When you buy something, WHO you buy it from is just as important as WHAT you’re buying.
No one wants to buy a used car from a shady, sleazy car salesman, right? You want to buy a car from someone helpful and knowledgeable. Someone you can trust.
Your customers face the same issue when they go in search of online products. They want to make sure that the person behind the product is helpful and knowledgeable. They want to connect with an authority who has lots of valuable information to share.
That’s why it’s incredibly important that you position yourself as a trusted expert. You can’t be a “nobody” and expect people to give you their time and money. You have to prove to the world that you’re the real deal.
How do you quickly establish authority?
One of the best ways to do this is hosting an online summit. It’s an online conference. There is material presented by experts who teach and share their experience. Anyone can attend as long as they have a connection to the internet.
Summits are the perfect venue to show your authority.
When you organize an event, you’re automatically elevated to a position of leadership. You’re the “host,” the conduit connecting people to other pros in your industry. It’s like hosting a party – suddenly everyone knows who you are, because your name is on the invitation. You’re an Instant Expert.
In addition to putting you in the spotlight, it’s a fantastic way to increase your audience. Summits are a high value, low commitment proposition – the perfect way to pull in curious newbies who may become your future customers. Just like a free sample at the store, or a piece of carrot content on your website, an event naturally draws people in to find out more.
When you’re ready to host your first summit, here’s what to do:
The first step is to come up with a concept and a name. Think about your area of expertise and the big idea you want to convey. The concept should speak to your knowledge base, but also have a wow factor that stands out from the crowd and grabs the audience’s attention.
Next, gather relevant speakers to participate. Reach out to experts in your existing network, ask friends for referrals, and don’t be afraid to cold-call or cold-email people you’ve never met. Don’t position this as a favor – position it as an opportunity. People love to share what they know, and they’ll likely be honored just to be asked. Don’t be shy!
In addition to providing their expertise, your speakers are vital in helping you promote the event. Ask them invite their lists to attend. In return, offer an affiliate commission for every lead who signs up. (You can recruit other affiliates, too!)
Announce your summit far and wide on all of your channels and to all of your (relevant) lists. Be sure to explain WHY the summit will be valuable, WHO will be speaking and HOW it will benefit the attendees. And, of course, WHERE and WHEN it will take place.
You’ll also need a secure method for people to reserve their spot and make a payment. The common practice right now is to provide free access to the live event (or for a short period thereafter, like 24-48 hours). Then, people can get after-the-fact access to the recordings and transcripts for a fee. You might decide you want to charge for the live event AND after-the-fact access. Or, you might decide to make the entire thing free. It’s up to you.
The event itself should last from 2-7 days, with 2-5 speakers per day. How you set up your event sessions is up to you. You can interview your speakers live, or you can record them in advance and release the recording at the date and time that the session is scheduled. Pre-recording is especially helpful if you have speakers in various time zones or speakers who aren’t available during the summit itself, but who still want to be involved.
If you already have pre-recorded interviews on hand, like from your podcast, you’re in luck! You can repurpose that content, as long as it’s relevant to the topic at hand. Just be sure to get approval from your interview subjects before you include them in your event.
One of the most important decisions you’ll make is how to host your content. The experience of acquiring the content must be as seamless and awesome as possible for your attendees. After all, you don’t want someone to sign up for your summit and then have a bad experience trying to access the content. It could sour your future relationship with them forever. You’re putting forth a lot of effort to create high-quality content – so why skimp on the delivery? That would be like putting a diamond ring in a brown paper bag when it deserves a velvet jewelry box.
If you have a sophisticated website setup, it makes sense to host everything on your own site. This is also a great idea if you have a tech team in place who can help you handle the nitty-gritty details and give you troubleshooting support if something goes wrong.
If you don’t have a tech team, we recommend an all-in-one, DIY content delivery tool like WordPress or Teachable. With tools like these, you can easily give people free access to certain content on public pages during the summit itself, and then make that content private, paid-access-only when the event is over. All with a few clicks.
Here’s a great example of a membership site being used for an online summit.
Welcome Page with Instructional Video
Individual Speaker Page
For many people, your summit will be their first encounter with you. It’s the beginning of a beautiful relationship that has the potential to blossom into future revenue and long-term growth. So, take that new list of names and email addresses and send a thank you message to each and every person who attended your event after it’s all over. Be sure to thank all of your speakers, too. How you treat people at this crucial moment will go a long way toward your future success.
And there you have it! You just hosted your first incredible online summit. You brought together a group of experts to share valuable insights and information. You pulled in a new audience and started a fruitful relationship with them. And, most importantly, you positioned yourself as an industry leader. Now you’re poised to grab the reins and lead the way!