Virtual Summits: How to Make Money & Mistakes to Avoid
A virtual summit is a collaborative event hosted online with a collection of topics that are being covered over the course of the event. The event can be a full day to multiple days. It usually involves speakers being interviewed by the host of the summit but there are also summits that are just mini-presentations from speakers without an actual interview.
If you’ve ever hosted a virtual summit, then you know how much work they can be. It can take weeks or even months to plan. As the host you are responsible to pay for the costs to promote the summit, the team needed to create the graphics and landing pages, pay for the webinar system, and possibly Facebook and/or Instagram ads to promote the summit. Not only that, but you have to invest your time and energy in scheduling the guests, preparing for the interviews, recording interviews (when not a live summit), and piecing all the technology together. It takes a village to launch a virtual summit.
You should always have clear goals before starting the event. Sure, you’re going to add a lot of people to your email list (if marketed properly), but if you’re launching a free virtual summit is it really worth it?
Of course, it is! There most certainly is money to be made, even in a free event.
Backend sales. One of the biggest benefits of hosting an event is the opportunity to grow your mailing list, so hopefully, you already have an autoresponder that’s working well in terms of driving sales and affiliate commissions. If not, then spend some time creating follow-up emails that specifically promote your products and services, and those of your colleagues and JV partners.
Upsells and downsells. As you’re setting up your summit funnel, be sure you’re adding in logical up- and down-sells in appropriate places. Some common locations for upsells
Confirmation pages—this is the page registrants see immediately after they opt-in, but before they confirm their email address. Typically, it will say something like “Check your email now” but you can (and should) also include an upsell here.
Thank you pages—this is the page registrants will see after confirming their email. This page tells them what to expect next (dates and times of your event, where to log in, etc.) and like your confirmation page, should also include something for readers to buy.
Downloadable content—if you’re offering a transcript, workbook, or other downloadable item, remember to include an advertisement for a related product or service.
Extend access to the virtual summit. Many summit hosts allow registrants to watch the event for a very limited time and they sell the extended access. This is a great way to upsell the attendee from a free event to a paid event. The usual cut-off time is 24-hours after the event is launched so it doesn’t allow for a lot of time to replay.
Repurpose the recordings for paid products. Bundle your recordings with transcripts or other related content and turn them into stand-alone products you can sell to your list.
Just because your initial event is free to attend doesn’t mean it’s not profitable. With a little thought and planning, not only can you recoup your initial investment, but you can even make a tidy profit on your next free event.
Ready to Plan & Launch?
We’ve experienced some bad virtual events, especially after Covid. Here are a few tips to avoid making mistakes.
A virtual summit is a big commitment. You and your business’s reputation are on the line when launching an event. Not to mention the guest speakers are also including their names in the promos. There are a lot of moving parts you must consider, coordinate, and include:
Multiple speakers and their many scheduling conflicts. Try to have options available for each person. Start with your “must-have” guests first to best accommodate their schedule.
Email autoresponder connections. Check these several times to make sure they work properly.
Make sure you have good upsell and downsell opportunities. Without these, you’re not as likely to make the money you need to cover your expenses.
Landing and access page creation, make the best of the space you have to work with, and be clear with your messaging.
Create a promotion, marketing, and social media schedules as well as all of the necessary marketing materials (handouts, guides, etc.)
Get out of your comfort zone
As the host of a virtual summit, you don’t get to fade into the background (sorry fellow introverts). Make a commitment to put yourself out there, not only when it comes to promoting your event, but also when inviting guests. Reach for the stars, and don’t be afraid to approach your “dream” guest. You never know who might just say yes.
No single webpage should be published, and no email sent without a thorough testing of everything, including:
Buttons—are they clickable and do they lead where you think they do?
Links—watch for broken links, placeholders, and 404 errors.
Spelling and grammar—proofread everything, including the names of your presenters. Get someone with fresh eyes to do this for you and your team.