The Truth About Launching a Membership Through a Virtual Summit

Hear the truth about launching a membership through a virtual summit, keys to the strategy, and why I think every membership site owner should give it a try!

We are currently in a series where I'm sharing a behind-the-scenes look at the client summit we hosted back in January.  If you're just tuning in and want a little more context behind this event, you might want to jump back to episodes 223 where I gave an overview of what the event looked like, and 224 where I covered the 7 Changes We've Made to Our Summit Strategy This Year

Today, we're going to do a deep-dive into the launch we incorporated into this summit, that opened my eyes to the power of using a summit to launch a membership, including:

  • what it was like to launch a membership through this summit, and what makes it unique from launching other offers.
  • core pieces of the strategy that make a huge difference when launching a membership with a summit.
  • how my thoughts on memberships and launching them through a summit changed through this experience working behind the scenes on a membership launch.

By the end, those of you with memberships will know what to expect and whether launching through a summit is a good move for you. 

(Tune in next week to episode 226 where I share What Surprised Me Most About Producing a B2C Virtual Summit and then episode 227 where we went Behind the Scenes of Offering Done-For-You Virtual Summit Production.)

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My thoughts on memberships

Let's start with what my thoughts were on memberships prior to this experience. If you've been here since the beginning, you know that Summit in a Box started as a membership but was not the same Summit in a Box that you know today. (If not, check out the behind-the-scenes of how the Summit in a Box and Accelerator programs started.) That being said, it's been a WHILE since I've had a membership, but my thoughts about membership launches were based on that experience.

Overall, my membership worked, but I don't think I ever brought in more than $2,500 a month with it. I had a smaller audience then, and I didn't give it the time it needed to continue to build. On the flip side, when I launched the Summit in a Box course, I was making what I used to make in a month with my membership with just one sale. That felt so much easier to me, so I've always felt like memberships were a lot of work and that courses were better.

But then some of my clients started sharing about launching a membership through a summit using our strategies.

Those types of results helped me start to see how great launching a membership through a summit could be. But I didn't really see it until I was part of an event myself. And luckily, the client summit we produced involved launching this membership.

What changed my mind about launching a membership through a summit

I gave the specifics of how exactly this launch went in a debrief with our Accelerator clients, but I will share a bit here and just keep it a little bit vague. (By the way, if you do join the Accelerator at any point, the replay of the full numbers and strategy breakdown is in there.) The results of this client's membership launch were incredible, and honestly, I believe the results can be attributed to a few key strategies you can put into place when launching a membership with a summit that just can't be done with other types of offers.

We had hundreds and hundreds of new members added to this client's membership and 10s of 1000s of dollars added in monthly recurring revenue.

Course launches and upfront payments are wonderful, but that recurring revenue is really nice. I used to look at courses as being better than memberships and always assumed that membership launches would be a bit less effective in this context.

But honestly, I will be the first to admit I was 100% wrong.

All of this recurring revenue that membership site owners generate is so powerful. So if you are running a membership that retains members for several months, you absolutely should consider launching through a summit.

If you have a successful membership, the thing you're always having to work towards is growing your audience to get more people through the door, and there's no more effective way to get 1000s of people to hear about your membership and hundreds to join at once than through hosting a virtual summit.

Keys to a successful membership launch through a summit

Let's talk about the keys to a successful membership launch through summit because you can't just throw it together without an effective strategy and expect it to work. Overall, everything we've ever talked about on this podcast about launching other offers applies to those of you with memberships, but there are also a few other things to consider.

Let’s break down a few of the key pieces.

Key #1: You need a proven offer.

You need to launch a proven offer. You need to know your membership converts, and that people stay and renew for a few months before launching with a summit. Your summit should not be a test of your membership idea. Our clients have seen that memberships convert highly during a summit and that their retention rate stays about the same when they use the strategies we teach. Whatever your retention rate is outside of the summit is where I want you to base your expectations for the summit.

Key #2: Positioning is everything.

The second key to look at here is positioning. The way you position yourself and lead people to your membership is everything. We share three different methods for this in our Launch with a Summit Accelerator program, and we work with our clients to get their positioning just right. But you need to position your summit in a way that builds desire for your membership. What is the natural next step for attendees? It should be very obvious to your attendees why your membership is the next step for them.

Key #3: Make it a win for your speakers.

The third key is to make it a win for your speakers. There are a few specific things you can do to make launching your membership a win for your speakers, rather than something that will rub them the wrong way, and this is crucial for long-term results from your summit. Having your speaker on board with your launch is key to strengthening your network through your summit rather than throwing it all away for the sake of a successful membership launch.

Key #4: Build awareness of your offer.

The next key is awareness. So your attendees need to know that your membership exists way before you actually launch it during your summit. We have a full curriculum, strategy, and templates around this in the Launch with a Summit Accelerator, but building awareness is key to making sure that your attendees aren't blindsided by your launch. Instead, we want them to look forward to it so that they're actually excited for it to happen, and awareness is a huge piece of that.

Key #5: Offer attendees a free trial

The last key, number five, is the key to the whole strategy and why I am seeing that memberships are just as powerful, if not more powerful, to launch with a summit than courses.

The first time I heard someone suggest offering a free membership trial through a summit, I shut it down. I did not think it was a great idea. But looking back, my mindset at that time was based on scarcity, and I was so wrong about it.

A free trial strategically built into your summit and incorporated in the right ways is where. it's. at.

This is how our client added hundreds and hundreds of new members to their membership easily. It's also how our Accelerator clients that launched memberships got the incredible membership launch results they've seen.

Free trials (or $1 trials) make it so easy to get people in the door, and then your incredible membership gets to do the talking from there. I’m absolutely blown away by how effective this is.

  • If you've done a free trial already, and you know that it works for you, I am so excited to tell you that it will 100% translate during your summit, if you position everything correctly.
  • If you have never done a free trial before, and you're hesitant to try, maybe give it a try outside of a summit context first and see how it does for you. You could do a flash sale for 24 hours or give away a certain number of spots with a free trial. You just want to make sure that the number is big enough to give you accurate data.

If you have a solid membership that people want to stay in, the free trial members can far exceed the numbers you'd see without one.

To give you some more examples:

  • Shelby had 70% of free trial attendees continue on past that first month.
  • Another client who used this method saw a 58% retention rate after the trial was over.
  • Our client who launched a brand-new membership (meaning we did not have any other numbers to compare it to) saw a 34% retention rate.

Those numbers can vary widely which is why it's a good thing to test outside of the summit context first, so you have a baseline of what to expect.

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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Hear the truth about launching a membership through a virtual summit, keys to the strategy, and why I think every membership site owner should give it a try!Hear the truth about launching a membership through a virtual summit, keys to the strategy, and why I think every membership site owner should give it a try!

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