This episode will give you a quick overview of the 5 major pieces that go into hosting a virtual summit.
We'll cover what each of those pieces are, some of my top tips, and resources you can reference to learn more about each one.
Hey, Hey, welcome to the Summit Host Hangout podcast where you'll learn how to plan, strategize, and launch your profitable online summit, no influencer status necessary. I'm your host, Krista from Summit In A Box, and this is the second episode in a short series where I want to talk about some of the biggest struggles I see online business owners facing when they decide a summit might be something that they would like to do. Today I specifically want to cover the five major pieces of hosting a summit so you have a nice concise overview of the entire process.
Back in episode one, we talked about the 10 stages of hosting a summit, which is a more comprehensive overview, but this one is for those of you trying to get a better idea of the whole process without just hearing way too much information all at once. My hope would be that after you listen to this episode and sit on it a bit, you'll be ready to go back to episode one and take things a bit further. Really there are people on both ends of the spectrum when it comes to expectations around hosting a summit. There are people who think there's so much to do, and they can't possibly do it. There are people who think it's super simple, find some speakers, get the presentations, you're ready to go. I wanted to give you a more realistic look at what it actually takes, and I will say that people who think there's a lot to do are more correct than the people who think it's really simple and all you need to do is record a couple of presentations. There are a lot of moving pieces. It takes a couple of months of work. I went over it in the last episode, but I can tell you it's totally worth it.
Today I want to go over those five biggest pieces of hosting a summit so you know what to keep them in mind when you're planning, and so I can also share some ways to make it easier.
Before we dive in, I want to invite you to join the Summit Host Hangout Facebook group. This is a group of summit hosts, whether up and coming or past hosts who have all come together to get support and to support each other in the summit planning journey. It's a great place to ask questions, get support, support others, and just feel understood. Since people who aren't on this track, really don't get it. Join the free group by going to summithosthangout.com/community.
Let's start with the first part of this. The big number one big piece of hosting a summit is who it's for and what it's actually about. This ends up being a struggle for most people because sometimes the target audience for your business can't be the target audience for your summit. That's because a lot of times the target audience for your business is too broad, and unless you have a huge audience, you don't want to be hosting a summit for all online business owners or women. You can't have a big niche like that and expect your summit to go well and get good conversions.
It's so important to narrow in so you can really catch the attention of the people you the summit for. So choosing who it's for is step one. I have more in-depth episodes on this, so I won't go into it here, but you're going to choose who it's for. You're going to choose the topic, and it might be something you can figure out in five minutes. It could take a couple of weeks of research and talking to your audience, which is what it required for me. I had to get on about five calls with people in my audience and really figure out what they needed from me. And I'm so glad I did, even though I would much rather stay holed up in my office not talking to anybody.
It is totally worth doing that extra work. Tune in to episodes four and five to break those pieces down even more and to get more direction in choosing your site's audience and on the topic. That is the first piece I need you to do for your summit.
The second is finding and managing your speakers. This is the most time-consuming part, but that's a good thing because a lot of it is waiting to hear back from emails, giving them time to create their presentations - things that don't require direct action from you. So with finding speakers, there's a lot of ways we can do this.
I want to encourage you to not go with the first people that come to mind. Look for people who have your target audience. That's so important that their audience lines up with the audience for your summit. You want people who are good at connecting with their audience and people who aren't constantly pitching their own offers where anytime you see them showing up, all they're doing is pitching their own stuff. Those people aren't going to promote.
Look for those people with your audience, and then you're going to connect with them. Take a couple of weeks to connect. It's going to make the next piece easier, which is pitching. You're going to make your pitches. Hopefully, you've talked to these people a time or two. Your pitches are going to go great.
From there, it's all about managing them. There's a lot of time that goes into managing the speakers, setting expectations correctly, getting everything you need from them. Like I said, we have a past series on speakers and we've got another one coming up really soon all about setting speaker expectations. So look out for that. Like finding speakers, figure about one week for that, connecting with them, two weeks pitching, three weeks between making the pitches, waiting to hear about filling up the spots, and then creating their presentations four weeks. Whether you're doing a whole bunch of interviews or if they're creating presentations, you want to give them about four weeks for that.
I have a whole series right now on speakers. It starts with episode 16, and there's a few more after that. In episode 16, we talked about finding your speakers, finding speakers that actually matter. We have all kinds of other episodes that will be really helpful there.
The third piece I want to go over is your website, and this is the most intimidating part for a lot of people. My recommendation for your first summit is to go with whichever platform you're already on, which we covered more in episode 31 with Jamie Slutsky. She went over this really well. She runs Tech of Business. She does virtual summit tech setups, and her recommendation is to start where you are at. I personally really like WordPress. I have all kinds of WordPress templates in my Summit In A Box program, but to keep it from being overwhelming, start with what you have.
If you don't have the capacity to learn a new platform, there are also software options created just for summits. My recommendation for those is Virtual Summit Software. There's a couple of other ones that I don't recommend as much just because they're more limiting, there are some issues. I'm not going to slam any software companies on here, but Virtual Summit Software is my recommendation.
With going on a summit platform, it's a balance between making your process easy and being limited by someone else's beliefs of what goes into a summit and what that software can do. So you have to decide what that looks like for you. Is it more important that the tech setup is easy or more important that you get the best results possible? I do just want you to know your website can be manageable.
What you need for your website: you need a registration page with email integration - a way for people to go learn about your summit and sign up. You need a way to publish and take down presentations - whether the presentations are published every hour, whether they're published every day, like all at once, it doesn't matter. You need a way to be able to publish them and then take them down - even if it's manual. You need a way for people to be able to access the all-access pass, which we'll talk about next. But they need to be able to purchase and then access that material. There are a few more things I recommend having, but those are really the big ones. Focus on those first and fill in the other pieces once those are taken care of, and keep this nice and manageable.
You can do that right on your existing website. The number one reason I hear that people think they need to start a brand new website for their summit is that they want to be able to have this custom URL. No one's going to care if the links aren't perfect and pretty. So unless you really have the capacity for it, don't worry too much about that being the one reason you're starting a website from scratch for your summit.
Depending on your tech platform, your experience level, how in-depth do you choose to go, whether you use my templates or if you're doing it from scratch, this can take you anywhere from a couple of days to several weeks. So you just want to know base your timeline based on your comfort with the tech piece of it.
The fourth major piece I want to go over for what goes into a virtual summit is your offer. So after someone registers for your summit for free, they're going to get an offer, which is typically your all-access pass. Usually, inside the all-access pass, you're giving them access to presentations for a longer period of time - whether that's a month, a year, lifetime, and you're giving them access to those presentations. That's really the only requirement for an all-access pass. I have a lot more episodes on that, which I will talk about in a minute here, but that's the basics of an all-access pass.
As for what you need for that, you need a sales page - so something that tells them all about what they're buying. You need to check out - so they need to be able to check out and purchase that all-access pass, and then you need a way for them to access the content. So after they purchase the all-access pass, they need a way to be able to log in or have links to what they purchased.
I personally do several pricing options, which I went over a couple of episodes back, in my latest summit recap. But you can keep it simple and do just one tier. If you're going to do price increases, go ahead and manually increase the price rather than integrating with another piece of software. You can keep it simple if you need to. Then usually you can have something like this set up and ready to go within a day or two. If you consider yourself more tech-challenged, you might want to give yourself more like a week, but it doesn't really have to be difficult. I have another episode on selling or monetizing with an all-access pass. There's a series on that starting in episode nine, so go ahead and check that out.
The fifth major piece of your virtual summit is your promotion. Just like anything else, if you want to see the return on something you do, you need to promote it. The size of your audience doesn't matter. You'll promote to your audience whether it's non-existent or huge. Your speakers will promote it. If you have an extra budget, you can always run paid ads, which we have a couple of episodes on.
Overall you want to plan for a two to three week promotion period. For that, you need email copy - promo emails for you and your speaker send out to get people signed up. You need social media copy, which can really just be shorter versions of your emails or sometimes even copy and paste of your emails, and then you need graphics. This can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to months look to write all the copy and have graphics made depending on if you're doing it or if you're outsourcing it and how those timelines look how quickly you can create content.
My Summit In A Box program really speeds up that process for a lot of people because I have all the templates written - your emails are written and the graphics are designed for you. All you need to do is add your summit details and tweak with your colors or any information you need to add. But there is more about promoting your online summit starting in episode 37.
Then of course after that, we have the step of actually hosting the event. But these are the five major pieces of getting your summit ready to go. That's figuring out who it's for and what it's about. Finding and managing your speakers, your website, your offer or your all-access pass and then the promotion. These are the big pieces. These things take time, but they're not impossible. You can do them. You started a business. You can do these things. You already do these things just you know in a different capacity. You just need to plan for it.
I have all kinds of resources to make these things easy. Check out those other podcast episodes. The Summit Host Hangout Facebook group is a great place to ask questions and get support when you're feeling lost or overwhelmed.
Thank you so much for tuning in to this episode. In the next episode, I have a really exciting announcement that has been in the works for over a year, so I'll be sure to tune in for that.
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