Behind the Summit #4: Pitching Virtual Summit Speakers

Come behind-the-scenes as I finish up final tasks and pitch virtual summit speakers and look at the stats from my all-access pass payment plans from last year!

While a lot of summit hosts send all their speaker pitches at once, I like to break them up into groups and send my pitches in rounds.

This helps me get some easy yeses right away from speakers I feel pretty sure will say yes, and it also gives me a confidence boost before reaching out to people I don’t know as well. It also gives me some “social proof” I can include in my emails so my potential speakers know who else has already agreed!

Today, I'm taking you behind the scenes of my speaker pitching process so you can see how I break up the pitching rounds and how my pitches are going so far. 

We'll also cover how I'm reusing a series of presentations I did at last year’s event and talk about a few smaller tasks I tackled this week like:

  • Updating video scripts
  • Clearing out last year’s speaker information
  • Stats on the all-access pass payment plans from last year
  • And more!

The “Let’s Do Better” Series

When I was preparing to pitch speakers last week, I reached out to speakers in my Let’s Do Better series to ask permission to reuse their presentations again this year. They all said yes and one speaker submitted a new bonus for the all-access pass.

They all appreciated that I asked even though I could have done it anyway because it’s included in my agreement. None of them seemed interested in promoting, (but I'm not surprised based on how I approached it). Still, I'll let them know when registration opens to give them a heads up and share the promo material so they can share if they want to.

I mentioned last week that we are paying all of our speakers a flat payment in addition to affiliate sales this time around, and of course that includes our Let's Do Better speakers! Kate sent their payments right away, and they have the option to promote as affiliates too. 

I also added a note to myself to include info about this series to my email sequence that goes out after someone registers.

Getting Rid of Old Speaker Information

Before I could pitch and onboard speakers, there were many small tasks that had to be done first.

This included removing past speakers from several of our website pages, such as the:

  • Registration page
  • Schedule page
  • Meet the speaker page
  • Presentation page

We left the people who we invited back, so we didn’t have to delete them and add them right back, but we deleted all the old information.

In Deadline Funnel we had presentation page links set up to expire after their free viewing period ended, so we had to delete all of those too.

Prep for Affiliates

The next thing I did was some affiliate prep. I had Kate test all the links on our speaker information page and she noticed our ThriveCart links weren’t working. That’s because I had set all our products to draft. Oops! 

Instead of making a 2022 version, I set the same products to be live again based on a recommendation from Eden Fried. She does it this way because speakers who come back again are automatically affiliates. I'm excited to switch to doing it this way because it saves me the time of adding them as affiliates again this year.

Basically, this involves updating integrations to make sure when someone buys the all-access pass product, that ThriveCart is giving them access to the new version of the all-access pass instead of the old one. Speakers can use the same links as last year, but I’ll have to update the courses in LearnDash that each of the ThriveCart products hooks up to.

Minor Process Updates

Because I have everything written out into a process, it’s a quick task to check the processes and update them with new due dates and changing links.

I made a few small tweaks based on new things we’re doing this year, like paying our speakers.  This made it easy to then outsource all these tasks to Kate.

Onboarding Form Updates

One of the minor tasks I tackled this week was to tweak our speaker onboarding form. I asked for some new information this year including:

  • The pronouns they use so we can add them to our Meet the Speaker page.
  • Causes they’re passionate about so we can donate to the top few.
  • Their interest in leading an interactive event like a live hot seat or Q&A during the summit.

Speaker Gift Brainstorm

I love sending gifts to my speakers, and in the past, I have sent a Greetable, custom gift boxes, notebooks, and pens. This year I decided to try t-shirts as a gift to my speakers which I’ll send out as soon as I can get everyone’s information and place the shirt order.

  1. First, I assigned my designer a task to create the shirt design.
  2. Next, I assigned Kate a task to look up where to have shirts made. Right now I think we’ll use Custom Ink, but they’re low in stock on my colors, so we will see where they’re at in a few weeks.
  3. To help with shirt orders, I added a custom field to my speaker onboarding form asking for their shirt size.

Record A New Registration Video

The next thing I worked on was a task I’ve been putting off for weeks, which is to record a new registration page video. I still haven't been able to record it (I have 2 small children at home!), but I did update the video script for it. Progress! 

This time around, instead of focusing on the event itself, this video is about how attendees can get the most out of the summit and what benefits they’ll see by participating. I also ended the video by saying they get a special offer for the all-access pass after signing up to tease it a bit and so they know what to expect.

If it performs well, I’ll update Summit In A Box® with the new script!

Finally, It’s Time to Pitch Speakers

After lots of prep work, I'm finally at the stage where it's time to start pitching speakers.  Even though this is my 6th round of this event and I have incredible testimonials, I still get scared to pitch speakers!  I expect everyone I pitch to say no.

If you get up in your head about sending speaker pitches, it’s not just you!

3 Round Pitch Process

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t send all my pitches at once, and instead, send them in 3 separate rounds. Here's a breakdown of what that looks like:

  • Round 1: I start by pitching the speakers I’m pretty sure will say yes. These are people who know me and/or the event well, and don’t need to know who else is speaking to agree to participate. Of course, there’s always a chance some of these speakers will say no, but it’s almost always because of a scheduling conflict or something else that wouldn’t be influenced by who else is speaking. 

  •  Round 2: Next, I pitch the speakers I think will say yes with some social proof. I hold off on pitching this group of people until I’ve already got some yeses from round 1. This group is made up of people I might have some loose connections to, but they’re less familiar with me and the event. I include names of people who’ve already committed when sending these pitches to encourage them to participate as well. 

  •  Round 3: Finally, I send my “long shot” pitches. In this final round, I pitch the speakers that feel a bit out of reach or unlikely to say yes. These are people who may have a bigger following than most of my other speakers, or who I don’t already have a connection with. By pitching this group last, I have even more confirmed speakers I can use as social proof. 

Round 1 Speakers Respond

On a Tuesday, I pitched 19 speakers in round 1 and all but 1 were previous speakers. That last one was someone in my program and who I’ve collaborated with quite a bit.

I give it some time to confirm a diverse group of speakers before I pitch the next round.

Within a couple of days, 14 responded with a “yes!”

There was some frustration that came up when they wanted to change their presentation topics, but this year I put a lot of thought into what I wanted speakers to cover in each category.

Follow Up on Social Media

On Friday of that week, 5 speakers had not responded to my pitch, so I reached out on Instagram. I sent a DM to ask if they’d seen my pitch and make sure it hadn’t gotten lost in their spam folder.

Last year I used Mail Track which is an app in Gmail that shows who opens emails, but this year I forgot to install it.

I heard back from 3 of them right away saying they were in! 2 saw my message, but didn’t respond, so I assumed it’s a “no” from them, which I was fine with. My follow-up approach isn’t pushy and instead checks if my email landed in spam and lets the speaker know I’d love to hear from them.

Round 2 Speakers Respond

My round 2 speaker responses have been very slow. 2 speakers gave me a “yes”, but I haven’t heard back from 9 others. All but 1 were cold pitches, so I’ll follow up with them next Tuesday.

I plan to pitch round 3 that same day to keep things moving.

My Speaker Onboarding Process

Now that speakers have started saying yes, it's time to onboard them. This is something that Kate does a lot of because it’s easy to make a process after onboarding the 1st speaker and pass it off to an assistant.

She was able to:

  • Respond to their questions
  • Send onboarding forms
  • Send the speaker contract
  • Follow up with speakers
  • Add their information to the speaker spreadsheet
  • Update our website with their information

There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that takes a chunk of time that I won’t talk about now, but I highly recommend outsourcing it if you can.

Payment Plan Stats

When I was looking for an email I sent last year, I noticed we had a whole bunch of unread missed payment emails from ThriveCart that we hadn’t seen because they got filtered right into a folder we don’t check. Ahh!

There were 12 emails which really had me bummed because I assumed that meant 12 people didn’t make their 2nd $100 payment. I had Kate look into it!

Turns out, we had duplicate emails from ThriveCart and only 3 people missed their payments of the 39 who took the payment plan option.

I’m fine with the $300 loss if that means it’s more accessible for some people and it may increase conversion rates a little bit.

Possible Sponsorships

The last time I tried to pursue sponsorships for my summit a few years ago, I didn't have much success and I didn't enjoy the process. So I was not planning to pursue any sponsorships for this event.

However, I did decide to offer a sponsorship package to the people who I was going to co-host with. One is interested and asked for packages, and I emailed some opportunities to see what they’re interested in. I want to feature them in an extra way since they were excited to co-host with me.

If you’re considering sponsorships for your event, this would be the time to do it. The earlier the better!

A Recap of My Week

Long story short, my week consisted of quite a few smaller tasks related to pitching and onboarding and then I sent out my first 2 rounds of pitches, with 19 yeses so far!


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