the fact, but one downside of getting ahead with your content is that you then have to wait forever to publish it. But here it is, as painful as it is for me to wait months to get it out to you.
Back in January after this summit wrapped up, I asked what your biggest questions were about this summit in our Summit Host Hangout Facebook group and on my Instagram stories. I took those questions and came up with a five-part series that I hope will be a lot of fun for everyone and provide valuable insights and new and updated strategies.
Today, we're going to do an overview of my top takeaways from this event, and throughout this series, you'll hear:
Lots of good stuff coming like:
But let's start with today's episode, shall we?
I'm going to give you a little background on this event so you have some context, and then I'll go through some of my biggest takeaways from the event, which will in turn allow you to walk away with some tangible changes you can make or consider for your own upcoming summits.
Prefer to listen? Use the links below to listen on your preferred podcast player:
Before getting into the takeaways from producing a client summit, I want to share the behind-the-scenes of how I came to the decision to offer summit production services and how this opportunity came about.
Long story short, after lots of back and forth and doubts about whether anyone would pay what I'd need to charge for this type of service, I decided with the encouragement of my coach to add a little blurb about a full summit production package to my services page.
I had very low expectations, but believe it or not... Less than one week after I put a full production package up on our website, we got this inquiry. If you could have seen my face and heard the messages I sent my coach when the inquiry for this project came in, it was wild!
At that point, I hadn't had time yet to think through all the details, and I honestly had to kind of scramble at that point to put a proposal and pricing options together for them. I knew we could handle it, and I wouldn't have put the package out there if I wasn't 100% confident that we would deliver an incredible experience and incredible results, but I also wasn't expecting to have an inquiry so soon!
Since I hadn’t created this offer before, I used our full summit hosting project plan and priced it all out with some extras we were willing to provide, and it went great! They accepted it and everything looked good to them.
Now let's get into the details of the summit we produced! I am going to keep it pretty vague here, in order to protect the privacy of this client. I'd rather be able to dig a little deeper into the behind-the-scenes information, then share who it was, and then not be able to share as much about the results and the strategy.
I won't be sharing everything, but here are the details I can share with you:
The client was an extremely experienced and respected marketer with several businesses who had started a new business in the health and weight loss space. Their goal was to break into the industry, build relationships, and then really explode their email list.
This summit was in a totally different niche than I had ever worked with before, in my own summits and even with the 600+ people from all of our Accelerator clients and Summit in a Box students we've worked with. I was truly so excited to work with this company and have my hands and eyes on a summit in this niche for the first time.
Everything about this event was standard with how we teach it. If you're in our programs, you have the strategy, and we're working on updates to the strategy based on a lot of the takeaways we will cover in this episode and the next one.
Here's what the overall event structure looked like.
Since our specialty here at Summit in a Box and in our Launch with a Summit Accelerator is to launch with a summit, we used the strategies we teach in the Accelerator and tied in a launch of their membership program.
I won't get into the details with specific numbers or monetary results, but I will say that they were absolutely incredible for a first-time summit for a new brand. It blew past any summit I've ever hosted as far as attendee numbers go. They saw great results from their all-access pass revenue, and added hundreds and hundreds of new people to their membership!
I'll share all about my team's involvement and what was involved in full summit production in a few episodes, but to sum it up, we did pretty much everything involved in planning and running the summit except recording the videos and scheduling their social media posts.
Of course, the CEO and host of the summit was the one showing up in the videos rather than us. They also opted to do their own social media scheduling because they didn't want to share access to their main social media accounts, so we wrote scripts and captions, made their graphics, and then handed them off to their team.
Now that you have a little bit of context on the event, let's get into my 5 biggest takeaways from our experience producing this client summit.
Something I realized in this summit is that with my own summits, and really anything I do for myself, I feel like I give up too easily. If a conversion rate isn't looking the way I want, for example, I'll put a little effort in upfront, but then I kind of throw my hands up, and say, "Okay, guess how that's how it's going to be!"
I didn't realize I did that until I hosted this summit for a client. If I had told them to expect something, and it wasn't quite going the way we'd hoped, suddenly, those little tweaks and changes I tried felt like I had done absolutely nothing. As stressful as that was at times, having a client to answer to made me push a whole lot harder for solutions and improvements.
For example, the all-access pass conversion rate was not where we wanted it for a while and we did a lot more to improve those results than I would have even thought to do for my own summit.
Our strategies for increasing all-access pass sales included:
Overall, these things came together to increase the conversion rate by 3%, which was pretty huge considering the size of the summit. It was a lot of work upfront, but now we have all these things that we can add to our strategy for increasing all-access pass sales.
It really opened my eyes to getting more creative when I'm hosting events of my own and to look for more out-of-the-box ways to increase results.
The client's marketing expertise was a great asset.
In addition to pushing harder to increase all-access pass sales, we also were able to leverage the client's marketing expertise to make improvements to the strategy in other areas too. Throughout the whole planning process and registration period, we were bouncing ideas back and forth. Whenever something wasn't quite going our way, we came up with some pretty wonderful solutions that I'm now so excited I get to add to what we do and what we teach.
The biggest places they showed up for us were:
These things already worked, and now we get to make them work even more effectively.
The next takeaway I want to share with you is just the fact that my two-tier all-access pass strategy is not going anywhere. Having a two-tier all-access pass set up is something I do but haven’t talked about in detail until we started the Accelerator. It's something we just focus on with more experienced summit hosts and business owners since it does add an extra layer of complication and strategy in tech.
When we presented this two-tier approach to our client, they were not impressed. We got a lot of pushback, and later on, they decided they wanted to scrap it after all the emails were written and pages were made. They basically asked me to prove that two tiers were going to be better than one, and they weren't happy with the fact that I only really had data from my own events. They wanted more proof than that.
As stressful as it was to have to plead my case with that, I'm now so glad it happened because it caused me to watch conversion rates closer. When we saw that there was an improvement to be made overall in all-access pass sales, one of the things we A/B tested was removing the two-tier option.
Here's how our two-tier all-access pass test played out:
In the end, the lower-tier all-access pass sales came out to over $5,000 of additional revenue, alongside the ability for us to offer a more accessible price point to attendees.
I'm so interested to do another A/B test of this and see if those stats hold, but overall, I got further proof that this strategy is staying for me.
My next takeaway is all about relationships. If you've been around here for very long, you know I talk about the power of relationships a lot. If you listened to the episode on how to land big-name speakers for your summit...spoiler alert: it boiled down to relationships. And we put that to the test with this summit.
As far as influencer status goes, this company is a big deal. They have many successful brands, a podcast I’ve always been too scared to pitch, the blue checkmark…all the things! I know a lot of you doubt your ability to land speakers because of lacking those things, so you'd think that having them would make pitching easy, right? Wrong! It was not easy!
With my own summits, I usually have zero to three people say no, and for the most part, it's because they already have a launch or something going on during that time. With this summit, I pitched 88 people to get our 27 speakers!
There were a few reasons landing speakers was a challenge for this summit:
In the end, the two keys to getting potential speakers to agree to participate in the summit were:
Pitching with no past summit experience or relationships is tough, so if you're even thinking about hosting a summit, start focusing on those relationships now. Once you have a couple of summits under your belt, if you put on a class act event, your event is going to become known, which is going to make it easier. But when you're hosting a new summit, the relationships are what matters.
The next takeaway I want to cover here is the fact that your event is an opportunity for your speakers and sponsors, and you need to see it that way.
In the beginning of our process of pitching sponsors for this summit, I was so anxious about how it was going to go. I used my Aligned Sponsorship approach, which is what I use for my own summits and what we teach in the Accelerator program.
Because I use this approach, I never really get on cold calls with no idea what the companies I'm pitching for sponsorship want. But with this summit, I was doing the more traditional sponsorship approach, and I was intimidated going into these calls and trying to make these companies see the value of sponsoring the event.
But the truth is, it wasn't that hard.
We have trainings and templates for sponsor outreach and what to say on the calls in our programs, but what I learned from doing it myself was that when companies are already spending their marketing dollars to get in front of the audience your summit is aimed at, as long as your summit is put together well, is such an obvious marketing avenue for sponsors, even if it's a first-time event.
When I was presenting to different companies and speakers, I was truly met with genuine interest and excitement. For the companies that were a little newer to the idea, we were able to take a collaborative approach where they told me what works for them in other areas of their business and what they wanted out of sponsoring. From there, I was able to customize a package that worked for them.
Another big moment that drove home how much of an opportunity a summit is for the speakers was when I was being pushed pretty hard by the client to land a low-grade, celebrity speaker. This person had been featured on TV, written books, and was very well-known in their space. I had to talk to their TV agent before they agreed to speak and I was absolutely terrified, but it was honestly one of the easiest pitches I have ever made!
I lead with the opportunity, rather than convincing, and I was met with genuine interest and excitement at that opportunity that I presented to them. The agent even connected us with another one of his clients who also ended up being a speaker.
Do not count yourself out of landing speakers and sponsors if you’re going the extra mile to make sure you are hosting a top-notch event. If you sell the benefit, people will see the benefits, and you’re truly providing an opportunity for them. You just need to believe that first.
The last takeaway I want to share from this summit is a little less tangible, but I really walked away with the feeling that I need to be more intentional about challenging the way I do things.
For example, when I was working on all those speaker pitches and not getting great results, I'd send the pitch, I'd send a follow-up, ask the client to DM them, and then consider myself done. To me, if they’d seen all that and not responded, that's a pretty decent clue that they're not interested.
I don't want to chase someone down to be interested, because that tells me they're going to be a pain in the butt throughout the rest of the summit, it'll be hard to get their material from them, and they're not going to promote. That's my approach to it, and it's been my approach for a while.
Honestly, I still stand by that approach for my own summits, but the client didn't go for that. They wanted me to send tons of follow-ups, emailing from a different email address, finding different email addresses to reach out to, and just going all out with follow-ups and attempting to make contact.
I hated it and I felt like I was being rude and invasive and spammy, but having them challenge me on only sending two emails before I moved on to someone else made me question myself. The only explanation I was able to give them was basically, “This is what fits my values, and I don't want to have someone who is going to be difficult to deal with.”
Again, I personally feel very validated in that and I wish they would have accepted it because a lot of these speakers did end up being a pain. But to them, my reasons for not wanting to follow up more were not nearly good enough, and I had to keep going.
Even though I didn't necessarily agree with having to go beyond that, it did push me to reconsider some boundaries and rules that I have and think more about why I do things the way I do them rather than doing them by default. I'm really going to try to take that approach moving forward to see if there might be other areas where I'm making excuses instead of taking action.
A lot of my decisions are values-based, and that's more important to me than bigger results, but I don't think it hurts to ask the questions, right?
I'd encourage you, every once in a while, to consider the different rules you set and beliefs you have and see if it still seems rooted in truth and feels like the right decision.
Let's wrap up by covering a couple of questions I got about what it was like to host this client summit:
“What will we do differently next time to make it easier?”
For this client, I really encouraged them to keep working on building relationships, reaching out to people, sharing about their speakers with their audience, collaborating with people, and just talking to them.
It's also going to help naturally that they're going to have data and speaker testimonials to share from this event. We have speakers who had hundreds and hundreds of opt-ins and literally had a speaker reach out to us and be like "I'm getting a lot of opt-ins, is something wrong?" Nope, this is how this works!
I've also encouraged this client to start with DM’s in their pitches and more personal outreach from the beginning. We tried to avoid that at first because I was just trying to basically leave the CEO alone and not have to bug them, but that personal social outreach matters. It's worth that extra work.
“Do you think the fact that I (Krista) was the one doing the pitching had a negative impact at all?”
I don't think so. I think it was better, in a sense, because I was able to talk up the client way more than anyone could do for themselves without sounding like a huge jerk.
I was able to share their email list size and could talk about awesome things they’ve been doing to make an impact in the world, and there’s not a classy way to talk about yourself like that.
I pitched speakers, not as Krista from Summit in a Box, but as someone a part of their team, and I think that worked well. I think it was good that they were getting emails from me rather than the CEO, but they should have been sending the DM from the very first pitch. They didn’t want to do that until they saw that it was necessary.
To round out the takeaways I've shared so far, remember that your summit is a learning experience, no matter how much experience you already have. I am blown away every single time I go into a summit with that mindset of wanting to learn something new, and how much I learned every time.
I'm going to share more takeaways in the next episode, along with changes we've made to our strategy since hosting this event. These strategies are also being added to our Launch with a Summit Accelerator program. If you want our most up-to-date strategies and templates, be sure to get your application in and join us.
And if you want to get your feet wet first, check out our new free Summit to Sales Training Series.
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