Note: Looking for the free PDF “highlight reel”? I’ve included all the content from it in the text below.
Virtual summits allow you to connect with industry leaders and influencers in your niche while growing your own audience.
Liam Austin made $50k off his first summit, and hasn’t looked back. Since then, Liam has hosted another 17 virtual summits and online business networking events.
In total, these events have brought together more than 400 speakers and 100,000 business owners.
Hosting a virtual summit sounds pretty straightforward:
- interview a bunch of influential people in your niche
- collect registrations of people who want to watch those interviews
- sell access to the recordings after they expire
But the virtual summit model has a lot of nuance and strategy, and behind-the-scenes action that all has to come together to make it a hit.
That’s why I invited Liam on the show.
If you’re looking for ways to grow your business and make meaningful connections within your industry, this episode lays out that blueprint for you.
Tune in to hear Liam talk through:
- The core benefits of hosting a virtual summit
- How he made $50k from his first summit and learned some valuable lessons
- What it’s going to take to create your own virtual summit in your industry
- And more
The 5 Core Benefits of Virtual Summits
For anyone new to the idea of virtual summits, Liam ran through the 5 core benefits of hosting a virtual summit:
- Growing your email list/audience
- Building a network of influencers in your niche
- Establishing and growing your own authority and rapport
- Generating revenue
- Making an impact on your marketplace
How to Choose a Topic for Your Virtual Summit
“This is the issue with a lot of virtual conferences or virtual events I see out there. They don’t have a really strict strategy in place,” Liam told me.
Liam has seen a lot more success from hosting summits targeting a specific product, niche, or industry than say a broad topic like “entrepreneurs.”
For example, if you’re selling a coaching program, Liam said you need to first define your target audience. Then you can reverse engineer a funnel back to the event you’re creating.
Liam said you should be saying to yourself, “I’m going to craft this event to be specifically hitting these people and no one else, and solving their problems.”
During the event, you’ll build trust with your audience. You can then put them into your funnel which leads to selling high ticket offers to solve those problems.
How Do Virtual Summits Make Money?
There are a number of ways you can make money from hosting a virtual summit.
The main revenue streams Liam uses are:
- all-access passes
- affiliate partnerships with speakers
- reselling content
- selling your own high-ticket products or services
As an example, for the access passes and high-ticket items, Liam explained that he expects to see anywhere between a 60%-75% opt-in rate from people hitting his landing page.
He then expects to see around 5% of those people upgrade and buy an all-access pass. This could come to around $5,000 in revenue.
If just 40 of those people then buy a high ticket offer of a coaching program or a done-for-you service at a $10,000 price point, that’s $400,000 that can be made on the backend.
On top of this, there is a lot of room for selling sponsorships. Liam sells naming rights, categories, and channels to sponsors, and works also with them to reach their audiences for promotion.
For example, Liam secured a 5-figure sponsorship with the video hosting site Vimeo for an event at which he also gave them a spot to speak on.
It went so well for them they signed another deal to sponsor several of Liam’s future virtual summits! He also works with speakers to promote their services and products as an affiliate. Something interesting Liam pointed out is that these kinds of deals don’t have to center around one summit.
Once you’ve developed a relationship with a speaker and you’ve built up an email list of your own, you can cross-promote at any time in the future. “It all comes down to strategy and a long-term focus for your business,” Liam told me.
How to Price Your All-Access Passes
It depends on whether you’re targeting the business community or consumer group, but Liam said he’s found the $60-$100 mark to be the optimal price point range.
To maximize revenue and push sales Liam increases the price as the closer it gets to the event. He also adds some scarcity by saying only X number of tickets are available at $60, then a set number at $90, and so on.
How to Recruit Speakers for Your Virtual Summit
Liam said it’s important you approach big-name speakers in the right way as you’ll only get one opportunity for them to say “yes.”
Ideally, you’ll have the following locked in before approaching a big-name influencer:
- 2-3 industry guest speakers confirmed
- Date and time for the summit
- Website up and running where they can find out more
- A detailed plan of how you’re going to attract an audience
Then you can approach them to speak at your event by demonstrating you have a structure in place, and you’re giving them a platform to speak to a new audience.
Liam said it also helps to build a little rapport first too. You can start by commenting on their blog posts, social media etc. See if you can get them to reply to something you’ve said, then you can lead into mentioning your summit.
How Far Out Should You Start Planning a Virtual Summit?
Liam recommends you give yourself at least 90 days to make sure you can get everything in place to hold a successful event.
He’s seen events pulled together in as little as two weeks. This was only possible by the organizers already having a network of speakers and prior experience though.
What’s the Format Like for a Virtual Summit?
Liam said you can replicate anything that an attendee would experience at an in-person live event. The most common formats that are used for virtual summits are:
- Pre-recorded videos
- Live elements, maybe with slides or just talking from a speaker
- Live Q&As with the audience in attendance
- Panel discussions
Liam likes to include some live elements as it helps build engagement with the audience in attendance.
However, with the summit being virtual, guest speakers have the flexibility to do what works best for them.
How to Drive Traffic to Your Virtual Summit Landing Page
Liam said the three main sources of traffic he uses to drive traffic to his landing pages are:
It’s in the speakers’ best interest to share the summit they’re going to be speaking at with their audience.
You can ask any sponsors, media partners, and community leaders you’re working with to share the summit with their audience.
Turn attendees into ambassadors. This is an area Liam has been focusing on more and more. He said the biggest group of people who will be sharing the event are the attendees who have already signed up to attend.
He creates a reward structure to further incentivize attendees to spread the word about the event. Liam rewards “ambassadors” with the top 5 audio recordings from the event for 4 referrals, for 10 referrals he sends them all the audio recordings from the event, and for 25 referrals he gives them an all-access pass for free.
What Tech Are You Using to Host Virtual Summits?
There are quite a few moving parts to hosting a virtual summit. Here are all of the tools Liam has/or currently uses to manage his events:
- WordPress – To build the websites.
- Virtual Summit Software – All-in-one summit software.
- Hey Summit – All-in-one summit software.
- Click Funnels – To accept payments, build a member’s area, etc.
- Vimeo – To host videos.
- Wistia – Another platform to host videos.
- EarlyParrot – Software to generate referral links for ambassadors to share.
- Keap (formally Infusionsoft) – An all-in-one CRM sales and marketing tool.
- ActiveCampaign – Integrated email marketing automation tool.
- Drip – Another option for marketing and CRM.
- ThriveCart – To accept payments and track affiliates.
The engagement that’s happening among attendees is something that’s exciting Liam right now. He’s enjoying helping to make connections and create business partnerships through virtual roundtables and speed networking events after the event has finished.
He is also working with more clients helping them host their own virtual summits. His team does a lot of the done-for-you service providing a strategy, helping with funnels, and ultimately helping clients put on a successful virtual summit.
Liam’s #1 Tip for Side Hustle Nation
“Run a virtual event, but make sure to put a strategy in place first.”
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Links / Next Steps
- 80/20 Sales and Marketing
- Virtual Summit Software
- Hey Summit – 15% off for Side Hustle Nation
- Click Funnels
- Keap (formerly Infusionsoft)
- ActiveCampaign | My ActiveCampaign Review and Demo