Now that I’ve had some time to reflect on our most recent run of Sell with a Summit: Course Creator Edition, I’m excited to share my top takeaways on the podcast this week!
After a 2+ year hiatus on hosting summits for this business, our December 2022 summit was long overdue. Even though we ran this same event back in 2020, and we’ve run several summits for a different business in the last few years, we made some pretty big updates to this round of the summit that in many ways made it feel like planning a first-time event.
There were several reasons we wanted to host this event, but one of the big ones was that we wanted to run some experiments and test out new ideas so we could advise our clients based on first-hand experience.
Earlier last year I decided that I would only be sharing detailed results with our Launch with Summit Accelerator clients moving forward. With that being said, I won’t be sharing a full breakdown of our summit results on the podcast, but I did want to share my biggest takeaways with you!
In this episode we’ll cover things like:
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Download the episode transcript here.
Our December 2022 summit was the first summit I hosted for Summit in a Box in over two years, and it was long overdue. One of the big reasons we waited so long is that I hesitate to host summits for this business. We don’t have the best positioning for a wildly successful summit. Our target audience for this business is really any business owner who wants to grow. Specifically, now that we have the Accelerator, we’re focused on working with more advanced business owners, course creators, and those with a scalable offer to launch after the summit. But even when we get more specific to focus on the course creator audience, it’s still a really tough audience for summits, and I know that.
I know that when we go about it the right way, when we have the right goals and mindset, and we really get intentional about our decisions, it works out just fine, and is still totally worth hosting a summit for this business, but it's a big undertaking. Between the other projects we have going on and the summits we were running for a different business, two years passed before we were ready to run this event again. Now here we are!
To give you some context before we get into the takeaways, Sell with a Summit: Course Creator Edition was a summit about summits to help course creators sell their offers through a summit. It was three days long, we had 19 speakers, including our pre-party sessions, presentations were available for 24 hours, we had an all-access pass, and we launched our Launch with a Summit Accelerator through it.
Our biggest goal, first and foremost, was to walk our talk. I am very aware of the fact that we haven't hosted a summit for this business about summits in over two years, and it really just felt like it was time to walk our talk again. Even though I had strategic reasons for not hosting a summit for a while, I still want to be doing the thing I teach in this business, for this business - at least every once in a while!
Other goals I had included:
Now let’s get into my top 5 biggest takeaways from my December 2022 summit!
People always ask us about December summits, and one of the reasons I wanted to host this summit when I did was to be able to answer from experience. This question comes up quite often in the Summit Host Hangout Facebook group, especially as the month of December is approaching, and I've seen a lot of people say not to do it, but I wanted to find out for myself!
We have run really successful challenges in December for the last few years, and based on that, I decided it was worth giving it a try.
For me. I will choose December over September or October, any day.
There are so many people launching in September and October that it can be hard to make your event stand out, but in December, there’s a lot less competition! All of our speakers were available, because they hadn't planned launches of their own in December, and there was very little competition with other people launching or other people hosting summits. I think I noticed only one other summit in our niche happening during that time, and it was a summit for course creators, which usually has a lot of people launching all the things all the time.
I also didn’t see our results being impacted much by hosting a summit in December. The results were about what I expected and weren’t really positively or negatively impacted either way.
Things to consider:
The main downside to hosting a summit in December was that December is usually a time for me to slow down and reflect, catch up on things, and work on projects that I don’t have time for the rest of the year. We definitely didn't do that this year, because we had a summit happening. I ended up doing my planning and reflection over Christmas break instead, because I just didn't have time before that between hosting this summit and our client's summit.
You'll also want to consider having a longer promotion timeline to account for the US Thanksgiving holiday, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, all of the noise that happens this time of year. We opened our registration the week before Thanksgiving, which made our registration period about a week longer than normal. I wanted to give our speakers time to promote wherever it felt good to them, without expecting anyone to do any promotion over the holidays and big sale days.
On that note, I think it’s possible that the timing around Black Friday sales may have affected our all-access pass conversion rate. That number did seem a little lower than I was expecting, and when I think back, a lot of the offers that our speakers contributed to our all-access pass were the same offers that they had just run big Black Friday sales for. So it's possible that that had an effect, but I have no way to prove it, and it's definitely not enough for me to stay away from December summits in the future.
Overall, running a summit in December works just fine, as long as you don't mind having a busy end of the year!
I used to think of donating profit as one of the main ways to make a difference through your summit beyond impacting the lives of summit attendees, but I’ve now realized that the presentations you choose to include can make a big difference!
About three summits ago, I started including a series in my summits called Let's Do Better that focused on ways to draw attention to things that I wish people were thinking about. It’s a great opportunity to change your industry or the way people think. For example, in our design summit, we had presentations on things like sustainable design, making accessible websites, inclusivity for designers, and things that we want to draw people's attention to. I love that opportunity to sneak in that type of impact and highlight those types of speakers along with all the strategy stuff.
I decided to include impact-focused presentations in this summit as well. Since the audience was there to learn how to host a summit, not only would the impact reach my attendees, but potentially continue to spread through their own platforms, which I thought was so powerful.
I incorporated impact-focused presentations into the summit in two different ways:
The first was through our pre-party sessions focused on Preventing Launch Burnout. In this summit, we were teaching people how to launch a course with a summit, which is a big undertaking, and we wanted to address that by focusing our pre-party on making that doable for people.
We were telling people to combine a course launch and a summit, which are both big projects on their own, and we want them to go about it the right way that doesn’t completely destroy them. So during our pre-party, we had sessions on taking care of yourself, preventing launch burnout, and managing your to-do list, and handling your tasks well. I'm so glad we included those things because it's so important to take care of yourself and make sure you're avoiding burnout and managing everything well when you're working on big projects like this.
The second thing we did was include two Let's Do Better sessions, one on creating inclusive and accessible events, and another on inclusive payment plans. This was so important to me, because not only did I have a platform, but these people were going to go on to create their own platform. Summits are a really powerful way to either invite people in or leave them out, and we wanted to address that by having an inclusive and accessible events session.
The other session on payment plans is a topic that really kind of irks me about the course creator space. I won’t give away too much because I want to have this guest on the podcast, but that session blew up as people watched and it quickly became one of the most talked about sessions. People realized that the way that they had been taught to handle payment plans and price their payment plans actually doesn't align with the values they say they have. It was so cool to see people considering this and it led to a ton of great discussion in the Facebook group.
Seeing the impact that these presentations had was so inspiring and made me realize the true impact of hosting a virtual summit all over again. Now it’s your turn to take some time to think about how you can include presentations that will make a positive change in your industry or in the world. You can include those things right in with your main presentations, you can have them in a pre-party session, or you can have them in your own category. Get creative, and know that you're creating a really powerful platform where you can make a change if you want to.
This will surprise no one, but building relationships really pays off, especially when it comes time to pitch. I really noticed this when pitching speakers for this summit. We have several episodes on this podcast that talk about the importance of relationships, and how they increase the likelihood that speakers will say yes, but I always love to see it in practice!
We pitched some pretty big names for this summit and not only bigger names, but people who I know are pitched for things all the time, and they have to be very picky with what opportunities they say yes to. I was freaking out before pitching these people and did not want to do it. But then I thought: if this was a student considering sending these pitches, I’d say that they can't say yes unless you ask them. So I did it, and all but one said yes!
My speakers were all so easy to work with too! They all cooperated in the process of getting us their presentations and other things we needed from them, and all of them also promoted at least a little.
There's no way these people would have said yes to a cold pitch, and it was really fun to see the focus that I’ve put on relationships over the years in action. Not only did they agree to speak, but they were excited to say yes and to support the summit. I was honestly just really honored that they said yes, but it was because of the relationships I had focused on building.
This is one of my more fun takeaways, but I loved adding in additional podcast feeds for this summit! In the past, the only way I have included audio was in a private podcast feed of presentations for all all-access pass buyers. This time around, I went all in with podcast feeds:
We were really intentional with our all-attendee podcast because I didn’t want to have 101-style presentations in the summit itself, but I also didn't want to assume that everyone coming to the summit knew the basics of how summits worked.
I used the private podcast as a way to get those people up to speed while also building awareness of our program, showing off client results, and showing them what was possible for them by hosting a summit
At the last minute, literally on Day 1 of the summit, I decided to use the all-attendee podcast feed to give everyone audio access to the presentations during the time they were available for free. We left each day’s presentation audio feeds up for 24 hours, so even if someone had the free ticket, they could listen to them instead of watching the videos if they wanted to. I'm really glad I did this, and people really enjoyed it.
Overall, I loved having all of these podcast feeds, but the behind-the-scenes feed wasn't nearly as big of a hit as I'd expected. Usually we get really great feedback when we do behind-the-scenes episodes and trainings, so I thought people would love this. However, there were very few people who even bothered to download the episodes, let alone listen to them, so I don’t think I’ll do this again. It was fun to make, and I think it was worth trying, but in our case, it didn’t add much to the event experience.
Our all-access pass audio feed of presentations and all-attendee podcasts were a hit though, and something I definitely recommend and would do again. The all-attendee podcast was pretty time-consuming to create since it was new content we had to create, but it was worth it. We can now reuse that podcast as a bonus, a list builder, or to supplement future events. So not only was it a great experience during the summit that we got really great feedback on it, but now it's something we have to leverage moving forward.
Overall, we saw it as a great way to build trust and give people a taste of our business since this podcast is a big part of what we do and we have both video elements and podcast feeds as a part of our programs as well. I felt like building that into the summit was a good way to give them a taste of how our business works.
I already knew that launching a high-ticket offer through a summit could work incredibly well after having some of our clients have success with this, and also when we had a sponsor launch their high-ticket program following one of our previous summits. (You can hear more about it in Episode 182 with Shannon Mattern) But I wanted to test it for ourselves!
I wanted our own results to speak from and experiment with, and I definitely learned a few lessons throughout this process that we will probably tweak for next time. Overall the conversion rates of people who applied for our program from the summit and then joined were really good. We got our first ever live sales on the webinar when we launched during the summit, which has never happened for this specific program before.
Typically people want more time to think about it and ask us questions before joining our high-ticket program, and so we’ve never had conversions directly on the webinar like we would expect when launching a course.
To me, making sales of this program during the webinar says a lot about how effectively the summit warmed up the people who were a good fit and gave them the opportunity to get to know me, my team, and what we're all about. We built in some aspects from the Accelerator into the summit like copy reviews, positioning hot seats, and a Q&A session, and I was all over the podcast feeds. This let people really experience us throughout the summit, which I think removed some hesitation and made people feel comfortable purchasing right away without talking to us more.
We also had a couple of people who had been on the fence for a long time, who finally decided they were ready to go because of the summit. There are some things I'd change about how we approached this launch, just for our business overall and with how we position things, but it was so fun to see more proof that launching a high-ticket program through a summit works! I'm excited to be able to apply what we learned and saw to our Accelerator clients launching their high ticket programs!
If you're ready to host a high-converting virtual summit to replace your slow-growth marketing strategies and use it to lead into your biggest course launch yet, I've got an exclusive training just for you. This training is for those who are interested in working with me in our Launch with a Summit Accelerator where we help our clients host life and business-changing virtual summits that lead to successful course launches. In the free private training. I'll show you exactly how it works along with all kinds of examples. Apply for an invite to the Launch with a Summit Accelerator today!
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