015: How To Host A Successful Virtual Summit With No Email List

Sep 26, 2019

Anytime you do something new in business, you're generally met with feelings of impostor syndrome. This is especially true for something as public as hosting an online summit.

I get all kinds of doubt-filled questions from those thinking of hosting a summit for the first time. One of the most popular is something like, “But what if I don’t have an email list? Can I still host a summit then?”

In this episode we're going to break down that question and cover whether you can host a summit with no email list, what to do if a speaker asks about your list size, and strategies to put into place to make sure your email list size doesn't hold back your results.

Transcript

Anytime you do something new in business, you're generally met with feelings of impostor syndrome. This is especially true for something as big as hosting an online summit.

I get all kinds of doubt-filled questions from those thinking of hosting a summit for the first time. One of the most popular is something like, “But what if I don’t have an email list? Can I still host a summit then?”

My answer is always: No email list, no problem!

I ran my first summit with a an email list of just 500 people.

Now, for anyone without an email list, that might seem like a lot. But when you’re reaching out to speakers with large existing lists whether you have 0 subscribers or 500 doesn't make much of a difference to them. So if you’re looking at that number, 500, and thinking it sounds like a lot, it really isn’t.

In my time hosting summits, I’ve never had a speaker ask me about the size of my email list (although we'll touch on what to do if someone does ask you later in this post). But I just want you to know, a lot of the time it’s something you don’t have to worry about at all.

So putting all self-doubt aside, let’s talk about the two big pieces that go into hosting an online summit without an email list.

Rely On Your Speakers

The power of an online summit comes from bringing together a group of experts, all with their own audience. The expertise they bring to provide to your summit is great and they also bring an audience of their own.

So while you may not have an email list, your speakers will.

Now keep in mind, this means you can’t choose all speakers that are just starting out. You have to be brave and pitch some more established business owners. Even if you're sure they'll say "no". And I can tell you from experience that you'll be surprised at how many say "yes"!

With that, you have to make it easy for your speakers to share about the summit so you can get a return from those audiences that they have.

If it’s difficult for them to share, they’re not going to and you’re not going to see any of those audiences you’ve worked so hard to gather.

To do that, have resources ready including:

  • Email swipe copy
  • Social media swipe copy, and
  • Social media graphics.

Even include a schedule of what they should share when so they don’t have to think about it. They can take the resources you’ve created, hand them off to a virtual assistant, and share with their audience without any extra work.

So, right there, just with your speakers, you’ve already increased your reach by thousands of people and it doesn’t matter at all that you don’t have an email list.

Utilize Affiliates

Along with your speakers, you can have separate affiliates who share about the summit in return for a percentage of any sales made through their link.

Now, this means you do need to be selling at least an All-Access Pass. But that’s something I would recommend any summit host does anyways.

Having affiliates is a great way to increase the reach of your summit from people who either aren’t interested in speaking or who aren’t the best fit for the summit but still have a relevant target audience.

For example, with my first summit was for designers who wanted to simplify and grow their design business. I knew a Google Analytics expert who targeted designers a lot and I didn’t have a space for her to speak at that time, but I reached out for her to be an affiliate instead because she had a very relevant audience. I knew she’d be a great person to help us reach more people without being a speaker.

I'm no expert in affiliate programs, but my friend, Zoe Linda, is a wizard when it comes to this! Take a look at her free Affiliate Program Checklist to help you get started with utilizing affiliates for your virtual summit.

Facebook Ads

And last, Facebook Ads can be a great way to bring in additional traffic to your summit. And the best part of this is that you don’t have to have a huge budget. So if you’re not a Facebook Ads expert, don't worry.

For my first summit, I spent about $55 on ads and had 68 new sign-ups.

As you can tell by the low budget, I was hesitant to run ads at the time. But now, looking back at those numbers, wish I would’ve pumped more money into those so I could’ve gotten an even bigger return.

What if a speaker asks about list size?

If you reach out to a speaker and they do respond asking about the size of your email list, it’s really nothing to worry about. Just be honest.

When you respond to them include names of the more popular speakers you’ve already landed and remind them of the other benefits of participating.

When you’re mentioning the names of the other speakers that said yes, it may help them decide “if this person is speaking, then I will too”.

If they do choose not to speak because you have no existing list, it doesn't say anything about your self-worth or the success of your summit - just keep that in mind.

And once your first summit is out of the way, you are going to have a bigger email list as well as speakers and attendees with great things to say. So, people who said no the first time, might say yes next time.

Don’t Let Your List Size Hold You Back

A summit is an amazing way to grow your email list. I love to point out that it’s totally backwards to wait until you’re an influencer to host a summit because a summit will make you an influencer.

And similarly, you can’t wait to host a summit until you have an email list because the summit will get you an email list.

Resources

 

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